For a really long time there has been popular opinion on how video game ruining people’s life and how violent video games creating murderer’s in real life. One of the most popular argument is because video games makes us unable to differentiate nor tell the distinction between what’s real and what’s not.
No words can truly describe how tired am i of this opinion.
Granted, the argument itself is fairly old and a lot of people have acknowledged on how wrong it is, after all same controversy happens to movie as well. However there are still some vocal minority out there who still take it as true. But really, bringing this up is about as useful as poking dead dog with a stick in some semblances of hope that it somehow will spring back to life.
So why am i sharing this? Why do i brought this up? And more importantly, why should you still be reading this? Well that’s because there’s a certain summer 2014 anime who just happen to have a counter argument for this matter. What anime may you ask? Well it’s an anime about our loveable Gary Stu and his adventure on VRMMORPG and his growing list of harem.
That’s right i am talking about SAO II.
Personally i think SAO II is decent so far. There’s definitely several problem that the anime carry over from last season and some lack of action. But it does improve itself up and bring us an interesting heroine in a form of Sinon and explore several interesting theme as well. One of them is validity of virtual reality which relate what i mention earlier.
For those of you who don’t know what am i talking about or already disinterest with the new second season, the story this time around is about our protagonist Kirito investigating phenomenon, Death Gun in a VRMMORPG called Gun Gale Online. Said phenomenon is that apparently whoever got shot in game by a mysterious player with black gun dies in real life as well.
What i really want to talk about though is episode 14 of the anime which is the resolution for that arc. Anyway, it was found out that the murder was carried out by multiple person, two of them is a pair of brother with the older brother named Shoichi, who just like Kirito is an SAO survivor (see season 1), playing the avatar who shot people in the game. After both of them got arrested Kirito and Sinon visited Kirito’s employer to know more about the detail.
It all begins with Shoichi practically “abandoned” by his father, leaving him with no value for real life. So he turns into MMORPG. When he’s stuck in SAO incident, he ended up joining a Murderer Guild called Laughing Coffin. Meanwhile, his brother Kyoji was constantly pressured by his father to become the next heir for his family’s hospital, leaving him a feeling of hatred and contempt toward real life. So he turns into GGO for strength and value that he never hope to get in real life.
But one day, a GGO top player proclaimed how useless focusing stat allocation AGI, which so it happens, what Kyoji’s focus upon. So, he got mad.
When SAO incident resolved, Shoichi returns and start telling his brother about his tale of accomplishment as real murderer in that game. Kyoji started to idolize his brother because of this and began discussing theoretical murder on the GGO top player. Initially it was just a joke between the two, but as they themselves began to lose touch on reality, so too their murder plan began more and more became a reality. And every step they took after that become more and more reflective of the dark side of MMO and online discourse in general.
The main point is that SAO argue that it’s not that people can’t distinguish between real and virtual, the fact that so many of us who play violent video game doesn’t became a serial killer is the testament to that fact, but it’s really about matter of priority. If a virtual world give you power and value of existing that our everyday live can’t provide, is it really worth “living” in real life?
Also sometimes gaming itself isn’t necessarily the problem.Those people who lose touch with reality? Sometimes it’s just a symptom of a more underlying psychological and societal problem, like stress that SAO just provide as an example or lack of direction, purpose and agency in everyday live.
Even when gaming compulsion can be bad, fundamentally it doesn’t stop gaming from being a good thing. As a gamer myself, i stand for this fact.
If you’re interested, check out SAO II. It’s currently streaming on crunchyroll:
Also, special thanks for Nick Creamer for his analysis of the episode: