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Child's play screwed over by media.
January 5, 2004 12:05 AM   Subscribe

Wil Wheaton sums it up best -- Penny Arcade's Child's Play, as posted previously, has been completely ignored by the media, despite donating over US$200,000 worth or toys and cash to a local children's hospital. 11,100 news items on violence in video games, 3 news items on video gamers opening their hearts and wallets.
posted by krisjohn (78 comments total)

 
Oops, that Child's Play link should have been:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/childsplay/
posted by krisjohn at 12:06 AM on January 5, 2004


Penny Arcade's toy roundup is just one of the myriad toy roundups conducted for local children's hospitals each year in December. Why should theirs get any special recognition?
posted by mischief at 12:33 AM on January 5, 2004


Well some would be nice.
posted by futureproof at 12:44 AM on January 5, 2004


Penny Arcade did get screwed, it might be easy to blame them for not being more PR savvy, but I honestly doubt anyone knew just how big a response Child's Play would get.

Raising $200k via Amazon and Paypal is admirable.
posted by riffola at 12:50 AM on January 5, 2004


Did they issue a press release?
posted by mischief at 1:00 AM on January 5, 2004


ah yes , but did they send anyone to iceland ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 1:29 AM on January 5, 2004


So true. I remember when John Gotti was on trial EVERY damn article was about his racketeering, murdering,or some mumbo-jumbo, but WHERE were all the stories about how much he gave to needy kids, or the nifty parties he threw?
posted by HTuttle at 1:54 AM on January 5, 2004


Fuck that, Penny Arcades donations deserve recognition. The point that this post is trying to make imho is that the news media is in a frenzy over video games, and over time the people who are enthusiasts are cast negatively as a result.

$200,000 was made by Penny-Arcade, a videogamers comic strip (again, imho) and the people who put it on wanted to make sure people could see gamers getting together to make a difference. To this they succeeded admirably, and its success drives this point.
posted by Keyser Soze at 1:57 AM on January 5, 2004


Yeah, I wonder if they did send out a press release. Or did they just expect the media to 'know' about it?

Issuing a profanity ridden dietribe isn't the best way to make yourself seem noble, IMO. If their main goal was only to help people why are they so upset? By that mesure, they should be very pleased with themselves.

And finaly, why does everyone have to donate during the holidays? Kids get sick all year round, retards.
posted by delmoi at 2:13 AM on January 5, 2004


Mentally retarded people get sick all year round as well, delmoi.
posted by ttrendel at 2:30 AM on January 5, 2004


delmoi: why does everyone have to donate during the holidays? Kids get sick all year round

True, but during the holidays kids all hope for toys from Santa. Timing and expectations are important.
posted by gen at 2:49 AM on January 5, 2004


i think it wasn't so much the amount of media coverage that upsetted tycho. it was their complete failure to cover the story accurately:

"When this footage was aired, I learned something new: that the toys had been donated by a local catholic school, and were valued at nearly a thousand dollars. Understand this. A single bin of GBA SPs was worth four thousand dollars, and we had four such bins. That's above and beyond the seventy GameCubes the other twenty carts of toys, which at our best estimates come to around $175,000. Then there was a check for twenty-seven thousand. Here's where the depression sets in."
posted by lotsofno at 3:04 AM on January 5, 2004


Meh.

Meanwhile... the link to the previous post rocks: '7-year-old gets stuck in stuff...'
posted by jiroczech at 3:56 AM on January 5, 2004


It can't be stressed enough about doing public relations for yourself in matters like these. The "Media" will inevitably get the facts wrong. A good PR effort can minimize the error.
posted by piskycritter at 4:57 AM on January 5, 2004


So I guess their point is, if we knew that they made a $200,000 donation to some children, we would be more likely to forgive them for producing and distributing games like "Back Alley Rapist" or "Innocent Citizen Pummel-Fest" or "Arson Party 2004" or "Digi-Chicks n' Tits"
[Rated M for mature]? Pppfffft.
posted by Witty at 5:52 AM on January 5, 2004


Witty: Penny Arcade is a webcomic ABOUT video games. You should actually go read it sometime. They do NOT produce or distribute video games.

You may be "witty", but you're not too bright. Makes me wonder if you are the same reporter that thinks a "catholic school" gave the toys.
posted by Ynoxas at 5:59 AM on January 5, 2004


It doesn't surprise me at all that they didn't recieve much attention. A friend of mine started a punk-focused record label called Subcity which has each of it's artists pledge a certain amount of money from records and tours to charities. They've raised at least that much money for various charities including the National Hopeline Network, the Women's Justice Center, and the Crittenton Services. (list)

Subcity has recieved little to no media attention even within the music scene, it certainly hasn't recieved any mainstream press. Things like this and the Penny Arcade charity are just outside of the mainstream radar, it's not even about the sum of money, it's just that there is nothing particularly newsworthy about the unexpected subcultures doing something nice.

