As aspirations go being the winning triple point score word in a tie-break game of Scrabble may not ever appear on the pages of an English student filling an hours worth of support-teacher led lesson detailing what they want to be when they grow up, and anyone wishing that to be so may well find themselves being slowly squeezed out and ostracized by their peers until they eventually end up on the evening news being named as the one responsible for all the people shaped chalk outlines in the school gym.
Having seemingly failed sniper school and being bereft of Glock, controversy has instead gone for a complete make-over, and now stands as a powerful but misunderstood tool in the world of selling and marketing. Need to shift something really quick and get the money to Fat Tony before you lose your toes? Get a backdrop, a bucket or two of blood and a lady of questionable, but affordable, morals and shove the whole thing on a billboard and breathe a sigh of relief as the sales stave off the equestrian wake-up call pencilled in for the morning.
But whereas before this may have been enough to ensure the drooling mouth-breathers splaying out a fold of notes to witness the flash of nipple twenty three hours in, these days a game isn’t guaranteed a big seller until it’s been splashed across the pages of the tabloids as being the latest re-incarnation of hell-spawn effluence influencing the delicate baby brains of the innocent unsuspecting buyers with its Medusa-like powers.
Previous generations were lambasted for wanting red colour blood in their Mortal Kombat 2, and more recently we’ve seen shooting games become the whipping boy of cheap and easy publicity for some personal crusade of whose god is whitest. If we are to believe the concerns of these well meaning folk, the country in which you now live is thoroughly prepared for just about any invasion or rise of hostile nations out for better looking scenery, its people having honed their skills at battle warfare through the ever-so-realistic medium of a plastic gamepad and a copy of Gears 2. I doubt there is a relevant document detailing the scientific proof of such claims, but still I can sit here and feel safe and smug as I mock these nay saying do-gooders with nothing more than an obscenely large collection of racing games and no driving licence to my name.
Controversy itself is a good thing, in that it can create an awareness to something that otherwise most folk would have remained ignorant, and in this new world of information 24/7 and the Google search engine, people are using the internet to reclaim their voices on an international level. The recent You Tube videos of a child torturing a cat may not have ever become a newsworthy item had not a group of people decided the boy needed his comeuppance. And lo, one internet backlash later, and the child concerned became the symbol of the true shape and nature of what today’s people deem controversial.
I currently live in England, the land of bowler hats, and thanks to the Political Awareness War of the late ’90′s the people have lost any sense of polite ignorance we had once built an empire upon. Walking into someone’s country and declaring it your as your own took more than a flag and stout boots to pull off – a massive army and pulling a quizzical face at will never made it on a chocolate making country’s knife, but for the British they were standard issue. ‘Your country you say? Oh I am sorry – thought it was empty and claimed it for Queen and country, don’tchaknow? Hmm? Pardon? You don’t like that idea…hmm… Ok, well, if you would like to direct your dispute to our claims department on that flotilla of warships filled with soldiers and mighty big swords over there…’
But now we stand wounded, bruised and broken on the shores of uncertainty, washed up by a cruel and bitter sea, blinking as we shield our eyes from questions we don’t understand, yet feel too afraid to ask. Damn near everything is controversial these days, and none more so than a game championing the gleeful execution of an ethnic race. Resi 5 taught the world an important lesson about what is and isn’t acceptable in games – two player is certainly welcome but we don’t want to lose the run-’n'-gun ability, and we definitely don’t consider DLC to be whatever Capcom’s imaginings of it to be, with DLC content that nobody would have attempted to pass off as adding any worth or value to the game (well, maybe Namco). It also taught us that, in an equal world of everybody standing as gods amongst gods, where women and men are as universally alike as the proverbial peas in similar pods, the young and the old as valid a people as all those in between, it is still perfectly acceptable to blast the crap out of a white person with a shotgun – at least in games.
Now, I get that this is a difficult topic for some people - those afraid to question in case they are branded negatively and thus use this fear to refuse to take the chance to actually learn and better understand a point of view – and currently the whole region Capcom set Resi 5 in is in a state of flux, shall we say. But even so, the game itself does not attempt to make judgement or pass comment on these issues within the game, so..? And, ok, it’s filled to the gills with infected just lining up to take it in turns head butting bullets, and this time around they’re black but ( I Googled and Wikipedia’d this, so I have done ‘some’ research) that’s because as we move further away from the Equator our skin pales so as to better absorb Vitamin D from the sun. Last I checked, Africa was near that there Equator thing, so again I say; eh?
A reasoned argument could bring further topics to the fore to suggest as to why such a thing should be seen as reprehensible, bringing the slave trade and slanted media representation as considered and thought provoking opinions to help better understand another’s point of view, either one a valid argument yet both treated like a foreign tourist whose accidentally wandered into someone’s wedding reception and forces everyone to spend the rest of the day politely ignoring until he just goes away.
Gamers responded by quietly waiting until the game arrived, passing the time with posts on forums suggesting that the nature of these claims were rather bullish, reposts suggesting that the poster take their head from within their bowel and see the larger view of a negative representation of a race within such a powerful medium, everybody learning as time slipped past. The media, meanwhile, continued its tour de farce of ‘why-we’re-right’ until it got bored and sort of lost interest, and then Jeremy Clarkson said something about the PM and everybody forgot all about Resi 5 and its cleansing properties.
I’m basically saying we need to address these things properly, as one would a local by-law someone wishes to pass allowing tramps freedom of your bathroom. It’s just as personal as it is universal, and could easily be disregarded by gamers as just something that happens, those who always protest a new game that does something they don’t understand will always protest but they eventually go away, easier just to ignore them until they go away.
But they never go away, and will constantly attack anything they don’t want in the same rabid fashion. They need just as much educating of gaming’s good and bad as much as we need educating on why the things they protest are really so bad. It’s too simple to just brush them aside as mis-informed rants by ignorant fools; their power is too great, as evidenced by every game Rockstar release and the subsequent negative media exposure.
And we can’t just agree blindly to what they say without questioning why – not unless they form their own religion based around it, obviously. Don’t let yourself be fooled into believing controversy is something you feel might be wrong but don’t get quite why because no-one will explain why and you’re too scared to ask; it’s still the same as it ever was – killing babies, anything 4Chan likes, etc…
Or else all we’ll have is a lot of confused people on both sides and about a billion posts from gamers in the great void of the ‘Net which, if correctly correlated and organized, would probably provide us with the only proof we would need of not only what counts as controversial within each and every aspect of humanity – be it creed or colour or consenting partner – and what doesn’t (we could call it ‘Halo Made Me Colour-Blind’, and have a kid wearing a pair of 3D glasses on the cover), but also a pretty heavy book to use against those nay-Sayers, if you catch my drift (*coughhitthemroundtheheadcough*).