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Sex, Drugs and Decapitations

Questioning the vices of video games

Sex, Drugs and Decapitations

Continued…

The violence in these games exists solely to make you squeal with glee. In many ways, this theme is evident across contemporary media. Violence has become glamorised and romanticised, viewed behind a sheen of detachment and distance. What began as a means to understand or cope with a complicated world has increasingly became an escape from that same world we couldn’t deal with as children. The collective imagination that is the media creates increasingly adult pieces of fiction to help us deal with the same problems that have always haunted us. What’s presented has grown up but its presentation and tone remain childish. These two realities don’t mesh and this results in a trivialisation of what is ultimately graphic violence. Things that would horrify us in reality exist in the digital realm “just for fun”. This reason is justifiable for many of us simply because games have always been “just for fun”. At what point did our perceptions of fun change so much?

This is the aspect of gaming that needs to be challenged. If video games, mainstream or otherwise, wish to be viewed as mature more then the content needs to be considered. The point and motivation are just as, if not more important. Are games adult entertainment or are they modern realisations of the Roman Colosseum made digital and socially acceptable? Does the violence of Call of Duty bring forth the crushing realities of war and make us question our actions, or is its goal to recreate childhood fantasies and act as an outlet for aggressions?

Outlets are important for children and sure enough, they may pose importance in today’s society for adults. However, the conversation cannot stop there. The content of contemporary video games raises important questions about the way we think and live. If we still require fictional avatars to grapple with very real, very human feelings then what are we doing to change that? Perhaps it’s time that we as a civilised society begin to look at the aspects of ourselves we’re uncomfortable with and begin to deal with them in direct, responsible ways. Perhaps it’s time we start to question what purposes the games we play serve and what they mean, both for us as a culture and in a broader social context.

The truth of it all

Video game culture is not mature – it’s old, but it’s not mature. But it is maturing. Part of that process is becoming critical of what’s around us. Simply looking at the possible impacts a genre may have on children isn’t enough to do that. We must look at that genre’s impact on us as adults, our impact on those games and how that interaction fits in with media as a whole. As gaming grows and becomes increasingly mainstream, that interaction will become increasingly important. Do we game in part because we’re attempting to deal with aspects of the world that confuse or terrify us? Or is it all “just for fun”? There’s an element to our pastime that we’ve long ignored. It may be because the hobby has grown alongside us to the point of becoming routine. It may be because we’ve simply never had to bother looking at it, or because our attention has been elsewhere. What’s important is that we start figuring out the “Why?” beyond shallow answers.

Video games are at a crossroads. They’re no longer relegated to the fringes of popular culture and the perception of video games being just for children is slipping away daily. Video games and the culture surrounding them is caught between what they are and what we want them to be. Are they to remain as they are, or are they to grow, develop and evolve into something more? There’s no one answer to that, or to any of the questions I’ve posed. But it’s time we start looking at what those answers may be, no matter how difficult that may be. To do so would position video games in a broader social sphere. Video games aren’t “just for fun”. The interactive nature of video games may make them the most pressing and immediate example of the normalisation of violence in today’s society – we are in the experience in a way television and movies simply cannot replicate, particularly when combined with the greater freedom developers have. Video game culture was removed from popular culture for a long time; it’s now up to us to decide if we want to be just another victim of that culture or become something above it.

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4 Comments

    Last I checked the top selling games of last year where roughly 50:50 decapitation and karaoke.

    Sure violence is bad mkay,

    but i’m not sure it is actually worse than karaoke.

  • Amen to both the article and to kriss’ comment. Karaoke needs to be confined to real, drunken outings.

  • One memorable night out I remember demanding that my friends found me a karaoke bar. It wasn’t to be though :(

    /tangent

  • *Gasp* An Aussie! Squee!

    Good article, I hope the next meeting of the Attorneys-General will end in a review of the classification system in our country. Because as it stands, it’s redonkulous.

    And I don’t use that word unless I really have to.

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