Posts Tagged ethics

Batman; A Lesson in Ethics

After a long day of quadratic equations, there is nothing more satisfying than planting an elbow in the spine of a psychotic junky clown. No, I’m not talking about harming any ICP fans. I’m talking about Batman versus the hordes of Joker’s deranged army.

Batman may just be a man with too much money and a haunting memory of his parents’ death, but he can also teach us something. Like how to loop a batarang around a corner of a room at an unsuspecting thug rendering them unconscious. Or that maybe, We The People, ought to take after Mr. Batman, and not compromise so damn quickly.

Batman HATES Insane Clown Posse

I say this because my mom, who is nearly 50, is disturbed by the fact that I still make time each week to squeeze in a few (or a few dozen) hours of gaming in between college and sleeping in until noon. In a way I am also disturbed. Every time I get that look from her that says “grow up” I find myself so willing to agree. But this is the same lifestyle that I’ve had since I was about 9. I can’t break that bond. I’m sorry Mom. I will probably never give you grandchildren either.

But this is the difference between me and Batman. If his parents weren’t murdered, I’m sure his Mom would have told him to stop climbing all over skyscrapers and roughhousing with the neighborhood criminals. You know what Batman would have said? “No.” Because Batman knows what is right. Batman has muthafuckin integrity. Furthermore, Batman doesn’t kill people. He just beats them to a pulp.

But what is Batman all about? Why did I just play Batman: Arkham City for seven hours straight?

I’ll tell you: You’re Bruce Wayne, a billionaire with a passion for Halloween and an obsession with bats. You live in a scary city that’s been transformed into a prison and is full of sketchy looking characters, mutants, and psychopaths. And… well…. Your Bruce Wayne a.k.a. Batman… your kind of a ninja… it’s sort of your job to beat the piss out of these people…

My point is, it’s a great game and I feel no shame playing it for so long. Maybe I’m just going crazy, but I feel like this game has a moral: Stick to your guns if you know what’s right. Now, I wasn’t enlightened on top of a Tibetan mountain, but I do have a sense of yin and yang, right and wrong, good and bad, liberal and conservative, etc. Often times though, when another view is asserted, I shy away, or I say something to the effect of “you have a point.” This is all wrong.

When Mister Freeze was looking for a cure for Batman (who was poisoned by the diabolical Joker), he had a change of heart. He decided Batman wasn’t worth it and told Batman off. Instead of dropping his shoulders and going back to the Bat cave, Batman grabbed Mister Freeze by the icicle and wiped his little blue face all over his cryogenics lab.

Batman does not flinch. Nor does he kill. I think this is a good lesson for America. (Yes, I’m going there.) When some whiny politically motivated douche gets in your face, ask yourself, “What would Batman Do?” You don’t have to throw a fist, but don’t back down.

And Mom, seriously, lighten up. At least this isn’t Grand Theft Auto 5. I still don’t know when that’s coming out. When it does, Batman will go out the window. Figurateively (because Batman does do a lot of literal window going-out-of).

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The Monster of Media

IN THE LAST TWO DECADES, THE MEDIA AND IT’S ASSOCIATED TECHNOLOGY HAS GROWN RAPIDLY:

Books, magazines, television, movies, news, the internet, and video-gaming have all become part of our everyday lives in this day and age. Due to the holiday surge of popular video-games released this month, I have been somewhat of a hermit. The most popular of these games are crafted with an undeniable sense of artwork.

More often video games are subject to film adaptations, book adaptations, prequels, sequels, comic books, other forms of continuation, and countless types of fan art. Brandon Sanderson, author of the Mistborn series writes in the December issue of Gameinformer about expanding the stories of video-games through multimedia outlets. “Hybrid media, like we’re talking about here, should be less about making us experience the same story over and over, and more about expanding the story,” writes Sanderson. “More importantly, we already have a storytelling form (video-games) that is good at blending genres. It was built to blend genres,” he writes.

Gaming is no longer a simple time killing hobby. The days of breezing through Mario World, or playing a few rounds of Mortal Kombat II are through. Gaming is now opening doors in the media that inspire players to be creative, think and ask questions.

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, released in 2009, allowed the player to gun down innocent Russian civilians in the “No Russian” mission. The basis for this was key to the story line: as an undercover CIA agent, you are tasked to infiltrate a Russian terrorist group and aid them in an attack on a Russian airport. Although games such as Grand Theft Auto allow the killing of innocents, Modern Warfare 2’s “No Russian” was serious, politically motivated, realistic, and disturbing (yet I played it over and over again).

A scene from "No Russian."

Everyone remembers the stink caused by Grand Theft Auto 3. A game centered around committing crime was sending the wrong idea for children. Not to mention it involved prostitution, and later in the series, drunk driving. But in all fairness, film contains worse things. The release of the Tom Clancy-esque Call of Duty games has solidified the fact that not all games are suited for children. In fact, most children won’t understand the themes of these games to begin with.

Which brings me to my next point: Rainbow 6. Ubiosoft’s Tom Clancy inspired Rainbow 6 games were once a dominating force in tactical, SWAT styled first person shooters (FPS). The original one was the first computer game I ever owned. In the December issue of Gameinformer, Matt Bertz and Jeff Cork released a sneak peek at Ubisofts newest development: Rainbow 6 Patriots. The article’s cover page is a blood-red, blindfolded Statue of Liberty. The headline: “AMERICANS ARE ANGRY”, this is gonna be good…Pretty much amazing.

As the world changes, media changes. In the article, Ubisoft acknowledges that players familiar with FPS’s are tiresome with fighting off Nazis, Russians, and foreign terrorists. So they chose a storyline that hits close to home. The first few paragraphs I read sounded like an opinion piece from a newspaper,  rather than an article on a video-game. They cite the failing economy, the growing despair of Americans on both sides of the political spectrum, and the rise in paramilitary groups and militias around the country. In the game you experience a violent political and social revolution where you are in the position to kill fellow countrymen. This sort of game raises serious ethical questions about what is allowed in Media, and how we experience it, as well as what direction America is heading in.

Last years release of Medal of Honor 2 caused a similar fuss, especially in military communities. In that game, players were allowed to play as Taliban forces and fight American troops. AAFES (Post Exchange) wouldn’t even allow copies to be sold in their stores. Another game, Homefront, also saw the killing of Americans (during a fictional North Korean invasion).

In my own opinion, these multimedia regulations are slop. Books, film, games, etc. are all just the main ingredients for a multimedia soup where the internet is the broth that brings them together. To restrict one without the other due to content would be unfair. I congratulate Ubisoft for being so bold. It may inspire interest in politics amongst young people – hopefully not violence. It allows those without imagination to view the world in a different light.

What are morals?

Brandon Sanderson seems to think that video-gaming is the future of entertainment. But it is hard for me to imagine everyone, young and old, glued to their favorite game console. Gaming simply isn’t for everyone. I do think that the craft of video-gaming is advancing in ways that were never thought practical. The story, whether it is fictional, or non-fictional is becoming interactive, not just in video-games, but in movies and ebooks. Could you imagine being able to interact with a news article? That’s a little farfetched I know, but it could be the future of how we entertain and inform ourselves.

As far as ethics go, I was born into the age of the internet; My human anatomy teacher was Rotten.com, and my sex ed teacher was Nakedchicks.com. The encyclopedia is Google. I played Ghost Recon so much, that I decided to join the Army. To say the least, me and many others from my generation have successfully desensitized ourselves from the media. Anything goes.

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