Violence in Games: We Are Lazy Bastards

by Darius Kazemi on March 25, 2005

in Uncategorized

So it looks like the media is once again blaming a school shooting on video games. But unlike other games bloggers, who will vehemently defend any content whatsoever and accept absolutely no blame, I do think the arguments hold some merit.

A hugely disproportionate number of video games are about killing. Why do we love to model killing in our games? I tend to agree with Chris Crawford, who says that (a) violence sells, and (b) killing is incredibly easy to model. Killing is largely deterministic; that’s something we already know how to do in games. Killing is a solved problem.

Of interest are the games that were made at Indie Game Jam 2, which used physics to model something other than bodies flopping around (though Mahk did his share of that, too). Also of interest are the games produced by some of my friends at Carnegie Mellon’s ETC, these are rapidly developed experimental games that do a brilliant job of using physics and other deterministic conventions to make wonderful games that are (mostly) not about killing.


Craig Perko March 25, 2005 at 5:07 pm

I feel like a stalker. You keep posting things I have opinions on.

Memes, whether introduced by games or other forms of media, are extremely powerful contagions. There have been dozens of largely-suppressed reports on the matter – whole countries have had rashes of suicides due to a glorification of suicide in the media. I don’t know why shootings would be any different.

Here’s a quick read on the subject, especially as pertains to suicides. He’s a bit pompous, but, then so am I. :)

solipsistnation March 27, 2005 at 1:32 pm

I’ve been playing Calendra’s Legacy, a huge and beautiful Thief II mod.

In the first level, it goes beyond not killing people and well into not even knocking people out or being seen by the guards. (Random citizens wouldn’t recognize you as a MASTER THIEF, but guards, by now, know who you are…)

Darren Torpey March 28, 2005 at 5:52 am

Man, you know this is one of the biggest topics for me. It’s essentially what started this whole “Garden” concept for me. I’m sick and tired of all my games being about destruction. It’s really boring for one thing, and it can’t be good for my general well-being as a peaceful member of many societies for another.

Craig’s tendency to talk about his boredome with games has been getting me thinking about this again lately in a slightly different light, actually.

I mean think about it: how boring is it to be presented with scene after scene of things to destroy when ultimately nothing is ever accomplished? To echo Earnest Adams, I say “Screw the princess — saving her won’t do any good. I’ll just kill 50, maybe 60 (thousand) people, then she’ll be all thankful, and then a hundred years later it will all start over again.” YAAAAAWN.

I can put up with this only when it’s done with mastery, as in the Zelda games. But seriously, how many ninja’s-kidnapping-the-president plots can we deal with before we just stop caring? You’d almost think that more game developers would be trying to satirize our old cliches the way they just get so out of control….

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