Sunday, December 7, 2014

Banning Video Games and the Bible

I read a fun article about Australia in the Washington Post today. Well, first of all...I'm always intrigued by the fairly rare times that American news outlets notice Australia.

Anyway, this one is about Target and K-Mart banning the video game Grand Theft Auto V. The banning was a result of a popular petition that said the game is too violent, and it's awful towards women.

Some video game fans weren't too pleased, so they started their own petition asking Target to ban the Bible.

Here's the petition on   And here's an excerpt from the description: It's a book that encourages readers to murder women for entertainment. The incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get 'god' points – and now Target are stocking it and promoting it for your Xmas stocking.

I think this petition is a hilarious (and awesome!) response to the petition about the video game.

The author of the petition calls himself Sharky Sharktech, and he has written several paragraphs explaining why he created this Bible petition. He talks about double standards and argues that the people who started the petition against Grand Theft Auto V lied in their petition. He says they said you get points for hurting women. Sharky Sharktech says this isn't true.

And yeah. Not that I didn't believe Sharky Sharktech, but I wanted to see for myself. And I see it. Here's the petition.  They do say you get health points for hurting women.

Do players really get points for that?  And if they don't, why does the petition say that? Did anyone play the game to figure that out? Or did they watch a video of someone playing the game?

The anti-game petition has a link to a fan video.  I'm going to watch that.

It's definitely R-rated. So far...there's no violence. It's just prostitution stuff.

Okay. Yeah. There IS violence at the end.  The guy uses the services of the prostitute (quite graphic, btw... at least verbally). Then at the end, he runs over the prostitute with his car.  As far as I can see, he didn't gain health points.  He did mention that he didn't want the prostitute getting away with his money. So maybe by killing her, he got his money back. And maybe money is equal to health points?

I don't know.

I think there's two thoughts/questions I have in my mind.

1. Does the game encourage you to be violent against women? Do you get extra points for that? Or is it a choice? Because the choice to be violent can be made in other much more innocent games.  For example, Minecraft.  I'm going to talk about animals instead of women, because they're more prevalent....unless you're playing a violent multi-player game.

Anyway, so Minecraft has many animals. You can take them as pets, kill them for food, and use them or kill them for other needs.  When I play I try to be as vegetarian as possible. I kill a few animals in the beginning while waiting for my wheat farm to take hold.  And if I run out of food and am desperate, I'll kill more animals.

Other players kill frequently for food. Animals are an easy and quick food source.

Then there are some people who kill Minecraft animals for fun. It entertains them. And there are even games on Minecraft Servers where the object is to kill as many animals as possible.  I once played one of these games, actually. And despite being a vegetarian in real life, I can't say I had an awful time playing it.

Another game I've played a lot is Sims. You can treat your Sims with gentle kindness. Or you can torture them in various ways. You can have your Sims fight each other. They won't kill each other. But you can do that for them. You can lock them in a room with no door and starve them to death. You can watch them pee themselves, beg for food, and then eventually get a visit from the Grim Reaper.

2. Does being violent in a video game lead people to being violent in real life? Or do we all have these violent urges, and video games are a safe (yet somewhat disturbing) outlet?

It could be the former. But I lean towards the latter.

Not that I'm saying video games are the answer to ending violence. I think there are very violent people, and they're going to be violent in video games and then also be violent in real life. For everyone else, I think the video games will be enough. They'll slaughter some cows in their Minecraft world, and that will be enough. They won't need to find neighborhood kittens to drown.

They probably wouldn't want drown the kittens anyway.  But still. Maybe there's something dark inside of them, and the video games are a safe way of expressing that darkness.

It's that question of whether life imitates art or art imitates life. I think maybe art imitates our souls. And our souls do have a darkness. But you know...there's also a lot of light and goodness.  And that's expressed in our video games, movies, books, religious texts, paintings, etc. as well.

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