Sunday, May 4, 2008

Guest Blogger #1 ----J.T.

I asked a few friends to 'guest blog' about anything, and I would publish it here to the Quibley Corner, widely read by thousands. I'm brave, I guess, but I do know my friends and family pretty well too. So far, I've gotten 3 responses. A little prodding was necessary. Here, my dearest sister, a sensitive and intelligent woman, rants about censorship. Comments welcome.

Rant of a Gentle Person (who, by the by, has
literally never killed a bug with intent). by J.T.

My husband and I have been in hot anticipation for the release date of Grand Theft Auto IV. After a painful delay, we finally got it this past Tuesday (and yes, he brags to his cable co-workers that his wife actually plays and enjoys video games). This is quite an event for us. We've played the previous titles, along with other select games. I do have discriminating taste in this area, as in films and books. When one of the GTA games comes out, we inevitably spend fevered weeks, malnourished, bug-eyed and dishevelled in our own stink, controller firmly in hand. Okay, I'm exaggerating, but we do not make a lot of firm plans for a while, and the first few nights we have easy clean-up dinners. It is, for the money, cheap entertainment ($60 bucks for at least 40+ hours of play) and a way that we bond over a common interest, which makes for a healthy marriage. Plus we live in Maine, for the love of Nancy.

I'm writing this for those who do not know anything about these games, the last concept of video games they have being Frogger trying not to get squished on the freeway. GTA is a detailed, immersive world that you play through a character's eyes, who starts out, in this case, stepping off the boat fresh from Eastern Europe with a promise of a better life from his low-life, lying, self-aggrandizing cousin. You then guide your character through a storyline that is constructed like a movie, with missions, or parts of the story that you complete and hopefully rise up until your character is top dog of the underworld.

There is a lot more to it, but that's the gist, and suffice to say, it is not at all mindless killing and mayhem. You have to have patience, restraint, even mercy, and use strategy and problem-solving skills. Now there is another side to the game as well. You can "free play" where you just roam around a huge city and cause all kinds of trouble, if you choose. And oh, yes, we choose. For me, personally, it is a stress-release, after working with children with special needs all day. I do crash cars, run over people, rob the innocent, use a sniper rifle to pop pedestrians, take out police helicopters with rocket launchers, visit hookers and strip clubs, etc...debauchery, baby.

But guess what? I don't do those things in real life, and neither do an overwhelming majority of people, including teenagers. There is no direct link from games like these to violence of any kind. Kids who listen to death rock, watch horror porn and play these games and then go shoot up their school have deep-seated psychological problems. They do not play a game and suddenly feel this rage. They are abused, bullied, ignored, and poorly nurtured.

Here is crux of the issue, though. I am an adult and it is a mature game, supposedly sold to no child under the age of seventeen. It says that right on the box. It says, literally, on the back of the game: Blood, Intense Violence, Partial Nudity, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs and Alcohol. No surprises there. So if your fourth grader is playing this game, where are you? I should not be penalized, as an adult, because parents have no clue what their child is seeing or playing. It is escapism for me and many others, nothing less. I just read that M.A.D.D. is calling for the producers of this game to pull it off the shelves because the character drinks and then drives. That is censorship, plain and simple. It is ridiculous to think that people of age to play this game will get up off the couch to try drunk driving in real life because of a game.

I am entitled to view, play, listen to, or read anything that does not harm others. I love this game. It is fantasy, it is hurting no one, and it pisses me off when ANYONE tries to dictate my freedom to choose what I want or reject what I find distasteful. Reject, if it is not your cup of tea, and don't play, but please shut up so I can enjoy myself in the privacy of my own home.

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