A massive of amount of games released deal with the themes of violence and war. From epic strategy games where thousands of troops march across a huge battlefield, to shooters where the player controls a single combatant and must move through a level fighting off Nazis/monsters/aliens, to hack and slash games like Darksiders where the player’s own character is named “War”, one of the horsemen of the apocalypse, as a bitter battle between the Angels of Heaven and the Demons of Hell plays out, violence plays a huge part in gaming.
A standard game… Thousands of people about to die!
Many people from politicians, to lawyers, to priests, try to ban these violent games. On the surface, I can see their point, though I disagree with banning outright. These are brutally violent games, showing murder and assault, among other crimes, in extremely gory detail. It’s seems perfectly logical to me that there should be a genuine discussion on how restricted such games are. Obviously, no one wants their young child, sibling or cousin playing such inappropriate games.
However, a little bit of research usually reveals these people are generally clueless or have an ulterior motive. The politician I linked claimed a murderer was inspired by the game “Manhunt”, despite the police report clearly stating it was the VICTIM that owned the game. The lawyer was disbarred by the Florida Supreme Court for lawsuits “repetitive, frivolous and insulting to the integrity of the court”. The church in Manchester complained about the game “Resistance” encouraging real life gun crime in the city, despite the game being set in a fictional 1950’s Manchester overrun with aliens!
On the other hand, any time I see someone arguing that game violence is fine, their argument is usually “It’s only a game, get over it!”. Well, to me this isn’t good enough. Since they are the ones making the claims about violent games, how about asking for evidence, for facts, for psychological studies, for anything other than last-minute video game blame from murderers? At the same time, we should provide our own calm, logical arguments. For example, how much damage is done, and how many millions of people die every year from alcohol or tobacco abuse, yet there’s no talk of banning them? Society has gone through phases of demonising rap, heavy metal, violent movies, rock and roll, etc. Generally this talk comes from people who seem to know everything while proving nothing. Well, prove away!
Both sides, the one calling for games to burnt at the stake and the one smugly stating that games are all perfectly fine, need to shut up a bit, to be honest. I get the feeling there are a lot of moderate people who want to learn more and contribute, but just see idiotic extremists representing both sides of the argument and don’t bother getting involved.
For example, my mother used to hate me playing violent games and try to stop me. That didn’t end very well, I’d always find a way around. Eventually, she sat down and watched me play. She saw that I could play games such as Mario as easily as Mortal Kombat or Grand Theft Auto. I explained we play games for fun and enjoyment, and yes, a bloodily brutal action game can be great fun. But so can a happy game about jumping through colourful lands, aka Mario or Sonic.
No, this isn’t Mario or Sonic…
Just like any other medium, games vary wildly. Movies range from gory Saw to classic Citizen Kane to sappy romcom You’ve Got Mail. Music ranges from insane death metal about burning churches, to Mozart, to the freaking Jonas Brothers. And as for books, there’s probably more violence, rape and death in the Bible than in the average video game. Seriously, go read it. How about the fun part where God murders the entire planet except for Noah and his family on their boat?
So, I think it is extremely unfair for games to be singled out. Banning a game is hilarious to me. It’s saying it’s not suitable for adults. So, it’s your 18th birthday. To the government, you are old enough to buy a car and drive it. Buy a house and live in it. Work at a job. Pay taxes. Have sex. Get married. Have kids. Own a gun. Drink vodka. Smoke cigars. Play with a chainsaw. Vote for the very people who run the country. If we lived in USA or UK, we’d be old enough to join the army, go to Iraq/Afghanistan, shoot up some people, get our leg blown off by a mine, and be flown back home as a life long cripple. But not quite old enough to play a virtual simulation of these events
So, as unpleasant as my mother might find a bloody killing game like Manhunt, or how disgusted I might feel at the thoughts of a Japanese rape simulator, there is really no logical reason to ban them in my view. Restrict them by all means, to 18s and above. Ban ads, like they do for tobacco. Make retailers look for ID, sure. Educate people about the different levels of violence in games. Put parental controls on the consoles, as there already are on some. But please forget about banning, forget about these “crusades to save the children”, and stop with the lies and misinformation.
It’s time to accept that games are growing up, that millions of adults play them, that there will be bloody murder, hardcore sex, and other “shocking scenes” that have been present in other media for hundreds, if not thousands, of years! Protect the children by all means, but at the same time accept that we as adults can choose what we like ourselves, we don’t need the government choosing our entertainment for us, and we certainly don’t need everything reduced to a censored, bland, grey, politically correct mush, which offends no one and is enjoyed by no one!