“Violent” Video Games, Politics, and Nerd Rage. (Or : “Stop Wasting Your Breath”)

Get involved, or get blamed.
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I’m going to keep this brief.  Well, compared to the usual 5 page opus I’m used to typing, anyway.  But, to the chase.

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So people are complaining long and loud about comments made by VP Joe Biden about taxing violent video games.  The short version: Biden SUGGESTED there’s “no legal reason” they couldn’t tax violent video games and give the proceeds to victims of violent crime.  It’s been properly eviscerated by people much more qualified than myself, but I want to address a bigger issue in my mind.

Hit the wayback machine to about 1993.  Among other things, the US Senate is conducting hearing about “violent video games” and how bad they are.  Keep going back, you’ll see that they’d been at it since the 80’s.  So we’re talking about an on and off sustained campaign against video games for over 30 years.  I’d venture to say that’s older than a lot of people reading this article.  Interestingly enough, some of the senators involved in 1993 like Joe Lieberman are still involved today, fighting the evil of video games.

And after 30 years, what has the video game industry done to defend itself?  

Nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  Zero.  Nill and null.  OK, a FEW things that are superficial.  They instituted a rating system like the film board, but that’s really kind of laughable.  And what have we gamers really done?  Even less.  We go online and bitch and moan, and after a few days of nerd rage we call it a day and forget about it.  And we scream how unfair it is, how they’re bullying us, how they need to stop it…

There’s the problem.

Gamers rage and forget.  The industry rages and forgets.  Both put their arms up and scream “STOP HITTING ME!”  Nobody sets up long term plans, let alone a defense to fight this kind of ignorance.  You have groups like the ESA but they’re hardly a lobbyist group–they’re a trade association.  We also have budding e-sport gaming leagues that could provide some legitimacy, but it’s being fought by gaming culture hardcore players as “ruining what it’s all about.”

Unfortunately, at this point, it’s about survival.  Gaming is being blamed for everything from mass shootings to child neglect.  They’d probably blame gaming for the stock market crashing in 1929 and that meteorite that slammed into Russia if they thought they could get away with it (before you laugh, one politician said riding a bicycle led to global warming so anything is possible at this point).

Nerd raging about what Biden said isn’t going to help. What’s needed is action.

Unfortunately, this is where my area of expertise will falter as I don’t speak politics. There are a LOT of people more qualified than me to draw up a battle plan and do it, but I do believe that it will require the industry to back it.  It will also involve action from gamers who will need to support companies so they can send lobbyists to whisper into the ears of politicians that video games really aren’t evil incarnate.  Politicians, especially career politicians, go off of what they’re told, not what is truth.

But the irony of me saying this is, well–I’m a guy on the internet complaining about it with little to no means to actually make change.  I mean I’m just a gamer.  I barely have enough money to get food most weeks let alone pay off a congressman.  I’ll just leave this here, and hope that the message, the CORE MESSAGE, gets to someone who might be able to afford to make this happen.

Core message?  To be blunt, get involved or get blamed.  Instead of being reactionary like the gaming industry has been, take the reigns and make stuff happen.  Raging about it on the internet has little to no influence on what will happen.  Voting people into office, writing letters to your congress people, calling your reps on the phone, actually being heard by your politicians DOES help.  They don’t read Facebook, they read letters and listen to phone calls.  Until someone with both money and influence actually backs something like this on a larger scale, we’ll always be on the back-foot reacting to what they do to us.  That’s not how you grow, that’s how you get bullied.

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I'm a gamer. I'm a reality junkie. I'm a cynic. I'm a dinosaur. I'm a writer. I'm so much more than a paragraph can say. You want more? Ok. I started a video game show on the internet some time ago. See, I've played video games since Intellivision and Atari 2600 and PONG back in the day. Retro-gaming doesn't really fire me up as much as seeing how the community ticks. And after seeing way too many "I'm too young to have played this game when it first came out but it MAKES ME SO ANGRY" reviewers who would happily eviscerate my childhood for lulz... yeah I tossed my hat into the ring. the quickly scooped it back up, I'm told I have a bald spot that needs covering. Outside of gaming... yes I go outside shut up... I like to play paintball when I can. I snowboard a lot, when I can. I go mountain biking, when I can... seeing a trend yet? I prefer reality to video games, but at 4 AM it's hard to find a paintball game going on. Lately I livestream a lot, playing video games for an audience.