Is the Concern Over Video Game Violence Valid?

By: Dan Teesdale

When this debate comes up I notice hard headed advocates on both sides. I usually find that very little critical reason or thought goes along with their opinions. So I decided to examine my own opinion further, and try to come about the complexities of the topic. It certainly is a debate that is ever-changing, just as the graphics in the video game industry increases. The violence for the most part remains steady. Games from years in the past featured brutally killing each other and such, but now it looks more real. Is concern over this correlation valid?
Firstly, the advocates that say it is no problem at all cite that as adults, they see a clear separation of video games and real life. While they may chainsaw someone in Gears of War they assure us those same impulses are silenced when they are chopping wood at their construction site. An interesting topic to examine is why we enjoy killing someone in a game. Why we enjoy running away from cops in Grand Theft Auto IV, or even killing them.

Perhaps we will not like the results of such a study, but such an examination is crucial. Maybe it excites some inner desire in us, some exotic foreign evil desire that is chained and netted by society. Perhaps it is helpful that these restricted desires find some harmless release. Nevertheless, the advocates of video game violence cite that they can tell the difference. This is an obvious fact, for the vast majority of the people that play violent video games live everyday family oriented lives. The social conservatives lashing out for restrictions would not even be able to recognize those they are against.
However, I see the debate growing in complexity when the distinction the advocates for video game violence cite diminishes. I mean this by the increase in the graphical capacity we have seen in video games as of late. Certainly, the realism is not there yet as we clearly see characters that are not up to par with even 1995 CGI standards. However, let's take a step in the future for a second. What if, just as CGI has grown, video game graphics grow to the point where we can't see the difference between it and real life? How does the distinction between the game and real life change then? Would an advocate of video game violence be fine blasting off the head of an all too real innocent civilian? The complexity grows. You may cite the violence in movies (real looking gore) that already exist today and perhaps do not show a problem. The difference is we are observers of that violence and receive correlating emotions; it does not excite the same drives as doing the violence.
I think it's obvious as the graphics continue to increase in video games the complexity of the debate will grow as the distinction between video games and real life will diminish. As an avid video game, I of course enjoy games such as Gears of War and the soon Gears of War 2. I just hope that my fellow gamers will relinquish their hard headed opinions and think about the complexities of the debate.

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