“We’ll start this blog off really simply. For those of you who don’t know me – i went to columbine, i was friends with both killers and the killed, had reported the killers to the police, the cops did nothing, etc.
If you look up Brooks Brown on google, you’ll learn a lot about me.
But there is another size to me besides simply being that kid. I’m now 25, i do video work, work on computers, and dear god, i play way too many videogames. Enough that i gave up putting a weekly allowance into my budget – i didn’t budget food, and videogames really were just as important.
I’ve spent the last 6 years of my life trying to figure out why my friends brutally murdered other friends of mine and kids at school. In this process, i’ve gone through many personal changes – some good, many bad – and i’ve also gone down many avenues of thought. One of those avenues is pop culture. Granted, i was sure videogames and movies wouldn’t be a causal factor in why kids do what they do – I play violent videogames all the time, i love violent music, and i love violent movies. And i’m a taoist. I’m a pacifist. It just didn’t seem possible to me. But, i knew i had to figure it out – so i began my journey of learning exactly how videogames do effect you, and how violent imagery has an effect on the human mind.
The first thing i did was look at my favorite violent games. Although the list has changed over time, my personal favorites are the Hitman Series, Postal 2, and naturally GTA. Each of these games depicts incredibly violent acts – from using a emathook to kill a man all to taking over a town with a town to using a cat as a silencer for your shotgun. All these moments gave me enjoyment, whether it be a cheap laugh or one of those great ‘fuck yeah’ moments (you know what i mean).
The great part about those games was that i could do what i wanted. I no longer was bound by the rules of ‘jump on mushroom guy here, run right, jump mushroom guy here, run right’. Instead, if i wanted, i could, in the case of hitman, choose my path, whether it be blast everyone in the level away, or find a way to infiltrate and kill only my mark. Granted, it took more skill and time – but it was worth it. The bloody way is fun too, if i’m looking for a quick thrill. The same is true of Grant Theft Auto. The first time i fucked a hooker to restore my life, i laughed. When i killed her to get my money back, i was cracking up. When i took that money to buy a shotgun and went on a killing spree, i was rolling on the ground.
But here is where i realized that nobody was looking at these games right, not even me. Hitman isn’t a game about going in balls-to-the-wall. It’s about figuring out how to do things. It is, by nature, not a shooter, but a puzzle game. GTA isn’t about fucking hookers or killing cops. It’s a story of a guy who got screwed trying to get back on top. It is, by nature, a story game. Postal 2 may let you kill anyone you want in bloody and disgusting ways – but that’s not what it is about either. It is, by nature, a tech demo in the abilities of programmers and AI.
it is WE – the gamers – who change what the game is about and determine what happens. It is the person playing who determines what the game contains.
So i went to friends houses, to game stores, and i talked to people. Even went on a few message boards. And aside from a few shitheads who claimed they play GTA only to fuck hookers and kill cops, the vast majority of people are like me. The novelty of that new experience wore off – instead, we play these games now, trying to play them perfectly. Whether that means finding every square inch of land in san andreas, or getting a perfect assassin rating on Hitman – the things in these games that are violent are only a secondary thing. i no longer turn on GTA to randomly kill and nobody turns it on anymore to fuck hookers. I turn it on now to race around, find minigames, and that type of thing.
So, i wondered (like my parents, who i will get to in a bit) why the violence is necessary. The answer is simple – immersion. Allowing a person to have sex with a hooker and kill a cop makes the player the character, and vice versa. Granted, i love, and will always love kirby. But i certainly do not get pulled into caring about him the way i did with agent 47 in hitman. Play the game enough, i t no longer feels like you’re controlling someone else, you feel like you’re in the game. why? because you are free to do what you wish. Sure, i can kill anyone in a level, but i also can find items, take clothing for anyone, go in any room, ladders, windows, and talk with any NPC in the game. The allowance of violence, while it does play to our carnal nature, does suck us in.
Imagine this – playing GTA and not having the option to shoot cops or innocents. Games used to be like that. I remember them. And i certainly didn’t enjoy them or get into them as much, and i’m sure many of you will say the same thing.
But the most amazing part of all of this? it’s the gamers choice how violent these games get. That’s why i enjoyed postal 2 so much. You COULD play the game 100% non-violently. you COULD. I didn’t. but you could. So the gamer chose how violent it was – and it changed the games experience completely. Hitman? can choose the violence. GTA? you can choose the violence.
The fun part though? almost NOBODY does what they show on TV. Think back to the alst time you played GTA. did you only run around killing cops and kicking their dead body for hours? nope. you did other stuff to. You played the game as it was meant to be played – a fully immersive life simulation. And that’s what makes it amazing.
But the terrifying thing? 11 year olds. Yup – if anyone is going to bring down our game world, it’s you little bastards.
Before I did the show on tuesday, my parents came over to my house, and we went through a list of games they wanted to see. Of course, GTA and the like made it – but i also showed them Katamari, World of Warcraft, Battlefield 2, and of course, Halo 2. Our of every game in this post (including postal 2 and hitman), which one do you think my parents were most angry at?
Halo 2. My dad said it was the most disgusting thing he’d ever seen. His face was red. Seem like an overkill reaction? nah – you see, i was on xbox live and some little kid called me a ni**er jew who should be raped, burned, etc. he was ranting. (forgive the language – but if you’ve played halo 2 on live, you’ve heard worse). You all ahve seen it happen. a little kid who doesn’t ahve his parents around decides to be big man and yell at everyone obscenities that make all of us embarrassed to be gamers.
This upset my parents more then anything. Because they realized that in these other games, the kids weren’t pushed into doing bad things – they CHOSE it. My parents finally realized that parents suck. It’s the parents fault. You don’t get this – my PARENTS realized it’s the PARENTS fault. That’s amazing lol.
the final point can be said here (it’s coming slowly). Games are become more free – allowing us to do what we want with them. This means that we will have the choice to do really fucked up things or really good things. We can say hello to someone on halo, or we can tell them that we raped their mother. We can play taxi in GTA or we can kill cops. The choice is ours. And parents are terrified that their kid will make the wrong choice. And i can’t blame them.
Truth is, games cannot effect someone lke they believe. it just does not happen. GTA does not force you to kill cops. POSTAL doesn’t force you to set a parade on fire. Halo2 doesn’t make your mouth turn into a shit-spewing crap factory. This is determined by the person playing the game. Just like anything else – it comes down to personal choice.
Columbine was not caused by violent videogames. Eric and Dylan (the shooters) were drawn to violent videogames because they were violent, fucked up kids. I am drawn to these violen games becaue they offer more freedom. And, it may sound naive, but i believe the vast majority of gamers play these games for the same reason as me. Do you?”
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