August 12th, 2019, 21:07 Posted By: wraggster
Everything old is new again, at least for a while. Right-wing politicians are blaming games for real-life violence, the industry and its fans are rallying to defend the medium, and I had to check the mirror to see if the white hairs are all still there before I could be certain we hadn't all been time-skipped back to the early 2000s. Games are being scapegoated for awful, senseless and tragic acts of violence, and hey look, we're getting the band back together.
It's an uncharitable thought -- albeit far from the least charitable thought I've had about the ESA in recent years -- but Donald Trump's half-cocked attempt to shovel responsibility for the recent mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton onto video game violence couldn't have come at a better time for the embattled organization if they'd slipped round the back of the West Wing to personally slip him a cheeky $50. The ESA had a dramatically awful week, having managed to leak the personal details of thousands of games media people in an act of blinding and potentially immensely damaging incompetence -- which feels for all the world like a punctuation mark at the end of a pretty awful decade or so, really.
Then lo and behold, Donald Trump is at the podium and all of a sudden the ESA gets a chance to wheel out its Greatest Hits, Volume 1, 2 and 3. The battle against censorship and scapegoating, really the only thing it has ever actually been good at, roared back to life for a comeback tour.
"Trump's attempted scapegoating harks back to a time when the industry may have felt embattled, but at least it felt somewhat united" It's not just the ESA, either. It feels like every time a political leader trying to deflect responsibility or a newspaper desperate for a silly-season headline drags out the old Violent Video Games trope, the whole industry almost heaves a collective sigh of relief. Solid ground, at last! Here's an opponent we can all rally against, an external foe launching an ill-informed and ill-advised broadside against the medium we all love. Here's an argument that lets us roll out talking points that unite the industry, the media and game fans themselves behind one banner.
It's just like the mistily-recalled Good Old Days when it was game creators and gamers against a rogue's gallery of fuddy-duddy, pearl-clutching old politicians, fame-hungry lawyers of immensely dubious character, and sniffy newspaper editorials that often couldn't even get the names of the games they were criticising right.
It is understandable why that's appealing. Leaving aside the tragic and sickening nature of the events that set this whole affair in motion, Trump's attempted drive-by scapegoating -- and eager adoption of his talking points by the shameless chorus line of American right-wing media, who must have left their full-throated defences of free speech and expression in the pocket of their other trousers this week -- really does hark back to a time when the industry may have felt embattled, but at least it felt somewhat united.
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