What Was I Thinking?

Archive for February 2011

#onewhenifeellikeit 14 – Please Think of The Children!

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Okay, enough with the fucking nanny state already.

Recently my games-related Twitter feed has been abuzz with the story of Mary “Queen of Shops” having a good old Twitter rant about how her 17 year old son was refused service in a GAME store because he didn’t bring an adequate form of ID to prove that he was over 15. All well and good. I think everyone aside from Mary Portas agreed that this is appropriate.

However… BBFC age ratings do not (I repeat, DO NOT) trump the right of a parent to choose what they want their child to experience.

Sorry Pete. You know I like you but this scenario…

Little Johnny returns to GAME with his mother, who doesn’t know much about video games. He has convinced her that he “needs” this game in order to fit in with all the cool kids, who are all playing it for 37 hours a day, some of whom have already Ascended and are going around the levelling system again, only this time with brand new Elder Powers to choose from. His mother picks up the game, barely gives it a second glance, asks the cashier for it with Little Johnny standing right there, and the cashier doesn’t question this at all. Little Johnny’s mother hands him his shiny new game, he shouts “FUCK YEAH!” and runs out of the shop giggling.

No, GAME. Bad GAME. Incorrect response.
Pete Davison, Got any ID?

…can fuck RIGHT off. Who is the government to tell a parent how to raise their child? How could a bunch of civil servants possibly know how a child can cope with the subject matter of a game? What damage could playing Call of Duty:Black Ops possibly do to a child?

[This is not directed solely at Pete, but at the dozens of people with whom I’ve had similar conversations over the past 10 years]

You can’t have it both ways – you can’t argue that games don’t cause violence on the one hand and then fight to prevent children from having them with the consent of their (however speculatively ignorant) parents on the other. Either you accept that games and the wider media have the ability to affect behaviour or you don’t. Make up your damn minds.

Here’s my perspective. Absolutely; games, marketing, films, books – they all affect behaviour. However old or young you are, of course they do. That’s the entire fucking point of art – to make people think about the wider world and themselves and hopefully to question their place in it.

[Heartfelt yet unrelated admission: In my entire life and countless galleries I have seen exactly one piece of art in a gallery that actually excited me. Mike Nelson’s The Coral Reef.]

Affecting behaviour is not the same thing as inciting aping behaviour. Sure, anyone who has played an FPS developed in the past 5 years will understand what I mean when I describe first-person shooters as hyper-violent. Blood spraying everywhere, post-nuclear-armageddon heads flying off when you punch them too hard with your bare fists, chainsaw bayonets, for fuck’s sake. Bulletstorm isn’t even out yet, but holy fucking dick-tits, that is a graphically violent game.

1992’s Mortal Kombat paved the way with graphic depictions of spine-ripping fatality. Ee all played a bit of Mortal Kombat in our time, did we not? Are we now all walking around with the constant desire to rip our opponents heads off? No. Does laughing at a rape joke make you go out and rape someone? Of course not. Will letting a child play Call of Duty: Black Ops turn them into violent criminals?

You watched Tom and Jerry as a child, did you not? Hit anyone in the face with a frying pan lately? But absolutely, convincing a child that violence is the first, second or even third resort when it comes to problem-solving; that is a problem. That’s not what violent games do, though. Sure, there may be the risk of normalising violence but I contend that no matter how many rounds of Halo, BFBC or COD:BlOps you play as a child, the first time you get punched in the face your attitude towards violence changes pretty fucking quickly. Pain hurts.

…pain is the basic mechanism built into us by millions of years of evolution which safeguards us by warning when something threatens our survival. Why should society refuse to use such a highly perfected survival mechanism?
– Robert Heinlein, Starship Troopers, ISBN 0 450 00573 9, Page 101

Yes, being constantly saturated with violence does make you more likely to think that violence is an acceptable solution. I firmly believe this, if only from the personal experience that watching Fight Club kind of makes me want to go out and pick a fight with someone. Being saturated with the idea that rape isn’t really that bad will fuck you up in the same way. But you know what? I can rationalise my way out of those ideas. Experiencing pain certainly makes it a hell of a lot easier to realise the difference between intellectual and actual violence. Pain fucking hurts.

