Friday night topic: Why are games so violent?


— 5:31 PM on December 28, 2012

This evening's topic comes from TR reader "tootercomputer," who writes:

Hi Scott. In your most recent etc. column, you talked about a couple of games. I made a comment about wishing the game makers could come up with creative games rich with great graphics. I expected to get beat up pretty gad for the comment, but as of this writing I have a +3 rating. But this is not about me. I still would like to see some discussion about the state of gaming, and that the best games with the most demanding and richest graphics like Far Cry 3 all involve violence and shooting or otherwise killing other people. It really amazes me that so much time, technology, engineering, creativity, and money go into personal recreation that focuses on the simulated killing of others, including graphic gore. Stepping back, it just seems so absurd. And I have no doubt that there is going to be a great deal of scrutiny on the subject of violent games in the next few months. Bottom line: how much time each week do we want our children playing graphic games that simulate violence and killing?

There always will be a market for this, and so be it. They should not be banned. But where are the other games that can push my system? Where are the other graphic-rich games (if you cannot tell, I totally adore high-end PC graphics) that can sustain my son's interest for hours on end? There are not many. And that is very frustrating as a parent and a PC enthusiast of many years.

Now, I very much enjoy the latest games, especially shooters, but I don't think there's any denying he has a point. The big-name PC games overwhelmingly depict violence as part of the experience they offer, often quite graphically.

I often wonder whether too much of PC gaming is stuck in a ghetto where both game developers and consumers are almost exclusively men, most of them young, with a certain set of sensibilities. Is there some reason why so many games need to look and feel like a Tarantino flick? Even shooters are possible without the fiction of violence; Shootmania turns the FPS into a sport, which is what it really is, anyhow. Wouldn't we be better off with less gore and more variety? Or would any such movement somehow sap the life out of the experience?

Discuss.

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