For as much as we claim to love video games, we as a society seem pretty much hell-bent on using them as scapegoats whenever something bad happens.
Every other day the media reports on a study that bemoans the evils of video game violence, or how some gamer addicted to the World of Warcraft lost his job and family just so that he could devote more time to his high-end raid guild.
The problem with this is; these myths simply aren’t true. They’re tired, old, media-driven clichés and they need to go away once and for all, so that we can focus on the real issues that affect all of us, like how the fat kid from Superbad looks really weird in those Modern Warfare commercials.
Myths such as:
"Video games lead to obesity"
Oh they do f**king NOT. Have you ever even tried to eat a video game? They have virtually no fat content, no calories to speak of, and the only side effect from consuming them is that you poop gold coins for like a week.
And blood. You poop lots and lots of blood.
Over the last few years the stigma tied to being a gamer has all but evaporated, and an estimated 90% of people who don't drive in 45mph in the left hand lane with their turn signal on are said to play them. The old, tired stereotype of the "nerdy, fat, virgin video game addict" simply doesn't apply anymore, especially when you factor in devices that actually incorporate exercise into your game play, like the Wii Balance Board.
Sure, you've used it like twice and it's covered in dust so thick that you'd need an archaeological team to unearth it just so that you could play with it...
...but hey, you have one.
The point is, no one gets fat and loses a foot to the "diabeetus" that Wilfred Brimley constantly threatens us with just because they play video games. There is no "one factor" to obesity, and changing a single aspect of your life won't suddenly give you rippling abs where a bag of rippled chips used to be. Food choices and amounts eaten have to be regulated, and every once in a while, you have to get out of your chair, go outside, and get a bit of fresh air.
Or at the very least, scootch over to a window during cut-scenes.
You want a skinny, healthy eating gamer? Then just slide diet drinks and low-calorie snack foods in front of us while we're playing. We're so distracted by our need to “pwn teh no0bz”, that we honestly have no friggin' clue of what we're eating until after we've gobbled it down. It could be carrots, celery, or even packing peanuts, it doesn’t matter. And when they’re gone, we’re blindly grasping around our desks for more.
Which brings us full circle to the whole "eating a game and pooping blood" thing. True story.
"Video game violence leads to real life violence"
It’s no secret that violent video games are fun.
Ragdoll effects, blood splattering the screen, and slow moving old ladies bouncing off the hood of your stolen car as you try to evade the police is pretty much the textbook definition of "wholesome fun for the whole family". I have spent more hours playing violent video games than I have invested in the upbringing and nurturing of my own children, and I've turned out absolutely fine.
Sure, my kids are pretty f**ked up, but I totally blame their mother for not loving them enough, so that’s on her.
And during all of my sleepless nights spent murdering entire villages in game, or plowing into shopping malls full of unsuspecting NPCs with a car packed to the roof with explosives just to watch them all die, never once have I had the urge to actually hurt someone in real life. Violent games do not make their players violent.
Annoying goddamn puzzle games do.
You want to see a cursing, foaming at the mouth, red-eyed-with-rage psychopath? Give them a copy of a puzzle game that has a level that makes absolutely no sense. The room around them will look like it was hit by an earthquake and you’ll be drinking out of paper cups for a month because every glass in the house is currently playing Humpty Dumpty on the living room wall.
I have killed in game more times than I could even begin to imagine, and the truth is – even the most memorable or exciting kill eventually gets forgotten, blending in with the chorus of death screams of countless others. But I can tell you the time of day, what I was wearing, and what I had for dinner the night I beat that goddamn “Piano Puzzle” in Silent Hill.
…which admittedly is a violent video game that led me to kill in real life, but you can see my point.
"Video games objectify women"
The worst part about this one is the fact that it is hardly, if ever, actually women who complain about it.
Just about every lead female character in a video game is impossibly proportioned to intensify maximum bonerocity. She’s slender, and sultry, and usually carrying around a set of guns that look like they’re about to burst right out of their 48DD holsters. And surprisingly, most female gamers aren’t even bothered by it anymore.
It is just one of those things that you don’t even notice after a while, unless your spending untold hours editing player skins so that you can see her run around naked, in which case you should share. Do you know who really has a problem with the “objectifisexification” (*real word) of women in video games?
Guys who want to appeal to women in order to get them to drop their shields so that they can get close enough to really objectify them.
So because most women don’t care, and most men only pretend to care, we never look at the absolute opposite side of it all – the objectification of MEN.
That’s right. I said it. I even italicized and underlined that bitch.
We get so wrapped up on the size of a female character’s ammo packs, we never stop for a moment to realize that every guy in every game is a ripped, handsome stud with a full head of hair who dresses like he’d actually be doing your hair if he was in the real world. And do you know why we don’t notice or complain about it?
Because women see the video game model of “perfection” with soft curves, large full breasts and perfect skin and hate her. That image makes them get in touch with their emotions and fills them full of insecurities and self doubt and sends them into a spiral of depression that ends in the bottom of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s Chunky Monkey.
Men see the video game model of “perfection” and think… “Oh yeah. I totally look like that.
The term “addiction” gets thrown around in the media more than a particularly witty analogy that I can’t seem to come up with. It’s done so for the sheer shock value, because they know that you’ll instantly stop whatever you’re doing in order to see some poor train wreck in the throes of withdrawal. (Don’t worry, it’s cool. You’re human and seeing freak shows suffering for your amusement is hardwired into you.)
And then what happens? Well, if you’re anything like me, you’ll see that they’re talking about video games and you roll your eyes before going back to cooking meth. Why? Because meth is delicious. But more crucial to the point, it is addicting – something you and every other human being alive knows that video games are not.
Drugs and alcohol are addicting. Playing video games are fun, and hedonistic. And while the media seems to be unable to distinguish between the two, it really isn’t that hard to do. People addicted to the drugs and alcohol develop a physical need that can come with very real pain and sickness if they go into withdrawal. People “addicted” to video games are greedy assholes who put themselves first and don’t care about anything but making themselves happy. There is nothing scary or sad or dramatic about it.
They’re basically just dicks.
I don’t care how good a video game is; eventually even the worst “addicts” will get bored of it. Heroin addicts? Not so much.
So for the sake of sanity, maturity and common sense – three of the things that we as gamers and forum posters value above all else – let’s put these ridiculous myths behind us and move on to the one horrible thing that really does affect gamers in a truly negative and painful way.
Because it absolutely sucks EA. Stop pretending that you can’t see it and apologize to Steam. Maybe she’ll take you back and we can be one big happy family again.