Violence has ingrained itself in our culture, since the dawn of man, so naturally as entertainment progressed it made its way into gaming.
For over 30 years games have been a huge part of the entertainment industry. Just as rock music and violent films were analysed on their psychological impact, so gaming is now. While intended to be an enjoyable experience a lot has been said for both sides in the video game violence controversy.
According to a study in 2008 by the Entertainment Software Association, genres with the highest sales were action making up 20% and family entertainment making up 19.3%. The Shooter genre, considered to be the most violent form of gaming, surprisingly only made up 10.9% in the study, being beaten out for third place by Sports Games which made up 15.3%.
Above: Entertainment Software Association’s 2008 top selling game genres study
Study after study has been carried out in order to discern whether there is any link between virtual violence and violence in the real world. However, there has still been no conclusive evidence that has been wholly accepted by experts in the field; some saying there isn’t enough evidence to confirm any findings and some who believe they have found a definitive link.
Nintendo game designer and producer, Shigeru Miyamoto once said “video games are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock and roll.” This is a view shared by many who work in the games industry. It has not been uncommon for new popular forms of entertainment to be vilified by more traditional media throughout history.
Above: Shigeru Miyamoto talking at one of Nintendo’s conferences – Credit unknown
Demetri Martin, an American comedian, used this point during one of his routines; “I like video games, but they’re really violent. I’d like to play a video game where you help the people who were shot in all the other games. It’d be called ‘Really Busy Hospital”. He makes a good point, video games have been getting increasingly violent as technology has progressed, and while enjoyable to play the objective nature of gaming has shifted more towards killing, which could cause desensitisation to those playing these games.
Violence and killing have become very much the norm for many AAA gaming releases in recent years, however this is not to say that every game revolves around this aspect. Many indie games that have reached popularity have a much less destructive focus, a prime example of this is the Indie titan Minecraft whose aim is based more so around surviving and creativity rather than violence.
Many of those who have grown up playing video games are of the opinion that gaming does not have any influence on violent or aggressive behaviour. However, those of the older generation who are not interested in gaming are often of a very different disposition. Which often leads to this butting of heads with both sides not fully understanding the perspectives of others.
Whether for better or worse video game violence shows no sign of going anywhere anytime soon and will continue to be a part of gaming.
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