When The Game Has No Name, All Are To Blame

Evidently, removing scary scary violent video games from US arcades is a trend now. So reports the Associated Press that, quite typically, can't be bothered to name any of the video games involved.

The AP brings up the news from earlier in the month when Massachusetts yanked some light gun games from arcades in rest stops it owns on the Massachusetts Turnpike, after a family complained they were inappropriate. Now, a guy in Yonkers, NY complained to a private company — the owner of a global movie theatre chain — and got action. Two removals. This constitutes a trend.

I'll tell you what is a trend, as I've seen it throughout the five years I've worked for this publication and reported on this type of story: The refusal of newspapers, newsmagazines, local television and television network reports — the "mainstream media" — to give the titles of objectionable games. It may seem a petty thing but it's actually important.

If this was a story about a school board banning books, you can be sure they'd name which ones. If a library was removing violent films from its collection, I think the reporter would ask for the titles. It's important to know if a library is removing, say, Commando as opposed to Platoon, or Song of the South as opposed to Cinderella isn't it? Doesn't that help the reader justify the reasonableness, or lack thereof, of the decision?

But video games, no one can be bothered to tell us which ones. Apparently that's not relevant to those writing and editing these stories. Bullshit. It's a form of symbolic annihilation and it reflects a mainstream assumption that the entire medium is irredeemable and its guilt is justifiably collective. It means that every video game is violent, or that "shooting video game" tells you all you need to know, because a game that has a name is now a game that can be distinguished from others, or have its actual relevance to gaming culture described.

Instead, we have what are likely a bunch of early-2000s light gun games that no one plays anymore standing as authoritative representatives of video gaming's content and cultural reach.

That's not to say games are never named. When they are, it's typically to prop up some assumption about why some suspect or malefactor was playing it. Call of Duty is frequently named in this regard. World of Warcraft got prime billing because it helped portray Anders Behring Breivik as a game-addicted loner (which he likely was). But when it's a game that actually isn't tied to a crime or a person, more a social problem, good luck getting its title in a report. (There are exceptions; The Boston Globe went so far as to name Time Crisis as one of the cabinets pulled from the turnpike stops, but there were unidentified others removed.)

This is how you get to the point where Adam Lanza is assumed by lawmakers, think tanks and civic leaders to be game-addicted or corrupted by Call of Duty. That's a connection made through one statement and one statement only: A quote attributed to a plumber who had done work in the Lanza home.

The only title named by one of Lanza's friends, who actually knew him? Dynasty Warriors. This scary scary violent video game story becomes a lot harder to sell to the general public when the title involved isn't the global bestselling military shooter phenomenon, but a Japanese-made beat-em-up. Indeed, this friend said Lanza was "a big fan of Japanese culture," and also collected Pokémon cards.

The Express, the UK tabloid who talked to the plumber, did its damndest to make Dynasty Warriors the culprit, calling it a "shockingly violent fantasy war game." But no one's repeating that slur, because Dynasty Warriors is a) not that and b) not as identifiable or as reducible to stereotype as Call of Duty See? That's why names are important.

So, please, reporters, take the time to get the goddamn names of the games. Get all of them. Get them every time. A credible report will have them. A credible statement will give them. If the spokesperson for the movie theatre company or the department of transportation doesn't know them, that tells you the real story: That political figures and big business are motivated not so much by propriety and decorum in the spaces they control, but fear of bad PR. And that's an older and more credible trend than this nonsense.

Arcade video shooting games pulled after massacres [The Associated Press via KOMO-TV]


Comments

    America needs to remove peoples right to use toy guns so they can defend the right to use real guns. Toy guns make people kill but real guns make people safer, every good american knows that.
    if you disagree you are therefore not a good american and no doubt in league with the communists.

    America is very good at pointing out that science is wrong about everything so the very fact that there has been no correlation found between games and violence by science just proves that video games are the problem, if you disagree refer to the above paragraph.

    So your asking for scapegoats to come forward and take the wrap? When it comes to freedom of expression you either defend the medium as a whole, or you don't at all. There is no bad art or good art, it's all art. You don't defend freedom of speech at the same time as prohibiting certain sentiments. Sure, these games are crass and shallow, but we have to defend the medium as a whole, not throw the lowbrow end of the spectrum under a bus.

      You've missed the point. Naming isn't to make it 'take the wrap' but to give an accurate tone of the story.

