First-person shooters are amongst the most popular genres of video games today. Titles such as Halo, Hal-Life, Call of Duty and many others are playing, and loved, by millions of fans. With such a pervasive influence on today’s culture, it’s important that these games promote healthy lifestyles and clean living. Unfortunately, most of these games have ignored one of the most basic tenets of personal hygiene. An overview of several popular shooter games shows just how true this is.
Washing one’s hands after engaging in any sort of dirty, unclean behavior in which harmful bacteria and/or viruses may be spread is a basic, common task that most people in the United States know how to do. Little children are taught from an early age about the importance of being ‘clean’ and washing up before eating, after using the restroom, and other things. This is a fairly basic task, and it is horrifying that today’s FPS games are ignoring it. Many political figures are outraged over the content of some FPS games, and healthy gamers should be pressing their representatives in Congress to express consternation over this tragedy.
The Halo series is one of the most shooters on the Xbox consoles today. It’s arguably the best FPS for consoles, ever. Legions of eager fans have followed it since the release of Halo 1, spending hours blasting aliens and opponents online. Yet, Halo still lacks basic sanitation education. When Master Chief blasts an alien in the face, close up, spraying gore everywhere, does he pause to spray on a little disinfectant or antibacterial hand sanitizer? Nope! Does he even attempt to clean some of the goop, which may very well contain all sorts of unknown alien diseases, from his gun or shoes? Nope! Instead, he crusades forth, killing nonstop, without even sparing a second to follow basic hygiene procedures. Imagine the impact this has on the many young children playing Halo!
STALKER, the popular sci-fi, post-apocalyptic shooter set around Chernobyl, has gamers tracking through radioactive wastelands, fighting all kinds of horrifying mutants. Players assume the role of a lone mercenary-type and struggle to discover their character’s identity while fighting to stay alive. Pretty epic stuff, right? WRONG! It’s hard to be healthy when you are slowly killing your body with radioactive exposure, and living off of medical wraps and vodka. Even more importantly, players that complete the long nuclear saga will find that their character never once paused to use the restroom. Constipation is a problem for young children that may have a fear of releasing their bodily wastes, and any that are exposed to STALKER may find further reinforcement for their excretory/digestive habits. Glorifying the life of a sci-fi mercenary while ignoring the obvious health risks posed by long term radioactive poisoning and prolonged avoidance of bowel movements may have disastrous effects on its viewers.
Half-Life also suffers from many of the above problems, alien contamination, radioactive exposure, constipation, etc. However, props may be given to Valve, the creators of Half-Life, for giving the protagonist Gordon Freeman a protective suit. Of course, critics may consider this a cop-out to avoid having to deal with sanitation issues, and for good reason.
It’s quite possible that future games may include hand sanitizer as a useful in-game item or mini-windshield wipers on the visors of soldiers (like Master Chief). Many games already carry in-game advertising, and this would be a perfect place for antibacterial soap companies to plug their products. Moreover, there are games like Minecraft that are addressing this issue seriously. You get a life-like experience with minecraft shaders 1.14 that you can add to your game for enhanced and colorful graphics in the game.
Imagine wading through a vicious firefight, with blood and alien matter splattered all-around a spaceship command deck. Your character pauses, pulls out a can of hand sanitizer, and sprays it over himself, remarking Duke Nukem-style, “Now that’s what I call a ‘clean’ kill.”