Penny-Arcade posted a link to a political cartoon that appeared in some paper or other t'other day, and has the predictable dust-up over at the site about it. While generally I am not one to get miffed over political cartoons--it's as valid an artform as any, and people who flood the editor with screaming outrage over "Doonesbury" need to get hobbies--this one made me roll my eyes at the ceiling a bit.
See, my husband James is an environmental artist for games--he builds props, he makes textures, he designs levels, he can keep in his head esoteric things like game flow and timing and how you move from one objective to the next. Stuff that I, who have all the rhythym of an epileptic millipede and can just barely keep 2-D art in focus, can't even begin to do. He models, he slices, he dices, he's damn good at what he does, or so his co-workers tell me--I b'lieve 'em, but given my lack of knowledge of the subject, you couldn't tell it by me. (They say he's very good, though. I'm proud.)
He's also a terribly soft-hearted individual who has been known to release bugs outside rather than squish them, cuddles the cats regularly, gives change to the homeless, tirelessly mans my tables at conventions, even with broken teeth and heavy drugs, and once spent a week scouring the web for a particular discontinued stuffed animal (a Ty koala) for his 3 year old niece, who had lost hers and was heartbroken (he'd given her the original one, because he had a stuffed koala as a child himself.)
This is just not a guy who wants to turn small children into an army of killing machines. Now, me, sure, I'm all for an army of killing machines, and I don't really like kids much. (I was an only child. I never got used to 'em.) But James? He's fine with kids. He's as non-violent as it is possible to be without being a doormat. He is, in most respects, a far more virtuous and morally upright person than I am. Hell, plenty of his games haven't even involved aggression--the video game industry being tarred includes sports games, Tetris, SuperMario, and those noxious Barbie games. (I agree that those should be stopped, but more for aesthetic reasons.)
I KNOW I'm preaching to the choir. Hopefully we're all intelligent enough to know that if you buy your kids something with a Mature label on it, you're the one at fault, not the maker of the game. Parent a little, here, people--these things are clearly marked. Small children probably shouldn't be playing "Zombie Massacre Death Zone Five" or whatever, any more than they should be watching "Apocalypse Now." It's just common sense. This doesn't mean "Apocalypse Now" is not a great film. Merely because something is not appropriate for children doesn't mean I shouldn't be able to play Carmageddon in my own home when I've had a bad day and need a little mindless pedestrian-smooshing. Sex is also not appropriate for children, but I'd be pretty miffed if we banned it completely for adults on those grounds.
I know this is nothing, particularly, to get my undies in a knot over--most people are intelligent enough to know that parenting is done by parents, not video game designers. But still, it irks me a little, simply because somebody I love is gettin' tarred by a broad and laughably inaccurate brush, being wielded by the sort of people who want no personal responsibility for anything--"It must not be that I need to spend time with my kids, it must be that somewhere there is a dark cabal of game designers dedicated to turning my child into a murderous zombie!"
If it were a jab at ME, it wouldn't even register, but you know how it is with your loved ones and all. I'm pretty sure he's forgotten it already. But that's my gripe.
In completely unrelated news, I did The Page of Swords for the Wombat Tarot. I keep wondering how I'm gonna do the Ten of Swords, say, with a mutilated wombat corpse, or any of the ones which would require wombat genitalia. I have limits. My limits include drawing cartoon wombat nards. The Lovers may be fig-leafed little wombats. I dunno yet.