||12-31-03 04:28 PM
Idiocy with the NY Times!
Here's something to wet your whistle...
Alright, now that you're probably all riled up, here's a response I have prepared to Mr. Byron that I may send to his e-mail...
I just read your article regarding Take-Two Interactive and their controversial hit title "Grand Theft Auto: Vice City". As far as I can tell, your article tells me more about YOU - Mr. Byron - than it does about "GTA: Vice City" and Take-Two. It all starts off with the fact that your philisophically biased article was placed in the business section of a news publication that's rapidly losing any sense of credibility it once had. The proof is in the pudding - I thought I was reading an article warning me not to purchase Take-Two stock because "of an SEC audit" but instead, I get an article where you use that as an excuse to spring-board into an ethics lesson regurgitating the same old and tired spiel that I've come to expect from the likes of Sen. Joe Lieberman or L. Brent Bozell, not in the Business section of a newspaper that's most likely purchased and read by people who probably have Wal-Mart and Abercrombie & Fitch stocks in their own portfolios - two companies that have a long ethical and moral history of stocking their shelves with fashions and electronic items slapped together in third-world slave labor camps to save themselves (and ultimately the consumer) a couple of bucks at the checkout lane.
Speaking of the Sen. Lieberman, as a Democrat, I can tell you why he isn't doing so hot in the 2004 Presidential campaign - it's because intellectually honest Democrats my age have accurately theorized that if Sen. Lieberman wasn't too busy pork-barreling tax-payer money year after year throughout the 1990s with his obsession on finding out if Mortal Kombat and Quake creates child killers, perhaps his constituents would have government-funded health care by now? In other words, Sen. Liberman doesn't have his priorities straight when it comes to spending our money - checking out video games have become more important political whipping dogs than the uninsured children and seniors who can't afford their perscriptions.
It's also because we don't buy into that rubric of violent video games creating child-killers because it lacks all practical sense! If bloody video games filled with decapitations and gut-rending carnage is going to create a group of teenage John Wayne Gacy's, then I guess it's also true that eating Burger King three times a day - every day - for a year will suddenly turn people into Whoppers. Does that make sense?!? No. And what about the decades of Three Stooges shorts that have been replayed time and time again on AMC - if violent video games creates child killers, then wouldn't all the violent eye-pokes, slaps, and hammer blows from The Three Stooges create a small section of domestic terrorists standing on street corners sporting bowl cuts and zoot suits offering to escort New York city pedestrians to the next crosswalk by the hair, nostil, or earlobe?!?
Seriously, Mr. Byron, when was the last time anyone was violated by a "Serial Stooge"?!?
Of course, you might argue, "But that was slapstick comedy! They never seriously injured each other!"
First off, comedy is relative - what isn't funny to you may be funny to someone else. Like art, music, movies, and beauty, the degree of quality is simply in the eyes of the beholder. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Second, according to a dictionary, slaptick is defined as "A boisterous form of comedy marked by chases, collisions, and crude practical jokes" and video games are no exception to that. Also, there's a form of comedy called "counter-culture" that was based solely on the entire shock value of the material. Legends such as Lenny Bruce and George Carlin along with modern "counter-culture" icons like Chris Rock and Howard Stern are all prime examples. Some people love these folks while others simply dont. Again, the comedic value is in the eye of the beholder. When it comes to video games, they are predominately extentions - albeit extreme - of these very forms of comedic entertainment.
What's great about America is the fact that we as people have something called Freedom of Choice - if we don't like what we see, hear, or read, we've got the Freedom of Choice to either change the station or find a more enjoyable book or newspaper. It's sad that some far left-wing and right-wing people in this society fail to understand that and instead desire to use their own Freedom of Choice to LIMIT the choices of another ... and that's where I believe your argument of banning violent video games are steeped in.
You and people like L. Brent Bozell, Joe Lieberman, and the Religious Right are so obsessed with their own morals and values (perhaps even their faith, too) that they feel obligated to make articles of them by imposes them on others. I must ask these people a very sobering question - What part of "Shall not be infringed" don't you people understand? In the 60s and 70s, it happened with Rock and Roll and Vietnam protestors. In the 80s, their focus shifted to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. In the 90s and now, they're focus is shifting to video games ... and it's no surprise! The video game industry has surpassed Hollywood in terms of popularity and profit. It was bound to catch attention of these "moral crusaders" sooner or later.
And that leaves me with correcting some things about your article, for you write...
"In fact, "whatever you want" is what the game is all about. Thanks to its artful and complex programming and its incredibly realistic graphics, the game creates the impression of being inside a totally unscripted, live-action drama in which you can manufacture your mayhem as you go along.
People, this is insane. This is 10,000 times worse than the worst thing anybody thinks Michael Jackson ever did to a little boy - or than any lie the feds think Martha Stewart ever told them, or any line in any song that Bruce Springsteen ever sang that rankled a cop in the Meadowlands."
The only thing insane here, Mr. Byron, is that you are whining and crying about a VIDEO GAME that is doing nothing more than what countless movies, TV shows, and well-written novels have done since the dawn of their existance - allow people to escape the pressures of their reality by drawing them into a form of fantasy! They feel drawn into the intracasies. Sometimes, these are so attractive because we get to escape into a world or a dimentional vision of someone we'd never -- EVER -- dream of becoming ourselves in reality. When you read Joe Heller's "Catch 22", you become Yousarian ... even though in the back of your mind you swear you can't possibly imagine ever identifying with such an idiot! But you do, nonetheless. When you read Stephen King's "The Shining", you end up personally identifying with poor Jack Torrance here and there as the story progresses. When you watch FX's "The Shield" or ABC's "NYPD Blue", you become engrossed into the characters and identifying with them depending on the situation. When you call up a radio station request line and the DJ tapes the conversation for play over the air, you feel like you're part of the grand scheme of things. How can video games be different?!?
