The people who mattered were the undecided public who were only hearing from one side of the spectrum, for a long time unchallenged. They didn’t know the stuff they were told might not be true. The media sure didn’t care at all. It was freakish and sensational. “Satanistic ritual games inspire killer” certainly moves more product, as a headline, than “Bad upbringing and psychological disorders strike again.”
But we rolled it back. We had studies. They didn’t. We had facts. They didn’t even know what they were talking about. In retrospect it’s possible there was already a pendulum swing underway against the excesses of the Religious Right but in this niche, and sure - fair enough - roleplaying back then was niche, we did win the argument. They went away, were treated as cranks, and the issue remains dead to this day.
Meanwhile, video games now are trapped in a cycle where they continually downgrade the level of content acceptable for mature audiences, get called out again on something controversial, and then downgrade again “voluntarily”.
I’m sniffling? You know what? Fuck you, Brian. Right around when you started talking about the “worthiness” of the entertainment those damned kids love so much is when you needed to subtract yourself from the discussion. By attempting to reason on the terms of social conservatives, you’ve allowed them to shift the goalposts to standards that shouldn’t apply to any art form, let alone one in its infancy, and become part of the problem.
You’re wishing. “Gosh darn it, wouldn’t it be nice if the industry knew what the fuck it was doing and people even cared?” You find the idea of even exploring the underlaying facts an act of surrender to censorship. “Not our hobby’s fault if harm is done. That’s not the point.”
What do you want? How do you think you’re going to get it if you equate all the voting public out there with the Religious Right? We’re talking about overworked parents who just don’t need another hassle. You’ve seen the numbers I’m sure. Hours put in. Latchkey kids. Sure, this crap started with the Moral Majority/BADD folks back in the 80’s but now it’s a football tossed around by both sides and everyone in between.
So, how are you going to get those voters on your side or at least decide this fight isn’t the most important one? By convincing the media that this issue is just a bullshit smokescreen. But first it might be, oh, a tad helpful if you prove it. Or the industry proves it. Not just talking hypotheticals, or in terms of abstract principles, but by dropping mass tonnage of studies on reporters and editors until they just give up and want to dig out of it.
Assuming the facts are on our side. I’m somewhat comfortable with that assumption but it’s only that - supposition. We need facts. We need ammo.
This is where the corollary to my Rudy theory comes in: if you find yourself engaging one of the arguments he’s made through the years on his terms, you probably need to reevaluate your thought process. Ask Mapplethorpe (well, if he were alive) who should be judging his art’s worth.
As noted above, this is the political reality. That’s the terrain. Those are the positions. You know the players. How are you going to move it? By just assuming all the less than informed media figures, and viewers that pay attention to them, out there are Rudy? Telling them to damn well get their dumb, lazy, asses the hell off your lawn and worry about their own instead? Or take a more practical look at the haggard, stressed out and messy, reality that’s real life for most parents - and media figures for that matter.
Don’t give me protips, Rucker. The problem is exactly that sort of compromised bullshit. It’s been a problem since the first social engineer decided he should tell other people how they should be entertained by law: you can’t deal with fundamental subversions of constitutional intent as if they are honestly conducted differences of opinion. And the only way victories are won is when they are engaged on the terms of the first amendment correctly, whether by reasonable, decent people or by a Larry Flynt. Otherwise, all you get is a temporary ceasefire while the self appointed arbiters of media begin their next move.
If the video gaming industry could get other media to back them up and everyone linked arms in solidarity, they don’t even have to be singing Kumbayah, then your constitutional arguments would have more real weight. But we’ve got a broken, ideologicial, Supreme Court now (thank you Bush Administration!) that takes incredibly inconsistant positions.
Don’t count on your correct interpretation, as it is, of Constitutional Rights as any garauntee of what it’s going to do or why. Not unless they’re as piled under with amicus briefs from the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the rest of the gang as, ideally, our previously mentioned media figures are with studies showing gaming’s harmless impact.
Gaming is now a multi billion dollar industry. The question is whether it values its creative liberties enough to invest in a future that way, because this question will not be resolved by pundits on TV. Those morons will do as they are told. The question will be resolved by which special interests work most effectively to play the game, and that’s a simple question of money and strategic thinking. You don’t even need to look at the obviously successful lobbies; even the murky ones like tobacco have plenty to teach.
If it’s so easy, and so important to the industry, why isn’t it being done?
But frankly, to me as an individual with some sense of integrity, I’d really like to know if gaming is harmful to children, or anyone. I don’t believe it is. Historically, most forms of entertainment initially condemned as harmful have become mainstream (including that antiquated niche roleplaying stuff - ever heard of WoW? D&D, you’ve come a long way, baby) and accepted. But do we know for certain? If we can’t convince ourselves how can we convince less invested, incurious, people who, nevertheless, do have the power to shape the environment our hobby exists in?
You want to make sure GTA4 isn’t being purchased by ten year olds? I’m with you all the way. There’s a lot of genuine discussions to be had about how best to rate games and distribute them. But what you don’t seem to realize is that the people driving Hillary to say these kinds of things are looking to set up distribution legislatively in a manner that prevents games they find objectionable from even being made. They can have their Chronicles of Narnia, just so long as the R-rated movies still exist in a reasonably accessible manner for me to go to.
Is there really legislation being cooked that would cause that? Maybe, and this would really be helpful to me, you could show me what causes you to say that. I’d like to know the links between the campaigns, anti-gaming groups, and explicit bits of legislation. I know there has to be some organization or two devoted to covering this stuff but can’t say I’ve heard much that’s useful out of them…
GTA and countless other games have proven that limited forms of maturity and controversy are marketable. Now the onus is upon those same people that made all that money off it to ensure that we don’t find ourselves steadily sliding towards a blander, Christian Coalition approved future. And if you get the chance to call out a few of these candidates by making a stink about these sort of moves, that’s not going to hurt a thing.
Sure. And they’ll just giggle and drive on by. To where the voters are. Need to change that route somehow.