A reader recently commented on a previous post entitled “The Goodness of Bad Day LA” as follow:
Wow, I guess school shooting and gang shootings just aren’t enought for some people. I guess there are just too many people out there making good wholesome games and you figured you had to balance the scale a bit and make a mindless killing game. Well good luck with it. When you read about the next teacher who died at the hands of a child you can sit back and say “hey, I helped do that!”
I am baffled whenever someone implies that I might derive pleasure from senseless murder simply because I am a video game designer. It makes me wonder how and why some people have such a negative view of games and their impact on society. Where do people get the idea that video games actually cause murder? How many murders were linked to video games in the US last year? To the best of my knowledge it is zero. Can someone show me otherwise?
I can find a lot of stories that talk about murderers who play video games. For instance:
Ralls nonchalantly described to police investigators his role in the deaths of five people and the robbing of at least 23 others as the Nut Cases terrorized Oakland for 10 weeks ending in their arrest in January 2003, police said.
The suspects told police they would spend their time getting high and playing the violent video game “Grand Theft Auto III” — which rewards players for committing crimes — and then would act out what they’d done when they grew bored with the game.
Full story at: SFGate.com
Here we have a couple of maniacs who went on a killing spree in San Francisco. The crimes they commited were senseless and horrific. The article clearly calls out the fact that they played the “violent video game” GTA3. And it points out that the game “rewards players for committing crimes”. But does this mean that GTA3 caused the crimes? Does anyone honestly believe that these guys would have led a crime-free life of public service if it weren’t for video games? Here we have maniacs who played video games. Video games did not make them maniacs.
In addition to playing games these guys also “got high”. I would imagine that as they drove around on their killing sprees they were listening to something other than Mozart – perhaps something a little more rage filled? They probably enjoyed the a few violent movies. The point is that these kids, and a lot more on top of them, are exposed to violent media day in and day out. When one person snaps why is it entertainment content that receives the blame? People have been going on killing sprees since long before the invention of digital media.
People get road rage and kill one another. We do not blame cars or traffic or poorly designed road systems. A friendly game of golf gets too competitive and someone ends up with an iron lodged in his or her brain cavity. We do not blame golf club manufacturers or the greens keeper. I could keep going, but the point here is that when someone goes nuts in those contexts we rightly blame it on the person, not the cereal he ate for breakfast or his favorite sit-com.
As for how all of this relates to Bad Day LA, I’d like to point out that far from being a “murder simulator” this is a game where the player is actively encouraged to help people in need and rescue people in distress. Killing innocent people results in the player being punished. So unlike GTA3, this is a game that “rewards people for committing acts of heroism.”