Sunday, 29 September 2013

Violence in games [editorial]

Every now and then the violence in games debate comes up, and almost miraculously it rears it's ugly head when a new GTA comes out. /sarcasm.

The usual contenders weigh in, 'games are art and should be free to explore violence' and the polar opposite 'games are turning our children into psychopaths'.

Here is my opinion.

  • Games can be art, but most aren't.
  • Games can influence the easily influenced to do things they should not do, but the majority of individuals can separate fiction from reality.

So now I have established myself as a dirty fence sitter, I will ask a better question...

Do video games understand violence enough to use it as a theme?

Think of a violent game right now...  Blood, guts, swearing, crime, fighting etc... 10 to 1 the game you have in mind is deliberately using these concepts to entice the user's intregue in the taboo. If you are an artist and your painting is violent it is normally to express an idea or to showcase the darker parts of our primitive selves, parts we dare not explore in reality. The artist has not included these themes to sell product, they are making a statement. Now think about the violent game you have in mind from before, did it provide these themes for reflection - or more likely entertainment?

Is violence in entertainment wrong?

No. Fact is its exciting. We have large portions of our brains that have not evolved, violence was part of survival and the excitement from it administered enough adrenaline to giving you a good shot at surviving the encounter. We as a species love chemicals, and altering the brains chemistry is one of our favourite pass times, coffee, tea, sugar, nicotine, weed, alcohol, and the buffet we have on offer is staggering. Violence is the key to unlock your adrenaline. Your an adult, you have the right to indulge in violent media to excite your self... You do NOT have the right to inflict violence however.

Video games tend to handle violence in such a childish way there is no way a sane individual could be influenced to perform violent acts outside of a game. Imagine a 5 year old sketching 2 stick figures stabbing each other, the imagery is unlikely to cause mum, dad and little sister to flee the room on a murder spree upon viewing!

The real question is whether we as a culture are responsible enough to introduce these concepts to the following generations of gamers?

Games may never evolve enough to provide ample justification for the violence within their medium, so it is up to us as parents to involve ourselves with our children to help them understand the themes being explored on screen... Leaving little Jimmy alone to play 'Call of Murdering 7' alone is probably not going to end well.

Bottom line...

Your games console is not a baby sitter, so stop giving children media which is beyond their understanding - because of you do, you have no fucking right to climb on the soap box.


Please feel free to add your opinion below, we may run a future feature on the subject should any points be worth exploring.

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