Topic 2: Games-Here-and-Now: Post 2
Happy weekend, everyone!
So, this particular post will be equal parts scientific, ethical, and personal. Some of my opinions will come raging forth. Sorry in advance if I offend anyone, and just to forewarn my readers: I do talk about some real-life events like the 1999 Columbine shooting.
Seeing as Halloween is only a few days away, I thought I’d jump into a relatively Halloween-ish post about a question sent to me last week (by the way, I only write about things my likers and viewers send me, so if you’d like to pitch your own idea, send away!): “Have we crossed a line with realistic video game violence? Is there a line?”
My answer is layered: On a legal standpoint: No. We haven’t, and there isn’t.
On an ethical and moral standpoint: In very specific cases…yes, it crosses a line.
Sometimes I might think that the gore in some games is a bit…wow. Too real. And a part of me is critical of those games, too, because a good immersive horror game does not necessarily need tons of graphic blood and guts – in fact, I’ll say a couple of them have gone way too overboard. “Horror” and “gore” do not need to go together, and sometimes a horrifying game can have no blood whatsoever. But, on the other hand, some gamers really like all that graphic stuff – the violence and killing-spree types (yes, I’m talking about you, angry Killers (if you don’t know what I’m talking about, read my last post)). So, who am I to say that games cross a line with violence when that is a genre and piece of games people really like? It’s just a game. I know I’m not alone here: I’d much rather have someone get their satisfaction of shooting things in a game then go out and do it in real life.
Now, let me rant about this for a moment and hopefully debunk a myth: Some of you might be thinking – well, what about that social issue where violent video games cause violence in real life?
My answer: Errrr! Wrong! Scientifically proven to be wrong, too. Let me explain:
Ever since violent outbursts like the tragedy of the Columbine school shooting in 1999, and such incidents are, unfortunately, becoming more and more common in the 2000s, lawmakers and the public in general were quick to link violent, M-rated, graphic video games (like Call of Duty, for example) to aggressive behaviors in young people, and that video game companies should be restricted when it comes to how “realistic” violence should be. That idea was quick to spark fires of fear, so prevalent people came to believe it as truth – after all, it must be true: Young people see shooting in a game, therefore they think it’s OK to go out and shoot people. (It’s an easy connection to make…when you don’t know squat s**t about video games.) Even President Barack Obama himself requested studies into this in 2013.
Of course, people were so quick to assume this correlation was true, they didn’t even bother to read the results of these studies: Read any scholarly scientific study (this is a good one, if you want to read about it) and it clearly states that there is no evidence suggesting that an increase in realistic violence in video games plays any part in the “increase” (there isn’t an increase in homicides in the U.S., by the way, and homicidal rates are on a steady decrease in the past 3 decades, but the type of homicide has changed; a type that is much more dramatic with intent to cause mass fear, like public shootings, so it feels like violence runs rampant) of violent crime. To sum up the “Real-World Violence” study: “Contrary to the claims that violent video games are linked to aggressive assaults and homicides, no evidence was found to suggest that this medium was a major (or minor) contributing cause of violence in the United States” (page 290).
They did grant that it could be a “casual risk factor,” but it was impossible to determine that video games were the cause of aggressive behaviors, or whether those little punks were just already pent-up and just happened to play GTA on the side. Regardless, I can’t help but roll my eyes when I see freaked-out suburban moms snatching away the Xbox, exclaiming things like, “These will ruin your minds! It’s a “SeXbox”!”
(Yes, the typo bothers me. Immensely.)
Most adult gamers don’t believe this bulls**t, and they are in the right to roll their eyes. I think this is a more accurate statement:
So, in essence, there is no scientific issue regarding video game violence and a “line” for realism, except for two reasons:
a) A personal reason: Whether you like violence in a game or not. And that’s different for everyone.
b) An ethical reason: Like in this game. I’m sorry, but just from a personal perspective, I think this game does cross a line: It’s offensive to (blatantly) mock something so real and dark. Before you use the “Well, people are too sensitive” argument, think of why people might play this game, and the psychology behind it. Really think about it. When Columbine is a historical event, and people are not still mourning over their lost children and/or family, and the threat of public shooting not so eminent in our society, then this wouldn’t matter so much. It’s not video game violence in general that has an effect on society, and it’s not even how that violence is portrayed…but rather, in some rare cases like this, why it’s in a game that should be considered. Did the makers have a legal right to make this game? I think they did. Does it make it ethically and morally right? Absolutely not.
From a personal standpoint: I don’t particularly like violent video games, and I have some real frustrations with some of them, but not because of its level violence. First of all, I’m just not a Killer so to me these games are exceedingly uninteresting…but that’s just personal preference. Second of all, some of them are just flat-out distasteful.
I took a pretty hard stance in regards to this question. What do you think? Agree or disagree? Or agree to disagree?