You also wrote...
"Out of [Take-Two Interactive spews] the glorification of mass murder and the celebration of death. And the fact that the game supposedly can't be sold to anyone under 17 years of age is completely irrelevant and changes nothing. For one thing, the age cutoff is totally unenforceable, and everyone knows it."
Once again, people haven't educated themselves but still feel the need to talk crap without knowing crap. During development of GTA Vice City, the directors and producers have gone on record in print publications such as Ziff-Davis's "Electronic Gaming Monthly" and IDG's "GamePro" magazine time and time again stating, "We don't want anyone under 17 playing or purchasing our game and encourage retailers to deny selling it to minors unless a parent is present. We also want the sales rep to they take the time to educate parents of the content if the latter happens. This game is certainly not for everyone!"
Secondly, the ESRB rating system on video games is a VOLUNTARY system that was never intended to be enforceable by LAW. It was started under a compromise between the game publishers and Congress. Some Congressmen wanted to see these games outright BANNED but were threatened by the IDSA that by doing so, they would file suit against the U.S Government for infringing on their Constitutional Rights. Other Congressmen wanted to see laws made that would make it a criminal act for retailers and game publishers and retailers to market or sale violent video games to children. The IDSA threatened legal action again claiming that such a system was unconstitutional due to fact that it's up to the public - not bureacrats - to decide what is violent and what isn't and there's no litmus test to weigh the maturity of an individual.
The IDSA however offered a compromise - a voluntary, self-regulatory rating system on the games to inform parents of the content of the game that way they can make a choice on whether or not to purchase the game for their kids. Congress wasn't too happy about that and argued that, without a LAW in place to enforce it, children could still purchase and consume violent video games without parent's knowing. The IDSA re-iterated on the behalf of the video game industry that they are a BUSINESS whose desires to MAKE MONEY, just like any other business out there. They also stated that capitalistic business are never obligated to be responsible for being "parents by proxy" to children - that's the job of parents. However, agreed to make it easier for parents to do THEIR job by stating that if such a scenario were to happen - where a child under 17 bought a video game that was rated for people over 17+ against their parents approval - the parent could then return the game with all related materials and sales reciept back to the retailer for a full refund or credit towards the purchase of a game they feel is more suitable for thier child. Not wanting to drag this through the Supreme Court through years or put their political carreers on the line, Congress agreed and approved to this compromise.
And the system has been working. Work's excellently! With the rating system in place along with many independent media publications that review game titles such as EGM and GamePro, as well as the Internet where their's plenty of websites dedicated to video games previes and reviews, there's absolutely no excuse for a parents today. They can't claim ignorance anymore when it comes to video game content. The ball has been appropriately placed in THEIR court where it belongs. It's now up to them to decide whether or not to become an active part in the recreational habits of their children.
If they do, it's great news for everyone.
If not, it's their problem!
Lastly, you wrote ...
"And cases surface constantly in which "Grand Theft Auto" has been linked to violence and killing. In Tennessee last summer a motorist was killed and his passenger wounded when two boys - aged 14 and 16 - played "Grand Theft Auto" and then decided to go out and take sniper shots at cars, just like in the game."
That, Mr. Byron, speaks volumes ... not because of GTA's link to the violence but because what HASN'T been linked. I notice right away the missing element here - PARENTS! Obviously, the parents of these two teenage boys never took the time, the care, and the love to tell these kids that what happens on the video game console is fantasy marketed as entertainment and should NEVER be emulated in reality because of the consequences involved - people could get hurt and they could go to jail! How difficult is that?!? As a parent of a 2-year old, I think it's high time for parents to be responsible in their role as PARENTS and quit blaming others for their LACK of responsibility whenever their MINOR children go out and does something stupid. My parents were - my father (who passed away earier this year) always felt that video games were simply garbage, even those in the 70s! I remember having to really plead and beg for 25 or 50 cents to go play a video game if I didn't have it. And Dad would always say to the back of my head as I ran towards the Punch-Out upright, "You know that's all bull**** in there! Don't waste your money ... but if you absolutely must, go ahead, have your fun. Just rememer - what goes on in that arcade STAYS in that arcade, you hear me?!?"
I heard him, alright ...
Have we as a society become so DENSE that we're now free to assume that the "Sub-Zero made me do it" defense will actually sway a trial judge?!? Apparently, by your article, some portions of our society and members of Congress obviously have. But, thankfully, any trial judge - regardless if they are a Liberal or a Conservative - will simply see that line of defense for what it really is - an indefensible EXCUSE that doesn't hold anymore water than the "Devil made me do it" style of defense did back in the 80s with regard to the Advanced Dungeons & Dragons murders.
Congress would do well to know that the video game industry is an industry where they must tread very lightly because the backlash could be catrostrophic - not only for their careers but for democracy as well. Why? Simply put, the majority of video gamers today aren't kids - a recent study showed that an overwheming majority of video gamers today are predominately adult males between 18 and 35 years old. This is a smart, articulate, and formidible group of people that could unleash the most unmitigated political and civil backlash this country hasn't seen in years if our Government decides to start stiff-arming the video gaming industry. Unlike the movie and music industries, the video gaming industry (despite it's massive growth every year since 1985) doesn't have a lobbyiest group in Congress.
Today, that could change at the drop of a controller.
And they'll make sure The Constitution prevails instead of reactionary editorials.
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