JEFF PEARLMAN

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The Old Man in Me

Earlier this week, while attending a party, I walked into the bedroom of a teenager.

He and his friends were playing Call of Duty: Black Ops 2, a game that—literally—involved murdering people in as realistic a manner as I’ve ever seen on a video game. There’s a lifelike gun, lifelike people and lots and lots of death. It is, according to www.g4tv.com, the second most-popular XBox 360 game on the market.

What’s the most popular game? Easy. That would be Far Cry 3, which—in its own description—says that players will, “slash, sneak, detonate and shoot their way across the island in a world that has lost all sense of right and wrong.”

I want to repeat that—in a world that has lost all sense of right and wrong.

Nearly three full days have passed since the Sandy Hook massacre, and I, too, feel as if I reside in a world that has lost all sense of right and wrong. I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit—really, really, really thinking about this. And, to be blunt, I’ve concluded that we’re all really fucked up.

What other explanation is there? Right now we live in a country where a large number of citizens believe the best way to stop violence is to own a gun. They believe that we’re better off, and safer, if we’re packing; that the way to solve violence is to own our own piece of violence.

We also live in a country were many, many, many, many parents seen unconcerned by the role we play in introducing violence into the lives of our children. Again, I know … I know—I sound like a grandmother. But who in their right mind would let their young kids play Call of Duty, or Far Cry 3, or Halo, Assassin’s Creed, or Hitman: Absolution? Why would you want to place your youngster in a situation where—even fictitiously—he’s engaged in a situation that involves ending another’s life? Fuck, this isn’t Pac*Man, where a yellow blob eats a ghost. This isn’t Donkey Kong, tossing barrels. This isn’t even Mortal Kombat, which always felt more cheesy than threatening. This is a merging of lifelike graphics, demented plots and really, really, really large, sharp television screens.

I don’t know what caused the recent killing. I don’t blame video games, and I don’t blame the legalization of guns. I do, however, think times like these allow us to reflect, and think about what we’re doing, as a people.

So what, in God’s name, are we doing as a people?