Through years of gaming, we've probably killed more pixelated characters than we can count. Does any one of these virtual kills profoundly affect us, or is it just another notch on the scoreboard?
I think it's a sign of a powerful experience if we do feel the viscerity of our actions. Whether or not the ensuing desensitization to violence is good for us or not has yet to be proven.
I think video game violence affects different people in different ways, however. Some people are more sensitive to it than others.
It's not that developers can't make games without violence. It's that violent games, particularly first person shooters, are what sells. Weapon sounds, blood splatter effects, and death animations are always more discussed than character development. The Sims has been a very successful franchise, but even with a game like that people take great pride in coming up with creative ways to torture and kill their sims. People are animals... face it. Hopefully more developers will see games like Heavy Rain and want to try their hand at something similar, but shooters and other violent games will dominate the market for a long time to come.
Remember those crazy Germans who wired up a pinball or foosball or whatever machine to shock the loser? Crazy Germans.
Wait, what? Do you have a link to that??
IGN published an article just like this recently, that video game violence should affect us. It's like someone who rallied against the "VIDEO GAMES KILL!" argument looked at their collection and took an objective look at their collection and said "Yeah, these are pretty violent...wow, I play these?" Yeah, ya do. And it's okay, because video games aren't real. If Rockstar said that for every NPC killed in GTA, they'd step out onto the street and shoot someone, then we might feel bad. There are no real-life consequences for violence in games as long as the violence stays in the game. And there shouldn't be.
The concept that "playing" a violent video game might induce violent thoughts or behavior is an interesting one....the answer does seem obvious. But what if "playing" isn't what's really happening? An analogy or two: a glance at my bookshelf reveals several "violent games" disguised as books. There's Shakespeare's Hamlet (whole lotta killin' going on there), King Lear (eyeballs gouged out), Voltaire's Candide (those thousands of deaths produce lots of gut-busting laughs) and so on. Does the very presence of these "diversions" on my shelf indicate a predisposition to violence? Did their creators simply pander to their audience's desire for such violence? Is the violence itself the main issue? If I'm a writer and I create violent characters and scenes, am I promoting violent behavior in my readers? Is that my intent? As for the question (or distinction) about "first-person" perspective, that might be an interesting path to follow as well. In literature, readers tend to "place" themselves into the action in order to experience the story from a "first-person" perspective. But as readers, we're not doing the "shooting." We can participate in the action without killing. Finally, what about Sci-Fi/Horror like H.P. Lovecraft? Lovecraft's stories create very realistic "worlds" where many bad things happen, and this tends to be quite interesting to the "players" (readers), but in most cases, the readers (and the protagonists in the tales) are not "first-person shooters." Most of the time, these fascinating characters are quite doomed, and it is their descent from a "normal" world into horror, chaos, and death that provides the "entertainment."
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