You are not the media you consume

Whatever your opinion or view on the Rittenhouse trial, it’s been a doozy to follow on the side. While this blog doesn’t really care about it, as it has no real relevance here, one point the prosecution raised does raise eyebrows. Naturally, that point is when the prosecution asked whether or not the Rittenhouse plays Call of Duty with his friends. The prosecution then continued to ask if the aim of the game was, to quote Isn’t the one thing people do in these video games, [is] trying to kill everyone else with your guns? Rittenhouse’s respond to this inquiry was lacking, but that’s probably the point. Prosecution wants to sell the debunked idea of violent video games having relation to violent acts. Rittenhouse, however, did make a point how a video game and reality are separate, thus the prosecution’s point is invalid. Only people who cannot differentiate between reality and fantasy act in reality as if they were in fantasy. I guess I’m beating a dead horse with this post, but this issue has been raised once again on the media, and I can’t help myself. 

An old post of mine how there is no evidence for the Gaming Disorder still persists as true, including that electronic games have no negative impact on the player’s psyche. Something already has to be there. In Rittenhouse’s case, there was no case made for such a thing. Yet the old perception that violent video games lead into bad behaviour sticks to the cultural perception, and while it seemed that electronic games as a whole were getting rid of that stigma, cases like this show that people are willingly intending to mislead that a form of media, once again, would explain something about a person other than what their tastes are. Raising Call of Duty as a point of any kind was a weak attempt at illustrating a point and using video games as some sort tell-tale sign. 

Media is less influential than we give it credit for. If we allow media to influence us in a stereotypic ways, e.g. not questioning its content or message and taking it as valid truth, of course that’s going to influence our behaviour and thinking patterns. That goes for everything else as well. However, with fiction we are aware of its status as make-belief fantasy, we don’t tend to allow be influenced by it. Only works like documentaries and such which people can and often take as word of authority on a given subject, we are influenced to some extent. However, no documentarist would like to be accused of enticing people to commit violent acts. Of course, you have peer-pressure from social media, which might make you want to act in a way or another, or changes your perception because you want to belong to the inside circle of things, but that’s a different form of media influence. 

We all have consumed violent media in a form or other. Horror films with visceral gore was, and perhaps still is, accused of corrupting the youth and yet we don’t see news of horror movie buffs going about killing people in gruesome manners. Such things are often done by people with serious mental issues. Pretty much every form of media and genre has been accused for corrupting people in a way or another. The history of electronic gaming just happens to be very much tied to the old pinball and arcade parlors even before the previous century. It’s understandable that something which has been deemed as immoral and corrupting since almost their inception hasn’t got rid of their infamy. It’s just that the form of games has changed from kinetoscopes to mechanical pinballs to arcade games, and lastly to home electronic games. Even if the place where games are being played has become our homes, the content of these games is still being contested. Children are no longer in dark pinball parlors among the seedier members of the society finding alcohol, sex, drugs and criminal activity; now they’re finding such things in the comfort of their homes.

Joking aside, one of the more pressing issues with modern electronic gaming is the other people. Parents who do not follow what their children are playing or with who they are discussing things are letting things slide too easily. One of the more pressing issues parents have with online multiplayer games is how their child might be talking to a child predator. Violent content is always another, though the question why children have access to all this content without adult supervision is rarely the issue. Funnily enough, the twelve years old kid who plays Grand Theft Auto probably got the game as a present from his mom.

Normal people don’t go out and chop people with sword or riddle pedestrians with bullets because of video games. A video game might be an outlet, where a person might be letting out some steam and live out a fantasy, but the game is a third party tool; it’s not the instigator of such action. Neither are movies of books, which may contain glorified violence for the sake of storytelling effects. You don’t learn how to shoot a gun within a video game. You might learn how to operate one, if the game is accurately simulating the functions of a real firearm. Yet, the first time you shoot a gun, you will not hit your target dead-on. You won’t be ready for that kickback or the loudness of the gun. Then again, you can learn all the necessary things of weapon operation from manuals and some such. 

Games also don’t teach kids to act like they are in the military, as very few game even attempts to portray a realistic situation or methods of training. For example, any military wants soldiers that are professionals who are able to think and solve problems rationally, not vigilantes. At best, video games like Call of Duty teaches moment-to-moment reaction with your eye-hand coordination. The framing of a video game is far too narrow to allow realistic decisions and reactions to take place. The adaptability of a soldier cannot be found within the restrictive frames of a video game. While militaries across the world have begun to use virtual learning tools, which can utilize video games as their core, they do not teach violence or desensitize to it. These tools are teach decision making when the shit hits the fan and working with your team. 

What influences people more are real factors. Family violence, depression, alcoholic family members, peer influence, mental disorders, bad parenting and such. None of these issues are easily solved, and at worst, may be things we can never truly remove as factors. Rather than work on these difficult issues, scapegoats like the media gets propped up. If you want to prevent violent behaviour in children, it has to start with the parents and the family surrounding. If there are mental issues, they must be met with proper care. 

