Video games are only for kids. Like addictive drugs, they only dull the mind, destroy lives and are a complete waste of time. Well these days that is not entirely true. The development of video games since the 70s have come a long way. The video game is currently a multi-billion dollar industry, heavily competing alongside with the movie/film industry and has expanded to all age groups. If time is moderately spent on video games, they can provide an enjoyable escape no different than reading a novel or watching a cinematic film.
However, video games have faced a tireless wave of discrimination and smug ever since their inception. Especially the adult-intended games that have been slapped with ridiculous bans and bombarded with complaints from angry parents and congressmen because there is a “direct link” between violent video games and children.
Yes it is true some games contain inappropriate content such as strong violence, sexual images, use of drugs and vulgar language. But that is why there are rating systems such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) in the States. The ESRB fully equips parents with the power to educate themselves on various kinds of video game content and the ability to proactively decide which games are or not suitable for their children.
The media also contributes to the unfair lookdown of video games. They purposefully take some parts of a video game out of context for sensational headlines and provide one sided views.
The highly anticipated military first-person-shooter (FPS), Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 (MW2) had been released in November. However, one of the missions in the game sparked some major controversy with the media because it involved a terrorist attack in an airport. Of course, headlines from several news outlets would read:
“Outrage as new video game lets players kill civilians in terror attacks! Modern Warfare 2 accused of promoting terrorism! New game lets players massacre civilians!”
The one-sidedness does not stop there. Several news outlets keep failing to get the facts straight.
“In one of the missions, players can join a group of Russian ultranationalist terrorists and massacre civilians with assault weapons in an airport. A scene from Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. The mission effectively simulates a terrorist attack from a first-person view,” according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
An opinion show called “Fox and Friends” from Fox News hosted Founder of Slash Gamer Jon Christensen and CEO of Common Sense Media Jim Steyer on a debate/report on MW2 that was far from accurate.
“You essentially get to be a terrorist and kill people and it’s very realistic,” The Fox host said.
Wrong. The player is not a terrorist. The player actually takes on the role of an undercover agent trying to infiltrate a group of Russian terrorists but the player does participate in the attack as he or she watches the terrorists slowly walk through an airport and fire at large groups of innocent, unarmed people with assault rifles and grenade launchers. Some of the defenseless victims crawl to safety while they bleed to death, others drag the injured away from gunfire and cry in fear.
The scene is graphic and horrific. Even those with thick skin would feel a chill run down their spine. Regardless, that is the shocking realism and effect of terrorism that the game is trying to create and is an essential part of MW2’s storyline.
“We push the story. We want the player to be emotionally attached. We want them to be emotionally shocked,” according to head of Infinity Ward game developer Vince Zampella.
Infinity Ward warns gamers that the scene may be disturbing and they can choose not to play through the part. Infinity Ward does not advocate terrorism in anyway and honored U.S. troops on Veteran’s Day after the game’s release.
It is no doubt video games strive to get more realistic each day and that some game content is intended for more mature audiences only, hence MW2 is labeled Mature (M) by the ESRB and intended for players of ages 17 and over.
In addition to that, it is unfair a military video game like MW2 should be bashed by the media for trying to present and confront the issues of terrorism.
Novels, movies, and TV shows like 24 have trenched on similar ground but never get on hot seat. So what is so different about a video game that implements storytelling and a creative drive in its gameplay?
Overall, video games have constantly achieved the level of realism and technology they aspire to for over the past 30 years. But they will not achieve the acceptance other forms of media entertainment enjoy today.