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Last night I returned home from PAX AUS 2014. Long story short, it wasn't perfect, but it was quite possibly the best weekend I've had this year. It was a lot of fun. If you'd like to continue reading, the long story is just below. Buckle up. This is gonna be...

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Kingdom of Violence
Posted on Tuesday, August 2 2011 @ 14:33:41 Eastern

Once upon a time the citizens of a fair and prosperous kingdom enjoyed a pastime. Their hobby was a combination of story-telling, make-believe, music, and action. Practitioners would don costumes and play out specially created stories with each other; some stories would have swordfights, others gunfights, others still would have no real world violence and would instead focus around more tranquil story elements. No matter the content the participants were normal people engaging in an interest. Those who partook in this hobby occupied a niche not understood by those outside, they would often be ridiculed and even more often used as scapegoats.
 
For you see, fair reader, this fair and prosperous kingdom could only be described as such if viewed from afar. As with most things, distance creates a smoothing effect allowing the observer to miss the ugly bumps lining the surface. The kingdom, when scrutinised, was just as flawed as any other and suffered intermittent incidents of violence. Sometimes the perpetrators of these violent acts would also be practitioners of this misunderstood hobby and these instances would be smothered by media outlets claiming a direct causal link between crime and pastime.
 
Take, for instance, the occasion when a practitioner of this hobby was queuing for a particularly rare and coveted item and was stabbed whilst standing in line. For any reasonable person it was clear the victim was involved in an argument and could have been waiting to get into a night club, such was the insignificance of the pursuit itself. For the media it provided reason to decry the existence of the hobby and denounce its participants as ticking time bombs. Take also the many occasions an unstable person has committed atrocious acts in the name of whatever warped cause they are a creator and champion of. Regardless of their precise involvement with this hobby their actions are more often than not blamed on the pastime in some tenuous manner. Did they use it to train themselves how best to fire a weapon or attack a person? Did the violence they played out in a safe and pretend manner during their make-believe sessions corrupt their formerly innocent mind? These situations are unlikely to be true. There are numerous skills to be picked up through play fighting – after all, there has to be a reason it is so instinctive so many little boys – but talk of ‘murder simulators’ is absurd and overblown. The claim of corruption is not just absurd; it ignores the countless practitioners who do not proceed to acts of violence and is insulting to say the least.
 
This kingdom was home to many well-known people who did not care about protecting the feelings of those involved with the creation and use of this hobby. Their concerns lay with the destruction of it. They would crawl out of the woodwork every time their noses twitched with the possibility of connecting a tragic event with the evils of this pastime and would shout from the rafters with nary a thought for the validity of their claims. They have tried to connect the sudden deaths of youngsters with extended play times when it is clear the cause was an obsession which could have just as likely grabbed onto any other pursuit as the one we are discussing here.
 
The kingdom responded to public concerns by restricting who could enjoy the hobby classified by age. The restrictions made sense by reinforcing the fact that adult plotlines should be enjoyed by adults but only served to further stir the nest by irritating the youngsters now unable to enjoy their favourite pastime and prompting detractors to state it wasn’t enough. The truth was though, that those who saw fit to pin any crime to the heavy lapels of this kingdom’s activity appealed only to those narrow minded and intolerant enough to be incapable of accepting progression in entertainment and for the rest of the kingdom’s inhabitants it felt disrespectful of the victims of the crime as the true cause remained unaddressed while the common scapegoat became a new victim.
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