Violence In Video Games: Modern Warfare 2, The Latest Scapegoat

Infinity Ward’s Robert Bowling tweeted not too long ago that if anyone wanted a spoiler-free experience, they should opt for a total media blackout up until the launch of Modern Warfare 2, on November 10th. But, what happened? Websites, blogs and even newspapers started writing about a leaked video of the game that apparently shows the player-controlled “hero” going undercover in a terrorist group and killing innocent people. That’s what happened, I’m pissed off about it, and this is why…

Headlines are already linking the scene in the video to violent acts in videogames, what they do to people and what they make people do. I wouldn’t be surprised if I was hearing or reading – in the near future – about school-killings or downtown-mayhem-murders done by some guy, and the whole situation being blamed on videogames. And I’ll tell you what, not only is that a load of bulls***, but it also goes to show that media these days don’t seem to have anything better to report on, so why not stir things up by writing about videogame violence, again? Let alone do research on the matter.

Of all the tragedies we’ve heard and read about these last couple of years, how many have been unjustifiably connected with videogames? How many of them rule out factors that are indirectly involved with the videogame, like parents? How about digging a little deeper? How about mentioning that some of the people who committed these gruesome acts of violent nature, had in fact a history of mental disorder? Or how about the fact that they were devoted to satanic cults, and in some cases, besides being alcoholics and drug addicts, some of them had swastikas tattooed on their chest and arms and were members of “groups” worshipping Hitler, everything he did and stood for? How about we look into all this before we pick the easy target that are videogames and write a story about it? How about we do that, you so called “journalists?”

Putting physical illnesses and behavior aside, videogames are in no way worse than that which we love: movies. How come people all over the world condemn violence in videogames, yet think that Saving Private RyanBlack Hawk Down and Passion of the Christ are some of the best movies ever made? How about American History X? How about Tarantino movies, which more often than not show bloody gore throughout the entirety of the film? How are those better than WWII-based games like Medal of HonorBrothers in Arms and Call of Duty? In fact, let me take it one step further and bring the movie Titanic to the table. Has anyone who watched the movie ever thought about what repercussions it might have had on the people who survived that fateful day in the middle of the Atlantic ocean? Did anyone consult with them and ask them if it would be ok to make a movie based on one of the most tragic moments in modern history?

How about suicide bombings? How about guerilla wars? How about mass-murders? How about 9/11, which we saw from every angle, exactly what happened? How about all of the aforementioned being on the news that we watch every single day on TV? How does that make the world any better, or optimistic for that matter? How can you avoid your son or daughter from seeing that, and potentially being affected by it?

I believe what Infinity Ward is trying to do is give us something that will cause us to express emotion, something we feel strongly about. Whether it’s anger, disgust or the need for revenge, I don’t care. This is something we see on a daily basis throughout any kind of media, it being newspapers, TV, radio, cinemas, etc., so why shouldn’t game developers be able to deliver something in the likes of this to us gamers? This world seems to be utterly f***ed up either way, so why does anyone suddenly care about what impact videogames have on society?

If a child or adult goes out on a killing spree on November 11th, it won’t be because of a game, it won’t be because of Modern Warfare 2. It might, however, be because the human being in question either has parents that haven’t done what they’re supposed to, or is seriously mentally unstable, not because he or she lost a round on Capture the Flag. Oh, the parents, I won’t even open that door.

I know that most of what I’ve been writing about here are questions rather than answers, but I’ve been trying for the longest time to figure out why videogames are occasionally labelled as prime suspects when a child and weapons are involved in a hazardous situation. Is it really that hard to contemplate that there might be some other outside influence on that person’s faulty behavior? What makes people react to violence in videogames and not to the often more violent scenes depicted in the news and movies? What good does the PEGI ratings on games do if parents ignore them completely and give their 13-year-old kid permission to buy Grand Theft Auto that’s unmistakably rated 18+? Who’s to blame? The developer who’s taken all the steps to ensure the game doesn’t get in the wrong hands, the kid, or the parents?

History has shown us that when a crime has taken place, and videogames are blamed for whatever happened, most of these questions have never gotten an answer, and probably never will. So why bother writing about something that will most likely never change… ? Because it bothers me. Call me a nerd, but the fact is that I love videogames, playing them is more than just a hobby, it’s a passion and that’s why it really aggravates me when unknowledgeable people talk wrongfully about them. I’m sure that if I blamed McDonald’s for making me fat, or Michelin for giving me flat tires after having driven on nails, or Bill Gates for making a “killing simulator” (according to a certainly confused individual) and blaming him for the Virginia Tech massacre, they would all look at me as if I was some kind of loonatic, because it’s absurd… much like the idea of going for the easy answer to a far more complex problem than what these people, evidently, can tie their tiny little heads around.

I applaud Infinity Ward for having the guts to change the obvious, and despite the news of the video, which I refuse to watch due to the fact that I don’t want any more spoilers, I can’t wait to get my hands on the game. November 10th can’t come soon enough.