Monday, August 08, 2005

Recently there has been a flap over Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. The game contains hidden sex scenes which nobody detected until ten months after the game was released.

Why are video games held to a different standard than other mediums? I have been pondering this for a while and I came up with several reasons.

-Books for a while have received immunity from active government censorship, that is, while schools might remove them from a required reading list, nobody ever advocates banning a book outright anymore. The printed word is sacred. Banning a book brings up images of communists or facists dumping outlawed texts on a pyre. Neither the Nazis nor the Soviets have outlawed video games, so that makes the medium a safe target in contemporary America. Also, since nobody has time to read anymore, there's no point in banning something that I only bought to put on my bookshelf to impress guests with how literate I can pretend to be.

-Voting turnout rates among Generation X-box is lower than the turnout rates among those who defied the establishment by listening to Elvis or by listening to jazz. This makes attacking video games safe politically for now.

-You can watch a movie with friends and family, then talk about how you almost cried during Padme's funereal. You can read a book review and then fake your way through a conversation with several other people who have claimed to have read "The Da Vinci Code". But try and find someone to discuss what you thought about Snake's "Traces of Life" speech at the end of "Metal Gear Solid 2". It will be some time before snooty elitists give weight to the plot, character development, dialogue in contemporary games.

-Movies and books are accesible to almost anyone. You need more money to buy video games, time to play them, and skill to be able to progress through the levels. Many elderly people on fixed incomes who have arthritis in their thumbs don't get to see what I see in "Time Spliters". Its rather like reading works by Cervantes in their original Spanish. Not everyone is able to understand it.

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