Monday, May 19, 2008

Not Fun

I'm not a "gamer" (they're a breed or ethnicity now; they've got their own classification). I never have been. Mother and Dad bought Nan and me a Nintendo when we were kids--the original one. The one that only had two or three games available--Mario Bros and Tetris, I think. And those games had the resolution of your typical New York Times crossword puzzle.

I hated them. So did Nan, as I recall. Mother, on the other hand, played the Tetris game occasionally I believe (not while she was chewing gum though; she's not a multitasker. In fact, the doctor says she can't chew gum anymore 'cuz sometimes she focuses so hard on chewing that she forgets to breathe). OK; that was a joke.

At any rate, I'm far from an expert. I don't know that I've spent more than 2 hours in front of a video game in the last ten years. I know nothing of the various gaming systems, the games that are available, and/or how to play them.

But I was reading online tonight, and was reminded why we don't have ANY video gaming systems in our home. I came across this story on Yahoo! news, about a new game that Microsoft has released called "Gears of War 2". The story was titled "Too Violent for Some?". It caught my attention (as so many random things do), but at first blush I discounted it because one thing I've learned is that the job of the reporter is much the same as the job of the blogger: to take something virtually inconsequential, and using words and emotion, make it into something that has a life of it's own. That's what we do (mostly), we journalists and bloggers. We take a non-issue, and turn it into an issue. And the bigger an issue it becomes, the better we're doing our jobs.

So, a title like "Too Violent for Some?" didn't really get my juices flowing.

Until I read the story.

The game, "Gears of War 2" is the long-awaited sequel to Microsoft's "Gears of War" which was released in 2006. As best I can tell, "Gears 2" has a storyline having to do with giant locust overtaking the Earth (or, perhaps it's some breed of humans that are called "Locust"; who knows). The game, according to the article, is a notch above it's predecessor in that it "adds in more realistic visuals, a deeper plot and battles that concentrate more on mobility and dynamic combat". I don't know what any of that means, but it sounds like good stuff.

The next paragraph, though, almost stopped my heart. It said:

Graphics and plot aren't just what raised eyebrows at the press event, though: instead, attendees caught a glimpse of one of the game's many melee kill moves. Whereas Gears 1 included an up-close attack that used a chainsaw blade on the lead character's main weapon to dismember a foe, Gears 2 adds a reverse attack that actually slices an enemy in half -- from the groin upwards. Elsewhere in the demo, presenter Cliff Bleszinski, the celebrated lead designer behind the Gears and Unreal series, showed off a new ability that let him use the corpse of a fallen enemy as a "meat shield", soaking up bullets while he returned fire around its head.

Chainsaws that slice enemies in half? Using corpses as "meat shields"?

The game, the story reassures readers, will, because of the violence, be rated as "Mature", which bars it's sale to kids under 16.


What's wrong here? I can't think of a single healthy reason that ANY individual, of ANY age, would need to see any sort of graphical representation of a body dismembered by a chainsaw, or a corpse being used to block bullets. And further, what kind of positive plot or story line might underlie a game which touts "meat shields" and attack moves that halve your enemy? What must be in a person's mind--rather, how seared must a persons mind be for them to realize any measure of enjoyment from this sort of game?

If my kids see ANY sort of dismembered body, real OR digital representation, I want them to have a difficult time sleeping that night. I want it to affect them. Because it's not normal, it's not wholesome, it's not good. Those things SHOULDN'T be seen. Not even on a video game.

Don't get me wrong: I'm no prude. I challenge you, though: name me one positive outcome that might come from playing this game. You can't, can you? The only one you can think of ("It's fun") sounds a little creepy when you realize that you're saying that watching people be halved or bodies being used as human shields is FUN. It shouldn't be. It should scare you to death; cause you to close your eyes, and turn the TV off with the remote. It should cause you to lie awake at night, unable to sleep. It should make you sick to your stomach.

It shouldn't be fun.


Anonymous said...

Sick! Your right this SHOULD NOT be considered pleasurable. It's no wonder this world is full of so many troubled people, today's generation's idean of "fun" is absolutely gut wrenching! Whatever happened to Donkey Kong? That's about as graphic as I like. It just about killed me to pounce on those poor reptiles. =)

Anonymous said...

Very well put. I will have a hard time sleeping tonight just because I read about the Gear 2 and body shields. Why do you think I stuck with Tetris.
And by the way I am chewing gum as I Type this. Who knows someday I might even be able to walk and chew gum at the same time.
Love Mother