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Montreal tragedy sure to be used by US politicians

Filed under: Video Game Politics
Posted by Jeremy on September 14, 2006 11:03 AM
Comments (0) |

Pardon my cynical nature, but I feel that today is a good day for opportunistic politicians everywhere. The tragedy that unfolded yesterday at a Montreal college is sure to be used as fodder for "family values" politicians after it was learned today that the shooter played First Person Shooters, named "Super Columbine Massacre (a homebrew game that got the attention of disturbed people) as a favorite game, and said on his blog, "Life is a video game, you gotta die sometime."

If this phrase sounds familiar, it may be because convicted cop killer, Devin Thompson, allegedly uttered the same words to the arresting officer in 2003 after his raid on an Alabama police station (story).

News Sources: Toronto Sun, Montreal Gazette

A few points, if I may...

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First, the "Super Columbine Massacre" game is something that I hadn't heard about until today. It will, inevitably be bantered about by the news and politicians as if it were played for countless hours by millions of people on their PS2s. This is a homebrew PC game. To get it, you'd first have to know it exists, then, you'd have to download it. This suggests that it's not the video game causing the violence, it's a violent person who is seeking violent material. And, there is no lack of violent material out there, from video games to movies to TV to the daily life of many teens be it in highschool or at home.

Second, the phrase "Life's a video game, you gotta die sometime" is simply a new twist on an old way of thinking. Ever heard, "Life's a bitch, then you die"? That's actually a twist on an old Italian proverb, "One lives with little and dies with nothing".

How about this oldie, but goodie:

Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more; it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

William Shakespeare , Macbeth Act 5, Scene 5

This nihilistic way of thinking, with much of its roots in Nietzsche and others like Dostoyevsky and Camus (which gets into existentialism and is Bush's new favorite author) around the turn of the 20th centurty, is nothing new. We simply have a new way of saying it and automatic weapons readily available to act on it.

And what was happening around the turn of the century? The perfect storm of the industrial revolution, urbanization, social revolution, and the ever widening gap between the rich and the poor. In other words, people felt hopeless, especially the youth of the day. Sound familiar?

Unfortunately, we'll be hearing about the evils of video games for the next few months, especially with the mid-term elections just around the corner. 20 years ago it was rock-and-roll. 30 years before that it was comic books. Video games are simply our generations' version of the scapegoat for all societal evils.

I'd remind those who will beat the Bible, espouse family values, and vilify video games of Luke 6:41, "Why do you observe the splinter in your brother's eye and never notice the great log in your own?"

While it's easy to use video games as a sort of anti-panacea, these same politicians are allowing tens of millions of our kids to go without health care, to toil fruitlessly in under-performing schools tied to the ironcially named "No Child Left Behind Act", to live in poverty, and to starve.

And they wonder why bad things happen.

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