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Video Games Under Fire
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Video Games Under Fire

June 7, 2013 Article Start Previous Page 3 of 5 Next

That's exactly what I was thinking about. I had the experience of shooting machineguns an hour or so outside Saigon, in a place where U.S. soldiers and Viet Cong were fighting each other in the '60s and '70s. It was such a strange experience doing that next to guys dressed like Viet Cong soldiers. I was just shooting at wooden pictures of tigers or whatever, but there was this heavy feeling thinking about how people my father's age were fighting here only 40 years ago.

RP: I'll tell you one thing. One of the reasons why we don't all kill each other when we make each other mad is because we experience empathy. We, generally, as people have learned -- we've evolved as such -- that we survive better when we work together. So we've developed in cultures, in societies, and we work together.

And this gives us compassion for one another. Where I'm going with this is society is a tool that helps us realize that hurting other people is bad, through experience and understanding. A completely inexperienced mind with no understanding can accidentally do horrible things.

Imagine a baby that doesn't know anything. And someone puts a gun in a baby's hand. That gun could very reasonably go off, firing a random bullet, killing someone else, killing the baby -- someone could die. And if the baby accidentally fires that gun and kills someone else, the baby might be shocked by the loud noise, but the baby will probably feels nothing toward the life that was just ended.

Now, an adult will feel something. The difference between the baby and the adult is experience and understanding. Without media, we are limited in experience and understanding by just that which can be around us. With media, you can get a broader range of experience and understanding. If your video games were participating in the simulation, the potential for us to contemplate consequences and grow from that is much higher than... Well, take us back to the beginning of media. Imagine the first expression that we know of our species, and our minds will take us to the cave wall. And what is the drawing? It's violence.

There's a dude stabbing a buffalo.

RP: There's a spear and, yes, exactly. It's hunting. This is a combination of recording their history, and it's also for the young people in the tribe that haven't yet gone on the hunt. Saying, look at what's involved. This thing is big. Look how small you are compared in size. If it tramples you, you can get hurt. They're using it as training. And as a result, through the stories and through the media, the young people in the tribe are more equipped to survive.

And yet it is also an exhibition of power, and how we can control and dominate our environment.

RP: You think that's why the cave drawings existed?

I think there is that element to it, in concert with what you said. It does show human power over the elements. Because now we have this spear, and we can take care of this thing that's out there. And I think that's where the politicians get weirded out, because they see 12 year olds on Call of Duty being like "Fuck yeah, I'm gonna kill that guy," or whatever, and they don't understand where the fantasy ends. They don't trust young people.

RP: It’s easy to misinterpret that if you are yourself not a gamer. I can imagine it's excruciating. When I think about the generation gap we're experiencing, it’s probably the widest generation gap in the history of all media. Like, I think about what my parents went through with rock 'n' roll, and how their parents thought that rock 'n' roll was going to bring the downfall of civilization. But at least that older generation understood the value of music. They didn't discount music in general. They just had a problem with that content.

The generation gap we're in today is one where the oldest generation, which are also the policy makers in our culture, they grew up in a world where this did not exist. They have no reference for it. It's very dangerous. Yet look at how responsible we are. Our industry regulates itself.  

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