Thursday, December 2, 2010

Violent Video Games


A video game without violence is like a movie without explosions, it's just not the same. I love violent video games. In my opinion there isn't a better gaming experience than brutally murdering your opponents in an online game such as Halo 3, or Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood. Many people who play video games want violence in their entertainment experience. Kids want violent video games, but parents usually don't want their kids exposed to virtual blood and gore. As the video game industry keeps expanding, so to do the types of games being created. The Nintendo Wii and DS systems have become very popular amongst people who previously haven't been into playing video games. This casual market of gamers usually buy non-violent games. The majority of "hardcore" games are targeted towards young males (who, instinctively crave violence). Recently the video game, Call of Duty: Black Ops, set a record for making over $560 million dollars in only five days. The call of Duty franchise is well know as a first-person shooter franchise, which revolves entirely around shooting and killing. It's not surprising that other game developers try to reach the same level of success by creating other first-person shooters that are usually very popular.

From a Few Pixels... To HD Guts

The first controversial "violent" video game, Death Race, came out in 1976. The object of the game was to run over blobs of pixels that mildly resembled people. When Doom and Mortal Kombat were released in the early 90s there was even more concern about their violent content. This concern was due to the increased availability of the games, as well as the more realistic graphics (compared with older video games). The ESRB was founded in 1994 as a way to monitor and rate game content. Games are becoming increasingly more realistic. Instead of running over "people" made of a few pixels in Death Race, we can now pull out the intestines of our enemies in God of War 3. Mortal Kombat has always been violent, but the originals are nothing compared to the newest version of the game that has an "X-ray mode" that lets you see the character's bones breaking with extreme realism.



The ESRB

The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was established in 1994. The ESRB is responsible for rating the content of games based on a number of different factors (e.g., violence, sex, drug usage, language). Over 19,000 games have been rated by the ESRB by 2009. Almost every major game publisher uses the ESRB's rating system since most retail stores refuse to sell games that are not properly rated. The main reason for starting the ESRB was due to complaints from people (mostly concerned parents) in response to games such as Doom and Mortal Kombat (which any gamer will know are extremely violent). The main ratings are: Early Childhood (3+), Everyone (6+), Everyone 10+, Teen (13+), Mature (17+), Adult (18+). 'Rating Pending' is also used as a rating (usually only when the game is being advertised before being tested and released). 'Early Childhood' and 'Everyone' rated games may contain mild cartoon violence, but do not contain blood, gore, sexual content, nudity, gambling, drugs. 'Teen' games may contain more intense violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, blood, simulated gambling, and/or use of strong language. 'Mature' games (i.e., the good ones) have more intense violence, sexual content, and other things such as strong language. 'Adult' rated games are a lot rarer than the other ratings since most publishers refuse to publish them. There have only been 23 'adult' rated games published so far. The game Manhunt 2, was revised after receiving the rating (i.e., the developers had to make it less bloody and violent so that it would receive an M rating instead). Publishers don't like to sell adult only games since it is bad publicity (since there is usually controversy on the news about upcoming games that kids shouldn't play) and because parents simply won't buy them for heir kids (usually).


Chill Out Everyone

Is video game violence a bad thing? Well, it depends who you ask. If you ask me, Ill say "The more violent the better" (being the hardcore game lover that I am). Other people, such as Craig Anderson (a leader of the anti-violent video game movement), think that video games can cause aggression and violence in the people who play them. Many studies have found that violent video games do not lead to aggression in the individuals who play them. Other studies have found that playing violent games can be helpful be helping to release stress. This stress release is thought to be from the evolved 'need for violence'. Since society and morality say that it is bad to hurt people, than the 'craving for violence' needs an outlet, such as video games. Overall, nobody has proven that video games are more harmful to society than watching violent movies/ TV shows. As long as the ESRB is active and kids aren't allowed to play super violent game, then I don't see what all the fuss is about. Violence is the back bone of the gaming industry, and it's just plain old fun!

That does it for this week's blog. I'm off to go shoot some zombies!