So I’ve been rather social the last few days! It was very odd and also extremely weird to talk to people who didn’t know what FPS is or even Wikipedia for that matter (can you imagine?). It’s good to get out every now and then amongst ‘normal’ people, helps me put some things into perspective and also reminds me that there are other things going on in the world that aren’t necessarily ‘connected’!
But there’s one thing that always gets me, though! No matter which generation I’m talking to, when I mention that I’m looking at computer games (yeah…I simplify for the ‘normal’ people) I always seem to get the exact same comment: “The thing that gets me about these games is that they’re so violent! Why do they have to be so violent!” – and well, I’ve tried explaining that violence is fun, but I always get apprehensive looks when I go into detail about how fun it is to blast off your guns and see blood splattered all over! The freedom and the glory of torturing pixelated people in the most violent manner you can think of! Of sitting here frantically banging on your keyboard and screaming “Die you MF! DIE!!” followed by an evil laugh as this task has been accomplished!!! Oh the joy!!!
But this apparently tends to freak some people out – so I’ve opted for the easy come-back to such comments. You know the drill! “Learning how to think by playing computer games” and the usual blah blah blah! That it’s not all guts and glory, gamers are learning to think (Civilization, Spore, Simulation Games), the technology spawned from computer games can be used for good, multi-tasking, political awarness, sociability, oh the list is long! (I was going to provide links here – but right now…I honestly can’t be bothered!)
I suppose I’m quite disappointed with myself for taking this easy way out! Clive Thompson’s touched on the subject in a recent Wired article. As he says; “Possibly it’s because everyone so desperately craves mainstream approval. When your boss asks you what you did on the weekend, are you gonna tell him you spent 10 hours shooting at already-dead bodies during slow-mo mode in Half Life 2 just so you could play physics experiments with them? No, it’s easier to stroke your chin and muse on the advent of “narrative” games that will “rival movies” and finally “break games into the mainstream”.”
He also mentions that Rockstar has issued an apology for it’s upcoming game Bully! I’ve actually been looking forward to the game! Does that make me some sort of animal?!! It looks like so much fun!! But I actively try to avoid the ‘violence in games’ discussion and I’m starting to feel like a bit of a wuss for doing so! Maybe I am ashamed? Maybe I’m afraid of being considered a freak? I generally like to think of myself as a fairly balanced individual (although slightly insane) and I’m not one who likes ‘real life’ violence, but give me a virtual weapon and I’ll enjoy a good slaying!
I’ve found that many of the people who complain about the violence in video games are actually turned off by their competitive nature, not by their explicit gore…Those people also haven’t tried open-world games like Animal Crossing, with total freedom about what you do in it and not as overwhelming as a PC game like the Sims.
Next time, ask them what kind of movies they usually enjoy. And ask them to explain why they enjoy movies with violence, but are seriously shocked when you enjoy games with violence.If you are persistent enough, and can dodge stupid answers like “But in games *you* perform the violence”, you can usually get them stuck in circle arguments and poor logic.It might even be a fun exercise, espescially with people with slight mental handicaps (i.e. most people)
A point that people so often forget when commenting on the excess of violence in video games is the stress release factor. “I have expunged my rampant desire to pound someone else’s face into mush by pounding on a virtual simulacrum, and now feel sanguine and calm.” By enacting such violent fantasies against an unfeeling electronic oponent we can free ourselves from the need to do the same to a real person. Transferred agression targeted at a computer game harms nobody. Now if only all the warmongers in the world could stop pitting real soldiers against one another and settle down for a game of ‘Command & Conquer’ to resolve their differences instead.