Playing the long game

Alma from F.E.A.R. innit?

Word to the young: don't engage with the moral hand-wringing brigade on video game violence. Time is on your side

The other day I saw Alan Titchmarsh on television. It wasn’t deliberate. I was walking past a shop that sells TVs and I saw his huge mug on one of the many screens in the window. Ever since his attempted slaughter of Tim Ingham (all hail the Ingham!) every time I see him, the phrase “what do you get out of watching the violent one?” pops into my head. Probably because it completely sums up his ineptitude as a commentator on video game violence.

Before I proceed let me point out to all Alan Titchmarsh fans that I am prepared to concede that Titchmarsh knows a lot about gardening. I’m also prepared to concede he knows how to write novels which sell very well, although I can’t comment on the quality of the novels he writes. Also, to anyone who owns a TV store, Alan Titchmarsh’s mug isn’t the best way to show off HD TVs. I’d show something like Blade Runner or The Dark Knight – you know, something that’ll really demonstrate the TVs visual capabilities.

But I digress. Titchmarsh’s face reminded me of his ambush on Ingham (all hail the Ingham!) last year and how ignorant and self-important he and the other two know-nothings he’d brought on to help him sounded. It reminded me of how all three of them seemed to have made up their minds before the (ha ha!) discussion on camera started. And it reminded me of the studio audience booing Ingham (all hail the Ingham!) when he dared to make a decent point or two in defence of video games. I could recall how angry and frustrated I felt watching it and knowing that the show was rigged from the beginning. I mean, what’s the point? Why should the gaming industry and media bother with even trying to convince the moral hand-wringing brigade of the worth of video games when they’re so closed off to the idea.

Actually, hang on second, why should we bother? I mean, what can the naysayers do at this point? Cause video games to be banned? I doubt it. The last government body that tried that was taken to court, had their banning overturned and then had the exclusivity of their remit taken away from them. The medium is too popular and too profitable to be done away with.

In fact, what to the video game violence tubthumpers actually want? Has anyone actually asked them? If we accept banning games is about as likely to happen as Titchmarsh becoming Pope, then what would they like to see happen? Actually, forget I asked. We don’t have to care about what they want because over the next 40 or so years, a couple of things are going happen.

First off, pundits like Titchmarsh and his ilk will get older. A lot older. Some of them may even die of old age. And their opinions about video games will cease to matter entirely. The debate (ho ho!) on video game violence will die with them.

This is because they’ll be replaced by pundits of a younger generation. A generation who grew up with gaming consoles and gaming PCs in their homes. A generation for whom gaming was a daily part of their lives. And anyone from that generation who tries to win viewers and listeners through hysteria about game content will sound like… well, they’ll sound like what the anti-gaming pundits of today sound like – cynics and relics.  Once the gamers of today become the media and political taste-makers of tomorrow, video games will take their place next to films, music, theatre and other “accepted” mediums of art – and this will invariably make them even more popular than they are right now.

So we don’t have a position to defend when it comes to the violence in video games debate. The war is over. We won. All we have to do now is wait. And I got all that from staring at Alan Titchmarsh’s mug in HD. I never thought it would be the source of an epiphany…

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