It's always awesome when traditional media outlets start talking about video games. The hosts' lack of experience and understanding of the form and game opponents obvious ideological axes-to-grind create a gigantic game of cultural Telephone, where know-nothing TV personalities invite gaming insiders to have a "debate", and each group completely misunderstands the other. Then everyone acts shocked, gets angry and yells. That's what I call informative!
Anyway, this morning, totally legitimate cable news station Fox News hosted Slash Gamer's Jon Christensen to talk Modern Warfare 2 on Fox & Friends. I guess he's one of the titular Friends. Here's how it went down:
Fox Host: Jim, you got some problems with this game?
Jim: It's mainly for adults and a well made game, but there's no doubt there's a link between violent video games and kids.
Fox Host: Jon, you essentially get to be a terrorist and kill people and it's very realistic.
Jon: You're not actually a terrorist. You're a CIA undercover agent. You are infiltrating a terrorist organization and the game specifically says, when you go into, uh, when you work with this terrorist organization. You are...um... (Jon loses his train of thought, awkward moment)... You are a...a...a...uh...a...a...a...CIA operative. (chuckles) I'm sorry.
Fox Host: Jim at what age is this game appropriate or is it ever appropriate?
Jim: The main issue with violent video games, including very well made made games like COD. There's no question there's correlation between violent games and kids blah blah*. It's up to the parent to decide whether they buy the game for their son or daughter blah blah*. You need to use common sense.
*blah blah blah added by Kotaku reader Ryan
Fox Host: I'll give you the final word, Jon.
Jon: Kids can definitely pick up the game. If parents buy it for them. I have a buddy who's a manager of a store. Little kids came in to buy the game and he asked if they were over 17. They said no, so he didn't sell them the game. Retailers are doing a good job. It's been proven time and time again.
Fox Host: You bring a violent game into a house with an 8 year old, nothing to stop that kid from playing it and becoming a terrorist...on a video game.
Jon: That's ridiculous! You're not a terrorist! It's pixelated violence! You're not a terrorist!
Fox Host: It's violence.
Jon: (closing his eyes) It's not real. It's not real.
Fox Host: Jon and Jim. The debate goes on.
The "terrorist" level of Modern Warfare 2 does raise some questions about what content is appropriate in games, but it sure wasn't made on Fox. I found the level pretty disturbing, but that's okay. That just means it worked. I don't think people should kill other people, no matter what uniforms they're wearing, but this only applies to real people. The fake people who live inside video games are fair game for anyone to murder-ize for any (or no) reason at all. But I don't want my kid to see until he's at least eight.
Do you think the fact that you're wearing a U.S. soldier outfit in MW 2 and taking out "bad" people makes the game okay for kids? Or is the point the violence itself?