If you are not already familiar, www.whitehouse.gov now allows any US citizen 13 years or older to create an online petition for pretty much anything in the hopes of drawing the attention of the President. As far as I have seen this has been much less a tool for the people and more a method of placation but, perhaps I am wrong.
Our Certain Doom
I should preface by saying that it is not clear whether this petition is just an inflammatory joke posting, or the real deal. Poe’s law is in full effect on this, but just for fun, I’m gonna take this one to be real. On to the stupid shit. It seems that on November 24th someone created a petition regarding the new hit videogame, Skyrim. Specifically, the person is claiming that it is widely known that videogames are destroying the moral fabric of society, are physically deadly to teens, encourage homosexuality, promote violent behaviour and are destroying the “Christian foundations on which this nation was built”. Well, one can only hope. I mean if you’ve played Skyrim then you have obviously by now watched the scene where the giant clubs another one repeatedly, forcibly bends him over one of his Mammoths and, rapes his ass unmercifully while simultaneously chanting Satanic rites and reading “The God Delusion” by Richard Dawkins, right? No. You haven’t and, sadly neither have I. I think we should petition the game’s creators to put that in the game somewhere.
WE PETITION THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION TO:
Immediately Ban the Deadly Videogame Known as “SkyRim” for The Safety of America’s Youths.
Whereas videogaming has proven to cause social, ethical and health problems in people of all ages,
Whereas sexual perversion and homosexuality are threatening to destroy the Christian foundations on which this nation was built,
Whereas a new video game has just been created that far exceeds any others in the psychological and spiritual damage it does to teens,
We, the American people, today ask you,
1) To enact an immediate ban on the videogame known as “SkyRim” produced by Blizzard Entertainment.
2) To seize and destroy all copies already in public hands and erase its presence on the internet.
3) To prosecute the players of “SkyRim” to the fullest extent of the law.
4) To create a national database of videogame avatars and “screen names” so that teenagers can be better monitored.
Homophobia and Lack of Evidence
So, allow me to begin tearing this fear-mongering, baseless, homophobic shit apart. To begin, this man’s entire premise is false. There are no conclusive studies linking videogames specifically to increased violent behavior or homosexuality. There are plenty that attempt to suggest it but, their results have as yet not been replicated. A solid example of this and, one that is used regularly by right wing pundits is the study “Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature” by Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2001). In this study, the researchers claim the following:
“Research on exposure to television and movie violence suggests that playing violent video games will increase aggressive behavior. A metaanalytic review of the video-game research literature reveals that violent video games increase aggressive behavior in children and young adults.Experimental and nonexperimental studies with males and females in laboratory and ï¬eld settings support this conclusion. Analyses also reveal that exposure to violent video games increases physiological arousal and aggression-related thoughts and feelings. Playing violent video games also decreases prosocial behavior.”
As I stated previously the results of this study and many other similar studies have simply not been replicated in lab or public settings. As of 2010 the American Psychological Association was quoted as stating “Bad effects depend on certain personality traits; games can offer learning opportunities for others” regarding violence in videogames. I am unsure as to the source of the petition creators information but I would certainly hope to see some supporting research in a petition intended to reach the President of the United States of America. This isn’t the fucking PTA, you aren’t going to make your point with hyperbolic statements and conjecture.
Now let’s take a look at how this game supposedly promotes homosexuality and, how that is “… threatening to destroy the Christian foundations on which this nation was built”. The petition claims that Skyrim promotes this type of sexual behavior and that this is in itself a bad and destructive thing. So from the jump here, we are meant to understand that being gay is bad and that videogames are teaching teens to have sex with members of the same sex and, that this is an attempt to destroy Christianity in America. If it’s not clear by now I support gay marriage and I would consider anyone who feels to the contrary to be a bigoted and hateful person. As for the game itself, Skyrim allows a player character to marry an in-game character of the same sex, that is all. There are no depictions of sex between the player character and other characters at all. So not only is this claim bigoted, it is also without evidence. I will grant that the logical next step after marriage is sex but, if the argument is that by implying the act, the game has encouraged it, then I would have to disagree. It is safe to assume that most people know that homosexual sex acts occur between people but, this knowledge does not incite the act in those people. Knowledge of something or even seeing something occur does not predestine a person to do that same thing later.
Finally, on to my last issue with this petition; the citing of Blizzard Entertainment as the producer of Skyrim. This is quite possibly the best piece of evidence to suggest that this is a hoax petition as Skyrim is produced by Bethesda Softworks which is owned by Zenimax Media Inc. It has no direct relation to Blizzard Entertainment. If this petition is real and meant to be taken seriously I should hope that the creator would have been smart enough to point his finger at the people that he wanted punished. However, this is also written by a seemingly homophobic and clearly irate person so, perhaps it’s best that I not assume them to be rational or capable of researching their own viewpoints. Again, Poe’s Law is strong with this one.
Truth or Fiction?
It is tough to say whether this is the real deal or not but then such is the way with many similar posts on the internet. The reality of the fiery hatred, racism, sexism, fear-mongering and, flat-out lies of many religious nuts on the internet will always be hard to distinguish from the posts meant to incense and anger people for the enjoyment of the originator (i.e. trolling). There is much argument about whether this petition actually originated from a post on the religious fear parody site, ChristwireÂ or not. This has not been proven but I can certainly see the possibility. If it is indeed parody then I applaud them for helping draw attention to the absurdities of religious extremism, if it is real then please re-read my previous statement.
Anderson, C.A., & Bushman, B.J. (2001). Effects of violent video games on aggressive behavior, aggressive cognition, aggressive affect, physiological arousal, and prosocial behavior: A meta-analytic review of the scientific literature. Psychological Science, 12, 353-359
“Violent Video Games May Increase Aggression in Some But Not Others, Says New Research”. apa.org. American Psychological Association. Retrieved 28 November 2011.