The game of drugs

Virtual drug use is a feature of the video game Narc, which will be released next week for PlayStation 2 and the Xbox. The New York Times reports:

In “Narc,” which is rated M, or Mature, for ages 17 and older, players control one of two narcotics officers, partners who were once separated after one became addicted to drugs.

The game play primarily involves arresting dealers, whose drugs can be confiscated and used.

A digital puff of marijuana, for example, temporarily slows the action of the game like a sports replay. Taking an Ecstasy tablet creates a mellow atmosphere that can pacify aggressive foes. The use of crack momentarily makes the player a marksman: a “crack” shot.

But using each drug also leads to addiction, which can lead to blackouts that cost the player inventory and to demotions or even expulsion from the police force, which halts progress in the game.

I wonder if the net effect will be to encourage players to think they can control illegal drug use or to remind them that drug abuse is for losers.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. “I wonder if the net effect will be to encourage players to think they can control illegal drug use or to remind them that drug abuse is for losers.”

    Now let’s apply that sentence to a more common gaming situation:

    I wonder if the net effect of shoot ’em mayhem games will be to encourage players to think they can get away with murder or to remind them that mass carnage is for losers.

    None of that, of course. Remember, it’s a game. People play for the cool effects, to be challenged in strategy, and maybe to challenge their reflexes.

  2. Reginleif says:

    “I wonder if the net effect will be to encourage players to think they can control illegal drug use or to remind them that drug abuse is for losers.”

    Or to make them think they can become Governor of New Mexico.

    I think you’re overgeneralizing a bit here about people who use drugs.

  3. I wonder, do these games have Digital DUIs or Virtual Vehicular Manslaughter and, of course, the associated repercussions?

    It is not only that these games teach the wrong lesson, it is that they DESNSITIZE the player.

    But hey, everyone knows they are responsible for their actions, right? Except those actions that are caused by society, Twinkies and the opposing political party…

    AK

  4. Caffeinated Curmudgeon says:

    It is not only that these games teach the wrong lesson, it is that they DESNSITIZE the player.

    Chess desensitizes kids to the evils of state religion and regicide. Go desensitizes kids to the injustice of wars of territorial aggression. Battleship desensitizes kids to the horrors of naval warfare. Monopoly desensitizes kids to the dangers of financial irresponsibility.

    Get a grip. When I was in elementary school we played mumblety-peg at recess with real knives. But we didn’t stab each other in the hallways, and none of my classmates grew up to be Jack the Ripper.

    The real danger is allowing children only insipid and politically correct games. They will grow up less able to distinguish real unethical behavior in the real world and bereft of strategies to counter it when they do recognize it.

  5. “I wonder if the net effect will be to encourage players to think they can control illegal drug use or to remind them that drug abuse is for losers.”

    Most users of illegal drugs do a pretty good job of controlling their use. Most legal drug users aren’t problem addicts, either.

    And videogames have been telling us that drugs are for losers for years now. It’s been a joke for a long time: finish a game of kung-fu splatter-ama like Mortal Kombat and there’s a message saying “Winners don’t use drugs”. Those poor teenagers learn that they could have broken the spleen and arms of Gigantic Opponent guy if only they hadn’t smoked all that weed! Imagine all the quarters they could have saved!

    And for some reason, Lemonheads have an antidrug message inside the very small box lid. Why? So those addicted to lemon candy know to stick to the legal stuff, I guess. I’m sure that program has some effectiveness among third graders, but for the rest of us it’s not a primary motivator one way or the other.