SMOKE: Beyond A Game
Originally published: 9 June 2005
I found a suitably salacious story on News24 yesterday about a 41-year old online gamer from Shanghai who has been sentenced to death for murdering a fellow player in the real world.
The pair were both devotees of fantasy role playing game Legend of Mir III, and the man sentenced to death - Qiu Chengwei - lent a virtual weapon used in the game to the man he murdered, Zhu Caoyuan.
Zhu then sold the virtual weapon to another player for R5800 (in real money), and Qui - incensed at it all - went over to Zhu's house in the dead of night and stabbed him numerous times in the chest, in a real life case of fantasy invading reality in a real bad way.
I can just imagine the field day the anti-game lobbyists are going to have on this one - it's a little hard to defend the notion that violent games don't breed violence when the real world is invaded by them in such a dramatic and real way.
Okes in real life die when you stab them in the chest, you know. They don't just utter a strange garbled noise, flicker briefly and disappear, only to be regenerated behind the next military crate.
Ah well. My counter argument to the anti-game lobbyists is usually one of percentages - this is the first time I've read of such a thing happening and when you consider how many millions and millions and millions of people play indescribably violent, gory games every single second of every single minute of every single hour of every single day, week, month and year - in China alone - well.
One crazed doos isn't that bad, I don't think. Unless you subscribe to the ridiculous notion that each and every life is special.
Here's the thing with me - I'm not a crazed gamer. I've never been a PC gamer because I can't abide sitting in front of a screen all day in screaming agony with a system that is never - no matter how much I upgrade it - ever able to deliver faultless performance.
Please don't come at me with how much more special the graphics engines are and the game play - I know. I just don't like the experience of sitting behind an underpowered computer, is all. And I like to share my game time with Tashi, which means I've always been a couch potato console gamer.
Not a mad one - an enthusiastic, gifted but ultimately gametime-challenged one. I'll kick anyone's ass at any driving game on the Playstation and that's my forte - the rest I never really have the time for. Not like I used to, anyway.
But believe me when I tell you that I understand the need to kill okes, even if in a virtual way. The more violent the better - I can't get enough blood, gore, screaming and death, and the bigger the hole I blow in some Pig's chest - and the more ragged wet bits that explode as I do - the better.
I particularly enjoy games that permit violence against children, police, women, animals and priests - the true enjoyment of virtual murder lies in the taboo nature of it.
Naturally I abhor violence against any of the above in real life, but it doesn't make it any less satisfying to be blowing some stupid bitch's head off and hearing her dying screams.
Lay your hand on a woman in real life, however, and I'll snap your neck like a twig.
What non-gamers fail to appreciate is the sheer vindictive enjoyment to be had from killing Pigs. It doesn't make you a bad person for wanting to do so and if you're reasonably well adjusted before you play chances are about one in a billion that it's going to affect you to the point where you go out on stabbing sprees.
Case in point - Tashi. I don't like talking behind my wife's back but I have to use her since she's my gaming partner and the only witness to my numerous murders and associated crimes.
The thing with Tashi is that she's a real peaceful sort of chick - she doesn't eat lentils or burn her bra or anything, but she likes her peace, does Tashi.
Which you wouldn't believe if you saw her in front of a copy of Lethal Enforcers.
Not a big user of swear words, is Tashi - not a foul-mouthed slag who can't speak a sentence without cursing. The only times she ever swears, in fact, are when she's highly pissed off or playing a game, and considering that both of those things usually happen at the same time, well - I've said enough.
"Die, scum-sucking motherfucker! I'll suck your guts out, bitch!! Come here! Come here, Pig!!! Diiiiiiieeeeee!!!!!!!"
I'm so proud of her at times like that - I shake my head in wry amusement and cheer loudly as another Pig explodes into body parts, and I think to myself: "That's my baby, man. That's my baby. Look at her kill! Man I love her."
Games allow us to be what we can't be in real life, which is where our pal from Shanghai got it wrong, fuelling the anti-violence in games debate.
But the fact is that if more people played violent games there'd be less real world violence as there'd be less people about on the streets, up to no good.
The stats show us that the vast majority of people of all nations and cultures are able to separate fantasy from reality, which means the more virtual murderers the less real ones.
Thus my conclusion has to be that violent games are the answer to reducing crime. I've just solved the problem. There'll always be one or two exceptions, but on the whole Rudi Giuliani can consider himself old school and a washed-up hasbeen now.
I'm the new voice of law and order. Die, motherfuckers.
All Smoked Out,