If one kid wearing a NOFX t-shirt is searched by the Secret Service, then that's news. Punks and video gamers helping people is certainly not. It seems like the last thing the mainstream media wants is for people to imagine subcultures as anything less than completely polarized from mainstream culture.
posted by aubin at 6:04 AM on January 5, 2004


Ynoxas - A brief reading of Wil's post obviously left me without that little detail... my apologies. But Penny Arcade might as well sleep in the same bed as the developers, so I stand by my "post".
posted by Witty at 6:24 AM on January 5, 2004


"Back Alley Rapist"?
"Innocent Citizen Pummel-Fest"?

...it's good to see that you try to remedy your staggering ignorance before passing judgement.

Oh, wait. You didn't.
posted by kavasa at 6:40 AM on January 5, 2004


Ignorance of...?
posted by Witty at 7:03 AM on January 5, 2004


"But Penny Arcade might as well sleep in the same bed as the developers, so I stand by my 'post'."

Why? Because they comment on the industry?
posted by Localemperor at 7:11 AM on January 5, 2004


witty: rather then pontificating on what's evil provide us with evidence video games are at least as harmful as

1) political propaganda, religious zealotes, white/black supremacists, personal cult leaders, nigerian scammers
2) cancer, aids, you name it disease
3) massive unemployement
3) cigarettes and alcool abuse
5) country wide accounting scandals a-la Enron and Vivendi
6) famine, draught, physical and psycological violence

Obviously ALL of these problems are caused by videogames and by shifting attention FROM enormous problems like these to videogames we'll save a couple dozen psyco who want to imitate GTA and let one bazillion die because we didn't talk enough about condoms , because they're "eeeeevil" too.
posted by elpapacito at 7:31 AM on January 5, 2004


The thing that gets me is that people were violent before video games. What made them evil then, or was the creation of Grand Theft Auto retroactive?
posted by eyeballkid at 7:33 AM on January 5, 2004


Look at me, I'm giving away money!

I am so nice!

Look at me!
posted by the fire you left me at 7:37 AM on January 5, 2004


The thing that gets me is that people were violent before video games. What made them evil then, or was the creation of Grand Theft Auto retroactive?

Rock 'n Roll. Comic books. The sign of women's ankles.
posted by Foosnark at 7:44 AM on January 5, 2004


(I apologize if I've needlessly changed the direction of this thread. But there was mention of this angle in the FPP... anyway.)

The thing that gets me is that people were violent before video games.

That's true of course. But the fact still remains, "GAMES" that glorify, desensitize, or make fun of senseless and excessive violence and crime DID NOT exist until recently (10-15 years or so). These games that allow players to beat cops, rape prositutes, stomp innocent people and anything else of the ilk are absolutely irresposible and disgusting.

What's ignorant is sitting there and playing the "it's just a game" card... pretending and/or denying that no ill-effects come from these games is ignorance. Saying there is nothing wrong with playing these kinds of games is sad.
posted by Witty at 7:49 AM on January 5, 2004


What's ignorant is sitting there and playing the "it's just a game" card... pretending and/or denying that no ill-effects come from these games is ignorance.

Everyone I know who has played Grand Theft Auto 3, which is everyone I know, hasn't tried to commit any of the acts portrayed in the game. Just like everyone I know who's seen the film Scarface, which is also everyone I know, hasn't tried to become a drug lord.

The problem isn't ignorance of the effect video games, it's people like you making shit up.
posted by eyeballkid at 7:55 AM on January 5, 2004


Witty - So curing your ignorance is someone else's job? Ok.

Penny Arcade is actually somewhat remarkable as a video game news outlet. A comparison to, say, IGN - which has its gaping maw sewn to the industry's teat - is quite striking. Even a cursory reading of Penny Arcade's newspost archive would let you know that they've got a pretty strong ethical streak about how they run things. But then again, why bother to do any research when you've already got a nice shiny conclusion?

On preview - do we really need to have the "I think video games are bad but I have no evidence / I think they're fine and I have no evidence" discussion again?
posted by amery at 7:56 AM on January 5, 2004


It IS just a game, Witty. Pong didn't make me want to go out and play a game of table tennis.
posted by notsnot at 7:56 AM on January 5, 2004


At least Witty is consistent about opening his mouth and removing all doubt...
posted by substrate at 8:01 AM on January 5, 2004


Video games are the latest link in a long chain of fantasy experience that dates back to oral storytelling. Or, for that matter, abstract thought.

The bulk of video games are harmless even by (what I can surmise of) Witty's standards.

Those with mature content, content ill-suited for young kids, should be tracked by the parents of said kids. There's even a labeling system within the industry to make this easier to implement. Analog for film, pornography, what-have-you.

