Violence in Video Games: A Perspective

Yes, this is a post about video game violence. No, it’s not one from an overly-concerned parent. In all honesty, it’s just from a regular video gamer who recognizes the over abundance of blood-splattering shooters on the market right now.

Video gaming started off with stuff as simple as Pac-Man, a little yellow disc eating even smaller glowing circles. Zoom forward a couple decades, and now Pac-Man would be an HD M Rated game about a giant yellow Predator mercilessly stabbing ghosts’ intestines out. Forgive me if I tarnished a couple of childhood memories there, but let’s get real: violence in video games is becoming about as common as sugar in cake.

Heck, things weren’t this ridiculous as little as four years back. The Wii was the acme of gaming, harmless platformers like Mario and Sonic were dominating gaming shelves in every household, and the gaming scene was one that parents and kids alike could get behind and enjoy. But as time went on, the Wii began to show its age, and the Xbox 360/PS3 started adopting these younger gamers who were so keen to keep up with technology. Sadly, they were brought into this generation when titles like Call of Duty were becoming blockbusters. That brings us to the modern day, where swarms of kids who have yet to hit puberty are dismembering limbs with shotguns on high-definition screens.

This is all due to the basic desire to evolve and improve technology, that much is fact. My personal opinion on why violence became the primary theme in gaming today? Because the fall of the Wii literally paved the road for young gamers to jump to adult oriented consoles like Microsoft’s and Sony’s.

The Wii really brought a lot of fun, friendly titles to the table. Nintendo was spewing out some REALLY fun titles (think New Super Mario Bros. with friends), and third party developers like SEGA were making classics like Sonic and the Secret Rings (I freakin’ love that game). It was a good, E for everybody time and there was some solid fun to be had. Developers recognized this, and were appealing to the kid crowd assuming that these types of games were the only ones young children would play. Sadly, when the Wii started its descent into obscurity, no one could’ve anticipated how many kids made the jump to HD consoles.

When they reached these consoles, flagship titles like Gears of War, Halo and God of War were dominating the market. They had pretty graphics, fun gameplay and everything essential to a good game, but also an extreme abundance of blood and gore. Parents, not understanding the video game medium, and kids, having nothing else to play with their new consoles, started playing this stuff, and developers of these mature titles saw their sales numbers going up. So why take a gamble and try to develop a kid-friendly game when kids will just as easily play the Darkness 2 along with a gazillion other adult gamers? Why try and make a game as friendly and creative as Rayman Origins when Call of Duty 17 would sell just as well with a lot less effort? These were questions with no logical answers from a sales viewpoint, and so we got exactly what we demanded: More games of a violent nature.

And so we arrive back at the present day, where one out of every three games released is a shooter. I am NOT saying on ANY front that video games are a cause for stuff like the situation in Conneticut, and I’m deeply offended when the media stresses that a psychotic lunatic is also a known “gamer”. I mean, that’s like pointing out Hitler might’ve been a painter. Does it have ANY relevance to what he did? No. So the media can go to hell. But what I am saying is that gaming would get a far better reputation if Treyarch put a little money into developing a more family friendly title, instead of spamming Call of Duty titles every year. The game could be just as entertaining and fun, it would just forego the splattered hearts and brains. I will personally admit, I’ve been known to get a hell of a lot of enjoyment out of titles like Vanquish where swearing and blood-splats are frequent, but I’m one hundred percent behind moving away from titles like that in favor of more Rayman Origins-esque fun, as long as it gets the industry away from the oversaturation of mature games it currently has.

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