Sometimes it’s nice to post up a purely comedic story that serves simply to put a smile on the face of those who read it, and like most comedic stories this one comes stems from the world of politics, namely one Glenn Beck, a conservative political commentator.
During a segment on Libertarian news network The Blaze earlier this week Mr. Glenn Beck made the bold and ultimately incorrect statement that Ubisoft’s new open world game Watch Dogs teaches people how to hack.
“The idea here is they are teaching you to hack and then become the ultimate voyeur in other people’s lives, including their bedrooms, by hacking into their phones and everything,”
In order to teach anybody anything one needs to provide a detailed explanation of the process. Teaching someone how to hack just about any electronic device would be a significant undertaking as it’s a relatively complex procedure.
“This game is teaching you to hack into whatever is docked in your bedroom. What the heck is wrong with us? What are we thinking? We are inviting this into our home and our lives. We are teaching our kids for entertainment purposes,” Beck continued, seemingly oblivious to the very large hole was digging and subsequently about to fall face first into.
How does one hack something in Watch Dogs? You press and hold a single button, while looking at the object you wish to hack. That’s it. Via this method you can “hack” into security camera’s, change traffic lights, set of explosions and many other things, however, not a single one of these in any way remotely comes close to teaching someone how to hack. One can not simply pick up a smartphone and hack an ATM by holding down a single button. It does not work like that.
Indeed, to test this theory, I wandered into my local town with controller and phone in hand, and despite furiously pointing both at a set of traffic lights and pressing everything button I could find, nothing happened. Bugger.
By Mr. Beck’s own logic, then, Surgeon Simulator 2013 teaches people how to perform several different operations. It does not. Playing F1 2013 would teach people how to drive a formula 1 car. It does not. Playing Skyrim should also teach people how to survive a sword fight and random attacks by dragons. It does not.
Mr. Glenn Beck, you are an outright liar who did not even bother to research the game in question, or investigate the allegation that you are levelling at both the game itself and the developers. You merely leapt to incorrect conclusion’s, based on no evidence other than a brief description of the game, along the way managing to insult the developers themselves with the tone you took when speaking about the hours of testing it took them to ensure the game was fit for purpose.
However, in an effort to be as fair as I can manage, given that no human from a psychological standpoint can be entirely without bias, he does at least raise an interesting point in regards to anti-heroes and the fact that you can peek into people’s rooms within the game. Anti-heroes have become far more popular and common, but this seems to be largely because people find them more believable and interesting. It also appears to be linked to the declining degree of freedom within people’s lives. These anti-heroes boast a freedom that we so often do not. They defy convention, and do not bow down to everyday rules as we must.
I would also suggest that Mr. Beck is getting the concepts of what is morally and ethically right and wrong confused with what is legal and what is illegal. As has been shown numerous times throughout history, what is morally right often conflicts with what is illegal.
There’s no getting around the simple fact that Aiden Pearce is not a nice human being. At all. Indeed, he’s not supposed to be a good person. And I certainly won’t claim he’s morally right, either. What Pearce actually is, is a bad man placed in a horrible situation, a role that we as players inhabit.
Earlier in the piece Mr. Beck also talked about how Call of Duty has been “linked” to numerous violent shootings and other incidents. The topic of whether games can or can not influence violence is a lengthy one and fascinating, so I won’t touch upon it here, but what Mr. Beck forgets to mention is that is gaming is now the most popular form of entertainment in the world with a games console in the house of just about everyone, while Call of Duty is the single most popular franchise in the world at this moment. Given this fact, it’s hardly surprising that the series could be linked to just about every violent crime within the past several years, in the same way that I could link TVs to crimes as well.
I have no issue with Mr. Beck or anyone else putting forth an argument that games are bad for society. Indeed, it can spark some brilliant debates, and I’d be naive not to admit that there is at least some evidence which suggests that games could increase the possibility of violence by a small amount. What I do take issue with is when you have an audience which you hold sway over, and choose not to investigate a topic before attacking it. I have an issue with being utterly ignorant of a given subject, but choosing to attack it regardless, and thereby spread lies.