Sunday, November 25, 2012

Black Ops 2 & The Washington Times

Illustration COD by Greg Groesch for The Washington Times

Part of my mission statement for this here blog is to get "video game-shy but politically active adults...interested in gaming (it's no longer kid stuff, you know!)."  The paratethical notation is particularly key here as I know from experience that a lot of "adults" (I'll let you define that as you see fit) avoid video games because they believe the subject matter is on par with an after school cartoon (aka: James Cameron's Avatar).  In other words, when the over 40 crowd thinks of a video game, it is likely to be Sonic the Hedgehog or Mario Brothers type of stuff that is more evocative of a cartoon than a movie.  And while there is a lot of that going on, particularly in the console sphere of gaming, a lot of adults do not realize that there is also more serious fare in the offering, the type of stuff that if it was made into a TV series, they would probably be more than likely to give it a watch.  I have always believed this to be one of the great tragedities of modern video game marketing:  it focuses almost exclusively on a young audience that it already has locked up, but refuses to tap a new (and growing) market of Baby Boomers with a lot of retirement time on their hands.  Oh well.  I guess video game marketing has to grow up a bit, too.

Anyway, in keeping with the theme that modern video games can be just as grounded in reality as any movie or TV show - and I would posit the notion that most video games are already more grounded in reality than the increasingly silly stuff found in the old media - I have found an interesting article that I would like to share with you.  It is from The Washington Times, and is called "QUINN AND SILVER: ‘Call of Duty’ video game highlights real threat"....

According to Hal Quinn,  president of the National Mining Association, and Michael Silver, president of American Elements,  U.S. minerals supplies are bing threatened by China, just as Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 alleges in its plot:

"As people head out to the store this Black Friday, one item on many shopping lists is certain to be 'Call of Duty: Black Ops II.' This recently released and wildly popular video game features a chilling scenario: a new Cold War between China and the United States has erupted, spurred by a ban on Chinese exports of rare earth minerals. While this may sound like video game fantasy, U.S. minerals security and supply stability is a real and pressing issue that impacts U.S. manufacturing, economic growth and national security.

"Currently responsible for more than 95 percent of the global supply, China has an undisputed monopoly on production of rare earth minerals — resources essential to the innovation and manufacturing of advanced-energy, consumer and defense technologies, including wind turbines, night-vision goggles and satellite positioning systems. As we saw this past spring, when President Obama filed a challenge with the World Trade Organization against China’s export restrictions on important minerals for the second time in recent years, minerals supplies are subject to intense geopolitical instability.

"China’s edge on the minerals market goes beyond rare earth minerals. The country ranks as the world’s leading producer of more than 80 percent of mineral commodities, such as tungsten, a mineral used in incandescent light bulbs and CAT scans. While China maintains its stranglehold on a variety of in-demand minerals, the United States remains 100 percent import-reliant for 19 key minerals, importing more than $155 billion worth of minerals in 2011 alone."

See what I've been telling you about the new reality of video games?  Again, video games are not kids' stuff anymore!  So if you have this idea in you head, just forget it.  It's not true.  Hasn't been true for about six years now.  Video games have evolved greatly from their cartoonish roots.  Today, they are an effective medium for not just entertainment, but also for exploring a wide range of issues in a factual, if at times imaginative, fashion.  Once upon a time movies used to do this to, but I fear those days are long since over.

BTW: that article concludes with this bit of salient advice:

To unleash this potential, we must revise our outdated permitting process and replace it with policies that promote the safe and efficient production of U.S. minerals resources. For examples, we need only to look toward countries such as Canada and Australia — whose permits for new mines are issued in a fraction of the time, despite having environmental regulations comparable to those in the United States. By addressing this issue, we can pave the way to more jobs, build a stronger economy and bolster American manufacturing — while avoiding a domestic disaster of video game proportions.
Which, of course, means that nothing is going to change, not with enviro-cultists running the Democrat party, and the GOP being a party of cowardly wimps too afraid to ever enact true reform.  Sigh.

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