Hello, my name is Kaleb Rutherford and I am a gamer. Not only am I a gamer, but I vote, I pay my taxes, I work for a living, and I am married. Despite my complete lack of violence and desire to live a normal, healthy life, people like me are being attacked by a movement within Washington and from the Conservative Right to outlaw games as some sort of pornographic material that has no need to be played or seen by anyone.
This attack began years ago during the sixteen bit era of the Sega Genesis and Super Nintendo Entertainment System with games like Mortal Kombat and a horrible FMV Game called Night Trap. Mortal Kombat was a big deal because it was extremely violent for the times, allowed heads to be ripped off, and players could hit the blood off each other. Nintendo countered this by only allowing players to hit the "sweat" off each other and censoring the game's Fatality moves.
I never have nor will I ever play the disgrace that was Night Trap. This game should have sold relatively few copies but because Congressmen and News Channels talked about it, people bought it. Go figure.
Talk about censoring videogames was calm for several years after this but soon heated up again as more teen violence surfaced throughout the country. The kids who committed these crimes claimed they learned how through games like DOOM. But can videogames really cause a person to kill someone else? While this form of entertainment was not possible in prior generations, our parents were busy spending their early years listening to the Beatles, practicing "free love," doing drugs, and causing all sorts of social trouble. Yet I don't recall Congress or the Conservative Right ever attempting to ban any activity our parents found worthy of their time.
But as Teen violence has continued to rise something must be blamed. Instead of looking at these troubled individuals, seeing their psychological problems, and understanding that some of them had serious family issues, were tormented by other kids, found themselves deeply rooted in depression, and never could fill that "God-Shaped" void in their hearts, we have to blame something else. It must be the videogames.
Lets stop and forget that videogames are rated by an independent panel, are more scrutinized than anything put out on screen by Hollywood, the music released by the RIAA, or the Television shows that are in all of our homes. We have to blame the videogames because it is a technology that none of the critics understand. While it is true that there are violent games that probably have no business of being played, they are rated as such and i choose to avoid them. I would also never allow my child to play these titles. But at the same time, parents are not complaining about R rated movies, questionable content on TV, or filthy music. Aren't all forms of entertainment equal in causing violence? Isn't this common sense? Apparently not and as we go into an Election in 2008 for a new President, this issue is heating up yet again.
Political Candidates on both the Left and Right side of the aisle are making sure that the Conservative Right voting block, responsible for George W Bush winning the last two elections, know that they are going to stop the evil videogames from destroying the lives of both kids and adults. Lets forget for a minute that these kids shouldn't be legally playing M rated games unless their Parent or Guardian buys it for them.
On a recent broadcast of the Conservative Radio Show Focus on the Family, Dr. James Dobson enlisted a panel of uneducated parents and other adults who have "seen the light" and have finally figured out how the videogame industry is seeking to destroy the lives of all players by sucking them into addictive experiences, causing mass destruction for the person and their families.
In the world of the radical Conservative Right, God is constantly telling people to do things. For example one of the parents on the panel tried to get rid of their "devil game box" by throwing it away without any prior talk with their spouse or telling their child what they were doing. So what was this child playing? A GameCube. Yes, this parent got an "inspirational feeling" from the Almighty to throw away a gaming platform that contains relatively few Mature Rated game titles and is the primary platform to enjoy such evil experiences like Super Mario Bros., Super Monkey Ball, Donkey Kong, and Mario Party.
As a Bible believing Christian, why is it that God is telling some parents to get away from videogames, throw them away, and try to cleanse our country of their existence, while others never are given this message? This leads into a whole entirely new subject about how the far Christian Right has gone off the deep end in recent years. Instead of Christians reading their Bible, seeking God through prayer, and living out their lives following Him, they have gone to new extremes lately. In virtually every Church an alarming trend has started where people begin to share experiences. These experiences are usually very extreme and many times involve the person breaking out into "Holy Laughter," "Rambling Tongues," and dogmatic assertions. The problem is when you get one or two people doing this, others feel left out unless they are actively participating in the process. So you will find that, all of a sudden, a mass of people have experiences to share. The Oscar Nominated Documentary Jesus Camp is a good example of what Conservative Christianity has sadly morphed into.
That isn't to say that God can't speak to people and he can't do Supernatural things. But if this was a normal practice by God, how come He acted in this way so seldom in His Word--The Bible? I also must stress that I don't feel all of Christianity is this way. However, true Bible Preaching Churches are much harder to find and the Charismatic Teachings of this New Conservative Right seem to be the ones with all the influence and growth.
As a Christian and a person who has a great love for this industry, I am very concerned with the influence this group of people have. They have changed the scope of politics in this country forever by being able to get all of their like-minded people to vote for whoever the Republican nominee is or threaten that a person will go to hell if they don't vote in this way. I am greatly alarmed at new rules and regulations being placed on games that are already rated with specific ages. Instead of keeping games out of the hands of players, maybe they should control what their kids watch and not play something if they are older and it offends them.
It is time that we as gamers stand up for our rights, face the uneducated criticism of those who make dogmatic assertions, and demand that all forms of entertainment be held to the same standards. Failure to make a stand may end up in a form of censorship the videogame industry may never recover from.