Ryan Chartrand

I’d like to dedicate this week’s love to Mr. Gerry Rafferty and his discovery of “Baker Street;” the one place where dreams really do come true. Thanks, buddy:

Before starting the regularly scheduled game review of the week, I thought it more important that gamers and the general public get a better understanding of what has been going on in the video game industry recently. Surprisingly, the game I most recently reviewed, “Gun,” relates directly to the following controversial issues.

On Wednesday of last week, The Association for American Indian Development announced that it was boycotting “Gun,” saying that the game was promoting racism and genocide. My first reaction to all of this was the same reaction I’ve had for every attack against video games: “Oh, how they don’t understand.” Video games have been misunderstood for the past two decades and society still has yet to accept them the same way they accept films, television or books. If the AAID had perhaps played through “Gun,” they would have realized how the game’s storyline ends up glorifying the American Indian culture, even though it was in a rather bizarre, fiction-like way. If anything, the AAID should be praising the fact that “Gun” puts American Indians in a good light with its fictional twist away from the usual display of endless savagery that American pop culture has come to be known for in other forms of media. Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time an ethnic group has boycotted a game in hopes of removing it from stores completely.

An entire year after the release of “Grand Theft Auto: Vice City,” two Haitian-American groups staged a protest at New York’s City Hall while urging protesters to also attack the offices of Rockstar, publisher of the game. “Grand Theft Auto [Vice City] is a cultural attack on the millions of Haitians living in the United States,” said Henry Frank, executive director of the Haitian Centers Council, according to Gamespot.com. Once again, these accusations were taken out of context. Although a gang of Cubans does speak out against the Haitian population, all of these characters are still fictional people in a fictional world. Simply because an author writes a story about a group of people disliking another group of people doesn’t make the author a racist. It seems fiction has lost its meaning and is now meant to be taken seriously, as if the artist behind it all is really trying to discriminate other ethnicities.

 

Or has society decided that fiction simply does not apply to video games? Why is it acceptable for a show like “The Office” or movies like “Harold and Kumar” to poke fun at stereotypes and even discriminate blatantly? Why does society hold television or film racism as light-hearted fiction? Then again, who am I kidding? Video games are only made to discriminate our ethnicities, turn our children into terrorists and ruin our eyesight.

To put video games in one last dirty light, the media is continuing to degrade the game industry’s reputation one headline after another. The Washington Post recently posted an article titled, “Prosecutors allege violent video game influenced eight-year-old.” The Baltimore Sun had a similar headline titled, “8-year-old who shot girl at day care said to be influenced by video game.” Both articles contain the same report from The Associated Press. Here’s the interesting part: The video game accusation only appears once in the AP story. Nowhere in the headline does it mention the main focus of the AP story about how the boy’s father had been literally grooming the boy on how to use guns, where to find them in the house and that he was letting an 8-year-old play a most likely M-rated game. Yet both newspapers deemed it necessary to target video games, noted only once and without any foundation, as the source of the boy’s actions. Obviously a short sentence making such an accusation is reason enough to prove that video games are degrading our society and might as well be called “training simulations.” With this massive bombardment against the video game industry from lawyers, politicians and the media constantly misinterpreting the video game industry, one must wonder how long video games will last in this country. To make it easier, you don’t have to play games to protest against them. Just ask Hilary Clinton, one of the most prominent opponents against the video game industry, an industry she and many others have no knowledge of since they never take the time to actually experience what they are against.

Ironically, gamers seem to have become the indigenous people whose world is being overrun. Gamers are a minority just like American Indian or Haitians and have not had nearly enough say in how political actions shape their industry. The war on video games will continue for many years to come and we are sure to see repeated lawsuits and proposals for new laws. As long as Hilary Clinton’s sources interpret the games as senseless violence or racism directly intended to offend others, more groups will continue to be inspired to rise against the most targeted form of media: video games.

Finally, a quick review on a game that you must buy if you have a PS2. Period.

“Guitar Hero” is a rhythm game. Yes, those dreaded games that require you to jump around on a dance pad and hope for the best end result. Fortunately, “Guitar Hero” has far more spirit and actually enjoyable gameplay to offer in comparison to other rhythm games. Why? Two words: guitar controller. Instead of a mat, the game lets you play with a controller shaped like a guitar that you can even wear with a strap. Instead of jumping around on arrows, “Guitar Hero” brings back the glory days of using your fingers and the guitar’s comfortable controller to rock out to tunes like “Ironman” by Ozzy Osbourne or even “Fat Lip” by Sum 41. There are over 30 rock classics to play as well as over a dozen songs recorded by independent bands across the nation. The word on the screen is basically that the game delivers some of the most entertaining experiences that even Hilary Clinton herself would enjoy.

I’ve already seen fans of completely different music genres strap on the guitar controller and play in front of hundreds of screaming digital fans. The only downside to the game is the fact there is no practice mode, a feature that rhythm genre fans have grown used to. This can make learning face-melting solos significantly more difficult. Nevertheless, with its wide selection of music to rock-out to while acting like Jimi Hendrix (on or off LSD), exciting gameplay, stylistic design, rock inspired control system and extreme challenge at higher difficulties, “Guitar Hero” is worth every blood, sweat and tear that it will take for you to buy it.

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