An Unlikely Result From E3
"Physical love is unthinkable without violence."
- Milan Kundera
The largest gaming conference on the planet, E3, recently wrapped up its proceedings and the results could be considered confusing, to say the least.
Violence in video games has been a topic of discussion since, well, since the advent of violence in video games really. Frequently the discussion has been started by those who were opposed to the fact that the violence actually existed. This time the discussion originated from an unlikely source...the developers of the games.
Many developers, after seeing what the next generation of games had to offer, voiced their concern that it was becoming a worn out theme that was too far over the proverbial top. The fact that the violence was in the games didn't concern them as much as the fact that it is becoming a staple in the games, overpowering some of the more intricate themes and elements.
"We have to stop loving it. I just don't believe in the effects argument at all, but I do believe that we are fetishizing violence, and now in some cases actually combining it with an adolescent approach to sexuality. I just think it's in bad taste. Ultimately, I think it will cause us trouble."
-Warren Spector (Epic Mickey/Deus Ex)
"One encouraging thing from E3 this year was all the online comments questioning the senseless violence in some upcoming games."
-Ryan Payton (Halo 4)
"What's with the backlash over the fact that some of the games at E3 were 'ultra-violent?' There's room for all kinds of games out there. Most games that rely on the violence as a selling point and nothing else tend to rightfully fail."
-Cliff Bleszinski (Gears of War Franchise)
As a gamer, coming to terms with some of the internal backlash has been interesting. Attempting to separate the competitive edge gained by calling on a common detractor in video games and actual concern being the highlight of this process.
When it all boils down to it, I don't think violence in video games is avoidable. Entertainment platforms are created to immerse ourselves in aspects of life that exist but that we may not have the opportunity to participate in on a daily basis. Obviously, that doesn't mean that we all want to participate in world wars on a daily basis, but it doesn't erase the fact that violence is a major part of the human genome. Every single person on the planet is predisposed to aggression, some choose to control this urge, some do not.
To look at video games, a massive entertainment platform that allows you to participate in a multitude of amazing tales, and say that violence is far too prevalent is to discount the very nature of the beings that play them. Furthermore, people continue to love participating in it, feeding a primal urge that will never go away.
Now, this does not mean that violence should be the only artistic creation to come out of the industry, and that is where most of these guys are coming from. To that extent, I agree.
What are your thoughts on the matter?
(I would like to mention that I ask this question to people who actually play games, not to those who form opinions based on other opinions about something they have never experienced.)