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The GameGuy: The ďPick on Someone Your Own SizeĒ Edition
By Mark H. Walker
On April 27th, Robert Steinhaeuser donned
black clothes, a black mask, and grabbed his 12-guage shotgun and a pistol. He
walked through the doors of his school in Erfurt Germany, and began killing. When
the shooting stopped 17 people, including Steinhaeuser, lay dead.
Video games? Sure, thatís part of the
problem. So is violent TV, fathers beating hockey coaches to death, mothers
that never come home, a blurring in the line between right and wrong, and a 24/7
world that rewards nothing but success, modelesque looks, and violent, decisive
men of action.† Yet the particulars
matter not. Since 1993 there have been 25 incidents of violence in Americaís
schools. The profiles of the killers are similar, but not identical. I can,
however, tell you what none of them had: A life, a love, friends, nurturing
parents, a sense of place.
Many of the killings have that video game
hook thing. Yet the killers canít even do that right. Losers in life, they are
also losers in fantasy. In my games of Unreal
Tournament, Quake III, and Ghost
Recon the targets shoot back. In Erfurt and Columbine they didnít. Maybe
the next misfit needs to pick on someone his own size. Want to be a big man
with a gun? The local National Guard infantry company is having a live fire
exercise this weekend. Try to stage your next massacre there; those targets
Whose School is it Anyway?
The public relations representatives
inundate me with games. Itís quite funny. It takes an act of congress to get EA
to send along Knockout Kings 2002,
but all the other publishers swamp me with software ĖPREview discs, Review
discs, cracked discs, T-shirts, games for systems I donít have, and games for
systems I do. I canít use them all so I give them to my 4th graderís school.
I donít give them the Resident Evil stuff. If it isnít rated ďEveryone,Ē I keep it for
myself. You think the school would trust my judgment? After all, Iíve written
forty-some game books, about 500 gaming articles/reviews, and appeared on internationally
syndicated radio discussing the gaming life. Of course they donít! The
principal turns the games over to the school board for approval. After all,
theyíre all tremendously hip dudes and dudettes (you can imagine). But doing so
makes it easier for the teachers. Itís inconvenient to answer parentís
questions if little Johnny brings home a game with something ďobjectionableĒ in
By the same token, my fourth grader canít
walk her first-grade sister to class. The teachers donít like kids roaming the
halls. They are too hard to control (this is in a rural elementary school). It
doesnít matter that the walking makes the first grader feel better. Itís
inconvenient for the teachers. Neither does my six-grade daughter have parties.
Those are inconvenient, difficult to control, and take away from class time.
Itís essential to teach kids that life isnít fun early on.
The unfortunate side effect of fun is
chaos, and chaos gets in the teachers way, making their life inconvenient. Itís
important to make school convenient for the teachers. After all, theyíre the
focus of the school system.
© Mark H. Walker, LLC 2001
H. Walker is a veteran interactive entertainment journalist who has written
over 40 books including his recently released Medal of Honor and Wizardry 8
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