Kyle (Jan 14th):
   It certainly has been a while, hasn't it?
   A lot of things have changed in my life since my last rant, if anyone really cares. I got a job as a car salesman (hated it), got a job at Radio Shack (hated it even more), got a job as a clerk at Circle-fucking-K (no comments), and now... now I'm finally in a job I like. I'm working for a credit card company, doing work I enjoy with people I really like, making great money at it, to boot. And that's just on the work front!
   Krae and I have acquired a surround-sound system and a hi-def bigscreen TV, so we can watch movies and it's almost like being at the theater, or we can play games and make the neighbors hate us. It's grand. I'm in the process of buying back all the games I traded in to buy new stuff when it came out, and I'm actually in the wonderful position of having too little storage space for all my games and movies. No new car yet, but that's on the agenda.
   But the best change in my life is that I have a girlfriend. A wonderful one. She's beautiful, too, which is a bonus to how witty, creative, and fun she is. She happens to live in Colorado, which is a bit of a bummer, but I'm glad she's my girl, and not someone else's. Since my last rant (a shamefully long time ago, I admit), she and I have gotten together twice, and each time it's been the most fun I've ever had. She's everything I need and more, and I'm badgering Krae to add her to the comic, since he's met her.
   This one's for you, Cassie. I miss you, and I love you, and I'm dreaming of the next time I can see you.


Krae (Apr 18th):

   Some of you may have seen the news already, though I'd wager unless you check stock-market news online (the only place I've thus far seen any mention of it) this may come as a surprise:
   GameStop, brain-damaged illegitimate twin brother of EB Games, has bought us.

   Yes, that's right. We're a bigger, inter-fucking-national company — more stores, more money than we know what to do with, and our stock is twice the price of theirs. But we didn't buy them. No, it's not even a merger. GameStop took out a loan or something, and bought us for 1.44B USD.
   So now they own us. They could by all rights fire every last one of us, but they've claimed they're going to leave everyone at the store level alone. Sounds peachy, only my manager's going to have a new boss... and their managment hates us. We keep hiring away all their competent management staff because our company is — correction was — better. We had benefits, f'rex.
   So I'm probably not out of a job, yet. Until something like six months down the road when our policies have completed the transformation over to ridiculous GameStop drivel. Most of the managers in my district are, apparently, already looking for other jobs. Because let's face it, all of us could be making more money elsewhere; we're only with EB because it's a good company. Sorry again — was.

   I wish I made enough on art and writing to be able to support myself without putting up with this ridiculous crap. I can't believe we suddenly one day get bought out by an inferior company that allegedly doesn't even have the capital to open new stores (on the “it's a small world” front, Kyle's company is financing this buy-out) just because the fat-cats that founded the company get an enormous stock buy-out kickback. I fucking hate capitalism!

   Anyway, I'll likely stick around for a bit and see how terrible it is. If my manager leaves, I'll probably ditch out, too. I don't know what promotion possibilities look like for us, but I doubt GameStop management is going to like an undereducated EB employee any more than EB does; at a guess, I'd venture “significantly less”.
   Anybody need a pet cartoonist? I'm housetrained.

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Krae (May 20th):

   Those of you who know me can attest to my great hatred of censorship. I can rant at great length on Ban-The-Games activists; I hate them even more than the whack-jobs who want to ban all media - at least anti-media spokespeople aren't hypocrites.
   I've just been reading yet another article in yet another game magazine (it doesn't matter which - they've all run one at some point) comparing the viewpoints in a rational way. To make it look, I presume, as if the gaming industry is acknowledging these protests, and considering their worth. Look, they have no worth, okay? I wish this was the last time I had to say this.
   Just to be perfectly clear on my stances, I've prepared a short list of the most-used phrases these pompous windbags like to bandy about to trick the unwary into believing they've done research:

   1. Violence in videogames desensitizes children in their formative years and makes them more likely to commit violence.
   In actuality, there is no proof of this. They will argue with you at long length on what the “formative years” are, ignoring the complete asshattery of the rest of their statement. Exposure to violence does not necessarily cause desensitization to it. And when it does, desensitization does not lead to violence - only to acceptance of it. The only people who are going to become more violent from violent media are those who cannot seperate reality and fiction.
   Furthermore, there is absolutely no indication that videogames desensitize children (or anyone for that matter) more than movies, television, music, or the newspaper. I could, as a matter of fact, have a detailed report (with statistics) in less than a week noting a correlation between the rise in violent behavior among teens and a rise in violence in the news. I could alternately do a report on the decline of education, the decline of family unity and parental support, or the decline in living space in urban areas. No one, however, suggest banning reality.

   2. Videogames are used by the military to train troops to kill.
   Actually, those are simulators, not violent videogames, and they aren't, by and large, teaching troops to kill but how to respond to tactical situations. The troops know how to kill; the simulations teach them to command. I dare say soldiers were killing each other before Full Spectrum Warrior showed them how.

   3. The ESRB is not enforced (or enforceable). There should be a way to keep violent media out of the hands of children.
   The ESRB was never intended to be legislative. The ESRB is an advisory panel, designed to indicate the content of the game - not to punish people for buying them for, or supplying them to children. There already is a way to keep violent media out of the hands of children for whom it is unacceptable - this technique is known as “parenting”.
   I have no sympathy for parents who cry that their children learn from criminal videogame role-models; these parents should teach their children better manners. Children should not be raised by television or video-games. Parents should not be blind to what their children buy and play, because retailers are not your child's parents. We can't decide what is right for your child. And if you won't, don't complain about the innefective ratings system.

