Thursday, November 23, 2006

The useless discussion continues...

Another update about computer games and the new discussion. One of my favourite magazines on TV ("Hart aber Fair"; "Hard but Fair") has changed the topic of their weekly discussion because of the recent shoot-out I wrote about yesterday.

What pissed me off a bit - especially from my past experiences with the TV-show - was to describe the contents of several games instead of showing them. Given the fact that in past shows the viewers got 'treated' with pictures of suffering animals, neglected patients in hospitals and other very real, very hard pictures, not showing the games was ridiculous. After all the 'torn up' corpse in "Counter Strike" (as it was described - I personally have never seen a 'torn up' corpse in "Counter Strike", the dead are only lying on the ground, they could just as well be unconscious) is only digital, made of bits and bytes. It never suffered, it didn't die in pain. The poor chicken imprisoned in a cage hardly the size of an average page of writing paper on the other hand does suffer, it does lead a dreadful and very short life. To show the real-life chicken is okay, to show the digital corpse is not, because it's considered to be too extreme ... what kind of logic is that?

Of course we're currently getting the "all of those games should be prohibited, people owning them should be seen as perverts"-statements from the leaders of the conservative party - especially Edmund Stoiber, the Bavarian minister. That is to be expected at the moment ... and it's a sad truth that you can almost bet on when and by whom they're being made. What I find so ridiculous, is the fact that they are trying to put 'Killerspiele' in the same category as pornographic pictures or movies featuring children. The latter is a perverse, disgusting thing which should be stomped out at all costs, the first is just something only older teenagers or grown-ups should play, if they want to. How much alike they are...

People, especially grown-ups who don't have much to do with computers and games themselves, seem to think that a teenager cannot distinguish between reality and virtual world. A teenager of sixteen who cannot distinguish between reality and virtual world has definitely had some other serious problems in his life than just a few violent games. Most teenagers can, that I'm sure of.

One other thing I don't like about the discussion is that it might make people even less inclined to spent much time in front of the PC - and that means girls will even be less likely to get to know the computer ... and therefore will not be among those making much money in this 'new' market. But this is just one side effect.

One of the men in the TV-show is especially ridiculous in his arguments. He always says that those who are introverted need to be trained more, to get more physical. I was always introverted - a loner, somebody spending her afternoons not with computer games, but with books - and I would only have hated grown-ups who would have made me train in my spare time, get more muscles, reach their goals. It's a ridiculous idea to tell a introverted child - boy or girl, no matter - to buff up and become more extroverted in order to lead a more happy life. An introverted person will never be happy just because he or she is more active. We introverted - if I might be so bold as to tell it that way - like being somewhere safe, read or play (whether it's chess, a computer game or maybe a patience). We like sitting somewhere thinking about the world and maybe ways to make it better. And I like to think that most people who invented something important probably were introverted, spending hours studying something and wondering about how it works or can be used.

A funny side-note is that one of them also mentioned "World of Warcraft" a role-playing game in which you normally create your own character and meet a lot of other people in the game. You play against others sometimes (there are so called 'Player vs. Player'-areas where fighting other players is allowed), but mostly you fight with them against computer-generated and computer-controlled monsters. It's about teamwork, about tolerance (there are two sides, but sometimes you have to work with your 'enemy' in order to survive or to achieve a goal), about training to become better at what you do, about being able to actually change something (a feeling most people will never get in the 'real' world). The man mentioning it in the show obviously mixed it up with another game (maybe with "Warcraft", a strategy-game set in the same fantasy world; maybe "Battlefield", a shooter with strategy parts set in World War II). So he went on about how you can only grow strong by killing other people and become a general some time. Not even a Paladin in "World of Warcraft" will ever be a general...

This is a new example for people who talk about something they obviously never gathered information about ... and a disgrace for journalism in Germany. Yes, there are people addicted to "World of Warcraft", who spent all their spare time in front of the PC playing the game. There are even people in China who play it for money so that companies can sell their characters or special items (special armour and weapons for example). But there will always be bad effects from everything, by arguing with them you could also forbid sports, work, food, telephones, TV-sets, books, movies and so on. Given the fact that the air these days isn't as healthy as it once used to be, you could even forbid breathing.

From my point of view most amok runners don't run amok because of a game, they run amok because their life is miserable and they think they'll never be anything but a loser. So they find a weapon, they train with it, they change it (as this one did) and one day they load it, go to the place where they always were humiliated and kill those who humiliated them. There's one thing we shouldn't forget: People running amok don't expect to survive, it's a suicide in which you take people you hate with you. There were such cases even before computer games and I personally think that destroying all the games will not mean there will not be such cases in the future. Society has to change ... or die.

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