Since the world isn't peopled solely by impressionable young kids with apathetic parents, the means of entertainment available to the world should not be targeted strictly at said kids.

Penny Arcade is a couple of really great guys who know the difference between fantasy and reality; who recognize the complexities of the fantasy-violence situation; and who aren't sitting in the hand of huge game companies who do stupid things.

Painting them with a broad brush that condemns everybody who plays and enjoys video games as being morally fucked is really fucking ignorant.
posted by cortex at 8:09 AM on January 5, 2004


If the games Witty mentions don't exist, I'm going to kill someone.
posted by yerfatma at 8:10 AM on January 5, 2004


If anyone had actually been following "Child's Play", they would already know that not only had the media been issued information, but that they were invited to the handoff. The media not only reported it, but screwed up both the source and the amount of the donations.

I'm not going to hop on the "slam Witty" bandwagon - it's unnecessary. However, I'm so friggin' tired of reading "it wasn't my fault - this made me do it" stories that seem to erase any form of personal culpability. Recently, we had a post about some moron kids who detonated dry ice bombs in various places and was looking at jail time for it. Having to read one father's reply that it was the fault of his kid's school because they taught him the physics needed to construct the device, but without slapping a "warning label" on the knowledge, disgusted me.

Soon, the "Twinkie defense" will seem like solid law as we get the "video game defense", the "contraband physics defense", the "too much mint tea defense", and so on sprung at unsuspecting juries - who are just going to smile and nod, because it's faster to get out of there than it is to think about it.

posted by FormlessOne at 8:21 AM on January 5, 2004


On preview - do we really need to have the "I think video games are bad but I have no evidence / I think they're fine and I have no evidence" discussion again?

Rather than do that, I'll take another tack. As someone who insanely loves video games, I'm willing to concede they might be a negative influence for some people. But the fact is, there are lots of things that might fall within this category, and we can't get rid of the bad without getting rid of some pretty important individual freedoms.
posted by me & my monkey at 8:29 AM on January 5, 2004


eyeballkid, you said:

Everyone I know[...]

hasn't tried to commit any of the acts portrayed in the game.
&
hasn't tried to become a drug lord.

And your conclusion was:

The problem isn't ignorance of the effect video games, it's people like you making shit up.

Seems to me that ignorance IS the problem, since you've based all your evidence on personal examples instead of actual research. Because, based on your logic, I could say that I DO know someone who tried to recreate a stunt in GTA and your argument would be thrown out the window.
posted by BlueTrain at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2004


I'm right there with you, monkey. My concern is just that this discussion is starting to recap the points we all trotted out recently, whereas the original post had a somewhat different focus. Namely that Child's Play got screwed media-wise.

On that note, I'm a little disturbed by the idea that the lack of coverage was Penny Arcade's fault. While I'm sure that they could have done more to publicize the event, reporting the news is the media's job. Finding out what's news so that they can report it, then, is also the media's job. I don't want the media to simply regurgitate press releases and give air time to the folks with the loudest flacks - I want them to go out there, find out what's going on, and tell me about it.
posted by amery at 8:39 AM on January 5, 2004


Formless: How was the media given the information? In what form? By a professional PR hack or some amateur? More importantly, when was it given?

These things have to be done by the numbers, just like anything else. Even moreso when the group has a private interest and is obviously trying to get some free publicity for their cause.

amery: Dream on, Alice.
posted by mischief at 8:45 AM on January 5, 2004


What's ignorant is sitting there and playing the "it's just a game" card... pretending and/or denying that no ill-effects come from these games is ignorance. Saying there is nothing wrong with playing these kinds of games is sad.

Yeah, and I can say the same thing about movies, music, books, magazine articles, or even some conversations I've had where I engage in violent hyperbole. Anything you see or here needs to be evaluated. Moderation is up to the individual or parent. If someone commits some ridiculous copycat crime, then obviously someone hasn't been moderating, and they have trouble distinguishing fantasy from reality. There isn't a problem with playing the games, there's a problem that some people have when dealing with the content presented.

The Penny Arcade guys -- and their kind contributors -- decided to break the stereotype of video gamers as teenage violence-addicted socially irresponsible jerks. The news media have created the idea of a "video game player" as someone who promotes reckless violence, where Tycho and Gabe were hoping that at least one "Video Gamers Do Good" headline would finally appear.
posted by mikeh at 8:45 AM on January 5, 2004


And what's puzzling is how in the world could the "journalist" write on his notebook "catholic school" instead of "video gamers group" ? Looks like there's either ignorance of facts, an hidden agenda or something else went very wrong.
posted by elpapacito at 8:56 AM on January 5, 2004


Is the name of the campaign meant to be ironic? Child's Play II was the title of a film that the media tried to link to the murder of Jamie Bulger in a similar outburst of hysteria.
posted by jiroczech at 8:58 AM on January 5, 2004


The media stereotypes all Professional Athletes in the NFL and NBA as rampant sexual predators and thugs. The NFL and NBA, both very large organizations with world class full time public relation departments, consistantly fails to promote its athletes who are community leaders and all around nice guys (United Way, etc.).

