This past week Target, the retail company, made a huge mistake in Australia. Following a terribly misinformed petition on Change.org by “female survivors of violence” that demanded the popular video game Grand Theft Auto V be taken down from the store’s shelves, Target complied – soon followed by K-Mart. As of right now the petition has a total of 47,350 supporters, a number apparently large enough to force a retailer to remove an award winning and well established video game that has been out for more than a year now from sale. The game (for that is what GTA is, a game) “encourages players to murder women for entertainment.” According to the creators of the petition “the incentive is to commit sexual violence against women, then abuse or kill them to proceed or get ‘health’ points.” While one, you don’t actually gain health by killing a woman in the game, it’s also important to note that by no means are you restricted or given incentive to kill one gender more than the other. In all honesty, after first hearing about the petition I couldn’t help but think it was a joke.
Two weeks ago I attended the Detroit Lions football game against the Miami Dolphins in downtown Detroit. As I sat down behind the end zone and dug into my bag of peanuts, I heard the announcer over the speakers reading some messages. These messages were really nothing out of the ordinary; go to gate 24 for this, gate 30 for that, drink responsibly, our sponsors are blah, blah, blah. It wasn’t until he said something along the lines of “we ask that you please watch your language” when I began to question the amount of authority the owners of that particular stadium had over me and how that affected my individual rights. Ok, no I didn’t, but I am now – and it’s brought me to an interesting connection to a reading we’ve very recently done.
It really seems like it could, doesn’t it? Well I’m not here to argue whether or not it actually could but rather, if, in a situation where you’re thrust into and open world, alone, unarmed, and surrounded by an imminent threat, the “State of Nature,” whether Locke’s or Hobbes’ would take hold. Some clarification first though – you’re not really alone, you’re in front of a computer monitor, keyboard, and mouse, and you could technically leave at any moment. That’s right, you’re playing a video game and that game is called DayZ. DayZ is a zombie survival game set in the post-Soviet state of Chernarus. A virus has turned a majority of the citizens into flesh craving zombies and you’re only goal is survival. What makes the game so fantastic is the fact that it’s online and there are other players out in the 225 kilometers-squared map you can roam around. Voice and text communication is possible which makes any player interaction unique. Maybe you’re gathering food, hear gunshots in the distance and decide to scurry off before the next bullet in that clip is deep in your chest, or perhaps you run into a player that has so much gear on them that they decide to make a gracious donation to you before running off into the wilderness. Anything is possible in such a world, but with the complete collapse of any pre-virus government and complete anonymity over the internet, what keeps the game from being a complete kill-fest? Maybe these states of nature can give us an idea.
(featured image from http://www.challenge.co.uk/shows/golden-balls.html)
I have always found game shows particularly interesting to watch. Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune, Family Feud, and Who Wants to Be a Millionaire are all shows that we’ve heard of and chances are, watched – each with its own unique twist in promoting competition between the contestants. Most of these shows keep me entertained through the viewer’s relationship with the contestant (if you were to favor one over the other, for example, and cheered them on while shouting at your TV) but then there’s also the interactions among the different players of the game that keep me hooked. Game shows can bring out both the best and worst of those who play on them and specifically one game show, Golden Balls, actually reminded me of a topic we’ve just recently covered – the state of nature and social contracts.
Is it mine or yours? Given what you put into the game yourself, I should be able to make of it what I want, right? Why do I complain about your decisions ad nauseam when I’m playing yet outside of that I’m eager to recommend it to friends? These are a few of the questions I have found myself asking following the release of the newest addition to Bungie’s list of games. For those that aren’t following, Bungie, Inc. is an American video game developer group widely known and celebrated as the creator of the Halo series, one of the most successful gaming franchises to exist and something even non-gamers can recognize. The Halo series, being an Xbox exclusive title, was at the time of Bungie’s acquisition and still is Microsoft’s flagship series, earning them billions of dollars in revenue. No longer wanting to be a part of this larger company, Bungie moved for independence and in 2007 came to an agreement with Microsoft that included moving the Halo universe from Bungie over to a new studio owned by Microsoft known as 343 Industries. Out on its own, completely independent and without the series that made them famous, Bungie began development for a game that had been, ever since they began teasing its release, the cause for great excitement. For seven years “Destiny” was planned by what could be considered one of the greatest developing groups of all time yet surprisingly since its release on September 9th of this year, there has been an uncanny amount of complaints, one of which I’d like to discuss here.
Super Smash Bros. – a game series developed by HAL Laboratory and published by Nintendo that has taken college campuses by storm since 1999 with its earliest iteration. Smash, as it’s sometimes referred to, and the way it has engaged generations of gamers across the world for more than a decade now is truly the definition of a phenomenon. Whether you’re in elementary school, high school, college, or you’re an independent adult, chances are you’ve come into contact with and enjoyed a Smash Bros. game. Here is one video game I can recall having a blast playing at both the ages of 8 and 18.