On Violence in Videogames

Another head explodes, and gallons (henceforth defeating the once known measurement of *pints*) of blood spray in every which way.

And then I move on to the next zombie to grease.

Now, I have spent a lot of time playing video games during my short life. By ‘a lot,’ I mean I may have spent over a year’s time in front of a boob tube trying to get someone or something to some sort of end. That’s a long time… but I digress. In that time, I have played violent, ‘kiddy,’ and bible-based (Yes, I said bible-based) games, and I have come to a conclusion about video game violence.

Number one, and prolly most importantly: these are games, folks. If every time I grease a zombie, an angel loses its wings, or a chihuaua dies on another continent, then I may stop playing. Poor angels. Don’t care about the snot dog as much. In any case, video games do not directly correlate to real life.

Or does it?

When Columbine went down, one of the first things that police looked for (outside of blueprints for making homemade bombs) was the kind of software these kids surrounded themselves with. What did news reports cling to that night at 6? Doom 2 for the PC: A pixelated and arduous journey into the depths of hell, which aparently is, in fact, Mars. I didn’t hear enough about how violent the game was, and how disgusting it was. Opponents to video game violence claim that someone who does an act in a video game will be compelled at one time or another to enact their escapades in a non-digital world — the real one.

However, this point of contention dismisses a single and fundamental element about human behavior: If you do something, you want to do it. A video game does not make you kill people. ‘Catcher in the Rye’ does not make you want to drop John Lennon. And the news does not make your children want to roll on E. So, kids that want to shoot up a school will shoot up a school because that is their perogative.

So, why do we have such violent games, Brent?

I’m glad you asked.

I want to be the first to say that there is something cathartic about leveling a city, greasing multitudes of enemies, and defeating a final boss for the sake of ending their terrible reign. In other words, video games can be a non-violent outlet to rage or grief. True, it sounds like a stretch, but I believe in it. We all release stress and anxiety in our own ways: Some play games, some starve themselves, some eat, some sleep, some write, some exercise… you get the picture.

What does it mean for violence? It means that graphic intensity is in place to create a next-to-reality feel to clearly fictional and surreal situations. It is a grounding mechanism. In a way, making games more realistic is a proof to reality. That is, our feeble attempts to recreate reality accurately fall flat on their faces time and time again, because we cannot reproduce what is absolutely real. Grasping for reality affirms reality as an existing player, as it were. Some bar the bridge between the two with varying results…

However, a choice is still a choice, and no one can be blamed for an idea that a separate agent executed out of rage.


One response to “On Violence in Videogames

  1. Super interesting argument. While I was reading it I was reminded of the “blaming the victim” phenomenon with regards to rape victims. If you’re not familiar with this, it essentially posits that people blame the rape victim for her (or his) rape (she was dressed slutty…etc.) because society refuses to accept that sometimes life is without reason and violence is without cause. As with violent videogames, as a society we cannot accept that sometimes people just lose it….we are always searching for reason, even when there is none. Violent videogames appear to be the scapegoat for any mental instability in our youth. All I can say is…. quit blaming everything and everyone else for the shitty things that happen in life…..what the hell happened to personal responsibility anyway?

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