Ignorance is a funny thing. Listening to someone ramble on about something they don’t know anything about can be incredibly entertaining, but it can also be kind of horrifying.Video games in general, being a relatively new medium, have faced their fair share of ignorant portrayals in the media over the years. Often it was of the unintentional cringe comedy variety, as perfectly exemplified by this old advert:
Sometimes, though, it’s the excruciatingly annoying sensationalist type. This type can have elements of comedy, too; several years ago I watched the rise and fall of Jack Thompson like a hawk, mostly because I found it incredibly amusing that real people act in such a way. Amusement aside, though, such people as Jack Thompson and Glenn Beck can cause a lot of damage in the perception of video games.
I’m not going to go into the whole “violent video games make you evil” shlock right now, if only because I don’t have the time or energy. Instead I’ll mention the latest of Glenn Beck’s nonsensical blusterings. Mr. Beck teaches us that if you can’t get your audience riled up enough through sensationalist conjecture, go ahead and just start making stuff up.
(the relevant stuff’s at the 6:00 mark)
Now, let me be clear on this. From what I’ve seen of Watch Dogs, it is not a game that I have the slightest interest in. The gameplay looks like a more gimmicky version of GTA, the writing is kind of abysmal and the way the female cast is treated is kind of gross. It might even be juuust a little bit racist? These last two issues are the particularly important ones. Sexism and racism are real problems. Society could really benefit from getting past those problems.
A video game that teaches us to hack into people’s cameras that, whoops, doesn’t actually do anything of the sort? That’s not a problem, but if you hold off on nasty business like checking your facts you can sure make it sound like one. And the real problem I have with this is that it eclipses the actual problems that the game has. Not only is this shoddy journalism unfairly harming Watch Dog’s public perception, it’s completely missing the completely valid points that could be made against it.
I’m not buying Watch Dogs because not only because it skeeves me out a little, but because I don’t think it’d be a fun game to play. I hope that they improve the inevitable sequel in all the areas I’ve mentioned. If they do, maybe I’ll buy it. It’s as simple as that. Here’s hoping it won’t make me a cyber criminal.