The 14 Words

Sunday, 22 September 2013

If the Devil had to invent a game, it would be this one

If the Devil had his own bible, it would probably take the form of a computer game. It would be sly and witty, enjoyable and slick. It would start with small, almost funny misdeeds.

It would offer the player the joys of money, successful violence and easy, responsibility-free sex. There would be drugs which didn’t fry your brain or burn holes in your nose. You would be made to feel brave, while not actually needing to be. None of your pleasures would be paid for in coin, pain or grief.

Hell hound: An image from the heavily hyped and violence-filled 
new computer game Grand Theft Auto V

Everyone else in the game would be disposable and forgettable. And it would contain one big lie. You would come out at the end happy and unharmed, and wanting more.

As I understand it, this is roughly what happens in the new, much-praised Grand Theft Auto V, now being played by thousands of 14-year-old boys in bedrooms near you. Officially it’s for those aged 18 and over, but nobody takes that seriously in modern, child-hating Britain. If you haven’t got it, you’re not cool.

The shops were ready for the rush with great stacks of it. Parents who refuse to buy it for their sons can expect ballistic rage, stamping and sulking. Perhaps it will turn out to be a human right.

Would anyone care to say that this doesn’t matter?

It’s a curious coincidence that Aaron Alexis, the man who massacred 12 people in Washington DC last week, liked to play such games for hours on end (Call Of Duty was apparently his favourite).
As usual, the liberal media are more interested in the fact that he had guns than in what was in his head. Oh, quite – lots of people do this and don’t go out and murder their school-fellows or workmates.

I strongly suspect that the wretched Alexis (who was plainly unhinged in other ways, with voices in his head) was yet another victim of supposedly harmless and ‘soft’ cannabis, now virtually legal in much of the USA. And plenty of British 14-year-olds are playing that game, too – often with the connivance of their parents.

But these increasingly frequent incidents seem to me to suggest that what you put into someone’s mind makes a difference to the way he behaves.

For every one who goes on a rampage shooting, there are thousands whose school work goes off the rails, thousands who treat girls like toys, thousands who consider callousness, dishonesty and bad manners as normal.

Many years ago in a French seaport town, I saw what I still think was a vision of evil. In a grubby cafe a boy of about 11 or 12 was ceaselessly feeding coins into one of the crude gaming machines then available. His eyes were blank, the skin of his face was dry and horribly pale. He looked as if he rarely ate. He was (this was, after all, France) smoking a cigarette. I swore at that moment that I would protect any child under my authority from this influence.

Around the same time I found myself in a famine-stricken country – Somalia – and saw for the first time the great round eyes and swollen stomachs of children dying of hunger. In many ways the worst thing was that I was not shocked or moved enough. I had seen this too many times on TV.

I have known ever since that seeing things on screens desensitises us. There is no doubt. If evil is familiar, it is easier to bear and easier to do. It is in our imaginations that we use our consciences and work out how our actions will affect ourselves and others. Conversation, storytelling and reading strengthen our imaginations.

These games kill our imaginations, which help us to be kind, and replace them with the liquid manure of pure selfishness, which helps us to be cruel.

1 comment:

  1. Two face liers. The Mail and others in the mainstream tora media are THE major factor in our children's demise. An otherwise exemplary piece, but duplicity is rife.