A couple of guys who write a video gaming blog/comic had no chance. But they did an incredibly wonderful and charitable thing, and they should do it again often. Expecting mad props however is a fantasy.
posted by Stan Chin at 9:03 AM on January 5, 2004


Let's see... Penny Arcade decides to combat the image of video games as a bad influence -- by giving lots of these so-called evil video games to impressionable young children? And is surprised when the media finds this less than worthy of gushing positive coverage? Well, blow me down.
posted by kindall at 9:05 AM on January 5, 2004


Why doesn't this beneficence make people to believe that playing video games leads to charitable donations and acts of kindness? There is certainly more direct evidence for this than the assumption that playing violent video games causes normal, well-adjusted children to kill each other.
posted by Hildago at 9:11 AM on January 5, 2004


mischief: Sure, I know wanting a better media is idealistic (or naive, depending on how you want to see it). And I know that there's always someone willing to point that out. Doesn't make things suck less, though.

You know what else sucks? The idea that the phrase "dream on" is an adequate response to the idea that reporters should be, you know, reporting. I want the irrepressible, incalculable fourth estate that lots of publications claim to be when they want to sound important.
posted by amery at 9:16 AM on January 5, 2004


I'm sorry for jumping the gun in what I thought Penny Arcade was all about. That being said...

amery - "Hot Topics" get rehashed on Mefi all the time. Get used to it. It's not as if the link you offered was the first of it's kind.

I think video games are bad but I have no evidence / I think they're fine and I have no evidence.

The evidence is simple. YOUNG kids are easily influenced. They're like little sponges ready to absorb any and everything that's put in front of them. The first time my 3-year old nephew heard me say "son of a bitch" (during heavy traffic), that's all it took. It was his new phrase. Kids take what they see and hear and apply it to their own little lives. That's undeniable.

I'm not making the claim that grown-up, mature adults are easily affected by these types of games. But kids are. You can't convince me otherwise. Sorry.

Now I know we would all like to think that the rating and labeling system keeps these games out of the hands of children, but they don't. A parent maybe able to keep the game out of his/her house, but they can't necesarily be there to keep it out of 'Billy's' house, the kid across the street. They can't keep 'Jeffrey' from taking it from his older brother and bringing it to the slumber party. The parents certainly hold the greatest burden of responsibility in raising their children. But products like these aren't making it any easier. They're simply irresponsible pieces of junk.

notsnot - That's cute analogy and I'm sorry that you think that way. But Pong isn't exciting. Death and violence is. Pong isn't "real", it doesn't look real. Some of these games now are just amazing in how detailed and life-like they are. Pong doesn't fuel the imagination. Grand Theft Auto may.

FormlessOne - I assure you, I'm not trying to shift blame (I hate that shit too). Like I said, an adult, grown and mature is in every way responsible for his or her own actions. But kids don't know any better, until you teach them what IS better, what is right and what is wrong. These games don't do that even in the slightest.

I mean, the movies can be just as bad of course (although you never see 8 year olds in a rated-R movie for example). But a movie is a movie, it' tells a story, good or bad. It doesn't reward the viewer for being really good at watching the rape scene or really enjoying the "board in the skull" shot. Most movies at leaast try to make those images frightening, horrible, painful, etc. Games usually do the opposite. It's fun to see those things and act them out?
posted by Witty at 9:21 AM on January 5, 2004


kindall, since all the games that are complained about are rated M (for Mature), and they only gave kids-rated games to the kids, what is your problem?
posted by smackfu at 9:43 AM on January 5, 2004


I could say that I DO know someone who tried to recreate a stunt in GTA and your argument would be thrown out the window.

You're right BlueTrain, my example is based on anecdotal evidence.

As a better example, from media reports, I've heard of one event, two kids shooting at cars on the freeway as I recall, of people being influenced by the violence in GTA and acting on it overtly. That's one report and we are talking about one of the best selling video games of all time. I don't see a correlation there.

Witty: Most movies at leaast try to make those images frightening, horrible, painful, etc. Games usually do the opposite. It's fun to see those things and act them out? | I'm not making the claim that grown-up, mature adults are easily affected by these types of games. But kids are. You can't convince me otherwise. Sorry.

The first part is a pretty general statement. You've obviously never seen any of Troma's horror films, the Nightmare on Elm Street series or any slasher flick made since 1975. I find them all to be funny and over the top. Still, I wouldn't show them to my kids, but then I also wouldn't let my kids play GTA3. I actually think we agree on that much. Let's also not forget that GTA3 is one of the best selling games of all time. I believe the two best selling series of all time are the Zelda and Mario games from Nintendo, which are generally less violent than Disney fare.

