Thursday, January 25, 2007

Fancy Hot Coffee on Your Lap?

Video game violence and U.S politicians have been pretty cosy bedfellows for quite sometime. It is not uncommon to hear politicians condemn video game violence (and sex); they have been doing this since the 90s when the first wave of violent-themed games arrived, led by id Software's Wolfenstein 3D and Doom.

The backlash from the politicians was even stronger in the days after the Columbine massacre and things came to a boil when Rockstar Games shot themselves in the foot with the Hot Coffee scandal.

Just yesterday, the Pope decided to lend his weight into this issue of video game violence, stating that "Any trend to produce programs and products -- including animated films and video games -- which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behavior or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion" and that it is repulsive when these "programs" are directed at children.

I tend to agree with his statement and despite having made a mockery of ERSB ratings quite some time ago, I believe that the ratings when combined with parental supervision (and awareness when purchasing games) would actually make a difference on how children are exposed to video games in the area highlighted by the pontiff.

However, video gaming is largely perceived as a community and children, easily impressionable, would like to do things adults do (or play) and thus would naturally want in. Hop in to any cybercafe and you'll see my point; primary school children who are as good or even better in Counterstrike then you and me both and probably are engaging in far worse smack-talk then we had in our day.

The day would come when video game violence will lead to something that would eclipse every single scandal/controversy. Detractors may say that video games are after all video games, but doesn't that also nullify the good points of games (better hand-eye coordination, problem solving)? I would not be suprised at all.

Edit: I found the transcript of the Pope's message yesterday at work (break time surfing) but I couldn't find it last night when I was updating this blog at home. So here you go (link).