Violent Computer Games

“This video game is rated M for Mature.” That didn’t used to bother me much because on the computer, I knew I could just turn off the blood and gore. Make no mistake, it was still a violent game. Many animated goblins and trolls were hacked and slashed in the making of this hero…. I really, really like strategy and tactics, and for most game developers that means empire building, warfare, and combat. I’m not going to pontificate from the moral high ground. I play a variety of games a couple hours a day, and some of them are violent.

I believe the game developers go for the M rating because many serious gamers assume that only the M rated games are for them. Gamers shop for the M rating to get a complex, challenging game, so developers throw in a lot of garbage to get the rating. (See the movie post.) Maybe we could be better consumers here….

Most of the games I played three or four years ago allowed me to choose blood and gore like any other option. Allowing the gamer the choice seems like a good idea! If the gamer really wants to see the animated enemy’s head explode, okay, he or she can choose that. I’d rather turn that graphics option off, however.

The option to turn off the mess isn’t a complex programming graphical issue either. The same computer games include toggles for various other graphical issues. For example, I can toggle multiple source lighting, reflections, ripples on water, and smoke particles. Generally, these are a matter of realism or artistic quality versus processing power.

Clearly the game developers are making realism or aesthetic choices by putting out what they think their target demographic wants: gritty, gory realism as part of “serious” game play. Maybe there’s a lot of machismo in there, or a reaction to attempts to censor or condemn violence in games. (It’s an easy target for politicians.) Just as clearly, my personal solution is simple: don’t buy any more gory games unless they (at minimum) include an option to turn off the mess. I do somewhat miss ye olden days when the game-generated evil trolls just fell over with a minimum of fuss. It would be healthier if developers and gamers would press the delete key for the worst of the unnecessary garbage.

 

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