Games and Violence

This week I have been reading up on games and violence, the effects debate. It’s a very interesting subject, to be honest. And it raised a lot of questions.

HitmanFirst of all, I don’t believe violent entertainment (or violent games) have any direct impact on violent behaviour. So that debate is something that is over for me personally. Yet I do think that violence in games in particular fulfils a certain need that the player has. It has a purpose, it has effects on the player. And I wonder what they are.

One of the articles I read said that these effects are the competition, challenges and achievements you get from violence. I do believe this, for instance, when I play WoW it’s not about violently slaughtering some mob, but about levelling up, gaining xp and accomplishing something with my party/guild. I’m not a very competitive person, so competition doesn’t play a big role for me. I always like playing the game more than winning!

But when I talked about this to one of my friends, he said some things that caused me to change my views about it. For instance, the effects that violence in WoW has on you might fulfil certain needs or have different purposes, but when I play Hitman I really honestly totally love to slaughter people. And it is all about how violent you can kill someone and I enjoy it very much. So violence must have different effects in different games. Maybe this relates to fantasy too, since Hitman is a ‘realistic’ game, with a realistic setting and WoW isn’t, it’s high-fantasy.

All the stuff I read led me to an interesting essay topic. Why do we need violence in videogames? I know that there are non-violent games out there, but don’t most of them involve some kind of violence? Even Me & My Katamari involves rolling up stuff, although I would consider it as a non-violent game, when you would do it in real life, it would cause people to die. Maybe that’s a bad example, since Me & My Katamari isn’t even marketed as a game. I think I read an article by Newman many months ago about marketing and games and he said that games need violence to be marketed. I think things are changing nowadays, though. Games sooner want emergent gameworlds than anything else.

In short, I don’t think we need violence in games anymore. I think violence has become very boring (although I still enjoy Hitman very much, but that’s a different sort of violence from your typical FPS) and outdated. I always emphasize that games need to reach their full potential and that they need to be more innovative. I think creating new ways to entertain the gamer for hours and hours would be a true innovation. To not let them slaughter mob after mob, but to let them do something else. Collecting flowers springs to mind. I would love a flower collecting game! Harvest Moon already does stuff like this.

I would love to dig more into this subject and look at what effects or rather what purpose violence has in game and how we can replace violence by other non-violent activities.

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