I’m pretty goddamn sure that the gamut of my childhood experience extends beyond the media that I experienced. The most important experience of any child’s life is the way their parents treat them and I don’t care how many violent or sexual films, games or books they consume. When a 9-year-old’s mother or father contradicts those media, their words and behaviours trump anything that child might be playing or reading.

What are we so afraid of? What lasting and incontrovertible damage do you think will be caused if a child plays Halo: Reach or Call of Duty? Tell me in the comments.


Written by Weefz

15 February, 2011 at 3:00 am

Posted in ranting

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#onewhenIfeellikeit – Shocking Self-Indulgence

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Read the post title. You have been warned.

So, I’ve been reading inspiring books again. This is a BAD THING. When I read inspiring books, you know what happens? I get inspired to go out and conquer the world. This was a particularly big problem in my old company (you know, the one where I cried a lot?) because I’d come in to work raring to go and everybody else would instantly respond to my suggestions with “Oh, but that won’t work because…”, or “Oh, that’s a great idea but our clients want…”

So now I read inspiring books and I think “Hell, yeah. I’ll go out and DO stuff” But… for possibly the first time in my life, I’m left to my own devices and one of the many things I am awesome at is self-doubt.

Problem is… I don’t care about much. You can read all this stuff about finding what you love to do and how life is the best when work doesn’t feel like work but you know what? I just don’t give a shit about anything. I like alcohol. I like to sleep. I like playing games. I like sex. I like sugar. I like meat.

So fucking what?

I have a sneaking suspicion that this comes across in my job interviews. No, I don’t give a shit about your company or what you do. I just like to streamline processes. Is that not enough? I tried caring about my company’s goals and it doesn’t get you anywhere good.

It probably doesn’t help that the thing I am sort of trying to do now? Yeah, I have no training, no formal experience, I have no idea how British media actually works and I keep accidentally having breakfasts or beers or Twitter friendships with some of the most experienced and talented people in the industry. Way to bring out your fucking inadequacies.

On the bright side, I get to stay up as late and sleep in as late as I want. Win!

Written by Weefz

15 February, 2011 at 12:36 am

Posted in ranting

#oneaday 12 – My Local

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As I am freshly back from the pub, it seems only appropriate to do a post on that wondrous venue that is my former local: The Lord Nelson

This is a lovely friendly pub near the south end of the Isle of Dogs. As well as a pool table and choice of chairs and sofas, the pub boasts a large selection of tabletop games. Most notable of these – WH Stumble. It’s like Jenga only cheaper.

Star of television and iPlayer, The Lord Nelson is featured as the pub setting for bizarre BBC3 puppet comedy Mongrels

There’s a pub quiz every other Tuesday, £1 entry and maximum number of 6 people per team. There are 6 rounds of 10 questions, plus a table round on paper that you complete throughout the quiz. Winners get… y’know what? I have no idea what the winners get. The team that comes last wins a bottle of wine and has to do a speech. There’s also a last-person-standing True/False round that wins a bottle of wine, so plenty of opportunities for free booze. Presumably the winners get some share of the entry fee.

There’s a lending library. I say lending – I borrowed a copy of Robert Heinlein’s Friday about 2 years ago. Lucky they don’t charge fees. Yeah, the library has a hefty bias towards fantasy and sci-fi. I just picked up Oliver Bowden’s Assassin’s Creed Renaissance tonight. Must remember to bring it back

Isle of Dogs is nerdcore central.

Written by Weefz

9 February, 2011 at 12:44 am

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#oneaday undisclosed – Doing It Wrong

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Yeah, I have come to the conclusion that I am simply doing this wrong. Not every post needs to be a fully-researched, balanced nor even meaningful article that I’m proud to shout about from the rooftops.

The whole reason I’m doing this is to get back into the habit of writing. I already know how to research, analyse and create a balanced argument.

Time to write.

Written by Weefz

7 February, 2011 at 3:54 pm

Posted in misc