We’re not here to talk about video game violence, whether it’s good, or whether it’s bad. That’s irrelevant to the bigger conversation I want to have which is that of the mainstream press drumming up controversial headlines in order to vilify a video game. It’s been reported on numerous times, and the biggest offender is Fox News.
It goes back to subjects like the news channel calling the Xbox the “SE”Xbox when referring to a love scene in Mass Effect. Of course, we all know about the Hot Coffee scandal. Every time a gun is shown on TV the first conclusion that any of the “experts” jump to is that a video game made the person do it. Do I think video games make people violent? In general, no I don’t. Do I think they might have some effect on susceptible people? Sure. Any form of media can do that.
The most recent example deals with the release of The Tyranny of George Washington DLC. Here’s the headline that was posted on Foxnews.com on February 19th:
“French company releases video game depicting George Washington as villain to be assassinated”
First of all there is so much wrong with the formatting of that headline it’s sad. Secondly, what else is a headline like that supposed to make people think, especially people who have no knowledge of the content of the game, the DLC pack or even video games in general. Even the headline has some false information that the writer might not be aware of. Ubisoft is a French company, but the game’s development was actually headed up in North America at Ubisoft Montreal and Ubisoft Quebec.
There is actually no content in the article that backs up the claim of the writer aside from a couple of blurbs from the marketing of the game.
The game presents an alternate reality that depicts Washington as “the former champion of American freedom turned power-mad overlord,” according to its creators.
“we figured we should reacquaint you with the hero you thought you knew,” Ubisoft says in a statement on its website, underneath a promotional video showing an evil-looking Washington wearing a crown and gripping a throne with the American flag draped overhead.
Even the curators of Mount Vernon don’t take any umbrage to the content of the DLC episodes. They were reached for statement in the article and hoped that the game would actually encourage people to understand just what George Washington did for this country and how he successfully transitioned power even when he was offered the position of King by the people of the United States.
I’m fairly certain that the author of the article has not actually played the game or the DLC in question. I’m fairly certain, though I don’t know for sure, that she saw this information, a trailer for the content or some blurb about killing George Washington and pounced on it for additional page hits. George Washington is actually portrayed in a very positive light in the game, and is a sympathetic figure. War is a time where the lines between good and evil can become blurred, especially when all the facts of a situation are left out of the history books.
The Tyranny of George Washington is a what-if scenario. It’s meant to be a look at what could have happened should the man have decided he wanted to become king and to hold onto the power he was given. Would he have been as bad as the king the colonists were fighting against? How would American history have changed if he pursued this course of action and what could have been done to stop him.
This is actually a popular topic amongst authors, movie makers and people in general. We like to wonder about what could have been. We like to imagine those heroes (or villains) in a different light. Would we all still be flying the British Flag over our capitals if England had beaten the colonies? What if France had decided that they wanted to hold on to the middle of the continent instead of selling it the United States? Would the North and the South still be at war with each other today if the South had won the Civil War? How different would the world look if Hitler, Mussolini and Hirohito had won World War II?
These are not scenarios designed the malign the people that were originally involved or besmirch their character. They’re fantasies designed to stir the imagination and cause people to think about how things actually happened, and the events that shaped those periods. You’re doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past if you don’t learn from them. At the same time you might want to consider those what if scenario to make sure you avoid those situations as well.
I like Fox News. I like conversations about topics that are controversial. I like honest, reasoned discussions with people who have differing opinions because those conversations can be used as learning tools for all involved. I don’t, however, like it when headlines are made to stir emotions and get people to make statements without all of the facts necessary for a reasoned opinion.
I will be playing this DLC and if the time comes I will kill the evil tyrant George Washington because it will be the right thing to do. I also know that it’s all a fantasy. It’s not real and I think George Washington was one of the greatest men who ever walked the face of this planet.