Working As Intended: We’re all full up on moral panics right now, but thanks

    
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It’s no great secret that MMORPG fans fall toward the middle of the age spectrum, given the history and peak of our genre. This means that most of our readers, the people who care the most about these virtual world games we call home, have long seen video games scapegoated by both the technologically ignorant and the calculatedly malevolent. As such, none of this week’s tragic and preventable events, from the murders to the conduct of our national leadership, will seem surprising or novel.

This is why gamers and games journalists, especially those who’ve been around a while, sound so tired right now even in their defiance. It just doesn’t shock us that politicians once again choose to blame video games for societal problems they are incentivized to ignore or even embolden. We’ve seen video games blamed for everything, sometimes more than once as the wheel’s gone ’round. It doesn’t matter that we’ve been right here slaying Hogger for 15 years but somehow managed not to shoot up a bar in real life. It doesn’t matter how many scientific papers emerge with mounting evidence that games cause neither aggression nor violence, not here or in any other country. It doesn’t matter how many journalists dismantle the piles of disingenuous arguments, or how many game lobbies state and restate the obvious, echoing the beleaguered music, RPG, and movie industries before them.

We all know games aren’t the problem here, and so do the people condemning them. These desperate political gambits didn’t work 20 or 30 years ago, and they certainly won’t work now that gaming is a mainstream hobby and pastime for multiple generations far outnumbering their lower-tech forebears.

But that knowledge doesn’t alleviate the frustration of watching grifters exhume and reanimate an antique moral panic for another media parade to satiate pundits and dopes and bankrollers. It’s maddening that real lives in the real world have been shattered with real causes and real solutions, and yet here we are: forced once again to waste everyone’s time justifying the existence of simple fantasy gameworlds and our place within them.

The video game industry is surely plagued by genuine issues that need addressinglabor abuses and consumer exploitation and crippling toxicity most of all. But empowering mass murder isn’t one of them. Players themselves have more than once been victims of precisely the violence being blamed on our industry. If we really want to rise up as gamers, doing the hard work of confronting our legitimate problems is the perfect place to start.

The MMORPG genre might be “working as intended,” but it can be so much more. Join Massively Overpowered Editor-in-Chief Bree Royce in her Working As Intended column for editorials about and meanderings through MMO design, ancient history, and wishful thinking. Armchair not included.

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Wilhelm Arcturus

What else can you say? The West Wing is how we want things to be, Veep is pretty much how things really are.

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Dobablo

The accusation is not made to get gaming banned. It is a distraction designed to keep people from discussing other things.

PurpleCopper
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PurpleCopper

Unless they’re gonna start banning video games I really wouldn’t be worried about what they blame.

kjempff
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kjempff

We are living in an age where “true” is whatever gets most attention, and with enough effort and a popissue, anything can be made “true”.
(Not that this is new, but it is the amount and scale of it)

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Jack Pipsam

When four people were killed in Darwin this year, it was the largest non-domestic mass shooting we’ve had in a very-very-very long time in Australia. It was shocking.

Four people, it made national news for two weeks straight and still gets brought up time to time and will brought up for years to come as something which happened.

I don’t even know if four dead in a shooting would make the nightly news in the USA, not enough dead to care.

And yet, we have the same violent games. Funny that.

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Paragon Lost

I’m so tired of them using the whole video games are the issue distraction, versus the real issue. This tweet I saw by a professor I thought was on the mark.

Edit: Lol, I am so silly, teach me to read this on my tablet and not read posts before posting myself. I saw only the pinned post and didn’t see that Ichi posted the same tweet I was about to post. Lol Awesome.

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ichi sakari

its all good mate

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ichi sakari

I do enjoy reading you Bree

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Arktouros

I like this sentiment and similar comments regarding Japan, and the people who make absurd comments like Japan doesn’t even have video games…

…however I don’t think it’s really an accurate comparison to compare different countries when you get down to it. Each country has it’s own culture, often times multiple cultures, and unique challenges. That doesn’t mean those challenges don’t have answers or solutions, but it’s a bit more complex than just pointing at Country A and then pointing to Country B and drawing basic conclusions.

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rosieposie

Please explain what culturally makes the people of the Greatest Nation on Earth more predisposed to mass shootings. Or more easily influenced by violent video games, in case you meant that.

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styopa

I’m probably going to get roasted for this, but I *do* believe that *some* sorts of video games do carry some responsibility – mainly, in my mind, first person shooters. Look, I have loved FPSs since before most of you have been alive (I remember when Castle Wolfenstein was first released – AUSWEIS!) and still do, but there is a desensitization going on when you’re playing with todays splattergore graphics turned up to eleven, cheerfully blowing peoples’ heads off.
Games alone don’t bear this burden of desensitization, of course. So does TV and Movies and a goodly segment of the recording industry which glorifies/legitimizes violence.
As do the parents who let their kids consume this crap WAY too early, WAY unfiltered. (I know whereof I speak; we raised 4 kids ourselves and while I made plenty of mistakes, there were many times I wanted to play X with one of my sons or daughters but said “y’know…? That game will still be around or there will be something better when they’re a little more mature in a couple of years…it can wait”)

To suggest that young people can be surrounded by these waves of violence and it NOT have an impact on them is … well, ridiculous. Does it make them murderers? Hell no. But for the impressionable ones among them is it a positive or negative influence? I’d have to say negative. To suggest otherwise is to attempt to refute a $TRILLION industry (advertising) which likewise seeks to change behavior through images and emulation every moment of every day.

