Archive - Mar 25, 2008

A Topical Example

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Memo to Tom Keenan: REALLY?

That's how you're going to play it? Honestly? You want to go with that argument? You want to expose your shocking lack of knowledge, and by extension, assume the same of the readership of the Calgary Herald? I mean, being humans, I assume the residents of Calgary are, on average, pretty stupid. But not as stupid as you seem to think they are.

Tom Keenan is a professor, and the author of an op-ed in the Calgary Herald entitled "Teaching Kids To Kill". And with a title like that, it can only be about one topic. The horrible violent world of video games. And no op-ed about the horrible violent world of video games would be complete without outdated references to games nobody's played in years.

Keenan starts out with a game I could almost agree with him on: "America's Army". There's a part of my liberal knee-jerk soul that gets cranky at the idea of the Army using video games to sling propaganda at the youth of America. On the other hand, the Darwinist in me thinks that anyone suckered into joining the Army because of a computer game deserves, at the very least, to learn the hard way what the real thing is like.

But then Keenan tries to damn America's Army with faint praise, comparing it to the rest of the even more depraved video game world. ACTUAL QUOTE TIME!

"It's better than many of those sleazy "first-person shooter" (FPS) games. You won't see strippers suddenly appear, or be encouraged to rape a virtual character, as happens in the hideous Custer's Revenge game. Still, the ultimate objective of AA is to teach and motivate people to kill other people, at least in the virtual universe."

Yeah! At least the Army game doesn't have strippers, like, um, the 12-year-old game Duke Nukem 3D! And at least it doesn't have rape, like, um, that 26-year-old Atari 2600 game in which a blocky, naked General Custer avatar tried to dodge arrows and get to the right side of the screen, where, if he did, a two-frame animation that, if you squint, you realize is him thrusting his two-pixel penis into a pink blob that is supposed to be a tied-up Native American female. Wait, what?

Seriously, folks. If today's rapists had all learned their stock in trade from Custer's Revenge, the world would be a much safer place. All women would have worry about would be naked guys in cowboy hats, charging at them fully erect, popping Viagra the entire time because if they played Custer's Revenge at an impressionable age, they're IN THEIR GODDAMNED FORTIES NOW.

Is there any other art form on the planet which can honestly and proudly display a "No Rape Imagery Since 1982" sign? There is not. But Keenan's gotta pick on the video games. His article proceeds in the prescribed manner, quoting two or three other anti-game sources, before praising Nintendo's positive, non-violent Brain Training games:

"Dr. Kawashima's Brain Age, for the Nintendo platform, has even attracted a celebrity endorsement from Australian actress Nicole Kidman, who has gushed that it's 'a great way to keep my mind feeling young.'" - Tom Keenan has a... KEEN grasp of science, apparently believing that because Nicole Kidman was paid to say that it works, IT WORKS. I guess all the Psychic Friends were really psychic, too, because Dionne Warwick wouldn't lie to us.

The funny thing is, good old science actually says that brain games don't improve brain function. They're fun, they're challenging, but they don't affect you once you shut the game off. And violent games are the same way. Clearly, Keenan has been playing a LOT of brain training games, because he thinks he's smarter than he actually is, as evidenced by his closer:

"Unless of course, you're busy playing America's Army or, even worse, Custer's Revenge. In that case, you're on your own to manage your stress." You know, back in 1982, assuming you could find a copy of the game (not easy) and had an Atari 2600 to play it on, nobody was ever BUSY playing Custer's Revenge. The game, both literally and figuratively, shows you everything it has to offer within 30 seconds. It makes Air Sea Battle look like War And Peace. It makes the E.T. game look like the E.T. movie. Twenty six years ago, the game was a retarded novelty. In 2008, it's a retarded historical curiosity. Using it as an example of moral deficiency in the video game industry? That's just plain retarded.