GTA, CoD Popularity Prove That Games Are Too Violent?
I am the first one to defend video games as both a legitimate entertainment medium and progressing and viable art form.
We have also objectively presented arguments concerning the effect of violent video games by routinely publishing study findings, and we've even interviewed one of the researchers who shed interesting light on the subject at hand.
However, outsiders are quick to judge based on the most popular products in the industry. And when that happens, the gamer's ammunition begins to run low (pun intended). The bottom line is that if you simply go by overall sales figures, it's abundantly clear that the most popular video games just so happen to be some of the most violent. Call of Duty is the biggest video game name in the world right now, and let's face it, the only purpose of the game is to kill people. Grand Theft Auto isn't much better and in truth, GTAV is probably the only game left this generation that could challenge a new CoD title for the sales crown.
While we will always have our great developers and visionaries like Quantic Dream's David Cage (who was quoted as saying guns take him right out of a story) and Thatgamecompany's Jenova Chen (flOw, Flower, Journey), there's no doubt that gamers tend to reward violence. It's true that quality tends to override the crap, which I still believe is a feather in this industry's cap, but when the mainstream only views that as "good quality killing vs. poor quality killing," we have a new set of hurdles and obstacles. There are plenty of amazing games where killing isn't necessarily the focal point, but they rarely seem to trump the games that do focus on violence.
So is it really that much of a reach to say that gaming is too violent? It isn't at all. It's more of a reach to say that "all games are violent" (which is flat-out untrue, but such generalizations can generate all sorts of negative implications), and innovation and advancement in the realm of interactive entertainment should continue. And in some cases, that progression won't involve guns or death. But as long as the top titles continue to be violent, we will continue to fight a losing battle against those who dislike the hobby. The most violent movies, books, and music aren't always atop the charts; schlock sells everywhere, but it doesn't have to be violent schlock in other industries. All kinds of junk sells.
Unfortunately for us, even when it's not junk, it's still violent in some capacity. Of course, the caveat is this: Who wants to play a game where we go gardening or pick up litter or something? Fantasy interaction generally involves things we can't do in real life, yes? So it's quite the conundrum...unless, of course, everyone just gets a lot smarter really fast and starts to appreciate - on a greater scale - games like Heavy Rain and Journey. And quite honestly, I'm not holding my breath.
4/8/2012 9:02:20 PM Ben Dutka