Did you know you’ve been funding weapons manufacturers?
I’m all for conflict in my video games; that’s been pretty well established. I’m also on the record with war games, games and real world guns, and censoring violence. With all that I’ve said before, this article on Eurogamer brings up a point that I had not really thought of before.
To use Simon Parkin’s own words from the article, as they are much more eloquent than mine:
The marketing of imitation adult products to children in the hope they will blossom into customers of the genuine article is widespread. The video game presents further opportunities for manufacturers to target young people. Toyota and Nissan work with racing game developers to show off their vehicles as pristinely desirable. Nike and Adidas position their logo on virtual boots. Gibson licenses plastic versions of its guitars in the hope players will progress from the coloured buttons of the peripheral to the nickel-wound strings of a Les Paul.
And Barrett, creator of the M82, a shoulder-mounted, .50-caliber semi-automatic sniper rifle, hopes that the appearance of its weapon in a video game will, in time, turn young players into gun owners.
This scares the shit out of me. Not because we are teaching our children to buy guns, or be violent because of video games (that has not yet been proven. In my mind, most of the evidence shows that it’s not true.) What scares me and makes me angry is that my enjoyment of entertainment (through the video game industry) has been used to increase violence throughout the world, and that has nothing to do with children and violent video games. (also, I just really dislike in your face marketing. I’m a big kid, I can make good decisions without this type of marketing, but I’m not in the demographic of a lot of marketing material)
Because of the licensing fees that video game companies pay to have likenesses of real guns in games, those companies are able to put more guns on the market, increase their brand, and have more influence on this world. While I respect this right, and I respect the 2nd amendment, my issue has to do with the funding of war, and possibly terror, through the games that I play.
To put it succinctly: (my emphasis)
But today we know that a portion of every dollar spent on triple-A military-themed video games flows into the pockets of small arms manufacturers, either directly through licence payments, or indirectly through advertising. These beneficiaries include Barrett in the US and FN in France. They may include other controversial arms dealers, such as Israel Weapon Industries, creator of the TAR-21, which appears in Call of Duty. Such deals politicise video games in tangible yet hidden ways. Consumers have, for the past few years, unwittingly funded arms companies that often have their own military agendas.
It’s kind of like how Tony Stark, in the first Iron Man movie, found out his company was supplying weapons to “the enemy.” I with this post was as cool of a rebuttal as becoming Iron Man.
At different times in my life, I have been an apologist for violent video games, expressing my belief that they were causing no harm to the people, especially to the youth, that played them. I still maintain that the violence in games is a different reality than our own, and people understand that. What I will not apologize for anymore are games that depict modern realism in games, especially ones that have licensing agreements with, and/or fund arms manufacturers. There is harm being caused, but it is indirect, and not in the way that “violent video games cause violence.” It it causing harm in an economic sense, by funding initiatives that I do not personally believe in. I will no longer be a defender of realistic war games.
Video games, and their creators/manufacturers/producers/developers are not to blame here. They are pursing their business goals. What they should be doing is being more open with consumers about these dealings so that consumers can make more informed decisions. If consumers are angered by the idea of funding arms dealers by buying video games, then stop buying those games. There are plenty of other games that exist that can be played guilt free. If we, as consumers, want to see these types of actions stop, then we need to financially show video game companies that truth. They will not listen otherwise. Bad publicity and financial downturn are the two ears of business.
At the end of the day, things have not changed much for me. I do not play games like Modern Warfare and Call of Duty because I felt that it was disrespectful in many ways, especially to other cultures, and to soldiers and historical memories of different battles or wars that were fought. It felt like the games were trivializing war. Now, I feel that I do not want to purchase any game that is under the same umbrella as the makers of these games.
That being said, I will still play games that are the same, but slightly different. Halo is an example of a game I would play, because it has the same elements (in many ways) to CoD or MW, but it does not have the modern day or historical realism. Same with Left 4 Dead. The fantasy elements change the game from a marketing scheme/historical problem for me, to just a game. The game mechanics and play are the same, the change in setting and tone make all the difference.
Did you know that gun manufacturers are making money off of you playing video games?
Ding! You’ve Leveled Up! Please see your local librarian for training.