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Friday, October 19, 2007

Halo 3 For Jesus

I've already covered that while we have politicians and lawyers making as much green and hay out of the fact that violent video games are evil, that games should not be violent and that violence in games is always bad and will rot civilization to the core ... that while they continue to beat the constant drum of "think of the children", that the Air Force thinks of the children in terms of getting them to be violent with a little Halo 3 to recruit them into real war.

So violence in media is bad, unless it is serves as an escapist fantasy before getting on with the real thing.

Now the New York Times reports that churches are getting in on the action by offering Halo 3 to their youth groups:

Far from being defensive, church leaders who support Halo — despite its “thou shalt kill” credo — celebrate it as a modern and sometimes singularly effective tool. It is crucial, they say, to reach the elusive audience of boys and young men.

Witness the basement on a recent Sunday at the Colorado Community Church in the Englewood area of Denver, where Tim Foster, 12, and Chris Graham, 14, sat in front of three TVs, locked in violent virtual combat as they navigated on-screen characters through lethal gun bursts. Tim explained the game’s allure: “It’s just fun blowing people up.”

Once they come for the games, Gregg Barbour, the youth minister of the church said, they will stay for his Christian message. “We want to make it hard for teenagers to go to hell,” Mr. Barbour wrote in a letter to parents at the church.
-- Thou Shalt Not Kill, Except in a Popular Video Game at Church

The quite wonderful Aleks K rightly points out that this undermines the games industry in their efforts to maintain rating standards. It's hard to fight the good fight when the other side sometimes forgets there is a battle at all.

To be honest, I'd rather have fourteen year old kids hanging out in the basement of a church earning frags than, well, a good number of things fourteen year old kids might be doing otherwise. I just think if we're going to get into a "well, it's OK because" type debate we should have started with "well, it's OK because these games don't turn kids into criminals". The next time the media jumps the gun on some school shooter assuming it was all Counter-Strike's fault - I don't want them to go interview BatJack Thompson, I want them to call this priest. Tell them you've had a flood of kids come through your door playing a M rated game and the worst that happened was that they didn't give a donation that Sunday.

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