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    PQ | Features | Mailbag | Apr 7, 2000

PQ Mailbag

Back In The Saddle

That's right, I'm back! After that horrible, unspeakable pseudo-Mailbag our fearless leader Hellchick did last week, filling in for me whilst I was on vacation, I realized I had best get back as soon as I could, to make things right once again. So here I am, having deleted all the e-mail I got while I was away. I'm making a fresh new start while Hellchick's in transit to Mesquite to visit the good folks down at id Software. So hang on to your hats, cowboys and cowgirls, because Spyke's Pony Express is fixin' to make this a wild ride!

Kid(s) n' (Game) Play(ing)

This week, our editorial was kind of a rebuttal. Schnapple kicked up "On 'The Games Kids Play'", going into detail on whether 20/20's view on Quake and the game industry was fair. This struck a nerve, because we got a whole saddle-bag load of feedback. Mosey on up and check it!

From: Aubrey 'PainBerry' Hesselgren
Subject: Good Ed

I liked the editorial - normally stuff like that bores the hell out of me because it's obviously a case of ignorance or blame seeking from the other party. This time round we saw some very conclusive points by Scnapple. Nice one, mate.

Too many people think that games are representations of real life situations - has it occured to anyone that plots in multiplayer FPS are thin in the extreme, and generally never relate to the game you're playing?

Plus, game developers want to make games, not simulations. When I play FPS games, I don't see weapons as people killers. I see them as point scoring tools, as much as a tennis raquet will give you more points used correctly. For me, and other hardcore players, FPS games are closer to games like Monopoly or BasketBall than simualtions of killing people. The 'People' in games do not relate in any way to the people I work with in real life. The are as fictional as the voices in my head.

That's why realistic mods like Action and Counter Strike scare me - being realistic, they have slow uninspiring gameplay, close to no balance and it seems like all the knuts who can put together their M4's blindfolded in under 20 seconds flock to them. The rely on realistc graphics and weapon damage to draw people in, but show none of the signs of a proper FUN game.

The PGL's choice of game shows that the real tester of skill is a game which is well balanced, unrestrictive and fast moving. The game comes closer to a sport. When you play a relistic mod, you're playing a game which fits into none of those catagories. It fits more into that of a macabre simulation which I personally gain no pleasure from, as the skills required are close to zero as the point scoring becomes a "crap shoot" (to quote JC). I'm not impressed by the ability to break your legs (it slows me down) grab head shots (it's lucky and cheap) or any of the other 'realistic' features since they don't come together to make a fun game.

It's difficult enough for the gaming community to differentiate between a truely good game and a mod with huge balance discrepancies which is only popular because of a gimmick. And very few people can see that these games are more a test of skill to us than an excuse to pretend to kill people. So explaining this to the general (stubborn opinionated) public would be a miracle. Sad, but true.

Aubrey 'PainBerry' Hesselgren

From: Steve Hoffman
Subject: Feedback for "On 'The Games Kids Play' "

Being a 13 year old gamer, I disagree with any attempt to keep games, however violent, away from kids. Having seen Grossman quoted in several of the many articles criticizing FPS games after the Columbine shooting and reading an online review of his book, "Teaching Our Kids To Kill," I found his arguements to be baseless, with little or no evidence supporting them.

We need to treat these products like we would guns tobacco [and] alcohol, or sex, Grossman says. We need to restrict a child’s access to it, he adds.

As a community of gamers, I'm sure most of you recoil from such a statement comparing PC games to drugs and firearms. I play mostly FPS games, although I tend to lean toward such "thinking shooters" as Rainbow 6 and Thief: The Dark Project. Being able to get 5 consecutive head shots from across the map "facing worlds" with a sniper rifle in UT does not translate into being able to use a rifle effectively. Sniping in a game can be compared to clicking on desktop items. At a rifle shooting range at camp, I was an average shot despite 2 years of practice with PC Games. The accusations of "Teaching Our Kids to Kill" are absurd.

According to a Time/MSNBC tean poll, 9 out of 10 households have rented or owned a PC/Console game. If games desensitize children (and adults) in such a way, I'm afraid American society will be besieged by serial killers in coming years. Grossman talks about games as if they were guns when they are, in fact, America's second most popular form of entertainment (judging by profits, taken from a Time magazine article in 1998) after TV.

Once the censor enters the scene, he becomes by virtue of power the dictator. No one's standards should be imposed on others. The ESRB rating system was created so that parents could judge games before buying them for children to see if they are appropriate. To restrict access to games at any age would be wrong.

I'm a person of definite opinions, and this is no exception. Grossman's arguements are as baseless as the statement "Q III r0x3r5."

