What’s frustrating about the media’s lost and found scapegoat for society’s problems being videogames is that they haven’t done anything to merit their ire. When the lootbox controversy went down, it felt so special because for once, the gaming community was in agreement with what the wider media was saying about their favourite industry. Although, in the wake of this year’s terrible events at Florida, videogames are being framed yet again as the instigator. Nevermind the firearms available to every Tom, Dick and Harry. No, it’s… it’s… videogames! Definitely not the NRA…
Next week, Donald Trump is allegedly meeting with members of the videogame industry to discuss violence in videogames and how it affects our brains. I personally hope that these unnamed representatives of the games industry will stick to their guns and firmly tell Trump that there is zero evidence of violent videogames leading to real world violence. Had he done a little research, he would know that himself but instead, he falls back on a finger pointing exercise from the nineties that he knows the gaming illiterate media (basically all of it) will fall in line with.
Sadly, whether you believe Trump is a buffoon or not, he is still the loudest mouthpiece on the planet. Believe it or not, and be wary of the social media echo chamber we all place ourselves in, Trump has his followers and they are many. It’s not just corporate entities he ensures stay rich but also the laymen on the ground. By making this announcement he has lit the fuse to a new anti-gaming bomb, whether that's his intention or not. We just got finished clearing up the debris of the same kind of bomb from the nineties.
At this juncture, here's a dose of common sense from Penn & Teller:
As the fuse is lit and begins to burn, the first iteration of anti-gamer rhetoric resurfacing was found on Good Morning America of abcNews just two days ago. It was the showrunners decision to tie Fortnite into a gaming problem leading to kids becoming more violent. This is concerning as they could have flagged anything from Mortal Kombat to DOOM, but the popularity of Fornite and the time of day the show aired, determined that Fortnite (one of the most inoffensive multiplayer games possible to play) is now in the crosshair. This dangerously sets the bar low for parent expectation when understanding the games their kids play, should they ever bother to put the effort in. Thankfully, this news team’s guest has the right idea and I approve of his “on the fence” and neutral stance, instead of fanning the flames higher causing hysteria among the non gaming masses.
What exactly is Trump going to do as a result of this meeting? Is he going to ban all games unless they’re made by Disney? Is he assuming that ONLY children play videogames? To him I say, “stay out of affairs you frankly don’t understand”. That right there is the problem. All these people in suits with microphones in front of them saying this, that and the other about our games industry don’t know the first thing about the culture or the history of videogames. There is a ray of hope in the thought that perhaps, Trump will learn some constructive new information from these games developers and he's not just meeting them (as many of would assume) to shame and impose new restrictions on them. As it stands, media figures are proudly making fools of themselves telling us not to do what they don’t understand. In what aspect of public policy, law or even business does that formula not get laughed at and instantly quashed? Well, it’s ok to do it with videogames, apparently.
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