An Open Letter to the NRA's Wayne LaPierre
(this was going to be posted on an NRA site, but the official site doesn't seem to have forums, google results for "NRA Forums/ Message Boards" were sketchy at best, and I know this place won't take it down because they disagree. If you know a good place to post this elsewhere, I ask that you PLEASE do so. All I'll be doing is preaching to the choir if it stays here. I don't want that. I want to be heard. Spread the truth.)
(Mr. LaPierre's full press release is here: http://home.nra.org/classic... )
I would like to begin with a disclaimer: I am not here to debate gun control. I am speaking to you as a gamer and a future game designer, in regards to your statements on December twenty-first, regarding the tragic shooting at Newtown.
Now, I truly wish to have an intelligent discussion on violent media, games included. While millions of gamers, myself included, have been able to enjoy games such as Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto with no ill effects, it would be incredibly ignorant to say that violent games have no effect on people. You, however, clearly are not willing to have that discussion. I am appalled at your eagerness to place blame on my profession. I have come to expect this kind of scapegoating in this kind of situation. You did just enough research to find something you could mention that suited your agenda, so you could call the games industry a “corrupting, shadow industry.” Your statements represent everything that is wrong with this facade of a discussion we have after every mass shooting like clockwork.
Let me explain something about the industry. Yes, there are a number of violent games made by major, multi-million dollar studios. I will not deny that there are certain games where killing innocent civilians can be “fun” to certain players, but I can guarantee that there is no modern title by a major studio where the goal is to indiscriminately murder innocent human beings. The games that allow it have consequences that far outweigh any benefits. “Allow” is the key word there. I own several games that “allow” the killing of civilians, and zero that even suggest I do such things. It’s always more trouble than it’s worth. And killing children? Even games that advertise player freedom, such as Fable, Fallout: New Vegas and The Elder Scrolls: Skyrim, draw the line at the murder of children, making them invincible and attaching massive penalties to any player that tries to hurt them. Yes, there are many games that revolve completely around shooting enemies, but you’re a good guy in the vast majority of these games. And in your own words, there’s nothing wrong with a “good guy with a gun.” Is it wrong that games allow killing in the first place? Maybe, but you clearly need to have a little more education on the subject before we can have that discussion.
Let me also be clear that there are so many games that don’t focus on violence. There are games that get our brains working and teach us new ways of thinking. There are games that build teamwork. There are games that test our morality. There are games that have shown me what it’s like to be a police officer or SWAT member. You’ll laugh, and I know other people will laugh reading this, but there are games with characters and stories that have moved me to tears more than any book or movie. In fact, some of those intelligent games are the violent ones. Spec Ops: The Line explored the dark side of war and PTSD, which would have been impossible, or at least have lost significant impact, if it held back on violence. For the sake of those intelligent games, I ask that you and everyone not depict all of them as pointless bloodbaths.
The title you chose to bring up “Kindergarten Killers,” is independently made by one person for zero profit whatsoever. There is no retail release, the developers make no money on it. I imagine it was made for the express purpose of offending people such as yourself. To hold the industry as a whole responsible for its existence is the equivalent of blaming the camera industry for the existence of child pornography. I had not even heard of the title until you brought it up, and I can promise the same is true for many of my peers. But I’m sure the sick person who made it is very grateful for the free attention and advertising you gave them. And so are the sick people who you think will be inspired to go on a real shooting spree because of it. Know that you may have pointed the next school shooter to what you believe will be his inspiration.
However, if you choose to let “Kindergarten Killers” represent gaming culture, then perhaps you would allow me to choose people who shoot schoolchildren to represent gun-owners. I didn't think so.
A gamer spreading truth and seeking peace