In-Laws, Gears of War, and How I Came To Enjoy Video Game Violence

They say nothing in life is free, but perhaps they should say that nothing in life is “bullshit free.”

When we go to work, we often think that this is it. Do your work and go home. Sadly, there are office politics, declining benefits, a crumbling economy, government over and under regulation, overtime with and without pay, and photocopiers.

When we get married, there are many things that we have to deal with.

Including cats.

But when it comes to my in-laws, I’ve been very lucky.

All it took to start building a relationship with my brother-in-law was video game violence, a pixel sacrifice that I quickly rationalized. After my wife and I married, I knew that it would be important for me to build a relationship with my brother-in-law. It seems to me that we build relationships over time, but we need to start with some sort of common foundation. My brother-in-law really enjoys first-person shooters, particularly if they have a science fiction plot.

Science fiction?

Talk about a common interest.

So I decided to enter the realm of video game violence, albeit in the limited form of science-fiction violence. Humanity must be saved from the alien invaders!

However, for most of my life I have tended not to like first-person shooters, which is a sort of video game where your avatar walks around killing things, often monsters but sometimes other people. It seemed like these video games were needlessly violent, and I was prepared to accept that these games were desensitizing children to violence. So I have always played games like Super Mario Bros, which are still competitive and violent, but don’t involve rifles and blood. I suppose you could argue that I was boycotting violence (except against koopa troopas and goombas) in video games.

Newspaper columnists everywhere would have agreed that I was definitely going to Heaven when I died.

Now, when we get together with our family on holidays, my brother-in-law and I will often play Gears of War for an hour or two.

What surprises me most about these games is the story. This game has some of sci-fi’s best ingredients, including a post-apocalyptic setting, horrifying monsters, and questionable scientific practices. I am getting pretty hooked on it. In fact, there is a third game coming out soon.

I hate to say it, but I can’t wait to see what happens. I feel embarrassed to like these games in the same way that it is embarrassing to enjoy a film like Predators or a book like Jurassic Park, but I don’t feel ashamed enough to quit.

When I feel guilty about playing violent video games, I tell myself that it’s all for a good cause: the health of my marriage.

Says my wife: “nothing in life is bullshit free.”


4 Responses to “In-Laws, Gears of War, and How I Came To Enjoy Video Game Violence”

  1. Well, obviously, if you really want your brother-in-law to feel welcome in your home, you need to get a PS3 and, if you don’t have on already, an big HDTV. Not for you, you understand, but for him, for family. Yep, that’s what you should tell your wife.

    • Funny you should say that, since he tells her that all the time already. Actually, I’ve been the resisting force. He wants us to do online gaming, but I don’t know if I can stand to lose that much sleep.

  2. My husband and I met online playing “violent video games.” We went on a tour of battlegrounds and warships on our honeymoon.

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