The Philosophy Tree

Enter the FPS

on July 2, 2013

(This is an addendum to my previous post.  Interestingly, while writing this post I received a comment to my previous post that referenced first-person shooters.)

Another element to consider is that the games that are most targeted for blame are first-person shooters (FPSs).  The Columbine school shooters were said to be fans of the FPS Doom.  More recently, FPSs like the Call of Duty series have come under fire.  Personally, I am not a big fan of the FPS genre, possibly because it tries to immerse the player in the game world as deeply as it can, but my tendency to discern reality from video games interrupts this immersion and the whole process is lost to me (I do not like 3-D movies either, for the same reason).  Perhaps it is this deeply immersive experience that creates a game world that is too easy to mentally transfer into the real world unless you have a very firm grasp of reality?

Here is a bit of right-wing hypocrisy, though:  conservatives believe that the military is good, that gun ownership is good…yet paradoxically believe that a video game like Call of Duty, in which the player takes on the role of a gun-toting soldier, is bad.  How can a virtual/fantasy version of something be considered a contributing factor to society’s ills when its actual, real-world equivalent is revered as succinctly American and patriotic?  (Before anyone tries to hit me with a counter-argument as to why a liberal may believe that a video game is okay but that the military and gun ownership are worse for society, I will address that:  If I were to play a video game in which I am a virtual soldier who shoots a virtual person, then there is no actual real-world consequence beyond my own imagination.  Conversely, if I am a real-life soldier — or anyone with a gun — who shoots a real-life person, then there is the real-world consequence of that person being dead.  Virtual violence against non-existent virtual entities is far less a danger to society than real-life violence against real people.)

Back to Columbine, I remember hearing about it on the news and being relieved that I was no longer in high school.  To judge from the media-hyped reasons that these kids went on a killing spree, there were similarities between the shooters and my friends and me.  We wore trenchcoats (and were called “trenchcoat mafia” like the shooters were originally reported to have been called), we played video games (including Doom), we listened to goth-industrial music, we were social outcasts who did not particularly like many of our schoolmates.  We didn’t like Mondays, either.  I can imagine that many high school kids who were like them must have experienced a severe backlash from their schoolmates and a sense of general mistrust from their school administrators.  I remember walking down the street shortly after that incident, past a Boys & Girls Club, when a little girl who could not have been older than ten years old yelled out “trenchcoat mafia!” at me after I had passed her.  Even out of high school and in my early twenties, I was still getting harassed over this.  I wasn’t even dressed in a goth-industrial fashion.  It was a regular trenchcoat worn over a dress shirt and slacks, with wingtip shoes and a fedora.  I daresay I looked more like Rob Petrie than Rob Zombie.

Given that my high school social group had similar reasons to go on a killing spree tastes in fashion and entertainment as the Columbine shooters, I wondered why they did what they did while we did not.  As much as the media liked to claim otherwise, I was sure that their reasons were not the simple scapegoats of Doom, KMFDM, and long coats.  Bullying was also cited as a factor, but I had received my fair share of that as well, yet I did not snap and start killing people.  Mental illness may have contributed to their actions.  My friends and I were not happy-go-lucky teenagers, but we did not appear to have any severe emotional problems.  I cannot comment on those kids’ upbringings, but perhaps we were raised better?  We were able to appreciate the darker aspects of the games and the music without being subsumed by them, possibly because we had supportive families and no (or at least less) mental illness.


2 responses to “Enter the FPS

  1. […] Enter the FPS ( […]

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