This question first gained traction after Columbine, unfortunately. Ever since, this half-generation-old Topic occasionally pops up after a controversial game mission or concept hits the media, or if a serious incident that shocks the masses. Is violence in videogames just a trumped up media talking point? Or an overlooked change in the gamer psyche that we can’t see?
The average gamer who isn’t too maladjusted to the world or their adolescent education will probably tell you that gaming may desensitize people to digital violence, but it doesn’t turn people violent.
Generational Difference? Or Inconsistency?
My father was appalled when he saw a clip of Mortal Kombat 11. I intended to show him how organized official gaming tournaments have become, and how much money was on the line for competitive gaming. But he fixated on the blood.
For the most part, his feelings are understandable. He is from a different generation.
But his muted, baby boomer outrage seems a bit inconsistent. Specifically, my father has loved the original TV shows of the last decade.
He regularly watched Deadwood, the Sopranos, and recently–Ray Donovan. All of the shows are high on the violence scale, and are live-action.
I specifically remember watching a particular Ray Donovan scene with my father one night. Ray goes into a dangerous situation and dispatches a bad guy with a writing utensil (Jump to 2:25 to see the part I’m referring to).
Youtube: Ivan Oakley (I do not own this video content)
This is only one scene from one show amid an ocean of violent movies and TV shows.
The real reason why the media decided to put a magnifying glass on gaming came specifically from how the Columbine shooters allegedly liked playing video games. A notion that — combined with a big generational divide on violence in media — makes a newer, popular medium like gaming an easy target.
But, with the continous leaps forward in graphics and realism, what if games made us more squeamish to sanguine polygons?
What if violence in videogames is a good thing?
This isn’t a thesis on the true motives of school shooters. That’s a bigger question that I can explore in a different post. I want to offer a new question:
Is it possible that violence in videogames help us understand mortality more?
Of course, game characters usually have boosts to health, strength, and — course — the ability to spawn or otherwise ‘start over’.
But, seeing how easy it is to die or get maimed when playing Call of Duty Online, Grand Theft Auto, or Dark Souls, helps us realize that being a soldier, criminal, or even a chosen-undead makes us easy to kill.
More articles to come on this topic.
P.S If you’re feeling angry, or depressed, please talk to a trustworthy loved one or friend; or check out these free hotlines. You’re not alone.