Rebuttal to “What is wrong with gamers today?”

This is a deconstruction of the the post What is wrong with gamers today? written by Thomas Cox (Black_Emperor). Over the next couple paragraphs I aim to do several things. The first section will focus solely on the logical fallacies within his argument and not the position of the argument itself. The second part will focus on the position Black_Emperor takes. And finally the third piece will discuss my position and why I hold it. Now, before starting I know I am taking on what amounts to a rant, and B_E is very possibly not bringing his A-game (I assume he didn’t become the editor in chief of his own site for nothing). I am writing this mostly because I do honestly think that this game should be discussed, rationally and in an adult manner, I don’t believe B_E does this, he attacks the game in a hypocritical and irrational manner, and I hope to point out why I believe that he does so.

To be honest, it would seem silly that anyone would even consider defending Rapelay in any capacity.

This is one of the first sentences and he immediately throws out an ad hominem attack. Calling every person “silly” and deriding people’s thought process from the very start, there are many more insults like this hurled about throughout the post. If B_E really wanted to bolster his position he could have done without the name calling I believe.

This is from one specific commenter in general…

XAMBOL from N4G writes:

“Does playing this game hurt anyone?

Why are rape scenes allowed in movies? Aren’t there plenty of porns with this as the main theme? Why’s this being in a game all of a sudden bad?”

First of all…ARE YOU SERIOUS?! Your main argument is the trite, “Does it hurt anyone,” argument? When is everyone going to learn that this isn’t a valid point, you’re asking an idiotic question.

We have a lot of ad hominem in here in where he calls the argument “trite” but does not explain why that is. He also adds that the question is “idiotic” and of course opens with the scoffing “are you serious?” remark.

B_E continues

No, it won’t physically hurt someone. We all know that, but does this make it right, still? In society today, we should all know that rape is an inexcusable act. Many people are still haunted by their experiences with rapists. It may not hurt them physically, but it sure as hell will do a number on them mentally. Rape isn’t venial in any medium, especially a video game.

I think here B_E throws out a straw man fallacy, changing the argument from “is this game worse than any other rape related material in distribution?” to the much easier to tear apart “Is rape a condonable act?” He continues to tear apart this straw man while leaving the more valid question of “why is this different from rape in any other media” unanswered. I do cede that he gets around to answering this later though.

This then begs the GTA argument, “well GTA allows you to kill innocent bystanders and steal cars.” Which, is true, it allows you to perform these actions. The difference is, killing and stealing cars isn’t necessary to the games. GTA is at it’s core about choice, and you can choose to be a good guy, or a bad guy. The lines are clearly defined. And I don’t know about you, but the first and only time I killed a bystander way back in GTA San Andreas, I actually felt bad!

The “GTA argument” was brought up in comments, but I believe is a poor argument to begin with. It seems B_E chose this argument specifically because it is not a very strong one. B_E does have a point that the GTA and Rapelay games are vastly different in gameplay mechanics. Never playing GTA III and IV myself I can not say that you can or can not go through the game without killing innocent people or doing any illegal acts though. He does continue on to a non sequitur by stating that he felt bad that he hurt someone in GTA, which is irrelevant to the main topic.

In addition, when you steal a car from someone, you can’t actually see it hurting someone. But during rapelay, the victim is actually being raped in front of, and by you. She’s trying to break free, struggling to get away from you.

B_E puts forward the argument that seeing someone graphically raped is worse than if it was as non-graphic as hurting someone in a different game. This is also irrelevant, because the graphics of the act are not in question. This also brings up a few other questions.
“Would GTA be considered more offensive if the death and injury in the games were more graphic?”
“If Rapelay had worse graphics would the game be less offensive?”
On the other side of the coin you can also make the argument that not showing the violence involved in an attack like GTA could make a person believe it is not as harmful as it really is, having the opposite effect that B_E suggests. These questions are also not too relevant to the main topic, but he begs these questions when he uses this argument.

Films and literature usually paint rape as a terrible act. They’re responsible about their portrayal or rape as something negative. But the point of this game is to rape the victim. No choice at all. That’s not a game, that’s a simulator.