I'm a little touchy about the subject because I'm a 31 year-old gamer who knows that the median age for video game players is 27. Everytime I read lazy journalism like that recent NY Post article (motto: We're lazy journalists), I get pretty peeved. I thought GTA3 was a ground breaking game, and not because of the idea that I could beat up a pedestrian with a baseball bat but that I could (or couldn't) do any number of things in one of the most well concieved virtual worlds to date. I look at GTA3 as the future of games, not because of its violence, but because of the freedom of movment and choice. Also understand that the video game industry is trying to be responsible by following a ratings code, just like films. Kids shouldn't be playing them anyway. T

Kindall:
Did you bother to look at the list of games at Amazon that were part of Child's Play?
posted by eyeballkid at 9:50 AM on January 5, 2004


Is there a video game where Witty tries to find the mythical Sense of Humor?
posted by notsnot at 10:07 AM on January 5, 2004


That's true of course. But the fact still remains, "GAMES" that glorify, desensitize, or make fun of senseless and excessive violence and crime DID NOT exist until recently (10-15 years or so).

Because, you know, nobody ever played Cowboys and Indians. An G.I. Joe is a product of the 90's.

I mean, the movies can be just as bad of course (although you never see 8 year olds in a rated-R movie for example).

Um... do you want to tell him, or should I?
posted by Ptrin at 10:11 AM on January 5, 2004


Some people believe that video games can greatly influence children in bad ways. This might be true, but there is no real evidence for it.

Some people raised 200k in donations for sick children. This is definitely true.

In a discussion, the former is obviously more interesting, because opinions vary. In the news media, which should be reporting facts, the latter should be the story that gets reported, because it is something that there is actual evidence for.

In my opinion it is difficult to give credence to arguments condemning video games, because they seem to exactly match those in regards to comic books, movies, science fiction, dungeons and dragons, rock and roll, Harry Potter, and pretty much every other form of entertainment ever associated with youth. Obviously children learn from their environment, but it's not clear that playing video games (or taking part in any of the other things listed above) somehow overrides everything they learn from their parents and peers and society at large about appropriate behavior and the distinction between reality and fantasy. And while there are no statistics I know of directly relating to video game influence, aggregate youth violence seems to be decreasing (homicides and suicides decreased 18 and 43 percent respectively from 1993 to 1998, and nonfatal firearm injuries from crime declined 49 percent, and firearm injuries from suicide attempts decreased by 48 percent. Also, between 1993 and 1999 a CDC survey showed a 42.5 percent decline in students who reported being in a physical fight in the past year. More recent data seemed to show a continuation of that trend, but without some more checking I can't be sure the numbers are from the same source or reported equivalently, so I can't say for sure. All of those numbers are from the national youth violence prevention resource center). While that is not direct evidence, given that the rise of video games to their current prominence coincides with a fairly drastic drop in youth violence, the problem, if it exists, doesn't merit hysteria.
posted by Nothing at 10:40 AM on January 5, 2004


Ptrin, I will... at a screening of Kill Bill, a mother and her four kids sat behind me. (two of them around 11 or 12, one I'd say was around 8 or so, and the other an infant).
posted by tj at 10:42 AM on January 5, 2004


As a better example, from media reports, I've heard of one event, two kids shooting at cars on the freeway as I recall, of people being influenced by the violence in GTA and acting on it overtly. That's one report and we are talking about one of the best selling video games of all time. I don't see a correlation there.

No, you've heard about fucking idiots who claim to be influenced by GTA as a scapegoat in the hope of a lighter sentence. There is no proof, real, actual, proof, that GTA causes people to act violently.

I remember when the original game came out, I was about 12 at the time, prime age to be influenced. To date, I don't believe I've jacked any cars, run over any pedestrians, or done any of the things as depicted in game. There really isn't a link.
posted by Orange Goblin at 10:51 AM on January 5, 2004


Yes, we must eliminate all violence from the TV (no news for you!), movies, books, music, video games so peace shall dawn on the Earth. The answer is not that insane people and stupid people confuse reality with fantasy or have no moral understanding at all. It's not your fault kid, those Rockstar Games people trained you with their murder & theft simulators!
posted by john at 11:17 AM on January 5, 2004


Oragne Goblin: I stand corrected.
posted by eyeballkid at 11:18 AM on January 5, 2004


If anyone had actually been following "Child's Play", they would already know that not only had the media been issued information, but that they were invited to the handoff. The media not only reported it, but screwed up both the source and the amount of the donations.

Let me get this straight: a single TV station (probably local TV, at that) was told about the Child's Play event and fucked up the story, and that's enough to make broad pronouncements about "the media?" Puh-lease.

