Thursday, January 24, 2008

When Stupid Attacks (Follow-Up)

Here are a few items following up on yesterday's post.

First off, that segment was a picture-perfect example of the enormous cultural gap that exists between people who do play games and people who don't. It's not that video games are for "adolescent boys" and "adults" have better things to do with their time, even though that's what Ms. Smarty Pants so smugly implied. Gaming's demographics in the U.S. are so widespread at this point that to claim it's limited to teenage boys is just absurd.

Maybe ten years ago someone could have claimed that people who play games and people who don't represent two separate countries. Today, though, it would be more accurate to say that the people who don't play games live on an island, and that island is shrinking every day. So it's not surprising that all those people from Fox sounded so out of touch--they are out of touch.

These people are no different than the people who refused to have a television in their house because television programs were "trash." It's the same attitude--paint an entire form of entertainment with the broadest, least-nuanced brush possible so that it can be uniformly dismissed as inferior.

What happens when someone does that, though, is that any discussion they have about that medium has to be at the vaguest level possible, because they can only condemn the medium through generalities.

That's why it was so funny to see Geoff Keighley obliterate their generalities with facts. And what did they do in response? Ignore him! They had to ignore the facts, because if they didn't, they would have had absolutely nothing to say. Or, in the case of Cooper Lawrence, just make up a "fact" in response.

Please don't think the gaming industry should get a free pass here. Way, way too many underage consumers are still able to buy ratings-inappropriate games (which is why the wing of hysteria can use the phrase "marketed and sold to children"). But the film industry and the music industry shouldn't be getting a free pass, either. Take a look at the most recent FTC report (released April 12, 2007) on Marketing Violent Entertainment To Children. Here's the table with the relevant data:
Percent of Children ABLE to make the Puchase Unacommpanied
R-Rated Movie Theater Ticket.........46%........48%......36%.....39%
R-Rated Movie on DVD....................N/A..........N/A........81%......71%
Unrated Movie on DVD....................N/A..........N/A.........N/A......71%
Explicit-Content Labeled Music.......85%.......90%.......83%.....76%
M-Rated Electronic Game................85%.......78%......69%.....42%

What? You mean the Federal Trade Commission data shows that when a kid walks into a store, it's almost twice as easy for him to buy a DVD or music CD that's inappropriate for his age than a game?

Funny, I never hear anyone mentioning that.

Like I said, I don't think the gaming industry should be getting a free pass just because everyone on that Fox panel was totally incompetent. I absolutely believe that there needs to be a serious discussion about racism, sexism, and homophobia in games. The people who are qualified to be involved in that discussion, though, need to be specific and factual, and most importantly, they need to be rational. And this discussion needs to include films and music as well.

We just need to do it without the shrieking.

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