Posts Tagged Elephant

Why Can’t I Stop Killing People?

Good thing there’s respawn.

It’s been eight months of this, staring at my screen for ten minutes at a time, unflinching, unblinking, shouting curse words as my enemy beats me to the draw. Nearly 10,000 souls have perished by my hand, yet I’m hungry for more carnage as though I were Drew Barrymore starring in a film titled, “Fifty First Kills.” I have accrued almost double as many deaths, but still strive for efficiency at the start of every new match. My efforts are futile on account of my putrid ability. My chronically poor performance makes me more appreciative of the season that LeBron James has had. I tend more towards Kobe though, I’m disappointed when I have to settle for an assist.

I don’t really believe they have souls, the soldiers in my video game, yet as I play I think about the real men and women around the globe that actually do this sort of thing for a living. They don’t just start blindly shooting at every shadow, of course, but bullets and bombs are a part of their work, and it makes me uncomfortable to think about how realistic the game must be. Not so much the look of it, but the sound: a burst of gunfire and a grunt of pain, and then silence. Around certain corners you can hear the buzzing of flies.

My PlayStation informs me that I’ve played online multiplayer for a total of 6 days, 19 hours, 37 minutes, and 3 seconds. I don’t know why it records down to the second, but I’m glad someone is keeping track. That comes out to an average of 1 kill for every 58.7 seconds. In that same total time I could drive to San Francisco and back with minutes to spare. Instead I’ve spent it shooting the population of my zip code.

And it’s so fun. What a sick people we’ve become. At Thanksgiving I was playing MW3 as extended family looked on. They were horrified to see me, a member of an African militia, shooting white Americans in the head with a sniper-rifle. My cousin and I laughed as their bodies twitched in the high grass; it started an argument. Perhaps our joy was exaggerated on account of my family’s disgust. What can I say, we were feeling confrontational.

The quiet halls of Gus Van Sant’s “Elephant.”

When indulging in first-person shooter games I often think about Gus Van Sant’s 2003 film, “Elephant.” At one point during the film’s shooting spree, we see the victims from the viewpoint of a gunman staring down the barrel of his weapon. Modern Warfare’s gameplay could be loosely inspired by this.

I don’t agree with the premise that video games cause violence, but I can easily see why some might. At the very least they desensitize us. I think I realized this just about the time that I killed the same opposing player four straight times with a knife attack, and gleefully turned to my cousin and slapped hands. I proudly told him how exciting I found it because I’d never done it before.

“You only live once,” he said, and laughed when I got shot from behind.


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