What does cause people to have violent behviour, be it through words or whatnot, is more often than not the competitive nature of a game and frustrations that come with it. If we were to ban violent games because losing may rile people up, we really might as well take a hard look at sports as well, where people riot when their football team loses and other similar cases. Clearly, the game and its competitive nature must be equally at fault for peoples’ reactions rather than the people themselves. 

To round back to Rittenhouse’s case, all the above play a role in the prosecution bringing Call of Duty to the table. The prosecution wants the jury to make their own mental connections with the negative effects of video games and Rittenhouse, as it is easy and cheap. While many think its ineffective method, sadly the news media is still full of parents who blame their kids’ misbehaviour on games. Then you have Jack Thompson and his ilk, who championed on the total ban of violent video games while citing misinformation out of belief. 

I highly doubt electronic games, or overall media for the matter, will ever get rid of the argument that media makes us act in some way. Bad behaviour has always been associated with media, though it changes with time and culture. Someone, somewhere, will find use of blaming the media for a tragedy or negative actions in order to further their own agenda. Let not a good crisis go to waste. 

Music of the Month: Ice Brain

I started this post originally lamenting how tired and utterly exhausted I am how the news has become a tool to radicalise people. Even after all these decades and knowing yellow journalism has been after that headline that would attract coin, these last five to six years have been a special kind of trash fire that has made me lost faith in every single news source that I used to follow. Be it on television, Youtube, on paper or individual journalists on the field, not one is even attempting to showcase a balanced, objective view what’s going on. Instead, I have found myself in a need to weave through dozens of different sources just to find what was really said or what really happened. I’m looking at the States across the pond and wondering how the people allowed themselves to be divided, as to be conquered. The news and social media has done nothing but radicalised all ends of the political spectrum, and the US desperately needs more than two governing parties. It’s a goddamn mess they’re having there.

I wanted to get that one out. I’m tired, worried, stressed and cranky. I am not a good company, and that probably is being reflected in whatever post I’m making in these upcoming months, because this is a thing that I know won’t go away anytime soon due to work and issues with personal life. It would be nice to have breaks and things to enjoy, to get rid of all the things pressing on my neck at the moment, but that’s not going to happen in some twenty years now. Work isn’t really helping with this any, as we just entered Q1 of the financial year and it’s always a terrible, slow and janky time. I would rather keep working and push stuff forwards, yet bureaucracy and other slower workers put breaks on everything despite we had a nice and smooth working schedule and line-up all ready. Yet the Q1 hit and everything was put to a total halt and I’m already so full of being able to do jack shit nothing and yet needing roll to work and be there like I had a rod up my ass. It’s not productive and honesty wastes my time and nerves. You’d think I could sit down and write more posts or perhaps even practice drawing, but that’s a No-No. Company policies. Yet you have motherfuckers taking hour-long breaks and almost two-hour lunch breaks, but doing your job while doing something else on the side gets you reprimanded. So if there’s a post missing, it’s more likely I’m trying to spend that time recovering from something with friends or simply not wanting to put my head out there. I’ve started to take a new hobby in napping.

On other stuff that might be more interest to you, dear reader, is that the Muv-Luv Alternative comic is being digitally published. It’s available on Amazon, but I truly recommend their Gumroad option over Amazon in every single respect. Not only the service is better, but you’d also be supporting proper competition between companies. If you don’t have a Gumroad account, this is the time for it and get cracking with all those other stuff you can find there.

When it comes to video games, have you noticed how the Switch is being excluded from the 9th Generation of video game consoles despite it being the one that started it? For whatever reason people are lumping it with the 8th Generation, but then again these are the people who consider certain pole marks to be the sign of a generation rather than, y’know, the next thing. Certainly, the gaming media population can’t be so dumb to assume that raytracing and whatever newfangled keys are being jingled in front of the customer this year are the only things that determine a generation. It’s like how the Dreamcast wasn’t considered competition for the PlayStation 2 because it had launched earlier. Yet here we are now, counting it as the first of the sixth generation of video game consoles. Nintendo already had a console in the eighth generation, and that was the Wii U. It might’ve been a total failure, a worse bomb than the Virtual Boy, yet it still counts as their mark of failure straight up after the glorious Wii. Oh well, people who think this is a life-or-death matter (or Wikipedia editors) will keep debating how the Switch belongs to the 8th generation because of its lack of hardware power, though that logic would throw all the previous generations to disarray in a rather messy manner.

Sadly, I am finding myself more apathetic as I keep writing this, so instead of trying to force myself to find more cheery subjects and not try to talk about Australia banning Japanese adult magazines and sex toys with cartoon characters, which is a puritanical action that belongs to the 1700-century and has no place in the modern world, I’ll just go make something to eat instead and consider spending few minutes with Episode I Racer instead.