What Would Duke Nukem Do

Someone I’ve never heard of writes about the latest idiots’ campaign for NRO:

Others at the hearing might make the argument that there is a clear correlation between violent games and destructive social behavior. But that’s another myth, as no such correlation has been proven.

Indeed almost every important social indicator has been improving in recent years even as video-game use among youths has increased. Juvenile murder, rape, robbery, and assault are all down significantly over the past decade. Aggregate violent crime by juveniles fell 43 percent between 1995 and 2004. Meanwhile, fewer kids today are carrying weapons to school or are victims of violence in schools than in the past. Alcohol and drug abuse, teen birth rates, high-school dropout rates, and teenage suicide rates have all dropped dramatically as well. These results do not conclusively rule out a link between exposure to games and violent acts or promiscuous sexual behavior, but they should at least call into question the “world-is-going-to-hell” sort of generalizations made by proponents of increased regulation.

It doesn’t get much dumber than arguing that X is causing an increase in Y when Y is declining, but that’s never stopped the “We know what’s good for you” crowd. Because it’s for the children, after all, never mind that the “child” is more likely to be a 35 year-old married man than a 12 year-old boy. It’s not the kiddies who make Maddens Day a national holiday, after all.

It’s true that video game designers are, by and large, a bit more sociopathic than the norm. I should know, being one myself. I was at the Computer Game Developer’s Conference when news of the OK City bombing broke on CNN and I remember a female reporter from a newspaper – the San Jose Mercury News, if I recall correctly – being visibly shaken when a big cheer went up at the Westin bar on hearing the news that a government building had been blown up. Good times. I suspect that most game designers don’t like reality all that much, for fairly respectable reasons, and prefer to spend time in the worlds they create.

What game critics don’t understand is that the games don’t tend to influence one’s reactions towards the outside world, they tend to make one turn away from it altogether. For those who attempt to make a drug comparison, the desire for more and more doesn’t drive one to look for an external experience, but rather a more immersive and comprehensive internal one. A hard core gamer who takes it to the limit isn’t going to attempt to recreate a Doom III slaughter zone in the real world – as if humans are any substitute for twelve-foot tall horned demons – he’s going to die of dehydration by refusing to come out of the game.

Someone commented yesterday, and I think I agree, that this is may be another facet of the War Against All Things Male. Female sociopathologies are destroying the nation, so naturally Congress is concerned about boys and men blowing things up in a virtual world. Unlike the Girl World of television, where Approved Authority Figures such as cops, judges, lawyers and doctors are the heroes, the Boy World of games lionizes the individual like Duke Nukem, who came here to kick ass and chew gum… and he’s all out of gum.

The Nanny State is almost always the bad guy in Boy World, and the hero never asks permission to violate the gun laws or the speeding limits, let alone those about smoking in a public place. No wonder women like Little Miss Heartbeat and her state-fellating amigas can’t stand to allow the impressionable youth of America to play them.

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