U.S. Culture and Video Games

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This comic is a perfect illustration of our country’s messed up culture when it comes to video games.  It’s very strange to me that we are generally so worried about representations of sex and sexuality, but it’s totally fine to blow people into a fine pink mist.  As much criticism as games like Grand Theft Auto get, things only ramp up when there’s some sort of discussion of the sex in the game.

As research shows, this is probably a bit of a backward attitude.  We should probably be more worried about the violence, and even about the particular manner it is portrayed in a given game.  Bloodless, cartoonish violence is probably more harmful in the long term than realistic violence.  This makes sense to me.  A long time ago, a game called Soldier of Fortune was released.  At the time, it was billed as the most realistic violence ever put in a video game.  The injuries of your opponents would change depending on where you hit them and with one weapon.  If it was not an instant-death wound, the men would often scream and wail.

It was the screaming and wailing that prevented me from ever playing the game more than a short time.  I never did finish it.  There’s a lesson there: when violence is portrayed realistically, it has more of an impact.  Soldier of Fortune had consequences, human consequences, to the in-game violence.  When the ‘gore’ in games is turned down so that all that happens when you shoot someone is that the victim falls over, that minimizes the impact.

In the end, I think that countries like Germany or Australia are a bit more rational in their approach.  While I think they take their censorship too far, they at least have their priorities straight.

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This page contains a single entry by Mackenzie published on September 7, 2008 7:07 AM.

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