Did anyone contact the local newspaper, FormlessOne? Was more than one TV station contacted? Did Penny Arcade contact the station again and complain about the errors in the story? Please do let us know where we can find out that information, because right now, this whole thing looks like a PR fuckup on Penny Arcade's part, with a lack of follow-up covered up by, well, whining about how "the media" is horribly biased against video games.

Anyone with half a brain could pitch a story to a news outlet that turns the "bad video gamers" meme on its head. That Penny Arcade doesn't seem to have tried very hard is its own problem, not "the media's." But again, I await the easily available information you say is out there that will change my mind on what happened.
posted by mediareport at 11:21 AM on January 5, 2004


Hi um, guys? the whole point of this PA event that did not get reported -- the story allegedly under discussion right here -- is that a bunch of video game players, NOT developers (the people who grew up on these brain-damaging video games, who should have been "influenced" by them) donated a boatload of toys, games, and money to sick kids instead of blowing up schools. That's the *point*. Stop it with the "it influences kids, no it doesn't" rants, because these are the kids. Ok thx bye
posted by sodalinda at 11:46 AM on January 5, 2004


witty: But Pong isn't exciting. Death and violence is. Pong isn't "real", it doesn't look real. Some of these games now are just amazing in how detailed and life-like they are. Pong doesn't fuel the imagination. Grand Theft Auto may.

I would argue the opposite. Pong, and other games from the past require much more imagination. Especially early sports games for, say, the Atari, or RPG-style games for the Nintendo. I can remember some fairly detailed conversations about the world of Mario and Zelda that I had as a kid. If you can extrapolate that much material from pixelated dots on the screen, then that's imagination. Kids who mimic GTA are just copying, there's no creativity.

As for the idea that kids are going to see violent games no matter what as long as it exists, I accept that. There's no way, unless you stay by your child's side from birth to the time he or she has reached an age of responsibility, that the kid will not see or hear something you'd prefer was left hidden. Yes, there should be controls. Yes, you should be careful what your kids do in your house. But more importantly, you should try to find out what is going on outside your house, and talk to kids about how to deal with whatever they may see -- whether it be violent, sexual, or otherwise. Keeping something away and being silent about it only makes it taboo, and appealing. Try actual parenting instead of legislating the world into being a safer place.
posted by mikeh at 12:09 PM on January 5, 2004


kindall, since all the games that are complained about are rated M (for Mature), and they only gave kids-rated games to the kids, what is your problem?

Well, you know, you get them hooked young. Sure, those games look harmless, but they're "gateway games" to harder stuff.

My point is, if you feel you're being unfairly demonized for your love of video games, you don't start a drive to give video games to kids for Christmas. Not if you expect to get some positive PR for it. It plays right into your opposition's worst fears. Homosexuals might as well start a widely-publicized campaign to become Scoutmasters in an attempt to improve public perception of gays.

I'm not saying I have a problem with what they did. Making kids happy, generally good. I'm just saying their strategy was naive and oblivious. I thought that back when they started their drive, that it was extremely poor from a PR angle. Didn't say anything, of course, because I hate to be a party pooper. Besides, the kids are happy whether gamers got positive media coverage or not, which is supposedly the point.
posted by kindall at 12:28 PM on January 5, 2004


kindall, I'd agree except for the fact that it's a two-pronged attack. First, video game players are seen as violent individuals due to an influence from content. The generosity and donations seem to be a sort of contradiction of this fact.

More importantly, video games as a whole have been demonized at times as mind-numbing or violent. By giving kids games that emphasize problem-solving skills and thought, you reject that perception.
posted by mikeh at 12:43 PM on January 5, 2004


But again, I await the easily available information you say is out there that will change my mind on what happened.

I actually saw a piece on Child's Play on the local (Seattle) TV news, though I can't remember which station it was. It was a long piece: probably 2-3 minutes. They mentioned Penny Arcade and interviewed the organizers, who discussed their motivation (redeeming the media image of gamers) in detail. In fact, the segment was teased (repeatedly) with a statement along the lines of "here are some gamers trying to improve their reputation by helping out kids". They also had video from the warehouse where the toys were stored, though I can't remember if they mentioned a dollar value.

I wish the organizers had a list of media mentions, so that we could discuss this issue in a more informed manner. Wheaton seems to be under the impression that the total media exposure for Child's Play consisted of one error-riddled story; I can personally vouch for the fact that this isn't the case.
posted by mr_roboto at 12:48 PM on January 5, 2004


Thanks, mr_roboto. So much for overly simplistic, biased rants against "the media." The Kneejerk Gamer strikes again.
posted by mediareport at 12:57 PM on January 5, 2004


Oh, and I've emailed Brad at Penny Arcade asking for more info about which media outlets they contacted, and how they contacted them.
posted by mediareport at 12:58 PM on January 5, 2004


So much for overly simplistic, biased rants against "the media."