From: Raymond Magee
Subject: On "The games Kids Play"

Dear Planetquake,

After reading the editorial on "The Games Kids Play", I felt compelled to put in my two-bits, as the theory that games cause kids to kill is something I really disagree with.

I find it funny that people are always trying to blame one thing or another on violence.
In the 80s it was television.
In the 70s its was Kiss and all the other rock n roll groups.
In the 90s its videogames.

Every ten years it seems to change. I think the only real constant in the last thirty years of the 'Blame someone else" ideaology is that there are many, many parents who do not want to take the time and say, "Its just tv. Its just music. Its just a game." People don't kill people because of what they see on tv, or hear in music, or play on their computer. The kill because they don't like a certain individual, or because there is something seriously wrong with their mind. And if somebody does go out and kill someone because of video games, or tv, or music it probably because his/her parents didn't take the time to say its not real, and should never be thought of anything more then entertainment. Plain and simple. Parents don't like to think of themselves as being bad parents. But the truth is, Bad parents will have bad kids.

RJ Magee

From: Charlie Van Noland
Subject: In response to 'The Games Kids Play'


I have never thought that games have triggered kids/children/me to kill.

Do you want to know why? Because I have never seen it happen, and probably never will. There has never been solid evidence that games drive kids to kill. Sure, I am mean to bugs, but I had a BB-gun long before I first played DOOM.. I shot birds (a LONG time ago) and I have only succesfully killed 1, the rest missed out of a bajillion shots. Why did I shoot these birds? I was simply bored and didn't know of the consequences. Although I never did get caught for killing that bird.

I later was introduced to Wolf3d. I thought it was cool. Not the coolest in the world but pretty neat. I later became more aware of better, more REALISTIC games. Doom II, Quake, QUake2, Q3a, Halflife, etc....

I am practically green from all the computer playing, I hardly go outside and at school I am never mean to anyone, or anything for that matter.. I don't threaten to kill anyone. (I do get threatened myself buy punks who know nothing about violent games then I just laugh)..

I heard that a level was made by the Columnbine killers for Q2. (The article mentioned it as DOOM, doesn't matter) But I thought 'The game wouldn't have made them make the level, something ELSE pushed them to make the level, not the game itself'.. Even if that is the rumor, it's pretty dumb idea to say the game pushed them to make a level for it to plan a killing spree.. Something else pushed them to make the level/put faces on monsters in a game to practice/plan out their violent acts. Not the game itself.

On 60 minutes, they interviewed a young man with the potential to do a school shooting. He had blue-prints of the school and had everything planned. He said he too played violent games (then they showed a clip of him playing Heritic. He said he played it to drain him of his anger, not to build it and train him to kill. He said it was his way to 'punch and hit the pillow'.. The way the body likes to rid itself of anger, by acting it out..

I feel that I am losing my point but I have already gotten it accross.

My little 5 yr-old brother started playing Wolf3d when he was 2-3. He just pushed the shoot button on the mouse and held it down. Later on, he developed the skills to shoot at someone, and not just hold down shoot. Soon enough, he was roaming levels, picking up items, kicking ass, in DOOM II..

On xmas-98, I got Quake (late but who cares, I got it) and I had just installed it and had the urge to 'take care of some buisness' when I least needed it. Upon exiting the foul smelling bath-room. I found my little brother shooting the 'bad-guys' with a shotgun. He played Quake before me. I was shocked. Well, not really, but he was looking up and down, etc...

Every now and then, he and I play a game of Q3a multiplayer, or a coop game of Quake.

Not only that but he has a huge bin of toy guns, ranging from ones with puny lights to air powered nerf guns. On his last birthday, he received a BB gun of his own from dear old dad, along with yet another nerf gun. He wasn't interested in the BB gun at all, he did play with the new nerf gun the rest of the day. He wasn't interested in killing, but playing..........

And yes, I know he is way young to be playing 3d action shooters and owning 50+ toy guns but he is a nice kid, gets annoying at times but never would want to shoot me, or anyone for that matter.

I am also his idol, he likes whatever I like and hates what-ever I hate. His mom (I have a stepmom, his mom) bought him a 30$ game called 'Nerf Arena Blaster'.. It is pretty good for a 'toy' game, it uses the Unreal engine for all it's graphics and has the real nerf guns in it. I played it and said it was dumb, I left for two weeks and when I came back, his mom said he hasn't played it because I said it was dumb. So I started it up and played it for 1/2 and hour and said how cool it was and how I wished I had it on my own computer..

He loved it ever since.. I can tell him killing is bad, except if the person who is being killed was very very very very bad. Like the bad guys in QUake or DOOM.. I also told him they weren't real in games. He knows it's okay to kill 'fake' things.. In his case, computer generated characters that were bad and meant to be killed...

I think my point is becoming clearer now.

Besides, you are pretty old, have 5-10 yrs of gaming under your belt and when was the last time you killed anybody??

