Are your kids in danger from predators while playing Fortnite?

Are your kids in danger from predators while playing Fortnite?

If you’re not familiar with Fortnite, it’s the most popular video game going right now. It started out as a really bad zombie survival game, then it ripped off a better game, PUBG, and became the sensation it is today. Fortnite is what’s called a battle royale game. Basically, 100 players are dropped into a map and the last surviving team or player wins. The main reason why Fortnite is eating PUBG’s lunch and why it’s so popular is that Fortnite is free to play.

Recently, a big deal was made about sexual predators being on Frotnite because, in New Jersey, a number of online predators were arrested in an online sting. It became a big deal when it was reported that some of the predators may have been grooming their victims through games like Minecraft and Fortnite. While it wasn’t reported how many of these predators were allegedly using Fortnite, since it’s the most popular game right now, Fortnite was very prevalent in most of the headlines talking about this sting.

So, that takes us back to the headline’s question. Are your kids in danger from predators while playing Fortnite? Well, yes and no. Fortnite is as about as dangerous as any other online utility that your kids use. Do I think it’s a pedophile playground like messaging app Kik? I don’t think it’s even close, but since Fortnite is where all the kids are, odds are there will be a predator here and there.

As a parent, you should treat online games just like you would social media. Know who is on your kid’s friends list. Make sure they’re not chatting with someone they don’t know in the real world. Most importantly be honest with them that not every person they may talk to on the internet has their best interest in mind.

Ky. Gov. Matt Bevin is an assclown (Blames video games for shootings)

Ky. Gov. Matt Bevin is an assclown (Blames video games for shootings)

Ky. Gov. Matt Bevin

It seems that the Commonwealth of Kentucky has provided us with another participant for the never-ending parade of assclowns. Last time, it was U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who said the government can’t do anything to prevent school shootings. Now, I present to you Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin.

Late last June, hey I’m catching up sort of, Bevin was at a listening session hosted by the Federal Commission on School Safety. Did he blame school shootings on easy access to guns, inadequate mental health care in this country, or lackadaisical parenting? None of the above, actually. Governor Bevin blamed school shootings on video games, cell phones, and ‘over-medicating our children’.

“We are arming children with a device that has been proven time and time again — there’s not a single study that refutes or flies in the face of the fact that this leads to greater self-doubt, greater depression, greater ideas of self-harm,” Bevin said.

Except, Bevin is either lying or talking out of his ass as there have been multiple studies disproving any link between video games and real-world violence. Here’s one now.

Of course, Bevin also said that he doesn’t support any new gun restrictions. I mean why would you want to take the shooting part out of school shootings? It’s not like his state isn’t a stranger to school shootings as two high-profile school shootings have taken place in Kentucky. The first one being the Heath High School shooting in Paducah and the most recent one being the shooting that left two dead at Marshall County High School. So let’s not try to figure out how guns got into the hands of a then-13-year-old and a 15-year-old but instead place the blame on Frotnite or PUBG.

I’m a first generation console game and I’m turning 50 later this year. Why aren’t there more games in politics already so we can focus on the real matter at hand repeatedly carting out a two decades old trope that has no basis in fact?

Steam pulls ‘school shooter’ game from its store

Steam pulls 'school shooter game from its store

This is a follow-up to my post about the most recent ‘school shooting’ video game which I posted here. If you haven’t read it yet, I ask that you please read that first before continuing.

Over the holiday weekend, there was a slew of news articles about the parents of school shooting victims who were outraged over the game. I was all ready to write a post asking them to just ignore the game. I understand that it’s a slow news weekend and the media is shoving microphones in your face looking for a sound bite. I also understand that you’ve endured a pain that only a few but increasing number of people understand and your outrage is understandable.

However, that post was rendered null and void after the video game platform Steam removed the game from its store. That does allow me to talk about the game by name since I doubt the so-called developer will be making any money from the world’s largest online distributor of PC games. The game was called Active Shooter and Steam has pulled the game from its store not due to any outside pressure, or so they say, but because the developer was a known troll who had been banned from the platform previously.

Steam said in a statement that the creator of the game that simulates a school shooting had previously been banned from the popular platform but changed the name of his business to return to selling games. The company called the game’s creator a “troll with a history of customer abuse.”

That developer has published other controversial games called “Tide Pod Challenge” and “White Power Pure Voltage.”

As an aside, I looked at the Steam page of White Power Pure Voltage and it wasn’t a game about anything racist. It seems that only the name was designed to court controversy, but I digress.