In all fairness, Tycho's rant against the media was not inspired by a simplistic bias, but by a personal experience with a very badly botched story. He has a right to be angry.
posted by mr_roboto at 1:18 PM on January 5, 2004


He has a right to be angry.

I'll grant that; being part of a botched story is definitely reason enough to get angry. But he went further, painting a misleading picture as he tarred "the media" with one brush. Same goes for many of the comments above.
posted by mediareport at 1:50 PM on January 5, 2004


But he went further, painting a misleading picture as he tarred "the media" with one brush. Same goes for many of the comments above.

So are you denying that stories about video games in mainstream media outlets amount to pieces in the business section about the sales of consoles and only hit the news section when someone tries to blame their violent content for harming children? That seems to be what Tycho's rants about the media usually center on. Or are you painting a misleading picture by basing your view on this single rant when he's been railing about this topic on his site for years?
posted by eyeballkid at 2:06 PM on January 5, 2004


I'm talking about Child's Play, eyeballkid. You know, the subject of the front page post that started this thread? The one that said the Child's Play story had been "completely ignored by the media."

That's obviously not the case, and neither Wheaton nor the Penny Arcade folks wrote about the episode in a clear way. In fact, their takes are incomplete and misleading. Don't blame me for that.
posted by mediareport at 2:53 PM on January 5, 2004


Don't blame me for that.

I don't. I blame the media.
posted by eyeballkid at 3:28 PM on January 5, 2004


Ptrin, I will... at a screening of Kill Bill, a mother and her four kids sat behind me. (two of them around 11 or 12, one I'd say was around 8 or so, and the other an infant).

Mmmm... ok. Good example. They were accompanied by an adult. That doesn't make it right, in my opinion. But it's not evidence that our nations theaters are crawling with underage viewers. My point was that movie theaters do a pretty good job of keeping kids out of movies that aren't meant for them.

mikeh - C'mon, don't argue with me just to argue:

I would argue the opposite. Pong, and other games from the past require much more imagination.

Yes, it would require more imaginative effort to turn Pong into something real. But I find it hard to believe that anyone has ever fantasized about a pong game. Your point is silly and it's just a deliberate attempt to turn my argument around.

An G.I. Joe is a product of the 90's.

Haha. And grown-ups are stupid. We're so out of touch right?
posted by Witty at 3:46 PM on January 5, 2004


So.. does this mean we should ban Microsoft Flight Simulator as it realistically simulates large passenger jets and cityscapes?

Legislation is fruitless.

Video games have a ratings system, and major chains do not allow children to purchase M and T rated games.

Arguing that a particular game is bad is a personal opinion you are entitled to state, and certainly within your rights to enforce as a parent.

But to force it on an industry?

Right.
posted by linux at 4:30 PM on January 5, 2004


My point was that movie theaters do a pretty good job of keeping kids out of movies that aren't meant for them.

Not true at all. Not many theaters give parents trouble for bringing their underage kids to see rated-R movies. Nor should they. Just like videogame stores shouldn't give parents trouble for buying mature games for their kids. (And it is the parents buying the games. What 8-year-olds are running around with $40-$60 of money they can spend without mommy and daddy finding out?)

But I find it hard to believe that anyone has ever fantasized about a pong game.

This man lived under a rock in the 70's and 80's. I'm sure no one here has ever had a dream about Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or Asteroids. And I'll leave out Tetris just because I'm nice.

Haha. And grown-ups are stupid. We're so out of touch right?

As an adult, I'm very aware that I'm out of touch with kid culture -- do you claim that you are otherwise? Anyway, here's a pop quiz, in the spirit of connecting with the youth:

In studies, which typically has a stronger causality with violent behavior in minors: violent media, or boring media?
posted by Ptrin at 4:33 PM on January 5, 2004


Hmm -I don't usually post now I can't read at work, but goddarnit sometimes I get _so_ annoyed. Witty, I don't know you and these days I can't really read enough to keep up as to who normally says what. I'm afraid in this instance you are completely offbase. Firstly you've used an article that isn't really about computer games as such to launch a simplistic attack on the computer games industry. There really are too many people on mefi these days who see an FPP vaguely connected with a pet issue and then launch off an attack based on their traditional pet subjects. RTFA first hey?

With regards your actual argument I'm afraid you're talking rubbish. To attempt to stereotype any one type of media as wrong and corrupting is not only silly, its historically demonstrably so. When people first wrote novels they were attacked as corrupting, the same was true of jazz music and later TV - all are now entirely acceptable. You're well within your rights to highlight and cricticise specific content - for example I find Manhunter rather objectionable, but to attack a method of entertainment en grosse is patently indefensible.

