Friday, May 03, 2013

Scare Tactics With Games

ZOMG! All of the kids are turning into
gaming monsters!?!
I have to applaud Kotaku for having the balls to do more pieces like this. Long and short of it: Katie Couric has an “exposé” (to make it sound so fancy and terrifying) about the dangers of violent video games, using 2 extreme cases. Both of them blaming video games with “experts” and not looking at anything beyond “it’s the game’s fault.” The piece is not a simple “this sucks” response, but they break down what exactly is wrong with the Katir Couric episode.

The thing is that every news outlet in the U.S. follows this formula. It’s a scare-tacular event at least once a week at your local news network, and they do it because it guarantee’s ratings. “Why are your children getting sick at school? We’ll have the report tonight at 11!” There! It hooks you in right from the start. You worry about your kids, a common concern for any parent, and the news has just intensified it. That’s how they suck us in people.


But when you sit down to think about it, most of what we see in the news and media tends to focus on scaring the crap out of you to buy stuff. Are you not feeling pretty? It’s probably because of that zit on your forehead. Buy this acne clenser and all of the men, or women, will want you! Feeling fat? Want a 32 waist? Go to this clinic and we’ll suck out all of the bad stuff to get you skinny.

Fear is used constantly to promote, sell, and reap the benefits of viewers (aka consumers). So none of us should be surprised by the Katir Couric piece on video games. What I am disappointed by is that after painfully forcing myself to watch the episode, there was little to no mention about how the 2 men were suffering from depression. The football player has a huge, and glaringly obvious, problem with addiction, having gambling issues from the past. “But that’s not the focus of this episode. We want to talk about how violent video games destroy lives.”

That’s the other problem with these “exposés.” People want to blame something someone, anything tangible that they can touch and feel to give themselves a sense of power over the object. They can control an object. But something like depression, anxiety, bipolar, a mental condition that has no barriers is an aspect that people don’t, and can’t, attribute blame to because it isn’t something physical. It’s so much easier, and complacent, to point the finger at a person or an object then it is to depression.

So here we have two men in this gaming story who show signs of depression, anxiety, addiction, and possibly other mental issues. But as I said before, these don’t tell the story. The “obvious” connection of video games is where the producers of the episode went.

Do we have to take this kind of low-brow, filler “reporting” that does nothing but continue promoting a scary world? No. But it’s not going to change overnight and I don’t imagine that our media will give up on it anytime soon. If you have a few minutes, try comparing the U.S. news and commercials to that of Japan, China, India, Germany, even South Africa. You might be surprised at just how radically different the world shows the news versus us. You almost have to wonder if there’s a greater connection between media scare-athon and murder rates. We’re all so freekin’ scared of the world, we have to buy guns and feel a need to shoot on sight.

And there’s the conspiracy bug again. Bzzt.

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