Jack Thompson is known for lobbying against violent video games. He had been doing this for years… until he was disbarred in 2008 by the Florida Supreme Court. He argues that violent video games cause teenagers to become murderers. These games allow the teenagers to practice their violence in the games (Murder simulators) before committing the crimes in real life. He was against games like Manhunt 2 and Grand Theft Auto IV, which I agree are a bit too violent as video games, but they are mature adult rated games. He was also against games like Bully, Halo, and Mortal Combat. He said, after one murder, that the shooter trained on Halo. Halo? The game where the red guys and the blue guys shoot each other. Yeah, that is Halo.

I’m not here to write about Jack Thompson. In my opinion, he was a crazy lawyer looking for any way to get into the press and make money… and never played a video game in his life. I just wanted to start this off by showing how far some have come to remove violent video games from the market. Is this type of entertainment so bad that it would cause someone to go out and kill another person? I don’t think so… and that’s what I want to talk about.

Let’s start by saying that video games are a form of entertainment. You can go to the store and purchase a violent video game as well as a racing video game, an adventure video game, or any other genre of video games. We all agree that our kids are not affected by the Star Wars Lego’s game or Super Mario Brothers. What we are worried about are those “shooter” games… The games where you are killing other people.

 

3 Stooges violence or just fun-to-watch television?

 

That sounds terrible when you put it down in writing. But let’s take a look at entertainment in the old days… being the 60’s – 80’s for me. Remember the 3 Stooges? I loved watching them. Moe would hit Curly over the head with a shovel or hammer. There was one episode where a fighter got all drunk and Curly had to take his place in the ring. How about them getting into the war and fighting against the Indians with rifles… that was hilarious. Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck were always having their time with Elmer Fudd. Guns blasting… duck season… rabbit season… duck season… what a laugh. Wild E. Coyote was always trying to find ways to kill… or should I say, destroy the Road Runner. He would try TNT, guns, boulders, or any other devastating device to get rid of that speedy bird. Look at the violence in these TV shows. I watched the 3 stooges a couple of months ago and noticed how violent and drunk they could get. Didn’t affect me while growing up. It was entertainment.

Other types of entertainment in those days were the army men that I would play with as a little kid. I’d have virtual, in my head, wars going on between all the little green men, their weapons, and vehicles. I would imaging them getting shot or run over by tanks. I played cowboys and indians too, with my friends. We would run around with guns and pretend to shoot each other. Dungeons and Dragons was another great game that I enjoyed when I got into high school. I killed many trolls and orcs in my time. Was I affected by any of this entertainment? No. I knew that I was just pretend shooting or killing with my friends. I knew that real guns could be bad if not handled correctly.

 

 

I remember this scene from Friday the 13th back in 1980.

 

Let’s jump to movies. I remember the classics like the Exorcist or The Shining… “here’s Johnny!”. My dad took me to see the first Alien movie. That really scared me. I also jumped out of my seat at the end of the first Friday the 13th movie. Watching Kevin Bacon get that arrow shoved up through his throat was quite gruesome. Freddy Krueger had the blades on his hands, Halloween’s Michael Myers used an axe, and who could forget the weird guy with the nails coming our of his head, in Hellraiser. All scary and gory… but not compared to today’s movies. Did I want to go out and kill people after this entertainment? No. I knew that it was not real, but I enjoyed watching it for the excitement and the jumping out of my seat moments.

Music was also something that I enjoyed. I had almost all the KISS albums until they went disco with their Dynasty album and lost some original members. I loved Led Zeppelin, Ozzy Osborne, and Alice Cooper. Remember the time Ozzy bit the head off of a bat… now he says that he thought it was a toy. Aerosmith had their own blend of sound that I enjoyed listening too. Did this music affect me today? No. Most of the bands did drugs. Many sang about sex and drugs. I don’t agree with what they were singing about, but I wasn’t really listening to the lyrics when I was a kid and I still grew up okay. Listen to some of the kids sing songs today. You will be surprised what they will sing out loud without knowing what they are actually saying.

What is the point I’m trying to make? A lot of things I watched or did, from when I was a kid until now, had something in it that could be considered violent, sexual, or drug related. Remember the big story of the kids killing others because of the influence the Dungeons and Dragons game had on them? How about KISS being Kings in Satan’s Service? The 3 Stooges were drunk a lot and Aerosmith was high on drugs for most of their early career. Did I know it at the time? No. Do I know it now? Yes. Did it make me a bad person? No… which is what this is all about.

 

Interesting movie but can't say that I could watch it again.

 

As I have been saying all along, this is entertainment. It has advanced much more today, than when we were kids, but it is still not causing people to commit any bad crimes. If it does, they probably have a mental problem to start with. It’s not just video games either. Have your read some of the books out there? Many of the violent movies are based off of these books. How about movies like Seven, Hostel or Saw? These take violence to a whole new level. Seven was a movie that even disturbed me. It makes you think about what people can really do, but in no way does it make me go out and do these things myself. How about the people who came up with these movie or book ideas in the first place. I don’t think they are out there committing crimes.

I think people, in their right minds, understand the difference between entertainment and real life. Entertainment is there to give us relief from our everyday life. It give us the ability to play the role of another person, a super hero, a race driver, a sniper. It’s all the same. I don’t know of anybody who plays a video game and wants to go out and do that same thing… well, maybe racing… That just sounds fun.

Now to get in my pedestal. I think that parents need to heed the ratings on games and watch what their children are playing. A few weeks ago I saw a parent looking at Grand Theft Auto IV, in a store with her young son. He looked to be about 11 years old. I came out and told her that the game was violent and had a lot of swearing in it. She was about to buy it for her son because he wanted it. Games have ratings for a reason. Just like movies have ratings. Would you let your child go to an R or even NC-17 rated movie?

Okay, off of my pedestal now. My answer to that last question is ‘Maybe’. Do I let my 14-year-old son play M rated games or watch R rated movies? It depends. As a parent, I need to do my homework. Seven is an R rated movie I will not let my son watch but Saving Private Ryan is another R rated movie that I would let him watch. One is just plain violent for entertainment and scare purposes while the other is a depiction of a real war loosely based on a true story. He is already learning about this kind of stuff in school, hearing language from kids that talk like a sailors, and understands the difference between entertainment and real life.

 

 

This is Halo and most of the players are probably pre-teen. Yes, it's rated M.

 

Does my son play M rated games? Yes… but again, with my approval. I would never let him play something like Grand Theft Auto or Manhunt 2, but I will let him play Halo Reach or Call of Duty… yes, that blue and red guys shooting game is M rated. M ratings are placed on games for different reasons. If it includes violence, language, sexual content, blood, etc. the game gets the M rating. Halo happens to have blood… never really noticed it but when you are watching slow motion playbacks, you can see it.

There are also things we can do as parents to make some of those M rated games teen friendly. Sometimes I’ll let my son play the multiplayer part of M rated games but not the single player story. Gears of War 2 has an option to turn off foul language and gore. With Call of Duty, I go into the options and turn down the volume for voice. My son just wants to hear gun sounds and footsteps of that person coming up behind him. He is having fun with these games. There is a lot of competition between friends and others online. He knows that this is not real life. He’s just a normal kid who gets A’s in school, goes to church with us on Sunday, and is a good kid. We even have a ball shooting at each other in these games. It’s all just fun. Don’t let the Jack Thompsons of the world ruin it for you.

***If you are a parent who is not into video games but wants more information about video game ratings, do a search on Google for ‘Video game ratings for kids’. You will find many valuable sites out there that will tell you about ratings and also give you a review of games so you can make an informed decision before buying one for your child.

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