Monday, March 23, 2009

Murder Simulators

I don't quite know what to think of this yet. The future is weird and fascinating and a little scary.

Here's a short article about something called OnLive, which should be available by the end of the year. Playing computer games has always come with a number of problems on a technical level. They can use a lot of computer memory, they may run slowly or improperly if you don't have modern, expensive hardware, and very often, due to some incompatibility, they don't run at all. This is a bit of an oversimplification, but basically, OnLive allows you to virtually play games on a better computer. While you're playing the game on your computer, the actual computing is being done on another computer, which is reads what you're doing via Internet connection.

I'm probably making this more complicated and difficult to understand than the full article. Just read that instead.

On a related note, it looks like I'm not the only one sending letters to the president. Professional psychopath Jack Thompson has sent a hot, steaming pile of crazy to Obama demanding a repeal of the First Amendment.

Let's talk about this Jack Thompson clown real quick. Dude's straight-up out of his mind. For the past decade he's been making up statics and stories and appearing on news shows as a self-proclaimed "expert" on violent video games. He was an ambulance-chasing lawyer until being disbarred last year, but he's still as involved as possible in the legal system, despite his apparent unfamiliarity with the US Constitution.

His big thing is school shootings. Every time someone brings a gun into a school, Jack slips a business card to the victims' parents, then finds a news camera so he can start ranting about how video games are "murder simulators" that are used to train our children to commit crimes they were not previously trained to commit. His argument generally goes something like this: "The shooter's friend/roommate once saw the shooter playing a video game, and the shooter was very good shooting people, because he was trained on violent 'murder simulators,' just like the ones the army uses to train soldiers . Therefore, video games should be banned." No, seriously.

I'm not going to spend too much pointing out all the nonsense and fallacies in his arguments because I respect my readers enough to assume that you're not morons, and I'll be happy to talk more if you want me to defend my dismissal of Jack Thompson or anyone else who wants to make video games a scapegoat. For now, I'm going to write an open letter of my own to the President.

Dear Obama,
Hey, buddy, me again. Sorry to bother you, but we need to talk. Do you know this Jack Thompson guy? I guess he's pretty upset about kids killing each other, and I must agree, that stuff is totally lame, but I can't really side with his proposed solution. See, I kinda think art is worth defending, and since there's no evidence at all that video games cause people to act violently, I don't see any good coming from banning the sale of video games. On fact, I think it would cause tremendous harm to our culture.

Mr. Thompson says that even though violent video games are not meant for young children, and even though stores have voluntary policies of not selling Mature-rated games to kids under 18, the still manage to get these games. He says that because of this, we should not allow these games to be sold at all, to anyone.

I have a different idea. Instead of trampling on a good Amendment, what if we went after the Second? I think these kids would have a much harder time shooting their classmates if they didn't have any guns, right? I know, I know, kids aren't supposed to get guns, but they do. Why, it almost seems as if this is the same thing Jack is saying about games. The difference is, guns don't really have any use beyone making things dead or injured, whereas game enrich lives and can have a positive impact on those who can differentiate fantasy from reality.

Let me know what you think.

- Jake

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