As Bart Simpson said “How can I be desensitized to violence if I’m not exposed to it?”

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Bruno Brito

Here’s the counterpoint: While i concur that desensitization does happen, it’s not *only* due to video games, nor are they a driving factor in violence.

Blaming video games is a known tactic to shift blame from policy to opinion.

It’s extremely problematic to keep pointing fingers to what could be the origin of the blame, when the tools for the violence to keep happening are still easier to obtain than a driver’s license.

Don’t fear for the Rambo movie where your child laughs as people get mowed down. Fear for the Target/Walmart store that OFFERS your child the possibility of mowing said people down.

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rosieposie

I always thought that the desensitization happened because of the ACTUAL mass shootings being an everyday occurrence.

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John Mynard

I’m genuinely curious as to where you shop that firearms are easier to get than a Driver’s License. I’m assuming you’ve never actually shopped for one, or you’d know that identification and background check is required for all retail firearm purchases. As for private sales, where the background checks are more spotty, the ATF needs to make it easier, faster and cheaper to get background checks for private buyers.

But easier than getting a Driver’s License? That’s just silly.

MilitiaMasterV
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MilitiaMasterV

I personally haven’t gone and applied for a gun, but I have tried getting a driver’s license updated within the past few years. (My last one, I got the 6 or 8 year lasting one…so I didn’t have to do it again for awhile, and paid more.)

Ever since they put in the ‘Real ID’ system to ‘fight the terrorists’ (Voter suppress), you literally can’t walk into a small town courthouse and present them with your old Up-to-Date driver’s license and just walk out with a brand new up-to-date license.

Now they require you to bring in 5 things :
1. Document proving your birth/identity/lawful status or presence.
(I.E. Certified Birth Certificate, Valid Passport, Consular report of birth abroad, Cert of Naturalization, Cert of Citizenship, Unexpired Permanent Resident Card, Unexpired Employment authorization document, Record of arrival&departure either with photo and stamped ‘Temporary Proof of lawful permanent resident’ or ‘Refugee’ ‘parolee’ ‘asylee’, etc etc.)
2. Make sure you haven’t changed your name in any way involving said documents…for example getting married and taking someone’s name, legal name change, divorce documents, adoption name-change.
3. Social Security Number. (SS card, W-2 form, SSA 1099 form, non SSA 1099 form, pay stub or statement with SSN on it, or a document showing you are a temporary foreign national not authorized for employment-USCIS #)
4. Documents showing your state residency/residential address. (Voter registration card, Valid vehicle registration, Valid insurance card, Utility hookup/bill, etc etc etc)
5. Current Driver’s License/ID

Most of which, if you can’t provide, they won’t update your already valid ID.

I can probably find someone on the street to buy a gun off of here in my state, or the retailers would probably do the most basic ‘check’ on me they possibly could before making that sale.

If any of this ‘doesn’t match up’, they will refuse you, and send you to another agency, who will waste as much of your time as possible while you try and get it sorted. The bureaucracy is purposely understaffed also, to make these more difficult to do. I’ve had to wait upwards of 2 hours at some of them, waiting for a person.

I was born here in America, I’m Caucasian, and I’m poor/disabled, and don’t even own my own vehicle, and have to get someone to take me there, and so the last time I went to update it, they refused…and I haven’t been able to get back since…and it expires next year.

Tell me, how exactly is this ‘better’ for Americans?

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Armsman

You’ve never gone to a gun show, have you?

camren_rooke
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camren_rooke

While your opinion is worth considering, until such time as there is hard factual data that any video games, including shooters, it is just that.

At best I have heard video games can cause minor increases in aggression, that’s all.

It may be that shooters are a part of the problem but I suspect it is infinitely more complex than the professional liars we have in office make it out to be and want us to believe so they don’t have to do the hard business of actually governing.

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Utakata

Beside, while this may give a certain degree of “virtual training”, it does not give them the motivation. As most folks are quite capable of separating non-fiction from fantasy in this regards. So this is not a “The Devil made me do it!” argument by any stretch of the imagination and/or as some would like it to be. /reefer madness

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Hikari Kenzaki

This boils down to how you feel about it or how you logically think it should or might work, but it’s not backed up by any data.

They play these games in Japan as well, but Japan’s gun-related deaths per year are nearly non-existent.

Same with South Korea, you know, that country who wins nearly every shooter tournament?

Poland, the UK, the list goes on and on.

This list is pretty good for looking at deaths per capita.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_firearm-related_death_rate

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rosieposie

Well, to counter that point I will paraphrase what Arktouros stated in a post above.

“Nuh-uh, because Americans speshul!”

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Hikari Kenzaki

We are special. We’re the only country in the world that has more guns than people.

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Eliandal

Thanks for saying this Bree, it’s important!

MurderHobo
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MurderHobo

Thank you, Ms. Royce.

What a bastion this place is. An older crowd with probably more than a few of us who remember the time before the September That Never Ended. Political flak shouldn’t spook us or distract us from working to combat the toxic bullshit and form a better environment for developing pro-social agency.

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Witches

The gamer thing to do on this occasion is to put them on ignore.