Violence And Pixels, A Deadly Drug?

Written by TAD


Yeah, yeah. You probably have heard all these arguments before and break into a wide yawn of boredom at the mention of this subject. There are plenty of media scare-stories and finger-pointing every week or so. Is there any connection between violence on screen and real-life?

Yes. Of course there is!

Game Over. Press to Continue...

So why is there so much fuss made when some kids go on a frenzy-filled massacre? And how come the media all of a sudden becomes the guardians of society? And why is there soooooo many question marks in this article?

Well, it's a trick I've learnt from the gutter-press, news programmes and the scum-sucking media in general. They pretend to 'address' the problems of society and are usually nothing more than a lame-ass excuse for a yelling match to see which side has the more aggressive speakers. In the end there is nothing but hot air created. Everyone else is to blame except the people who did the crime.

How many times have you heard the comment "society is to blame", "his father beat him", "he had a lousey childhood", "he played violent computer games" or "horror video are to blame"... the list of excuses go on and on...

So instead of the 'animals' who murder, rape or torture others being the focus of the media's attention some other, external scapegoat is used. Usually computer games because it suits the news media in general. Notice how they choose to target violent computer games (with their still blocky, crude characters) rather than the real life murders programmes or endless diet of war stories which the media forces down our throats each and every evening.

The press like to say that people who play lots of computer games like Doom Quake, Mortal Kombat etc. have their value systems erroded and soon can't tell the difference between real-life and computer games. But how come they have no problem giving us 24 hour news of horrorific real-life crimes, close-ups and replays of executions, not to mention endless interviews of serial killers (turned into pin-up celebraties by the news people).

I usually have the television on while I write articles or code late at night, and a few days ago there was an interview with one of the friends of the boys who walked into a school and murdered scores of his class-mates. The BBC (yeah, the BBC) had a long interview with his friend who was in front of a PC with a huge (and I mean HUGE) projection screen behind it showing DOOM II and the recorded demo of his ex-friend. The reporter (who obviously knew shit about DOOM or computers) watched and said: "You can tell from this recorded game that is was a really obsessed player," and then went on... "How much time did he spend playing DOOM each day?"

Hmmmm. So does the reporter think that playing violent computer games is like radiation? Okay in small doses, but fatal after a long period? What next, will there be some kind of "safe" time limit for kids?

The interview went on for about 20 or 30 minutes, all the time fixated on the large projection screen with DOOM playing. Then there were suggestions that the level he had created showed some insight into his behaviour. "Look, there are bodies hanging from the ceiling and weapons everywhere!" cheered the reporter... It's a pity he didn't bother to research the original DOOM, he would have seen 50 levels which are almost identical. So the general public's perception of this sicko's level designs were WAY out of context, it seemed like he had turned a nice, friendly 3d game into the blood-bath carnage with all these 'clear' warning signs of his mental state. At NO time did we heard that DOOM was meant to be about torment, hell and fighting evil, no, this just wouldn't fit into the reporter's biased story.

The original level designers and programmers haven't walked into a school and massacred kids, have they?

Media Judgement.

What really rattles my cage is that the media pretends to be the guardians of truth and justice, protecting the poor, innocent little kids, but in fact creams-their-jeans at the chance to show the first horrorific pictures of a crime-scene before the other media channels arrive.

The word "vultures" springs to mind, along with parasites and hypocrits.

Reality and Fantasy, blurred.

Computer games are going to get a hell of a lot more realistic as resolutions double and frame rates skyrock. The VR consoles will give people the ability to create some really great experiences, but also some really bad ones. I admit, like many others, that after playing DOOM for a long time your mind changes, you look at the real world in a different way. Who hasn't looked at a rusty old barrel, then thought, "Have I got enough shot-gun shells?". The same thing happens when watching horror movies, or really bad acting. But it's just a nature progression of growing up. The world is big, bad and sometimes really ugly. You can't forget the horrible experiences you've had in life, or forget real life violence, but you can CHOOSE whether to commit crimes, or not. And most people do not. There has been so much research on serial killers and what makes these 'normal' people turn into murderers, but very little on why so many people do not become violent.

Days of gone by.

The cries of "kids these days..." and "when I was a kid..." are echoed throughout the newspapers and media channels. It's a fact that MORE crime is commited these days, and I can guarantee that MORE crime will be commited in the future. Why? Well, there will be MORE people, it's that easy! The media's role in this apparent deludge in murder and crime should not be overlooked either. Fifty years ago there was a fraction of the number of news programmes which are seen today, back then communication was limited and so only the major crimes were reported, these days every channel reports on the same crime, not matter how small. So at first seems that more crime is being committed and by DOOM-playing kids, but in fact the same murder is repeated each and every hour and for days afterwards and on every damn channel.

So shouldn't the media be reporting on THEIR own violent images and the constant drip-drip effect of them? In short, should they impose their own "safe" time limit for us viewers? And why isn't there any rating-system for the content of the news?

Closing words

See, it's far easier to generate a lot more questions about a difficult subject than try to offer some kind of practical solution...

Perhaps violent computer games have already affected me, perhaps I have become a media-bug myself.

So why do people like playing violent games? Well, it's the same answer as why people like M and M's, watching boxing, playing sport or many of the 'non-fluffy' activities in life, because it's fun... It gets the heart going, adrenalin pumping and makes you feel alive. Who wants to live forever and eat high-fibre diets for 150 years? Why smoke, why take drugs, why drink so much that gravity beats you? It's kinda like saying "Why is there evil in the world?", well without it there would be no good either. Try to describe HOT without using COLD, or LIGHT without using DARK...

It all boils downs to freedom, either from fate and destiny or from social rules.

Sleep well, and don't have nightmare...


TAD #:o)