Hot on the heels of another spate of US-based “violent videogames” drama, comes the announcement that Paddy Power, a retail and online bookmaker, is going to start taking bets on videogame competitions.
This is not a joke.
Now I am torn. On one hand I am thinking, “Cool, this is finally taking videogames seriously enough to suggest that there’s money in it.” However, the vast majority of my brain is screaming, “Oh no! What!”
Let me explain. I’ve always tried to stay on top of videogame news. Not just the latest releases or some release date being dropped (again) or what nasty publisher is introducing yet another hideous DRM measure, but also the scary news where frothing maniacs declare war on an entertainment medium they know nothing about. Oh, and truly interesting debates like this one.
So it was with a measure of resignation that I read the news that a new law recently passed in California is banning games for individuals under the age of 18. Yes, the Arnie state. You know, that hypocrite who appeared in all those violent movies back in the 80s which were then considered the cause of violence in children, when TV was The Evil One.
So now this law is moving on up to the U.S. Supreme Court where the decision will be made as to whether or not states can regulate the sale of videogames. Ultimately I think that if this is done cleverly it can have only positive effects. I know this makes me sound like a videogame bashing hypocrite but frankly I think that people who develop and play games like Rapeplay (the fuel that fanned the flames) should be held accountable.
Videogames may be the misunderstood art form of the twenty-first century but that doesn’t mean it should take the piss. Like snuff movies, videogames that cross the moral divide to such an extreme should be banned and discouraged. I know that there will be plenty of people who’ll argue that this is “just a game” but frankly it’s just an excuse to indulge in emotionally stunted behaviour and is just not acceptable. I would say the same if the games were all about women raping and degrading men, trust me.
This brings me neatly round to one of my all time favourite rants from the Game Developers Conference. Heather Chaplin unleashed her fury at what she saw as a “bunch of ***ing adolescents”. It was poetic glory. You’ll probably hate me for this, but she speaks the utter truth and games like Rapeplay and MW2 only make the point even more poignant.
You’ll find plenty of fury and mudslinging and counterarguments to Heather’s rant online but overall you have to admit she has a tiny little bit of a point. I don’t think we need to walk away from every game feeling as if we’ve solved world peace or learned how to do complex mathematical equations, but it would be nice not to have lithe women in skintight leather prancing around with unrealistic body features. Or pointless violence.
But I digress. So it was with all these facts in mind that I read the announcement by Paddy Power and I couldn’t help wondering if this wouldn’t add more weight to the anti-gaming argument? Won’t the mad videogame bashers instantly see this as another sin to add to the litany of evils that make up our favourite form of entertainment?
The thing is, TV underwent all this trauma too and they happily have bets for shows like Britain’s Got Talent and I’m a Celebrity, so perhaps my concerns are pointless. I guess only time will tell. Perhaps the fact that the betting for Super Street Fighter IV is slotted under “novelty betting” will make it a little less wicked.
I know this makes me sound like a puritanical PC burner, I’m not I promise. In fact, I’ve even sidled onto the site to check out the betting and to see what’s what. Not that I understand half of the lingo, but anyway.
Personally I’m going to take the positive road on this one, I’m going to shove the thoughts of Videogame War By Zealots under the motherboard and instead feel a little proud that finally the medium has been recognised enough to feature on one of the leading gambling sites.
Have I missed a point? Fancy arguing? Drop a comment or five and I’ll roll up my sleeves and join in.