“Usually” is the word in the first sentence we need to pay attention to here. What of the movies and films that portray Rape in the same light as the video game? IE a movie that shows rape in the same graphic quality and without consequence as Rapelay does? He does not acknowledge that these types of films, books, etc exist. He uses another straw man by comparing Rapelay to movies that are vastly different in storyline from the game, basically committing his own broken “GTA argument.” He also throws in another fallacy by calling Rapelay a “simulator” instead of a “game.” This is just semantics and is not a valid statement, the game is played the same as other computer hentai games that do not involve rape. B_E also does not remain consistent with calling it a simulator, invalidating this statement even more.

Video games are a very different entertainment setting than films or literature. While these other mediums have fixed views as the nature of their art, video games allow you to be in the experience.

I just do not understand what B_E is getting at with this argument. Is he saying that playing a game can have a more adverse effect than watching a film with very similar material. I searched for material shedding light on the matter that there is a significant difference between behavior after watching TV compared to playing a video game. I found this analysis of several studies by Wai Yen Tang from June 2008. Unfortunately it seems that the most recent studies have been inconclusive, or performed in such a way that the outcome was highly questionable. So, even though it is true that the interaction with the media is different, there is currently no hard data showing that it effects people in a different way.

I certainly don’t want an act like rape sullying this industry’s good name. I’m all for video games exploring gray areas, but rape is as dark as it gets and can’t be considered ethical in any right. If you really cared about…video games, about this industry, you wouldn’t ever condone this. Ever.

This is a question of morality, and as such, can not be stated as fact, but is opinion. One can not decide objectively where all morals should lie and what a person should and should not condone. He continues on to create a false dichotomy in where he basically says, “if you condone this in any way, you are against video games” which is clearly untrue.

It’s gamers like Xam, and the obviously fatuous morons agreeing with him, that hurt our industry. If you want to make this industry a viable recreational avenue, don’t ever let acts like rape defile it.

Once again this is B_E’s opinion and he is entitled to it, but he could have done without another attack on Xam and the “morons agreeing with him.”

From here Black_Emperor updates his main article by pulling some comments from the article to discuss. As of this writing he has updated twice to acknowledge two comments from two different readers, but I do not know if he will do so again. I will only be covering the first update though, for the sake of brevity as well as the fact that the second update is just many reiterations on the points he made earlier in the article.

UPDATE:

To be honest, I like this one enough to update the article.

This one’s by Autofire in the comments below:

I have to defend Xam on this one, we are getting into Jack Thompson territory now. what makes rape any different from the murders we commit in games? games are a virtual reality, just because we shoot someone in Uncharted, or FarCry 2 doesn’t mean we are going to go out and shoot someone. same thing with the game at hand. just because we experience it in a virtual reality environment doesn’t mean we are going to do it, there has been rape, murder, ultra violence in movies for decades, look at “A Clockwork Orange” it’s a great movie dealing with the above arguments.

Times are changing, from back 50 years where a man and a woman could not be in the same bed on TV to where we are with blood, gore, severed limbs, sex scenes and drugs.

All fine, well, and good AF. Fact of the matter is, I’ve already addressed most of these issues. You’re right though, we are getting into Jack Thompson territory, and god dammit… that scares me. We’ve finally gotten rid of that madman and the last thing I need is to worry about a new Jack taking up the mantle.

There is a lot to discuss here, first of all I am not sure what is meant by “Jack Thompson territory” as Autofire uses it. I interpreted that to mean that we are getting into a situation where we are becoming like Jack Thompson because some people want to see this game banned much like Jack Thompson wanted the GTA series banned. It is clear though that Black_Emperor interprets it to mean that this game can cause a situation in where a person similar to Jack Thompson will try to ban this game. Since I am confused as to what is meant by this statement i can not refute it in either direction.

B_E continues that he has already addressed the issues Autofire raises such as “what makes rape any different from the murders we commit in games?” I can assume that Black_Emperor is referring to the above area where he took on the “GTA argument” but I believe he did not actually answer this satisfactorily in any previous statements in his article. He dodges the question and continues onto another topic.

