Electronic Arts, Real Guns, and Materialism

My first reaction to this article was to laugh heartily. This has to be one of the most absurd marketing campaigns I have ever heard. Electronic Arts apparently thinks that people who play video games would be willing to buy an actual assault weapon. There must have been some pretty weird focus groups involved in that testing.There’s a big difference between playing a war-like video game and firing an actual gun. I play plenty of these games, but I’ve never had the need nor the desire to own a dangerous firearm. You don’t see weapons in my house, and I live in a state where I could own one quite easily. I imagine some adolescent would think this is cool, but who in their right minds equates X to Y?

I don’t think the idea of marketing violent video games and guns together is wrong in itself. I imagine that’s a pretty big departure from my contemporaries, but think of the problem in terms if capitalism. If you like shooting guns in a game, you may enjoy being a member of the National Rifle Association. It’s not a natural connection, but it may very well be there. There’s a community of people who like owning, collecting, and firing guns in controlled environment (and as self-defense, if the need arises). I see no reason why Electronic Arts doesn’t have any incentive to produce a cross-promotional branding idea into the mix. They’re using the real weapons in Medal of Honor: Warfighter, and it would naturally extend to selling the weapons themselves. Have a look yourself at the sponsors. Those guys need to make a living too, right? Even if they’re making assault weapons parts, somebody needs them somewhere (for some savory or unsavory purpose), so why not do such a promotion?

I don’t see why EA shouldn’t be allowed to do this. They even removed the blog posts “promoting” the products themselves and the accompanying links. All of the profits from these products were to go to veterans organizations and the like, so I imagine they’re going to figure out how to do it in a different fashion without being blasted by negative PR. That’s unforunate, though; from what I can tell, they’re not making money off these links. Electronic Arts doesn’t have a financial stake; they merely want to be as accurate in their design as possible, and promoting these companies just shows respect for them and the work they do for the army. Perhaps this glorifies the concept of war and not the men and women in uniform, and maybe it doesn’t. I’d actually like to see what actual veterans and Army service men and women think about these games, wouldn’t you?

And how many minors will be buying these products? I can’t imagine any, if we’re talking through legal channels. But the moralizing begins once again, to no one’s surprise. Won’t someone think of the children!? We’re still living under post-Columbine syndrome. We automatically equate “influence” with “action”. Sure, as a child I watched some violent movies. I think that when things blow up onscreen, or cars crash, or stylistic violence happens, it’s meant to fill you with that feeling that “yes, this is very cool”. However, I know enough that these images flashing on the screen lay within the realm of fantasy. In real life, war sucks. It’s not fun; people die for real. We don’t go to war because it’s “fun”, but we do play video games because they’re “fun”.

We assume children can’t make that divide between fantasy and reality by default. Let’s make this clear: Medal of Honor, Call of Duty, and all stylistic similar games that simulate war aren’t designed for children. They’re rated Mature for a reason, specifically relegated to the 17+ crowd. These games inevitably fall into the hands of a younger crowd, but they couldn’t buy the weapons even if they wanted! EA, from my view, is marketing their product to the intended audience of adults; heck, most video gamers swing from the 20-50 age range in our current time, and I imagine they are “Mature” enough to buy this gear if they want. My parents wouldn’t have let me play those games. I imagine they wouldn’t let me play DooM either, if not for the “evil” imagery than for the violence. Then again, I played a lot of Mortal Kombat when I was young, so I’m not the best example for this issue. Still, this should be up to the parents of kids who have enough common sense to teach them the right thing, not to some people who want to police what can and cannot be portrayed in entertainment mediums.

Why an “army” game should inspire such controversy doesn’t make sense until you understand the modern viewpoint. We can’t distinguish between appearance and reality; everything is one. If you’re part and parcel of a materialistic universe, you have to assume that anything could influence your mind into bad behavior. Thus, children aren’t the product of their parents; they become whatever surrounds them. They can’t differentiate between one influence or another because they’re merely animals taking external stimuli into themselves and reinterpreting that data. Because of this process, we can’t tell what is our own opinion and what isn’t. Mmathematical physics has removed the concept of value from the world, framing the conversation in terms of “inertial forces” whereby objects continue their motion until deflected by another object in motion. Thus, the perception of human beings began anew from the same scienti c, valueless point.

This viewpoint, which seems to be the basis for modern psychology, has infiltrated our discussion of certain subjects – notably, violent video games. If we are what we see, then we won’t to avoid this…but apparently not when it comes to “less” realistic media. Killing an alien in Halo, apparently, doesn’t have the same import as killing a terrorist in Medal of Honor. We assume that it’s so influential that we might just go up and kill someone – I can’t imagine how they explain these extremely suspect links between media and violence, but that’s how many articles on this subject perceive it. If you believe that science and the laws it establishes are absolutes, then you can try to predict the working of a physical mind…but not a soul.

A materialistic universe produces these conclusions, knowingly or unknowingly, to the vast majority of the populace. As 2 Peter 3 says:

 Know this first of all, that in the last days mockers will come with their mocking, following after their own lusts,and saying, “ Where is the promise of His coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all continues just as it wasfrom the beginning of creation.” For when they maintain this, it escapes their notice that by the word of God theheavens existed long ago and the earth was formed out of water and by water, through which the world at that time was destroyed, being flooded with water. But by His word the present heavens and earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the day of judgment and destruction of ungodly men.

Christians are just as prone to the materialistic worldview as anyone else; after all, we accept the idea that we must judge entertainment by its moral qualities, for the possibility it may cause our children to become violent murderers. We make actual decisions; we’re not the result of blind natural forces. The Christian metaphysical view denies such a thing from the outset; we’re more than a bundle of instincts. Sure, we want to stay away from sin and sinful behavior, but a sinful nature implies this isn’t a reality without Jesus Christ, who judges our intentions and our actions.

Once mankind reduces itself to the status of an animal, than who can tell the difference between right and wrong, good and evil? It’s all relative to my environment and external factors. What a convenient little device, huh? The same ideology that allows us to accuse EA of “promoting violence” also allows us to explain why people murder, why child molesters do what they do, and finding little ways to pass the blame off of the individual. Without recognition of a spiritual dimension, this is the result.

About Zachery Oliver

Zachery Oliver, MTS, is the lead writer for Theology Gaming, a blog focused on the integration of games and theological issues. He can be reached at viewtifulzfo at gmail dot com or on Theology Gaming’s Facebook Page.