Saturday, 19 September 2009

Shooting People In The Face

I like shooting people. There, I’ve admitted it. I like nothing better than the visceral thrill of sneaking up behind somebody, pistol in hand, and putting a sunroof in the back of their skull. I’m often to also be found selecting a fast car to carjack then speeding through the streets, knocking people over and committing drive-bys with a semi-automatic. If I’m not on Earth then I’m frequently stalking the corridors of a mutant infested derelict spaceship, merrily blowing the limbs off of any creature that attacks me, watching in delight as it writhes at my feet. Why do I do these things? Because, at 38, I’m old enough to, that’s why.

I’m not a frequent visitor to game stores so it is rather telling that I invariable witness the following; a child who is clearly nowhere near 18 picking up a game that is completely unsuitable, such as GTA IV or Dead Space, and handing it to daddy – who proceeds to buy it for their darling little crewcut haired, football shirt wearing, bundle of sneers. What is the point of games companies going to the trouble and expense of having to have their wares certificated by the BBFC and/or PEGI if parents are simply going to ignore it?

We often hear in the media of a sweet little cherub, who according to their parents, “is a little angel, doesn’t do nuffin’ wrong”, going out stabbing, mugging or worse? And what happens when the media discovers they enjoy playing Abattoir Atrocity V? Yes, they call for all violent computer games to be banned, the typical knee-jerk reaction.

Who is to blame though; the companies who produce games targeted at a particular adult demographic or the parent who knowingly abdicates all responsibility for their offspring by allowing them access to that material? Why should I, as an adult, be denied access to a game I enjoy purely because Mr Moron can’t take notice of the bloody packaging on a game?

The same argument applies to films. We’ve had the Chucky series blamed for some of the most disgusting acts ever perpetrated, by adult or child, but should that necessarily mean that such films be banned? Of course not! Those children had no right to view the films so who is to blame – the parents!

I’m not even convinced that access to such material can affect a child’s behaviour. I grew up on a diet of Jet Set Willy and Ant Attack yet not once did I truant from school to run around a mansion or fight giant bugs in a deserted city. However if, and it’s a big if, it’s true that playing violent games leads to violent behaviour in children then it is incumbent on the parent to restrict their child’s access, not society’s right to restrict mine.

Perhaps the parents are unaware that the graphics in games have progressed as far as they have. Perhaps they imagine them to still consist of a little block man running through a blocky eight colour landscape, bleeping as he jumps. If that’s the case then perhaps that parent should be taking more notice of the child when he’s playing because these days the graphics are photorealistic to the point they’d give me nightmares if the copious amounts of cheese I eat didn’t do that anyway. By the way, apropos of nothing, why do game characters make a noise when they jump? I don’t make a noise when I jump – I make hell of a thump when I land, but not on the way up. Odd gaming convention that.

It is time that people stood up and told it like it is; if you’re going to procreate then can you please take responsibility for what your progeny does, not simply let it run feral until it does something wrong then bleat it’s everybody else’s fault but yours. It’s amazing that people are legally obliged to pick up their dog dirt, facing fines for not, yet seemingly nothing is done to curb the buying of unsuitable entertainment media for children by parents. Maybe that way, my right as an immature 38 year old man to shoot people in the face on the Xbox or PS3 would not be put in jeopardy by a snivelling 10 year old and his irresponsible daddy.

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