Flashback: The Quest For Stupidity

« August 2016 »
SuMoTuWeThFrSa
2
4
6
7
9
13
14
16
19
20
21
22
25
27
28
29

Memo to Todd Martens: THANKS FOR MAKING ME FEEL YOUNG AGAIN.

I'll be honest, I thought my RSS feed had gotten fucked. You know how sometimes a site will go bonkers and spit an ancient article into your feed? That's what I thought when the headline scrolled by in Reeder. "Why have video games become so violent?"

You know how old that idea is? I had to talk about it mostly in retrospect during the first year of You Are Dumb, and I'm about to finish my thirteenth year of You Are Dumb. Why the fuck is someone trying to write an article about violent video games in 2016? The hint is in the lede. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"Shooters. That’s what the most ubiquitous genre of video games are colloquially called. They are the reason critics say video games are obsessed with guns." - Todd Martens, writing for the Los Angeles Times.

Games with guns are the reason video games are obsessed with guns? That's some closed-mouth-Pac-Man logic right there, Martens.

Marten traces the lineage of "shooters" back to 90s games like Doom and Wolfenstein 3D, which is a bit of a problem, because what he's tracing back the lineage of is actually first-person shooters. And guns have been in other perspective in video games pretty much since day one. Sure, you couldn't see what was shooting the bullets out of the triangles in Computer Space, but what else shoots a bullet?

The first part of the article spends a lot of time talking to John Romero of id Software about the rise of the first person shooter, then takes a sharp turn by contrasting the fact that shooters were at E3 this year and the fact that E3 took place shortly after the Orlando nightclub shooting. Which would be sad and shocking if it weren't the kind of correlation that's been made for a very long time. I mean, they did this with Columbine, and let's face it, the likelihood of those guys being influenced by games was way higher than the Orlando shooter.

The article then goes on to undercut its main point by talking about the rise of non-violent indie games like "Grow Home" and "Firewatch", which would seem to indicate that video games are actually getting less violent on average, not more. Sure, big-budget FPS titles top the annual charts, but they have for at least three console generations. And then he cites Uncharted 4 for "exploring larger themes" with its violence. I haven't played Uncharted 4 yet, but if its body count is 10% of any one of the previous games', it's gonna need a shit-ton of large themes.

Strangely absent from the discussion? The single most popular game of 2016, a game that features no guns whatsoever, yet has caught on with millions of people, many of whom don't usually play video games. A little ditty called "Pokemon GO". Hell, the entire mobile space is ignored, even though a lot of those games aren't shooters at all, because FPSs aren't as much fun to play on phones. Also strangely absent - the new Doom, which revels in ultraviolence. But hey, there are three paragraphs on "Overwatch" and a bunch of stuff on an artsy indie called "Superhot" that once again undercuts the premise that games love guns in the age of mass shootings.

But hey, the LA times got a provocative headline from the late 90s, and whatever the digital equivalent of column inches are these days filled, so mission accomplished?