Thursday, October 8, 2009

Yeah, That’s the Stuff

by C.T. Hutt

Gather 'round gamers, let’s rap. I’d like to talk with you today about a very serious issue in the gaming medium. I’m talking about drugs. And not those harmless street drugs, I’m talking about drugs in video games.

“Now wait a second,” I can hear you say, “I thought drugs were cool.”

Wrong. Drugs are hella lame, and they’re even hella lamer in video games. As we have been told again and again and again everything that happens in video games will eventually translate into real life. That’s why I ride a green dinosaur to work and pick up health kits to replenish my life bar. You see, highly intelligent and up-to-date individuals like politicians and academics know what’s best for you and me, so when they tell us that the portrayal of drug use in video games is a naughty naughty thing, it’s super important that we believe them and lay off the digital smack.

Don’t believe me? Just take it from my man Senator Joe Baca.

“These games allow players to watch strip shows, have simulated sex with prostitutes, assault innocent bystanders, car-jack soccer moms, using illegal drugs, commit mass murder, and kill police officers. There is an increasing amount of scientific evidence that indicates that playing violent video games is positively related to aggressive thoughts and behavior.”

Not only do video games let you use illegal drugs, but they let you use them to car-jack soccer moms! Science says so, debate over.

Thankfully, there are some organizations working hard to censor or penalize developers who choose to portray drug use in video games. Sometimes the benevolent hand of the nanny state steps in to shield us; Fallout 3 for example, was banned in Australia for its portrayal of drug use. In other cases, independent organizations like the ESRB are stamping their ratings on new games as they are released. Simulated drug use is one of several factors along with violence, big boy words, and the sinful exposure of the human body that the ESRB uses to tell us right from wrong. With their help our beloved gaming medium is moving closer and closer to that bastion of moral purity, the movie industry. The awesome thing about third party rating systems and government intervention is that little people like us don’t have to do any of the thinking ourselves. Gnarly!

Now I know some of you may be thinking that drug use in video games is really no big deal. Many of you have been popping pills as Pac-Man or going on mushroom trips with Mario for years. It may seem innocent enough to juice up your Marines in Starcraft with a quick stim-pack, but before you know it you’re going to find your avatar in some ramshackle thieves’ guild in the Imperial City of Tamriel snorting lines of Skooma off the ass of some burned-out Khajiit. Trust me, I’ve been there. It’s not pretty. Thankfully, there are steps that even normal people like us can take to limit the dangers of drug use in video games. First avoid these little-known games that involve drug use or have references to drug use:

Bioshock, Starcraft, Super Mario World, Left 4 Dead, Grand Theft Auto, Oblivion, Fallout 3, Pac-Man, Hitman, Manhunt, Silent Hill, Sam & Max, inFamous, Leisure Suit Larry, Far Cry 2, Twisted Metal, Final Fantasy Tactics, Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell, Max Payne, and so on.

Also, if you see drug use in a video game, tell an adult right away. If you are an adult, flush the game down the nearest toilet.

There may be absolutely no evidence that drug use in video games leads to drug use in real life, but with a little moral indignation and some good old-fashioned panic we can keep our kids and ourselves safe. Remember, gamers, only losers are users.

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