It is, in my opinion, a shame that people who respond to the question, “what do you like to do in your spare time?” with “I’m a gamer” have to do so only after a nervous little laugh and an ashamed glance at their shoes. People still envisage gamers as spotty teenagers with no social skills sitting in their parents house all day and eating Pringles, whereas the truth is that this is true of only 37% of gamers (that is a fact-checked statistic only if you don’t go trying to verify it). The fact is that the video games industry is becoming more akin to the film industry with every passing year, with the production values of AAA titles soaring. Indeed a report from http://www.joystiq.com claimed that the video-games industry was worth $74Billion in 2011, showing us that playing video-games is a rapidly increasing pass-time.
Why is it, then, that whenever the media report on a murder or on gang activity, or rapists or any unsavoury story, all gamers will hold their breaths waiting for the line “the murderer played video-games”? Let me tell you that absolutely no-one has so much as passed out from a lack of oxygen waiting for this remark. The usual sacrificial game held up before the world is Rockstar Games’ Grand Theft Auto, a game (for those of you who must have been dead for some time [congratulations on your revival!]) where the player assumes control of a chap and is able to high-tail around a fictional city stealing cars and using them to mow down civilians. ‘Well they may have a point!’, I hear you cry. Just wait a second, I reply with a frown furrowing my brow and a finger raised to make sure that my point is well and truly made, these heinous activities that people are enjoying on the game are not the reason for the games existence. The ending of the most recent GTA title leaves the player with a distinct ‘crime doesn’t pay’ flavour and notes of ‘best not go out and murder countless people’. The fact of the matter is that the people who play such games only to wreak virtual mayhem bought the game for just that reason. They were not expecting to create an online farm and annoy the face off of all their friends by constantly spamming them with updates about it, asking them to get a similar online farm and spam all of their friends with it, creating a circle of pain and misery that will only stop when 2012 ends and they realise that the world didn’t end, who’d have thought it, and go out into a bright sunny day, ready with the promise of a new life. Sorry, I digress.
There is an argument that, perhaps the developers of these games are being irresponsible by putting some of the content into their games that they do, and that is a much more fair line to take. However, it would only be irresponsible if the games were aimed at children, which they demonstrably are not. Games such as this all feature on their covers a large red circle with the number ’18’ printed in stand-out white. Now this, as a message to all cretinous parents out there who think such games are corrupting children’s minds, means that this game is intended for people who are above the age of 18, the age where one becomes an adult and (theoretically) takes responsibility for one’s actions, where blame becomes nothing more than a hark-back to childhood. It is, in fact, a legal responsibility of retailers not to sell such a product to anyone under the age stated. There you go, all those evil corporations you hate are even telling you that it isn’t suitable for kids. But as soon as you allow your offspring to play the game and they start using foul language and acting in a way most inappropriate for a child, it is immediately someone else’s fault.
I suppose what I am saying, and I will round off this incomprehensible vent of spleen here, is that if you are a parent and allow a child to watch pornography, when the child suddenly becomes obsessed with sex and has no concept of socially acceptable ways of approaching such situations, then you should take responsibility for that, bend over and let the huge rod of ‘consequence’ re-enact one of your child’s favourite scenes.