Editorial: How Violent Is Too Violent?
For the record, I accept Naughty Dog's explanation for the brutal violence on display in their upcoming game, The Last Of Us.
That being said, I'm just wondering if any of us really know where to draw the line anymore. Within a nation of perhaps the most desensitized individuals since Roman times, most over the age of 12 don't even flinch at the absolute worst depictions of horrid, gut-wrenching violence, be it in movies or video games. Even if the parents are strict and meticulous about what a kid sees, the media is relentless and despite the sad little ratings on TV shows (that really only tell an underage individual to, "Yeah, watch this!"), violence is everywhere. It's inevitable and unavoidable.
And of course, with every step, with every extra push of the envelope, more becomes accepted and worse, ingrained. So while it certainly makes sense for The Last Of Us to contain a fair amount of violence given the concept and setting, there are ways of portraying violence that would still convey the appropriate message without being gratuitous. When I was a kid, cameras used to cut away on TV and in movies. Now, people are actually mad if the camera cuts away, which I find exceedingly disturbing. It's almost as if we've gone beyond tolerating and accepting...it kinda feels like we're starting to crave it as a society. More bad news, obviously.
On top of which, movies and television are passive. Gaming is interactive, which could theoretically be more damaging as although we're not actually holding a gun, we essentially made the murder happen. And considering that murder is a cornerstone of this entertainment medium - death has been ridiculously marginalized to the point where it means absolutely nothing in games - one has to wonder...where's the line? And isn't there a damn good chance that we've already passed it?
10/12/2012 Ben Dutka