Thursday, October 28, 2010

Social Network Gaming: The New Social Evil...?

Alexandra Tobias
Alexandra Tobias
According to CBS News Florida woman, Alexandra Tobias, has pleaded guilty to murdering her three month old baby. She told police she shook the baby, smoked a cigarette to relax herself and then shook the baby again and as a result the baby may have hit his head. Now I can easily start off with: "The baby didn't hit his head, you hit his head against something." Even if it was an accident, the baby's head didn't magically strike something. But this all happened because she was interrupted while playing a game of "Farmville".

I'll go on record saying I don't think she meant to kill the baby, she's 22, probably a new mom, maybe had some mental or post -partum issues, I don't know, but when does a video game take precedence over your child? But my main question of the day is, "Who's going to be the first to blame Farmville or SNGs (Social Network Gaming)".

Okay, I'm not a game head. I've beaten my share of console games: 007 GoldenEye, Max Payne, Halo and the Diablo computer game on the Mac, but that's about it. (Still working on 007 Nightfire). But I've never gotten into it heavily, never did online gaming and certainly not Facebook games. I was huge into role play gaming in my youth and College days. Not the computer crap, but real RPGs where you use your imagination and not a joystick. In fact I won an MVP prize during a Mayfair Games promotion for their horror game "Chill" (Chill...? OMG, I just dated myself) and created two of my own which have gone unpublished. (But will probably be published in the next few years).

The first Face Book game I ever heard of was "Mafia Wars". Nothing against the game save for people I didn't know annoying me asking me to join their virtual mafias, as if I didn't have a real life. But I understand a lot of people love online gaming and Social Network Gaming. And nothing particularly wrong with that...until it's taken too far.

I know that sounds odd, but when I was a kid religious groups blamed role playing games, mainly, "Dungeons and Dragons" (now published by Wizards of the Coast) for a rash of teen suicides and murders. The spin was, "Role Playing games make you kill people." Reality was some religious people and groups didn't like RPGs so they blamed the murders on the games versus the person that did the crime. Some of you reading will say, "Nathyn, that's an unfair assessment." Um, no it's not. Religious groups didn't like RPGs so they ignored the fact that in those cases, people involved usually had consumed drugs or large amounts of alcohol or were already suffering from a mental issue. These groups simply jumped on the idea that these games would make you kill yourself or others.

I played RPGs for a good ten years or more an no one died. Figure that one out. We all lived through countless imaginary battles with super powered criminals, sorcerers, evil Shadowrunners with hi-tech weapons, vampires, werewolves and even a demon or two. But my friends, most of them young black men of worth, didn't use drugs, didn't typically consume large quantities of alcohol and most of us, even if not religious, still had a healthy respect for God. Hm. Interesting.

In our modern day society we just can't accept that people are flawed, unscrupulous and sometimes just bad. It's reminds me of the Bill Cosby joke about cocaine, where he asks a guy what's so great about it and the person responds, "It's brings out your personality." Cosby's retort: "But what if you're an asshole." Sometimes people simply fall into that category. But in a society where we aren't allowed to say what's good and evil without fear of offending someone, we often end up blaming inanimate objects for crimes and offenses. How many people have you heard angry at Myspace or Facebook because someone used it to cheat on them. Myspace or Facebook weren't the problem, your cheating, skank of girl or boyfriend was. 

I don't know. I just saw the article and wondered. I'm sure Ms. Tobias is probably more upset about the child's death than anyone. Not to mention she could spend a large part of her young adult life (considered the best part of life by many) in prison over this. Let's hope this is a fluke and not a trend of gamer parents too busy with virtual life to take care of real life.

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