I fear you may be succuming to a rather traditional game of 'blame someone else' that the media has liked to play for the best part of the last century - when looking at the problems in society its lots easier to find a simple scapegoat , alchol, hippies, rock music, whatever, than look at real root causes, or look deeper at a package of societal causes. Face it - if your supposedly normal 15 year old kid starts shooting at cars just because he's played GTA3 you've badly failed to teach them the values of right amd wrong in the first place.

The guys at Penny Arcade set up Childs Play to try and break stereotypes - its a shame some people see such an entirely positive and benficial thing as an opportunity to reinforce them.
posted by prentiz at 4:45 PM on January 5, 2004


Ptrin - You're confusing me.

Not true at all. Not many theaters give parents trouble for bringing their underage kids to see rated-R movies. Nor should they.

I agree. I never suggested anything different. I don't think theaters should give parents any trouble if they want to take their kid into a rated-R movie. At that point, it's none of their business. But the theaters do do a pretty good job of keeping the kids that are NOT accompanied by an adult out of the theater.

I'm sure no one here has ever had a dream about Pac-Man, Space Invaders, or Asteroids. And I'll leave out Tetris just because I'm nice.

Just listing the names of old video games proves nothing. I don't understand your point. If your point is "kids DO fantasize about video games, regardless of content", then thank you for helping me to make my point. Because I don't see anything wrong with fantasizing about being an astronaut or a ghostbuster. But I would have a problem with kids fantasizing about raping women or beating cops.

Firstly you've used an article that isn't really about computer games as such to launch a simplistic attack on the computer games industry.

No I haven't. First of all, the FPP made the first comment about violence in video games. Secondly, I'm not attacking the entire industry. I'm not stereotyping one type of media, nor am I stereotyping all gamers. I don't have a problem with video games. I have a problem with the people who design, develop, and distribute games like GTA (or whatever). I have a problem with the people who would carry these things in their stores. I have a problem with people justifying the existence of this kind of fantasizing under the claim that "they're just games". A game? Senseless violence and crime is not a game... it's not funny.

There really are too many people on mefi these days who see an FPP vaguely connected with a pet issue and then launch off an attack based on their traditional pet subjects.

Well, you got the wrong guy.

I fear you may be succuming to a rather traditional game of 'blame someone else' that the media has liked to play for the best part of the last century...

Oh please. That's not the case either. You should go back to "not knowing me".

...than look at real root causes, or look deeper at a package of societal causes.

Well thank you for the suggestion. But do I have to look at the entire package all at once or can I focus on certain parts of it on occasion? Because I think this issue is part of the package. It's a piece of the puzzle. And... I consider this to be a real root cause.

Lemme ask you... if these games are cool with you now, do you think they will ever evolve into soemthing that you don't approve of? Or will they always just be harmless games to you?
posted by Witty at 5:54 PM on January 5, 2004


fantasizing about raping women or beating cops.

Nitpick (as opposed to pile-on; I disagree with you, Witty, but that's what people do): clearly, you can beat/kill cops (and every one else) in GTA, but where in a mainstream video game can you commit rape?
posted by cortex at 5:58 PM on January 5, 2004


Since I can easily concieve of a game I wouldn't want a child to play (I'm working on one at the moment), it's no harder to concieve of one that's goes so far that I wouldn't generally approve of it (actually I don't have to, because they already exist).

HOWEVER

That doesn't mean I feel that such games shouldn't be allowed to exist, to be created, or to be sold to adults.

HOWEVER

I do think that they should be controlled with the same degree of labelling and purchase restrictions as films currently are.

This opinion is not uncommon amongst game developers.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:50 PM on January 5, 2004


PS Anyone who considers GTA to be 'realistic' is going to be in for a shock in a couple of years time.
posted by inpHilltr8r at 6:52 PM on January 5, 2004


Now I know we would all like to think that the rating and labeling system keeps these games out of the hands of children, but they don't. A parent maybe able to keep the game out of his/her house, but they can't necesarily be there to keep it out of 'Billy's' house, the kid across the street. They can't keep 'Jeffrey' from taking it from his older brother and bringing it to the slumber party.

I agree that the labelling system by no means ensures that the games stay out of the hands of kids, but how is this any different from films? Dear Jeff can just as easily borrow his older brother's porn collection or copy of clockwork orange. That such an occurrence is less likely has little to do with the efficacy of the labelling system and much more to do with the typical characterization of games as being "for kids."
posted by juv3nal at 8:26 PM on January 5, 2004


Can you spell "guest"? There's a "u" in it!
posted by ae4rv at 9:09 PM on January 5, 2004


4 Witty:

http://www.penny-arcade.com/view.php3?date=2003-08-11&res=l
posted by krisjohn at 12:36 AM on January 6, 2004


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