Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Come See the Violence Inherent in the System!

For as long as I can remember, people have complained and given warnings about violence in games.

I think the debate is silly.
It's the same as the moral majority complaining about 'devil music', or D&D back in the 80's, or pornography, etc.  Unstable people will do unstable things: games and media don't create them this way.

But that's just my experience. I'm not a violent person.  I've only physically hurt people a few times, and those times were in self defense.  I am not cruel to animals, unless you count eating a hamburger cruelty.
I do not hunt animals and would derive no pleasure from doing so, but I can accept people who do if they need to eat: that is part of our evolution as a species after all.  In general I am against war, a borderline pacifist, and the current state of violence and oppression in the world makes me depressed.

I was raised with these ideals.  My grandmother who raised me made sure I had no military toys, no toy guns, etc. My favorite toys were plastic animals and Legos.

Yet here I am, having spent half my life playing with toy soldiers and it being my highest hobby love.  That makes me suspect that there is something instinctive in the human psyche that is geared toward tactical violence.  We enjoy it because it is an instinct that was needed for survival.  We 'play' at this, much the same way kittens bat at string and chase laser pointers: it is play, but behind it are the deadly instincts that are hardwired into the DNA for survival.  So I'm convinced that wargames are good wholesome fun.  No one would look at a dog chasing a frisbee and say "what an aggressive unstable animal" just because he plays, using his hunting instincts.

I was thinking about all this from watching this video.
Ironically, one of my favorite 'approved' non-violent toys of childhood.
I don't think my grandmother would approve, but I think I understand more where this comes from and what it means- and doesn't mean.



Brent Wescott said...

This is an interesting post. I, too, am pretty much a pacifist. I don't play many video games, but a good action movie can fill me with glee much more than watching an episode of Glee. I used to not like that I liked those kinds of films, but then I went with it and accepted that it's okay. I'm not going to go out and hurt people because I think Die Hard is cool.

Anonymous said...

As long as media has been going, there is always someone somewhere saying comics, music, television and now games causes violence. Truth be told I don't buy it, however games do influence us don't make any mistake about that.

I wonder if you watched Extra Credits on propaganda games? If you haven't, try and find it.

Laughing Ferret said...

I tracked down that episode R.gers, thanks! Very interesting. I don't play video games really, a few computer games- never heard of the horrible games they mentioned before. Maybe I give people too much credit for having awareness and resistance to propaganda. But yes, I do agree games can influence, in that they're part of our social experience in general, which is how we create and transmit culture: our environment shapes us: it's in our nature for it to do so. But I still think the effect is a small one and easily mitigated by an aware mind and a healthy dose of reality like "this is just a game" or "this is just a movie", etc. and a simple question like "does this have any bearing on reality?" If a person can become violent and unstable from cultural forces shaping him that way, if he wasn't already predisposed to be that way, then of all the aspects of society that might mold that, I think games is a very minor one for the most part.

The specific case of intentional propaganda is a scary one: maybe nothing scares me more than a power growing by the corruption of individual mind & will of a population...brings up images of 1984.

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