Thursday, January 3, 2013

Video Killed......No One


My name is Alessia.

And I play violent video games.

Now according to recent pundits and talking heads, that statement alone should have you running away from me screaming in terror and ducking for cover.  According to these same pundits and talking heads, the statement above also relegates me to being an insane, mentally unstable person, who loves guns and killing children. 

Let me just start off by saying that I hate guns. I'm terrified of them, which I think is the ACTUAL point of a gun.  It can end your life in a fraction of a second. And I'm pretty happy being that whole "alive" thing, so I make it a point to stay as far away from real guns as possible.  (Much to my husband's dismay). 

Notice I said "real guns".

Now on the flip side, you get me the BFG 9000 (that stands for Big Fucking Gun in the DOOM video game series) and I will gladly blast everything that has a pulse within 100 feet of me.  Yes, even cute puppies and kitties.
Why, you say?  BECAUSE IT"S NOT FUCKING REAL. That's why.

I am so fracking tired of the folks that come out after a tragedy such as Newton or Aurora and blame the "violent video game industry" for these horrific acts.  Video games are not the cause. Mental illness is the cause.  People who can't discern reality from fantasy are mentally ill, they don't become mass murders because they mastered the eviscerating finishing moves in Mortal Kombat.  (Oh, and FYI, I've played MK since its inception in 1992 and NEVER ONCE have I ripped anyone's spine out, launched harpoons from my face, or turned anyone into ice only to smash them to bits and disintegrate them.)  A mentally ill person will discern violence from anything.  Wasn't it David Berkowitz, the Son of Sam killer, who claimed his neighbor's German Shepherd was talking to him and giving him orders to kill?  Did anyone blame Pong for his violent crimes?  Was slapping a 16 bit ball across a screen the cause for his wrath?  Was Pong even invented when the Son of Sam was shooting people at random?  (Let me check: YES! Pong was developed in 1972, Berkowitz acted out in 1977). So there!  Did anyone blame the violent video game Pong for the Son of Sam's crimes?!?!

No.  They blamed his mental illness. 

Are we getting dumber or more paranoid?  Why can't people acknowledge that crazy people exist and need help, rather than try to point the finger at what they think is the cause.  In the 80's it was heavy metal that was blamed.  Remember when Judas Priest was on trial because some idiot kids decided to commit suicide and one of them "missed" and ended up blowing half his face off and surviving?  Yes, it was totally Judas Priest's fault for creating such eeeevil hits like "Turbo Lover" and "Hell Bent for Leather".  Hell, if anything, the gay undertones should have made anyone want to strap on some boots and a corset and find the nearest fetish party, but no Cletus shoots his face off and Judas Priest is blamed. 


What about the Dungeons and Dragons scare that had parents confiscating 20-sided dice and pewter wizards from the hands of their innocent children for fear that "witchcraft and wizardry" would lead them to "teh devilz" and suicide? 

The fact of the matter is, I come from a generation that grew up with video games. As a child, I held the Atari 2600 and the Colecovision in my little hands and jumped over crocodiles, swung from vines, and dodged cobras in Pitfall. I jumped barrels and avoided fireballs all in the hopes of saving the princess from a fierce gorilla in Donkey Kong.  I strutted about as I defeated Zaxxon, and helped save the world from evil terrorists (with my brother, of course) as freedom fighting Contras.  And naturally, I've evolved as my game systems evolved.  I went on quests for Zelda, I fought vampires and Dracula in the far off land of Castlevania, and I landed on the planet Zebes and defeated the Queen Metroid. 

And then, I got my first taste of blood. Zombie blood, that is, when I first visited Raccoon City and stocked up on ammo, honing my talent for the "head-shot" and making sure I was always within an arm's length from danger.  War games ensued (though I don't much care for them because I suck at first-person shooters), followed by hand-to-hand combat with worthy opponents who would dismember me (or I them) at the drop of a hat (or command by Shang Tsung).

On and on, the list is endless of the games I have played and creatures I have killed.  Whether human, alien, robot, ghost, undead, vampire, zombie, dog, cat, monster, or any other living creature, I have killed it.  Sometimes, the kills are clean and simple. Other times, brutal and gory.  Sometimes, I've kicked people off of cliffs, beaten them to death with a baseball bat, run over them in my Camaro, or stolen their money and fled the police.  I executed a hit for a Mob Boss once and then beat up a hooker just because I felt like it.  One time, I even killed my partner.

Sounds terrible doesn't it?  I'm a violent person, aren't I?  I'm sick in the head, right?

Not quite. 

You see, there's something sane people know and understand that mentally ill people don't.  Reality is not fantasy and vice versa.  I would NEVER in a million years do any of the things in video games in the real world because DUH how stupid do you have to be?  Ok Ok Ok, I admit, that if the zombie apocalypse were to visit my actual front door, I would shoot them in the head, but that's just a big "if" and not likely to happen (famous last words, right?)

And yes, I will fully concede that sometimes people use violent video games as an excuse for their behavior. Case in point, the Black Hawk pilots who used civilians as target practice and who could be heard on their coms laughing and joking about how it was just like "Call of Duty" and "Medal of Honor".  I would post the video here, but it really is too disturbing. Google it. You'll see.  Even in this case, I don't blame violent video games for their behavior.  They're soldiers in a war.  You can't tell me that a mental break is out of the questions. And in no way am I excusing their behavior of claiming they were insane, but psych evals of our soldiers need to be improved as well as the length of their tours and re-ups, but that's a whole other blog post all together.

So what have I been trying to express in this disjointed blog?  Basically, to the talking heads and pundits, quit placing blame where it isn't merited.  Violent video games are not the reason why people shoot up schools and movie theaters. A failed mental health system is.  A failure to diagnose, to care for, and to keep caring for people who have severe mental issues is to blame.  Not Duck Hunt, or Mario Kart, or Final Fantasy, or Resident Evil.  If that were true a HUGE part of Gen X'ers would be rampaging killing machines.  Instead, we're 30-something year old moms and dads who revel in the 30 minutes they get after bedtime to hold that Xbox/Playstation/Wii controller and save the world.