writing > play > games and violence
Last Updated: May 2016
3 minute read

games and violence

Games and Violence

cross-posted: on Medium

These words have been taken in the same breath for nearly two decades now. Having spent the better part of my waking hours thinking about games and all things related, I’d like to take you on a tour of some of the Museum of “Society vs Games because violence”. The other day I was browsing Hacker News, as I often do when I’m procrastinating, and came across this comment:

I love that none of these involve shooting people.

I love video games, but I honestly cannot comprehend how anyone enjoys being a gamer these days… I watch a lot of game trailers, reviews, and gameplay, and very close to 100% of the games being made seem to be about murdering other creatures. I am often like “wow, that looks like a cool world!” but then I never buy the game because the gameplay is just shooting people in the face.

Part of me thinks we should drop the pretext of a “Gaming Industry” and just start calling it the “Murder Simulation Industry”.

Of course of the same people who enjoy murder games, many like to eat food from murder, and live on land that was taken via murder. I start to feel like we have to make murder a super normal, everyday thing like this otherwise we’d have to face how violent we actually are, through our government and corporate intermediaries.

Instead, we just crush virtual skulls and eat anonymous packaged food in our safe little boxes and pretend we’re kind, gentle people. Feels good if you can keep the illusion up.

This right here is loosely the inspiration for putting to words my thoughts on this topic I’ve cultivated since a wee little thing. I don’t want to make this post a line-by-line rebuttal of that comment, but rather use it as the voice I’ve heard countless times over the course of my life, that I can now respond to.

Violent Influence

The longest-held belief of the downside of violent video games is that they influence impressionable children to be violent and potential social threats.

…was found that he was addicted to Manhunt, a violent video game where you take control of a character who brutally murders people…

I vividly remember this phrase reproduced over and over in the news when I was in high school. My parents knew of my love for games and constantly bombarded by this rhetoric, feared for my social development. I was a child of 15, theoretically in my “rebellious phase”. It’s that age “we need to be careful.”

For many years, whenever a suspect of genocide or manslaughter was investigated, their video game tastes would bubble up through the media. There was a period between 1999 and 2010 where video game tastes were a principal publicised feature of background info for any criminal suspect.

Growing up, it was inevitable that our parents and non-gaming peers would rub these uncoverings in our faces.

Bullets, babes, bombs…damn, I love this job - Duke Nukem, The Manhattan Project

Let me say this – this was a significantly easier post to write today than it may have been perhaps ten, fifteen years ago. Especially since as you so correctly have guessed, I am here in defense of games. So I must first pay due respect to the bastions of the game development industry and community that held steadfast to get us this far.