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Spencer Halpin’s: Moral Kombat – Movie Review Print E-mail
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Written by Thomas "CigDangle" Balistreri   
Monday, 08 October 2007

[News] [OpEd]

20.jpgSpencer Halpin’s: Moral Kombat is the single most important piece of commentary on the gaming industry ever.  I realize the weight of that statement, and I must assure you that I thought long and hard before putting that in print.  But it is true.

The film is a full-length documentary that examines the controversy surrounding violent videogames and the effect these games have on our society.  Moral Kombat is presented in such a well-balanced way, it even had me initially re-examining my own convictions.  Ultimately though, it helped me to re-affirm them.

Lt. Col. GrossmanShot in High-Definition, Moral Kombat is visually a beautiful documentary.  The movie opens with a scene involving a little boy and girl playing tug of war on a beach: a beautifully simplistic yet powerful visual metaphor for what the next 80 minutes will entail.

The rest of the film utilizes videogame footage from the late 1970s to present day as a backdrop.  Halpin films key figures on either side of the debate, allowing all to state their arguments at length, but interviews are cut into smaller bits and edited in such a way, that the information is rapid-fire and keeps the viewer’s interest.  I hate to use a cliché, but this is a documentary for the MTV-generation: visually stunning while still delivering an important message.

Although it is impossible to fully agree with all the perspectives presented, they are all illuminating to watch.

Jack ThompsonJack Thompson, ever the crusader, trying to save America from videogames, speaks on a number of topics, but one of his most telling and controversial statements concerns the 1997 school shooting in Paducah, Kentucky.  Of the incident, Jack claims, “…but for the videogame training that Michael Carneal had on the game Doom, and other games…uh…he would not have been able to do it, er, and would not have done what he did.”

9.jpgDr. Henry Jenkins, Director of Comparative Media Studies at MIT, makes a compelling argument in his segments.  Discussing his experience as a media scholar, studying media for over twenty years, Dr, Jenkins says, “…media is most influential when it reaffirms our existing structure of belief and least influential when it changes our behavior.  Which suggests if a kid is already aggressive - they already live in a culture of violence - that videogames could, conceivable, reinforce the level of aggression they already experience in their environment.  But nothing there suggests that a kid who is normal, who is raised emotionally healthy, who lives in a happy home environment, who has had no prior exposure to violence is likely to become aggressive simply because they played a violent videogame.”

My Rating: 95%

Andy McNamaraRegardless of your position, no matter what you believe, this movie is a thought-provoking piece that should be seen by every gamer and certainly every parent in America.  If your children are important to you, then this issue should be as well.

Dr. Jenkins I think puts it best: “If the kid is that passionate about games, the parents should play with them; the parents should watch them play; the parents should talk to their kids about what’s going on.  And if they don’t they’ve got a deeper problem in their family than the fact that the kid plays a violent videogame.”

You can read the interview with the filmmaker, Spencer Halpin, here.


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Last Updated ( Tuesday, 09 October 2007 )

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