Moral panic has long been a pet peeve of mine, especially when it comes to video games. Every new media undergoes a time of moral panic, but none have been so protracted as video games. In Australia, it took until 2013 to get over the initial moral panic that was created by video games, with the introduction of an R rated video game classification. In many ways, moral panic over video games is still a very real problem, whether it be violence, sex or the general “it will rot your brain” belief, these issues seem to be very much in the public sphere.
Anyone who has been playing games since a young age has experienced this moral panic. A particular example of such was when my mother was going to buy me an Xbox for christmas and her friend commented that “you shouldn’t encourage that sort of thing”, as if it were skateboarding or marijuana. In general, this moral panic can be still seen today, various parents groups and media condemn every new title that is released, worried about the impact it will have on their children. The recent first person feature of GTA V is a perfect example, with gamers again having to defend the title to media outlets.
The media has had a huge hand in cultivating these ideals, filling segments on slow news days with controversial new games releases and the potential impact they may have on their children. Take for example this Fox News segment, snappily titled “SE”XBOX?, in which the anchors discuss the inclusion of sex scenes in the video game Mass Effect. In general, there seems to be a complete lack of understanding that video games aren’t just for children, with the median gamer age being 32, and that there is a rating system for determining what age is appropriate for which titles.
Also, as a side note, what really annoys me about the video below is that Mass Effect has a really healthy approach to sex and relationships and almost no nudity.
Ultimately, the myth of video games and their negative consequences is fading, even though it is still very much around. In many ways I understand why some people may look at video games and say they have negative influences on children, but this is looking from an outside perspective without considering the larger context that is gaming, and even the game worlds these acts inhabit.
For this week we had some fun with our game and play tested it with some friends. It’s rather rewarding taking a game and running it in a real world example of play, as it strange going from the process of creating it and then realizing it’s actually to your surprise a viable and enjoyable to others. One of our friends is a board game enthusiast so it was interesting to get feedback from someone who cares about this sort of stuff.