There’s a man in our office, let’s call him Danny. Because his name is actually Danny.
Danny plays a lot of FIFA. He’s actually quite good at FIFA. Danny is also one of the gentlest human beings I’ve ever met. Softly spoken. Lovely. Nice. Cordial. These are words you would use to describe Danny in everyday life.
Here are some words you might use to describe Danny when he’s losing a game of FIFA: angry, homicidal, constantly on the brink of unspeakably violent acts. True fact: Danny has broken controllers whilst playing FIFA online. More than one.
Here is the truth that dare not speak its name: video games often make us feel a little violent.
At the very least they often make us a little angry — but not for the reasons we’re used to reading about in mainstream media. None of us have committed virtual acts of violence and thought, “hmmm, that seems like a great idea, I should try that in real life”. Video games are not ‘murder simulators’, they don’t train you for violence. Grand Theft Auto has never made me feel violent. Not even close. Games like Grand Theft Auto are more likely to make me feel relaxed. You hit the off-switch, dissolve into a new universe with a specific set of rules. You are in control. Active meditation. Video games as down time.
No, video games are more likely to make us feel violent in the way sports make us feel violent. A closely contested soccer match might end in fisticuffs; all it takes is a poorly timed tackle or one bad refereeing decision. When things get competitive tensions ramp up. Egos are at stake, bragging rights – all that macho bullshit. Same goes with online multiplayer games.
This is why there’s a high chance of logging on to, say, Call of Duty and getting verbally reamed for missing a couple of shots. Not fun. Not fun at all. A huge barrier to entry. No-one likes to be shouted at or abused.