Mercenaries 2 Controversy
Venezualan lawmakers think that the US government might be in cahoots with the gaming industry. They think that the American government is influencing the development of the game Mercenaries 2 with the purpose of paving the way for an invasion on Venezuala and the ousting of President Hugo Chavez.
I didn’t realize that video games were so influential. Personally, I’m one of those that goes against the grain by thinking that violent video games, or video games in general, do in fact have a potential influence over people. Just not to this degree. That’s because I think that everything in a person’s life can have influence. The degree of influence, of course, depends on a whole lot of things, including, but not limited to, how much time someone spends doing an activity, how much time they spend doing counter-balancing activities, how susceptible a person is to influences of one nature or another etc. For example, one person could spend all week playing violent games and it would have very little affect on him. Another person, however, may be hugely influenced by the same thing. We can’t escape the fact that people are products of their environment. But at the same time, every person has free will and can overcome the environment. Remember that movie that came out where some guys lay down on the stripe in the middle of the road for the thrill of feeling cars pass to either side? That definitely had influence on people because people actually tried it. As a matter of fact, someone in my city was killed doing just that. If he hadn’t seen the movie, he wouldn’t now be dead. That’s influence. But on the other hand, is it the movie’s fault? I don’t think so. That young man who so foolishly gave his life away also had free will. He decided on his own to do something really stupid. And while he was influenced by a movie, not a game, it doesn’t take a large leap to understand that the same kind of thing can happen with a game. So while it’s plain to see that video games can have influence on people, those people are still accountable for their own actions. It is sad, though, that this society continues to move away from personal accountability, but that’s another story! To sum up: games can have influence, but it’s not their fault people do things based on the games.
So where does that leave Venezuala? If the lawmakers think that this video game will influence thousands of gamers to go out on protest marchers or whatever, I think they’re just a little bit mistaken. For one, I don’t know how much the game will actually purport to be based on real life events, though supposedly it’s happening to a degree. Will the gamer know what is real and what is fake? If a game mixes the real and fake, the gamer will most likely just write it all off, because he or she has no way of knowing what is fact versus fiction. And secondly, even if they do believe everything, what’s to say that gamers will do anything at all? In general, people like living in their own little worlds and very few become activists for causes of any kind, much less a vague cause in a video game which mixes fact and fiction. It’s very easy to influence someone in a direction they might have gone anyway. It’s much harder to influence them to a totally new direction, one which they don’t want to follow.
On the other hand, I haven’t played the game, nor have I seen more than just a few snippets that Gary has shown off. It looks cool and I may rent it. But I don’t think I’ll petition anyone to invade Venezuala.