The topic of video game violence has been beaten to death. The public is sick of it, gamers are sick of it, and I'm sick of it. However, the accusers are not. Running out of ammo from games like Grand Theft Auto and Manhunt, parental groups have turned their eyes elsewhere: sports games. As seen here
, Midway's "MLB Slugfest" and "NBA Ballers" have come under fire for not showing kids true sportsmanship and turning women into objects.
This is a truly low blow. The story that ran on ABC failed to make many points, most of which is that Slugfest is not the only baseball game on the market nor is Ballers the only basketball game. The other games are not only played by millions of gamers around the world, but by the players themselves. The uncanny realism this generation of consoles has brought to the table is most likely what sent the industry spiraling upward and brought forth billions of dollars in revenue for the companies.
Slugfest and Ballers are what is considered, in the industry, "fantasy sports games." These are not the only games the genre has seen and it goes all the way back to Midway's arcade game called Arch Rivals. Since then, they have released games like NHL 2-on-2 Open Ice Challenge, NBA Hangtime, NFL Blitz, NHL Hitz, and the classic NBA Jam. All of these games are completely over the top with viscous checks, no fouls, and penalties are an after-thought. Funny how no one managed to figure all of this out almost 15 years ago.
The story has multiple quotes that are so off base and ridiculous, it's a wonder how anyone can keep a straight face while reading/watching it. The best quote is:
"Now that I've seen what's in MLB Slugfest, I'm shocked," she says. "I haven't watched the game before and it really is a slugfest."
Hmm...You couldn't figure out it was a "slugfest" from the title? Maybe if you were a decent parent and paid more attention to what your child is playing, you wouldn't have needed a nationally televised news program to tell you. Yes, the game is rated "E" for everyone, but the back of the case clearly states that the game contains violence. I'm sure your 9 year old bought the game in your presence. Maybe you should have asked questions before buying it (or even do some research), but that would mean you were you doing your job as a parent. Her next comment seals her fate:
Amy Safar is "concerned that he might mimic the behavior that he sees."
Maybe if you established some morals in your child and taught him the difference between right and wrong, this wouldn't be something you would NEED to worry about. Even asking your child if he knows that what is happening in the game is wrong would settle this issue. But, as I've said, that would make you a good parent.
Next we have Kimberly Thompson, a Harvard graduate:
"I think the message that kids take away from NBA Ballers is, it's all about money," Thompson argues. "Women are objects in this game. They are like the other things that you can acquire a house, a car, a woman."
Not only is she completely misled (women, just like men, are added to your "posse," and in no way do you OWN the women nor do you do anything else with them), but what aspiring NBA star isn't thinking about the money? Why did Lebron James jump from high school to the NBA? The money. This is how sports operate now. Yes, it's a sad state of affairs, but this is the real world and it will not take long for any kid to figure this out, video games or not.
Finally, we have Phil Mushnick. Though not in the story I have linked to, Mushnick appeared on the ESPN show "Behind the Lines" last night and argued this very same issue against the editor of Game Informer magazine. This is a man who has been in gamers lives since 1993 when he first blasted Sega, EA Sports, and Nintendo saying they "can go straight to hell." Don't believe me? Check out the January 13th, 1993 issue of the New York Post.
He also claimed that they "peddled nothing but violence" to children in their hockey games and feature "none of the beauty and skill of hockey" even though the games were praised by every major gaming outlet as being the most realistic sports games ever created (at the time of course). The article was reprinted in the April 1993 issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly as well. Most people thought it was one of the magazines infamous April Fools jokes.
Now he's back, bashing video games without a clue. At one point on the show, Mushnick had to fall back on the 1991 release of Mario Lemieux Hockey since he had no other arguments. I'd hate to say this, but hockey is a brutal game. Instead of bashing the game companies who work day and night to make their games as realistic as possible, how about trying to censor the sports themselves? Maybe having the NHL replace sticks with pillows or something would make you happy?
If there is anything left to say, it's this: I've grown up with games like Arch Rivals, NBA Jam, and will certainly indulge in games of Slugfest when I have the chance. I played basketball for years and I can say that never once did I ever step over the line and toss a player to the ground like I saw in the game. Why? Because I had parents. Parents who had the common sense to teach their child the difference between reality and fantasy, not to mention right from wrong.
We've been looking in the wrong place for far too long. The parents of America have become stupid, lazy, ignorant, and unwilling to take a minute out of their day to read the back of a video game box (or even watch their children play). The average age of the gamer today is somewhere around 18-20 years old. If your going to let your younger child play video games in today's society, learn to get off the couch and ask questions before ABC Nightly News knocks on your door. The again, maybe that is too much to ask. You are ONLY a parent after all.