In Defense of Freedom
I have something I need to discuss with the Gaming Public. It's a matter critical to our shared hobby. Every day that it's ignored leaves us tiptoeing closer to the edge of oblivion. Not the game, but the place (though the game itself is involved). Much like an explosive brassiere, it's a delicate yet dangerous matter that I have feared to touch. And unlike that unfortunate incident, the current matter is very real and not the fabrication of a reluctant and desperate young woman. Hopefully this humble wordsmith can use his craft to spur you into action; though my skills are meager I hope to have you leaping from your very seat! For the subject is just that important.
I am of course speaking on the topic of sex and violence in games, and why it must be stopped.
The realization hit me as I was browsing the game section of my favorite electronics superstore. I had my nephews with me and had decided to buy them each a game to atone for forgetting their birthdays and names. As I browsed the shelves upon shelves of titles, I came across several that seemed to have objectionable content. Using the ESRB ratings guide posted clearly next to the games, I examined each one for signs it might not be suitable for my nephews. The tiresome process, which involved reading the rating on the box and looking up each label's content descriptions in addition to the appropriate age ranges, was exacerbated by my complete ignorance of my nephews' ages. I read and pondered label after label, talking with my nephews and learning about their gaming tastes and habits. While contemplating a particularly objectionable game that involved the player robbing and beating their hapless uncle, I had a realization: "This is boring," I thought, "I'm bored. Why can't someone do this for me?"
Thank goodness Hillary Clinton has stepped up to the challenge.
Even though Senator Clinton had to bear the burden of several press conferences and newspaper headlines, she recently brought the problem to the public's attention. The problem, specifically, is that gaming is a new art form, and is therefore potentially influential and unpredictable. The effects of an especially powerful piece of music, in contrast, can be predicted and managed by our leaders, either by censoring certain inflammatory content, refusing bands' requests to perform their music, or quickly creating several dozen sound-alike bands to numb any potential emotional impact the music might have had. There are several ways to deal with the emotional uncertainty the musical arts can bring.
With gaming, who knows? I sure don't. Whereas music can simply inspire people to kill police officers and worship Satan, there is no predicting what activities gaming might inspire. A national shortage of wooden boxes, all broken by easily influenced gamers? A wave of theft as gamers desperately try to fill up their "inventory"? Sewers clogged with the bodies of young men and women, in red and green overalls as far as the eye can see? That's not a world I want to live in.
Yet Senator Clinton's recent efforts at censoring gaming have met with a less than enthusiastic reception from the gaming community. Why is that? The general public has responded rather positively to the suggestions of our authorities. What does the general public know that the gaming community has yet to realize? While the gaming community has offered complicated solutions revolving around "free speech" and "self regulation," Senator Clinton and our nation's leaders have come up with a simple and easy solution to the problem: Make all the bad games go away.
Simple, right? Yet there is a great deal of controversy surrounding this suggestion. There are moral relativists and liberal thinkers out there that outright reject the notion of "bad games." To them, a game cannot be bad, because it was created with pixie dust and love-fluff. Well, I've just got three words for these people: Shadow the Hedgehog. It's a game about a brooding psychopathic hedgehog with a handgun. You can't tell me there are no "bad games." I've been there, man. I've seen it.
Such theories discount the effects gaming can have on the impressionable youth. The mind of a young child thirsts for knowledge like a sponge. It will absorb all it can about the world. With gaming uncensored, how can you be sure, without resorting to tedious parenting, that your child won't absorb the wrong knowledge? Their very perspective on life could be warped at any moment by the wrong experience, and since gaming is so new and unknown that experience could be anything. A game could take a child from exploring a fantastic alien world to a warehouse where they stack boxes for hours. Do you want your child learning about stacking boxes from a video game? Sure you do, because, as I mentioned earlier, teaching children things yourself is boring. However, those boxes could just as easily be dead hookers. And that warehouse? It could be some kind of ... place where ... children learn bad things.
It's a hedgehog with a handgun! Why don't you people understand!
Since, as I've said, gaming is such an unknown quantity, how do we know its effects are harmful to young children? The answer is plainly obvious for all to see: the effects are unknown, therefore they must be harmful. And there is empirical evidence to prove this. Since gaming has been introduced to society there have been at least two American wars, countless murders and rapes, and Gloria Estefan. And since all other variables have been ruled out (as they result in uncomfortable feelings of responsibility) that leaves only gaming. It's proof positive of the destructive power of the world's newest art form.
It's not all bad, however! I cannot count the many relaxing hours gaming has given me. It has occupied my nieces and nephews while teaching them about finding keys and fetching items for random strangers (which comes in handy when I run out of scotch). I've spent many hours entertained, laughing at my loved ones' failures and countless deaths. My nephew's nervous twitch when I mention "Ninja Gaiden" never fails to amuse me. Surely the joy and happiness gaming has brought into my life cannot be measured.
It cannot be measured, but it must be weighed. Weighed against the heavy yoke of watchful parenting and involvement with children. Against the cost of living in a society where ideas go unchecked and uncontrolled. We live in the land of the free, where we all enjoy the right to free speech. Where freedom to say what you want is a natural human right. And I wish to deny nobody that right. I ask only for the right to never hear the people I find distasteful. Sure they can speak, but if what they're saying is controversial, why should anybody have to listen? Should we have to bear the burden of listening to ideas that might frighten or confuse us? That might cause us the emotional scarring of introspection? Those that say Yes I find too controversial. So I say No. I've had enough.
Thank you Hillary Clinton, and thank you all politicians everywhere who support gaming censorship. You have the bravery and the courage to stand up to ideas that might impact us and say, "Enough change! Everything is just fine the way it is!" I applaud your defense of the inflexibility that is my natural right as an American. And to you, gaming public, I thank you most of all. For the next time that someone censors your favorite game, remember that you're not suffering this burden for misinformed and frightened parents or opportunistic politicians. You're suffering for the children.