During a recent lunch outing, I was rambling on happily to my Mom about the latest Guild Wars 2 beta and how much fun we've been having playing it, and that included a brief explanation of mmo's in general. (Although I've shown her World of Warcraft and its basic mechanics, so she has 'some' clue.) Being a big fan of PVP, I may have also excitedly said something to the extent of 'I killed SO many people.'
Now, to gamers, this kind of statement is innocuous. We picture cute little elves and dwarves face planting and disappearing to their revive point. But my mother responded with, "I wonder if the movie theater murderer played ultra violent games like that."
I was thrown by this statement, a. because it sounded out like it came out of nowhere, and b. because your typical 'World of Warcraft' type mmorpg is hardly 'ultra violent.' While it's true we are running around killing each other, it's with goofy characters in a goofy world with goofy weapons, skills and magic, devoid of any real blood or *decapitations. I never in a million years would categorize the games I play as even being even a little violent, let alone use the word 'ultra.' So, I immediately went on the defensive, insisting mmo players are not in
any way inclined to go out and shoot people just because they play these
But not having a TV in my house put me at a disadvantage on this, as I didn't know it had already been revealed and discussed that the gunman, James Holmes, did play WoW or something similar addictively, and once again, video games have come under attack as being the gateway drug to insanity. And obviously, my Mom latched on to that.
Perhaps the argument could be made for a first person shooter in an army scenario or the over-the-top bad guys in Grand Theft Auto, but for mmos? No. No way. For starters, in this day and age, everyone under forty has grown up with video games, and now they are as common as television for entertainment, and in plenty of cases, trump it. Without having the exact figure at hand, let's just say a BAJILLION people play WoW world wide. I mean, saying he played a video game is like saying he owned a cell phone. You have to sort of be Amish not to have touched a controller in your life at this point.
The ONLY correlation one could conceivably make here is that some very anti social people LOVE mmos, because they are a comfortable way to socialize without having to leave your home, so yes, more than a few nuts are drawn to it. But sorry, whacking a dwarf with a sword is not what produces a psychotic need to shot people in real life. Even if someone in the game managed to completely piss you off, the worst you're gonna do is throw your keyboard against the wall and erupt with some epic vent or forum rant. This guy, Holmes, had a mental problem looong before he high kicked a troll.
I'm thinking only people over the age of maybe 30 might honestly believe there is 'violence' in our little cartoon worlds. (And their Bug Bunny cartoons were WAY more freaking violent than any Orc I know.) The rest of us have played them...and we know it's about as ridiculous an argument as you can find.
And for the record, I wish they wouldn't start with the gun control argument either, but as a gun owner, I'm biased. I'd like to believe I can continue to protect myself and my home from these kinds of nutters if I had to, because gun laws won't stop these psychos from getting a hold of guns.
*Age of Conan being the gory exception .. however they did have a 'G' rated setting.