Last Week in News: Shots Fired

Last Week in News analyzes all the most important stories of the previous week with the cutting edge and sharp teeth that only Vagary can provide

Obama Announces Plan to Reduce Gun  Violence- Includes Study to Analyze the Effects of Violent Media, Including Video Games

In his much anticipated statement of new Federal policy in regards to gun violence, President Obama directed Congress to appropriate $10 million for a new study analyzing the link between violent media (including films and video games) and violent behavior. Unsurprisingly, a few members of video gaming were immediately up in arms, falling back on the same tired arguments of “there have already been numerous studies on the subject” and “there is absolutely no link.” Thankfully, this generally reaction was muted by the ESA (the trade association representing video game publishers) who were much more supportive of the measure (though they did reiterate that there is no link).

Obama

The numerous studies that people generally point at (without having read any studies at all, I imagine) tend toward a conclusion that is murky at best. Yes, violent video games do seem to have a temporary effect on the aggressiveness of individuals. No long term results have been demonstrated up until this point. They also have numerous benefits, having been shown to improve memory and problem solving skills. I think the jury is still out on a real scientific conclusion.

Violent crime data indicates a precipitous drop in violent crime, with less than half the number of total incidents in 2010 than in 1990. This period includes the entirety of the history of violent video games, and really is the only useful measure at the moment. It does not help that video game critics point at anecdotal evidence  to support their “rise of video game-related violence” when the gaming community points at scientific evidence which doesn’t really exist. We should welcome this study, participating to ensure that it is non-partisan, fair, and balanced. As Vice President Biden said to the said to the gaming community at large on January 11, we must participate in these discussions if we are to change our image.

Gas Powered Games Lays Off Vast Majority Of Its Staff – Places Its Survival In the Hands of Kickstarter

On Friday, Gas Powered Games laid off nearly its entire staff. The developer of Supreme Commander and Dungeon Siege  no longer had the funds to survive on its own, and was forced to let its staff go. Instead of going gently into that good night, CEO Chris Taylor has put off bankruptcy in hopes of a successful Kickstarter campaign. The studio’s next title is slated to be Wildman, but will require a $1.2 million boost from supporters on Kickstarter.

wildmanconcept530

This entire situation is emblematic of every issue I have with Kickstarter. A struggling company requiring a fresh injection of capital in order to survive isn’t exactly a new problem. But a solution where the investors are rewarded, not in stock or other financial benefits but in one copy of their measly product (assuming that product ever hits market at all) is no solution at all. The market has already spoken for Gas Powered Games, and it has said that there is insufficient demand for the games the company makes. Now the company has laid all its staff off and, in order to make this new game, will be forced to hire a new group (unless of course its current staff are willing to sit on their laurels for the next 30 days until the Kickstarter ends – I wouldn’t). Is $1.2 million enough to rebuild the company and produce a new game?

But my biggest objection to this entire setup is, again, ripping off the investor. By carrying out its Kickstarter in this fashion, Gas Powered Games is essentially issuing new stock- 60,000 shares at $20 a pop. The most novel part of the concept: the investors don’t get a thing. It’s a fantastic concept, for the issuer. For the buyer, you might receive a game in the future (assuming Gas Powered Games survives to the future) as a reward for participating in a transaction without which Gas Powered Games does not exist. I, for one, won’t participate in such a scheme.

NRA Releases First Person Shooter Several Weeks After Blaming First Person Shooters For Gun Violence

One month to the day after the most horrific school shooting in history, after pushing all the blame for gun violence on everything but the guns themselves, the NRA releases their very own shooter. NRA: Practice Range, I am assured, is an abomination of a game to play. Additionally, it is emblematic of the heights of hypocrisy to which the National Rifle Association goes to in their crusade for the rights of gun manufacturers. By waving their hands in the air and pointing all blame at anyone but themselves, the NRA avoids basic facts about the situation, choosing a love of guns and guns sales over the well-being of its constituents.

NRA iPhone Game

The murder rate in the United States in 2012 was 4.8 per 100,00 people, for 14,748 total murders. In the United Kingdom, an English-speaking nation that consumes media in a similar was to the United States, it was 1.2 per 100,000, for only 722 deaths. Are Americans more homicidal by nature, or is it that the U.K. has enacted a gun control policy which instead of trumpeting the ability of any Billy Joe to own an AK-47, ensures that more people in their country stay alive?

To blame murder on video games and solely video games is ignorant. The biggest proof of this fact is the nation on earth with the highest ratio of gamers in its population: Japan. Violent deaths in Japan: .4 per 100,000 people. Only 506 people were murdering Japan in 2012. You hear the argument all the time, the simple rhetoric from the simple minded: guns don’t kill people, people do. But all the evidence present suggests that fewer guns mean fewer murders. So, sure, let’s fund studies to find that elusive link between games and violence. But let’s also find the solution to the real, tangible, and identifiable problem: too many people have guns.

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Author: Tony Odett View all posts by
A member of the Perfectly Sane Show crew and Vagary.tv's Features Editor, Tony brings the smart and funny (and the rapine and pillage...). Also known as The Strategy Gamer, Tony declares it his duty to get as much coverage as possible for what should be everyone's most loved genre.