      Here's an example

      "Killer played a violent video game obsessively!"

      or

      "Killer played Super Smash Brothers obsessively!"

      The first reduces things to mere labels, and smears gaming. When details are added you get a clearer picture, one which isn't as misleading.

      Just to expand on what Mic said... when people say Light Gun games were offensive and taken down you don't know *which* games were complained upon.

      Now if it was House of the Dead you may see some squemish reactions. But if it was Point Blank... then WTF are people complaining about?

      Fact of the matter is you don't know and that blanket statement stops discussion because all you get are gun games are bad.... even the cartoony shooting gallery games like Point Blank and you can neither defend it if its an adult game like HoD or SIlent Hill. There is no room for discussion w/o the context and the context is the most important part!

    You didn't read the article thoroughly, did you? He's not asking for scapegoats to come forward - he's asking for the reporters to stop generalizing games as something that are inherently violent.
    Such as the early example/hyperbole was given; when libraries remove books from their archives, they provide a list as to what was removed so the people have an idea of what's missing. The media misses this point with games, possibly due to wanting to brand the entire genre as some evil thing that only psychotics and the mentally unstable can enjoy.

    If anything good is to come of this witch hunt, I hope it's that light gun arcade cabinets are shunned so much that their value drops enough for me to buy a Point Blank machine!

    But seriously, this article makes a good point. I bet the Boston Globe only mentioned Time Crisis, cos everyone's heard of that one.

    Light gun games have been in arcades, cinemas, rest stops, takeaways, shopping centres, bowling alleys, pubs, etc for 20 years and NOW they are inappropriate. What a fucking joke.

      The time difference making no difference is debatable. Cigarettes were approved by doctors X years ago and things changed about that. Course that had actual studies with actual facts against it.....

      I dunno, until the one a few days ago I never thought too much about Light Gun games in public. Time Crisis 4 was rated 16+ in the UK. To have them in places with frequent young kids around....it's something that might be interesting to look at.

        That's a good point about the cigarettes, but light gun games are in public in Australia, New Zealand and England, and how many school massacres have happened in those countries in the last 20 years? I don't know actually that answer myself, but I'd think a lot less than in the USA.

        I guess the point I was trying to make was why weren't there a multitude of light gun-related massacres back in the late 90's and early 2000's, when these games were at the height of their popularity?

        Not quite the same discussion...

        IIRC I don't really think Cigs were ever medically "approved". It was "endorsed" by a few big names but wasn't really put though medical scrutiny until recently. Its just that tabacco had been one of those old industries like cotton and alchohol.

        Once it was actually put through medical testing the conclusions actually showed a link to negative health impact. Most of it was just brushed under the carpet by the companies until recently when public health once again came to the spotlight a decade or so back.

          Which is all what I thought would have been obvious by me saying 'but that had actual studies with actual facts against it' -_-

      If anything good is to come of this witch hunt, I hope it's that light gun arcade cabinets are shunned so much that their value drops enough for me to buy a Point Blank machine!

      I've wanted one since the nineties, so +10.

    Agreed Owen... but i see one massive flaw in this..

    Mainstream media and Credibility. It's like Oil and Water. They don't mix and just doesn't work anymore. Mainstream news is all about scoop and ratings now not information and "news". IT's all about the big eye catching headlines, the poor me sob stories and sensationalist drivel.

    Credible facts and in depth un biased reporting in Jewish owned mass media? Are you high? Sensationalist/biased/out of context eye grabbing headlines sell these cancerous rags en masse to the foolish general population of brainwashed lemmings, you expect them to not capitalize on every single last cent they can gain?

      rupert murdoch is so so Jewish....Sensationalist/biased/out of context comments....

        He has what to do with anything?

          I guess you haven't heard of Fox News, News Limited, News of the World.

          These are all news outlets that have produced a lot of 'questionable' content and are all owned by Rupert Murdoch. Side note to that, Rupert is not Jewish, in fact he has been quoted as criticising Israel and Jewish people before.

          I know this is prevalent everywhere, but its amazing how many people still don't bother to even do a quick search of things like this. A quick google of Rupert Murdoch brings forward a whole range of articles and sites containing information that debunks your entire Jewish conspiracy theory. I mean how hard is it to open a new tab and go to google, you're on the internet already...

    Sounds fair. But why are we allowing wowsers to make the game industry seem seedy and violent when it is just like any other big business?

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