Friday, January 11, 2013

Are Video Games Responsible for the Newtown Elementary shooting?

I was born in 1973, my first exposure to video games was in the Greenwich Boys club, there was an Atari 2600 and I vaguely remember playing either pong or tank against some other kid....I had no idea how to play but I learned very quickly that I didn't like loosing so next time I tried harder and almost beat the person I was playing. No one like to loose be it Little League where you're parents are cheering you on while you're at bat, or in school during a spelling bee, or at gym in a relay race.

From a very early age we are groomed to strive to win from our parents, teachers, coaches and there's nothing wrong with that, I'm a parent now and I want my son to be successful and win just like every other parent out there.
Getting back to me....So as mentioned above I've been playing video games since 1981. I grew up in the 80's which means Rambo, Rocky, GI Joe, Transformers, Voltron, The Beasty Boys, Predator, Terminator, Beasty Boys, MTV, I went to a camp on an Island where we had Archery and Riflery ( can't imagine that happening in today's day and age), TMNT, Lazer Tag.
In 1982 my Godfather (God bless his soul) bought me a Atari 5200 which was my very first video game console....all my friends had the inferior 2600 mwuhahaha....little did I know that dreadnought of a console was Atari's Titanic in the console business.....

Christmas 1985 my friend Krogenar got the Nintendo Entertainment System complete with Gamings most prolific Peripheral ROB!

We spent hours in front of his parents trinitron TV playing Super Mario Bros. and thus my love affair with video games was reborn! The following Christmas I got my own NES and my addiction grew I must've visited my local Toy's R Us on a weekly  basis, my library of NES games grew at a geometric rate over the years.
As the 80's came to a close the rumors of new consoles from Nintendo and Sega spread, the arcade scene in the US was slowly dying. But in 1991 a game came out that changed the industry, Street Fighter II The World Warriors not only breathed life back into the US arcade scene and delayed the inevitable but also ushered in a new degree of "multi player competitive" gaming that is still going strong today!

The end of 1991 ushered in the second console war (CWII) between the SNES and the Sega Genesis. The 16 bit era saw an explosion of consoles from other companies that saw the video game industry wasn't gonna fade away as a fad like so many things from the 80's, video games also saw the transition from cartridges to    CD's with the larger storage space came more freedom for game developers to create the games they dreamed of.

Games also began to mature with those of us who have been playing them since the days of Pac Man, Centipede,  Donkey Kong and Dig Dug. No longer were we playing to get the high score by ourselves, we were now competing against others to win in a fight, a race or to survive longer than the person next to you in a shooting game.
The 90's saw an influx of games that portrayed much more realistic violence, fighting games evolved as did shooting games.....Time Killers, Splatter House, House of the Dead, and Mortal Kombat. These games also got the attention of politicians and in 1994 the ESRB was created.

So here we are 19 years later, at the end of the 7th generation of games consoles PS3, Xbox360 & Wii and with the the advancement of technology video games games are no longer considered a hobby for kids and anti socialites, the video game industry has grown into a recognized form of entertainment with billion dollar franchises like Metal Gear Solid, Call of Duty, Gears of War, Pokemon, etc. These games have budgets that rival the film industry. They offer unique experiences that you cannot get from going to the movies, no longer do you have to sit and just watch the hero save the world from annihilation from alien/terrorist threats, now you are the hero! YOU make the choices, YOU fight the good fight, You have the opportunity to experience  things you could never in your real 9-5 life get to.

I have played each of the above games, they all contain violence to some varying degree, I have been playing video games since 1981, and the majority have had violent aspects and mature themes . On a scale from casual gamer (1) (farmville) to Hardcore Gamer (10)  (sponsored player by MadCatz at EVO) I'd probably land around a 6 or 7. I've shot BB guns and given archery a whirl when I was in camp, I watch violent movies, listen to music with expletives, and have friends who own guns.
I also have a son, 2 jobs and happily married for almost a decade.
I get frustrated and angry, curse, and carry on from time to time, but I also realize life ain't easy and  I am responsible for not only myself but my family.
I would be willing to bet 98% of people who play video games are just like me.
So when I read that the vice president of the ECA is sending a letter to VP Joe Biden pleading for him to not blame the horrific events in Newtown elementary school on Video Games it frustrates me that politicians, for as long as I can remember have point point the finger at Video Games and before that Movies and before that Comic Books and before that Rock and Roll.....Jesus wake up Washington! there are hundreds of influences around us on a daily basis that mold our behavior, our thoughts, our outlook on life and YOU single out ONE thing! I wish it were that simple but we all know it isn't, and then add in mental illness and the equation just becomes geometrically more complicated!!!
So in conclusion, if politicians believe video games are responsible for these horrific acts then I should definitely be on some "person's of interest" report.

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