Charlie 'Chazz' Van Noland

From: Sam Thorogood
Subject: Feedback to Editorial: On "The Games Kids Play"

First of all, I would like to agree with the majority of what Schnapple has said in his editorial.

But I really want to argue with what he has said in the second last paragraph, that he would not let his own kids play any games he would create.

I am 13 years old, and I have been playing Quake 2 since August 1998. Not excessively, mind you, but still often. I have also been playing Doom since atleast 1995. That would have made me, hmm, 9 years old at the time. Not that they are the only games I play, but they were the notable ones. I mean geez, I remember playing SWOTL (if you don't know, don't ask) back in atleast '92 or so. No violence mind you, but still a large amount of shooting :)

The point I am trying to make is that I haven't gone out and shot everybody I hate yet. What Schnapple has (and a lot of the general public concerned with this issue) failed to note is that there is a lot of normal, sane, young kids out there who do play violent games for fun.

I understand the difference between games and real life, and I would never go out and do what I do in Quake in real life. That's just stupid, illegal, and insane.

Without meaning to offend anybody, and unfortunately I know this will, the only people I am willing to blame for school/whatever shootings are the parents of the shooters. My parents have brought me up fairly leniently, but they have always made it clear to me that violence, along with other anti-social behaviour, is not right.

While it's not that relevant anymore, since I have grown older and understand life more clearly now, my mum has always made sure that I understand whatever I play on the computer as just a game, and not real. If parents neglect their children, and don't control them, (atleast to some extent) then "unexpected results" will occur. As I said, this will offend, and I can't help it - this is my opinion. PARENTS WHO DO NOT CARE ABOUT THEIR KIDS WILL SEE THE RESULTS.

The "results" may not always be as drastic as school shootings or whatever, but they will always reflect in some way. I'm sure you, when you were at school, knew a few annoying pricks who went round trying to beat the shit out of each other, or went around smoking, or other general anti social behaviour. This sort of behaviour might not be caused by violent games/movies but it is caused by parents who do not care about their kids, and do not either censor what their children watch or play; or parents who do not make their kids understand that what they are watching is wrong.

You cannot blame game developers, or movie makers, for what they do. They do this to make a living, and because they like it.

In my opinion, some "people" seem to believe that these companies have set out to corrupt the youth of the world into being violent and disruptive. They don't consider the fact that the people writing and creating the violent games/movies are just out to make a living for themselves, and not to destroy all the children of the world.

I know this proabably looks crap coming from a 13 year old, but still. It is my serious opinion and you can decide on your own whether you like it or not.

From: Ethan Gruber
Subject: feedback.

It's amazing how the jerk off media jumps all over something (like Columbine) and find a scapegoat such as the game industry rather than blaming it on the true source: psychologically deranged kids, poor parenting, and the school overlooking obvious behavioral problems. These kids showed signs of psychological problems at home and in school, but they were ignored.

The fact that they went and killed people isn't because of Doom, it was going to happen no matter what they watched or what the played. They could play Barbie dress up or whatever and still be pissed off at the world and shoot up everybody. I have been playing violent video games since 7th grade (starting with Doom and Wolfenstein) and moved on to many of the popular games out there including Quake III (of course). I'd never kill anybody, and in fact I use it as a stress relief. It works much better than what other people do to relieve stress (which would be??).

Speaking of stress relief, I have a friend working for the government that absolutely hates his job (always being discriminated again [white guy by the way]) and he plays computer games just so he doesn't go and shoot up his office. I probably shouldn't have said that. In conclusion, I hate the liberal media and want to blow their heads off. heheheh


Wow. I'm pretty sure I saw this segment on 20/20, but just in passing. The little I did see of it was clearly biased, however. What I'm going to do here is relay my personal experiences, like so many of you have. I'm 17. I've been using computers for 11 years now. When I was about 8, Wolfenstein 3-D came out. I'd heard all the hype, and wanted to try it out. I saw the "PC-13" warning on it, so I asked my dad if I could try it; he was fine with it. I downloaded the demo, played it, and my life has never been the same. I've been amazed with first person shooters for 9 years now, and even with all the supposed "violence" contained within them, I've never acted out in a violent way. I have many friends who also play these games, and none of them have, to my knowledge, ever committed any violent acts. The media, always looking for someone to blame, have decided to blame games for violent acts committed by an immensely minute percentage of people who play them. And I find that sad.

On a side note, id CEO Todd Hollenshead just updated his .plan file, informing the masses that the lawsuit that was filed against id and other game developers regarding the shooting by Michael Carneal has been dropped by the judge, on the grounds that the case lacked merit. Perhaps brighter days are to come for the community after all.

On Page 2: Questions, Comments, Miscellaneous Funk

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