The National Rifle Association (aka the barmy, right wing, gun lovin’ fellas… aka The NRA) has released a game. It’s called NRA Practice Range. It has guns. Elements of the games media find this hypocritical or somehow ironic.
Not only do these reactions portray a failure to grasp the meanings of both words, they also illustrate a huge problem with a perfectly respectable working press that wants to be seen as a political or even art media: writing about games is respectable without having to “defend” games. It is okay to exercise the critical muscle.
Confusing criticism in your writing with “being negative” about your subject is stupid. Cowardice in the face of dropped ads or peer group pressure is worse.
To the subject of the stupidity: By releasing a game with guns, the obviously insane NRA is being anything but hypocritical or ironic. The terrifyingly powerful lobby is being consistent.
It says that games affect the people who play them. It also says that early training of kids to be safe with guns is good teachin’.
Sure, the NRA misses the obvious point that if games definitely affected all gamers then I would be winning supercar races or playing football for Brazil.
It also misses the point that guns enable lots of people to kill lots more people efficiently and with less thought than, say, fists or cricket bats or tongues or cake. Guns do kill people.
It does not miss the point about games that are non-violent affecting people… that is exactly the point that game creators, publishers, media and other hangers-on have been making for decades. That point is being made now.
The NRA is savvy, at no point in its own logic: guns are good and that kids learning about using guns is also good, and video games affect kids, is releasing a video game about gun use and safety hypocritical or ironic or inconsistent.
The thing with bigots and fanatics of all hues is that they can use logic and reason and fact… to mean whatever fits. It takes slightly more intelligence, objectivity and honesty to examine your own biases, reassess and then make your point count.
So, while the games industry media ties itself in knots regarding “art” or yet another flawed piece of research about absolute causality, or it to come up with the insightful line that, “if everybody who plays video games also went on a gun-page, we would all be slaughtered”, the NRA successfully lobbies government, using all the tools it can including sanctimony.
I like video games – well, some video games – in the same way as I like some music, some TV, some books. I don’t believe for a moment that video games no matter how violent can make a killer.
I certainly don’t believe that legislation should be based on the supposition that one medium can tip one person in 200,000,000 into killing another 20 persons.
I firmly believe that some elements of games media must stop blathering on about games having no effect on behaviour. Because that same games media also says that there are acceptable effects: playing brain training games or motor car driving games that get you into an ITV reality show, for example.
That is hypocrisy, sanctimony and inconsistency and it is blinding otherwise intelligent writers in the trade to the analysis that their trade demands of them.
Because, if the NRA can outthink us by forcing us not to think, then the bad guys win.