Am I the only one who remembers the Mass Effect side-boob incident? Fox News really struck a chord with parents, and I was scared we’d have another Jack Thompson in the woman commentator. It was so bad, the real Jack Thompson was actually defending the industry, and the game! Now imagine if Fox News got their hands on this bit of nonsense! The conservative media would be in an uproar.

The “Mass Effect side-boob incident” is a highly different case in every respect. It was not full on sexual violence such as Rapeplay, and eventually the women who caused the uproar apologized. I believe this incident has nothing to do with Mass Effect and, as some folks brang up in the comments, Manhunt 2’s AO rating controversy, though not perfect, has much more in common with the current Rapelay controversy.

Also, don’t forget, in a lot of these games we get a clear definition of good or evil through story. It’s much the same with films.

B_E once again dodges the question by saying “a lot of these games give a clear definition of good and evil.” But what of the ones that do not give such a distinct line such as Manhunt or GTA, or even the more morally ambiguous war titles.

Let’s look at No Country For Old Men. Now No Country is at it’s base, really just a horror story about a monstrous killer on a rampage. We know what he’s doing is wrong, because the film is being conveyed to us.

It’s the same with a game like Bioshock. You’re the main character, experiencing all of these good acts, and dastardly deeds first hand. In fact, you’re given choices, but the choices are clearly defined: Sacrificing a little girl for power is evil; Saving the little girl is good.

Once again B_E brings up the notion that interactivity is different from passive watching, which I discussed earlier in this article. He also brings up two more statements. 1. That since a movie can do a better job telling us how to feel, that they can more easily make us feel bad about a person being raped. I think this is another straw man though, because what of porn movies that would want us to believe rape is a good thing? In this line of thought that would be dangerous too I believe. 2. He brings up the idea of choice in actions, which he also brought up with GTA earlier. this would of course beg the question, “should a game where you have the choice to rape someone be condoned where a game like Rapelay should not?”

This isn’t a matter of being close minded, it’s a matter of being a decent human being. I voted for gay marriage, women’s rights to abort, and the first black President because I believe in these things, and I like to keep an open mind.

This is just a bunch more non sequiturs, using his views on other unrelated subjects to bolster support in the one he is arguing today, which also sets up another false dichotomy, this time basically saying “If you condone this game being sold then you are also against gay rights, anti-abortion, and racist.”

But there is a point when you just have to look at yourself and say, “You know what? I’m going to say no to the game about victimizing women, and shun it,” because there are more important things in life than proving video games can do anything and go anywhere.

Another non sequitur as I have not seen any comment that says that anyone will be actively purchasing this game. Unless by “shun it” he means actively seek to have it banned in the US, and if that is the case, it is his opinion and can not be argued.

Black-Emperor concludes his argument

So the bottom line is:

Yes, we all know there is nothing we can do about this. Thank you for pointing out the obvious constraints of the industry and humans as a whole. Does that give anyone the grounds to defend it?

As much as I’d like to hear some other uppity moron answer that, I’ll tell you: No.

It’s a horrible act. And as gamers who actually care about this industry, we shouldn’t want this hurting our recently growing reputation. This should have been an open and shut case. But instead a group of simpletons stating obvious arguments in a misguided light, decided to be different, and run into a gentleman’s club swinging, eyes blinded by stupidity. Good job Xambol and crew. Good job.

He ends his article with a value judgement stated as fact, along with many more attacks on his opponents. Not to mention a final false dichotomy where he states that if you care about games at all you must agree with his line of thought.

That is all for part one. I had no idea it would be as long as it has become. I probably should have just listened to Shael Riley’s song Arguing on the Internet, but too late now. Stay tuned for parts 2 and 3 which will hopefully not be so lengthy.

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2 responses to “Rebuttal to “What is wrong with gamers today?””

  1. herbert says :

    you need a woman.

  2. herbert says :

    also, i played the shit out of general custer's revenge, doesn't mean i'm down to go out and rape s&m native american girls

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