I came upon an interesting article in my brief foray through my usual website haunts, this is it…
This has more or less been my take on violent video games for a very long time. Some background into just how much gaming I’ve actually been exposed to is perhaps warranted.
Basically I’ve been a gamer since I was 5 years old, my first to games being Doom and Super Mario World. The former I used to play cooperatively with my father, our household being one of the few with more then one home computer at the time, and at a very early age it was deeply ingrained that this was a “game” and that of course generally this sort of violent activity is more or less unacceptable in mainstream society.
According to most anti-video game moralists this was probably the worst thing that a child could be put through. Clearly I was being socialized to be a social disgrace with little to no self control and a bloodlust that would cause me later in life to engage in gratuitous amounts of violence against my common man.
Keep in mind Doom was only the beginning, I would soon move to games like Die by the Sword, a medieval melee combat simulator in which you used the mouse to swing your weapon and attempt to dismember and decapitate your enemy in various ways; and the Turok Series, a compendium of the most bloody and violent first person shooters ever imagined. Not only could you proceed to blow chunks out of your enemies with ease, but the pinnacle weapon was the most gruesome of all. Named the ‘Cerebral Bore’, it would fire a homing projectile that would lock onto your enemies head, drill a hole and proceed to remove his brain matter out in a stream to the floor, then to add insult to injury it would explode taking off his head completely.
Other notably violent games were Unreal Tournament, Soldier of Fortune and a plethora of others that make Modern Warfare look like your shooting paper dolls without a milliliter of boldly fluid.
Does all this make me unstable and murderous. I have a hard time believing that considering that in most games with moral freedom like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, Mass Effect, and GTA, I have a hard time justifying killing everyone I see. Its kinda nice to see games coming out with diplomacy options.
But maybe I do need a more visceral experience in general. The real world is filled with drugs, sex and rock and roll, why shouldn’t games be any different. If anything this exposure to the dark places in our soul might help us see how cruel actions are rewarded. You go around killing civilians, law enforcement puts you down… hard. You act cruelly to folks throughout the game, they might betray you. In some games is just about survival, shoot or be shot, those are the rules, and that doesn’t mean these rules suddenly apply to real life…
As for why I play them, I think it comes down to a bit of a hero complex to be honest. That’s the only thing I can think of. I play Jedi in Star Wars games, I play Paragon in Mass Effect, and If I have to play the punisheresque antihero then so be it, just assume that the situation has gotten that bad…