   If any of you fall on the other side of the violence-in-the-media debate, feel free to e-mail me here. If I've left anything out, or you just want to have a public (or private) debate on the subject, I guarantee I can summon more vitriol than you can handle. I'm interested in the thought-processes that go on in your ridiculous little minds. So bring it on... tell me why violent video games should be regulated.

   (Addendum 22nd May: It looks like a couple of people have already weighed in on the subject, and I may do a follow-up to post people's opinions if many more write in. If you'd like to be quoted, please include written permission in the e-mail, and indicate how you'd like to be credited - by e-mail address, full name, initials, or whatever. If you do not give me a name to credit, but give permission to be quoted, I'll have to list you as “Anonymous by e-mail”. Thanks for the responses!)

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Krae (Aug 8th):

   Alright, let's start with the news section:
   Didn't get enough responses to the last rant to put up a reader response section. Most of the time, when I talk to customers about this stuff, they won't shut up, regardless of which side of the debate they find themselves on. We won't make fun of you for more than two or three days, I give my solemn word. We here at STFU vow to respond to each and every e-mail you send us (except you, hockey-boy) and guarantee it will be at least 10% sarcasm free.
   As some of you certainly know, I've finally been promoted. This is good in most ways. The down-side, of course, is that I have marginally less time to screw around on the computer. Service should continue without interruption, however. Provided these damn monsoons don't knock out my power and/or internet.

   So I was talking to a woman in my store the other day (as she ignored her children) about violence in video games. To her credit, she seemed just as appalled by Full Spectrum Warrior as Grand Theft Auto, and was horrified when I told her about America's Army. So I showed restraint, and didn't verbally dismember her.
   It's amazing that there are people out there who still haven't heard of Grand Theft Auto. I mean, if being the most controversial videogame series of all time isn't big enough, the lawsuits and attempts at suppression in the news don't grab your attention, and the flurry of recent popularity don't spark your interest, I wouldn't really expect you to turn up in a game store.
   At this point, I'm tired of telling parents that it's not our responsibility to decide what's okay for their kids. I'm tired of explaining that modern media isn't the cause of the decline of society, it's a symptom. I'm tired of pointing out that it isn't the goddamn 50's anymore; goodness gracious, they never would have addressed teen pregnancy on Leave It To Beaver. The rhetoric-spouting morons are wearing me down. I can only repeat the same argument so many times until it starts to sound like that much more rhetoric to me.
   But for christ's sakes, it never ceases to amaze me when influential people try to suppress games. You'd think they'd know better by now. I keep expecting, every time something like this happens, for the politicians to say, “Jeez, we'd better keep our mouths shut this time...” And it never happens.
   Look guys. Tipper didn't stop gangsta rap. Those Parental Advisory stickers don't stop sales... matter of fact, I like 'em so much I plastered one up next to the logo at the top of the page. Drawing attention to that sort of thing might stop grandma from buying it, but chances are Granny wasn't interested in Body Count in the first place, and wouldn't listen to a song called "Cop Killa" whether that sticker is on the CD or not.
   It's the same with videogames. Politicians love controversy, because parents who feel helpless and disconnected from their kids rally behind them. It's not your fault, the politicos coo, it's the vile media you're letting your children consume (oops, I mean "the industry is subjecting your children to). But it doesn't stop violent videogames any more than it stopped violent, crude, and/or subversive music.
   All it does is fuel sales as people flock to game stores to see what all the fuss is about. It's free advertising. How on earth did Rockstar let the Hot Coffee “mod” remain on the disc when it shipped? How did someone find out about it? Because it raised excitement again when the sales were just starting to wane. When Vice City released on XBox and PC, the sales were notoriously slow compared to the PS2 release. Think the Hot Coffee Mod announcement could have come at a more convenient time for San Andreas?
   It's not a conspiracy of corruption. It's vote-grubbing politicians advertising for violence in the media. But hey, just to be equitable about this, I'll give you hypocritical, blame-shifting yuppie assholes a tip: when it stops selling, they'll stop making them. It's as simple as not buying. When society doesn't want violent media, they'll stop making it, and I'll stop selling it.

   Until then, with all due respect, please S.T.F.U.

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Krae (Oct 19th):

   WARNING: Contains genocide; massacre; beheadings, dismemberment, and mutilation; rape; infanticide; kidnapping; torture; gang lifestyle and violence; forced marriage; pedophilia; prostitution; pimping; polygamy and extra-marital sex; slavery; and animal sacrifice - and that's just the good guys.
   - Brought to you by the Ban The Bible Foundation of America

    I would be willing to lay a wager that the Bible has caused more wars than videogames have. That the Bible has caused more death, more hatred, and more despair than videogames have. That there are more shootings, hate-crimes, and violence daily relating to the Bible and its concepts than to videogames. That “God” is quoted in defense of crime more often than is “Max Payne”. There are millions of people in the United States of America alone who actually admit to using this gore-fest primer as a guidebook to live their life.
   I'm really tired of trying to explain what isn't wrong with videogames, let alone movies and music (which aren't my specialty). So what the hell, you can have your wish, and we'll do away with the lot of them; but only if we can ban the big one, the one that's been introducing mass murderers and perpetrators of the greatest crimes against humanity the world has ever witnessed every Sunday morning to our children and actually purports on its face to teach, instruct, and, yes, even command.

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