My point is, we’re at a time where video games can be made by just about anyone. They’re no longer the sole domain of giant game companies. So when one of these games comes out that’s designed by a basement-dwelling edgelord, the best thing to do is ignore it and it will wither on the vine. I realize the media is constantly throwing controversy in our faces, but as a society, we need to reserve our outrage for more serious matters. If we’re outraged at everything then we’re actually outraged at nothing.

By the way, Hatred is still available on Steam.

Can we unclench over ‘school shooting video games’?

Can we unclench over 'school shooting video games'?

So there’s this video game coming out next month that has the media and various other pearl clutchers up in arms. It was announced shortly after the recent school shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas and it’s being referred to as a ‘school shooting game’. I’m not going to link to the game or any articles about it or mention it by name because it doesn’t even deserve the attention it’s getting. The game is centered around a mass shooting. Supposedly, you can play as a member of a police SWAT team responding to the shooting, or, of course, you can play as the shooter. Distasteful? Yeah, pretty much, but as a society, we need to stop being so sensitive about things like this without knowing the facts.

First off, it’s been over 40 years since video games have been able to be played at home and still there are too many people who think video games are just for kids. Video games have been made for both kids and adults for over 20 years now. Having said that this is not a game that is going to be released by a major publisher where it will be on every store shelf waiting to be played on your kid’s Nintendo Switch. As far as I can tell the game is being made by one man and is only being released on Steam for the PC. This is the equivalent of some nobody making a controversial YouTube video in their basement and everyone else reacting to it like it was a major motion picture.

The creator of the game claims he’s not trying to cash in on a tragedy, but we’ve heard that story before. There have been several instances in the past where after a major school shooting some attention seeking troll tries to get everyone riled up by making a game based on the shooting. They either claim it’s art or they’re making some grandiose political statement when in reality it’s more like sophomoric mass murderer fan fiction. The only difference being is the killer doesn’t have some kind of weird fetish sex with the game’s developer.

As for the people who might get a sick thrill out of this game, they’re already lost to us, but they are a very small minority of gamers. This or any game isn’t going to turn your kid into a school shooter. However, if I had a kid of school age, I would not let them play this game. Since it’s only available on Steam it will require a credit card or PayPal to be purchased. If you allow your young children to run amok online with any of these forms of payment then the real problem is you.

When games like this come out what we should do is ignore them. Media outrage and social media conniptions are exactly what these Philistines are actually after.

Is Steam a breeding ground for school shooters?

Is Steam a breeding ground for school shooters?

Don’t forget, when a headline asks a question the answer is usually no, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

For those of you who may not be familiar with Steam, it’s the most popular platform for PC gamers to purchase and download their video games. Like most platforms and social networks, Steam also has a community section where users can start their own communities to discuss a varying number of topics. Unfortunately, a number of these communities are tributes to Columbine and school shooters.

According to a Motherboard article searching Steam’s groups for “school shooter” returns 248 results. A similar article from Slate clams there are at least 173 groups on Steam that glorify school shootings. This isn’t the first time Steam has come under fire for being associated with a school shooting, as Aztec High School shooter, William Atchison, was a Steam user and posted several racist diatribes on the platform.

Does this mean there’s some credence to the alleged link between video games and school shootings? Not in the least. If anything, it lends credence to my theory that kids who identify with school shooters, known as columbiners, who hang out in these communities are more likely to be a school shooter than your typical gamer. Communities like this have been around since Columbine became a thing, and have been on multiple platforms. There have been message boards dedicated to the cowardly Columbine killers, not to mention communities that go as far back as being on LiveJournal. Today, they exist on platforms like Tumblr among others.

What concerns me is a lot of these gamers who are posting on Steam are kids, and it’s obvious their parents have no idea what their kids are up to online. The parents are either unwilling to take the time to check on their kids, are too impatient to learn the technology kids use, or are too trusting of their kids and would rather be their friend than their parent. If one of your kids has a Columbine or school shooting obsession do something about it. It’s not just a phase, it’s a sign of mental illness. Get them help before they hurt themselves or someone else. Getting them help doesn’t make you a failure as a parent, you’re a failure if you don’t.

Thanks to Ryan for the tip.

The return of Jack Thompson: The Ghost of School Shootings past

The return of Jack Thompson: The Ghost of School Shootings past

I haven’t written about Jack Thompson in almost a decade. For those of you who may be too young to remember, Jack Thompson was a Florida attorney who was infamous in the late 90s and early 2000s for claiming video games were the cause of all of society’s ills.

He referred to the original version of Doom(shown above) as a murder simulator and claims he predicted Columbine eight days in advance. He’s blamed a number of school shootings and a cop killing on GTA. He called Bully the Columbine game. He blamed the school shooting at Virginia Tech on CounterStrike. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Jack Thompson’s special brand of crazy. I hate giving Thompson any kind of attention because it’s what he craves. I didn’t even write about him when he e-mailed me to discuss one of his failed causes.

jtemail

He must really be trying to milk his 15 minutes of fame if he’s willing to contact me, a lowly blogger, about a case that was settled justly 12 years before I received this e-mail.

However, we have to discuss him once again since he’s weaseled his way back into the news. Now, Thompson is offering his services pro bono in regard to the recent shooting at Marshall County High School in Kentucky. Thompson claims he’s been told by an attorney close to the case that shooter Gabe Parker played ‘violent video games’ and had them taken away by Parker’s grandmother prior to the shooting.

Of course, Thompson is offering his services for free because he’s been disbarred for life by the Florida Supreme Court.

Jack Thompson is the walking antithesis of ‘correlation does not equal causation’. Video games do not cause school shootings. The reason many school shooters played video games is that most of them were teenagers and teenagers play video games. Hell, I’m pushing 50 and I’ve been playing video games since the Atari VCS, later known as the 2600, and I’ve never been arrested.

Why the media and the law profession continues to give this deluded man the time of day continues to confound me.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go play Stardew Valley. By Jack Thompson logic, that should cause me to go on a series of rash farming sprees.

Don’t call it a school shooting video game

Don't call it a school shooting video game

A few weeks ago, tech blog Gizmodo broke a story about a training program designed by Homeland Security and the US Army. It’s designed to train teachers and law enforcement on how to react during a school shooting. The problem is it’s a computer simulation, so a number of media outlets, including Gizmodo, who should know better, refer to the training program as a video game.

Of course, this has led to some controversy as some people have been outraged by the training program, including the Vicki Soto Memorial Fund. Vickie Soto was a teacher killed at Sandy Hook, who some nutbag conspiracy theorists claim never existed.

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A spokesperson for the charity added: “Vicki would not have wanted, nor would she have had, a gun in her classroom with children around. You cannot justify this to us. It is a reliving how Vicki died over and over again.”

With all due respect, the training program is not a ‘video game’ just because it runs on computers. The program hasn’t even been released yet and will only be available to schools and law enforcement. It can’t be played on Xbox or PlayStation. You can’t pick it up at WalMart or GameStop. You can’t download it from Steam. Most importantly, it can’t be used by the idiot columbiners who get a sick thrill from school shootings.

This is a tool to better prepare school staff and law enforcement in the event a school shooting happens. It’s not a trivialization of past school shootings but the realization of the unfortunate world we live in. When people ask why aren’t our schools better prepared for these situations we can’t respond with ‘because some people got offended’.

Trench Reviews Stardew Valley

stardew

The Reynolds Ranch

I can’t recommend Stardew Valley enough, If you’re an old-time gamer like myself or you appreciate retro-style games then this game is for you. It is very reminiscent of the 16-32 bit era games. To me it reminds me of all the best minigames from Suikodens II and V, my favorite games of all time, then throws in just enough of Minecraft and a little Zelda-like dungeon crawling and you have yourself a great PC game. Granted it is technically a farming simulator but it has such great RPG elements that I’ve already sunk 50 hours easily into this game and I’m only 2/3 of the way through. In my opinion, this is how games should be. No DLC, no micro-transactions and no online play, just a complete game at purchase.

Speaking of purchase at $15 this game is more than a steal. I personally recommend picking it up at GOG however if you want to help my site out think about buying a Steam Gift Card from Amazon. (Sponsored link)

Stardew Valley gets the full 5 fedoras out of 5.

Is Red Hood DLC really retailer exclusive?

batman-arkham-knight-red-hood-dlc

I’m not as big of a gamer as I used to be however there is at least one game franchise I will drop everything for and that’s the Batman: Arkham series.

Recently, it was announced that the next game in the series, Arkham Knight, will have Red Hood DLC. You already had me sold but to add Red Hood, one of my favorite DC characters, into the mix and you just guaranteed a purchase from me, except for one thing. The DLC is said to be a pre-order exclusive for Game Stop but will it really.

My history with DLC is very limited. I usually wait for Ultimate of Game of the Year editions to come out to get all the content at a better price than buying all the DLC at the time of its release. I did this with Arkham Asylum and Fallout: New Vegas. Will they really keep the Red Hood DLC exclusive once the Ultimate edition is released of keep it from season pass buyers? I highly doubt it since that would be limiting potential revenue from future sales.