The Kind of Video Game Violence That Disturbs Me

by Rachel Baker on October 19, 2014

This is an incredibly well-written review of not exactly a game, but of the video game violence culture and what is going ‘too far’ and what isn’t.

While so much commentary is making its way into the mainstream media about the social and often times political statements (or lack of) in video games, I think articles like this are way more interesting and effective.

Its important to look at the industry as a whole. One can’t just pull out three second clips and go on a soapbox about who horrific the game is and the statement being made is racist or sexist or any of the other -ists. Its about the overall statement that all those things we think might be important – fame, glory, bangin’ the hot chic – in the end, they just get you killed (and obviously, I’m dumbing down the concept of the game, but its pretty much the basics).

Now, obviously, with 1,032 comments on the post, people had a lot to say. I didn’t read all of them; and frankly, I don’t care what others think. I’m not assessing the game, or the developer, or even the players. I don’t care if the game is ‘fundamentally dishonest’ and is a marketing gimmick.

I simply thought the article written by Nathan Grayson for Kotaku was a good example of the types of articles that should be written if we feel the need to discuss aspects of the video game industry that are concerning. Editor’s Note: I have quoted a much larger section than usual, because I wanted to get ‘the readers’ attention enough to go check out the whole article.

Read more: The Kind of Video Game Violence That Disturbs Me

However, I think the wider reaction to all of this says a lot about how we view violence in video games. Foremost, people like pretenses. Grand Theft Auto is often a parody—delivering many of its lines, if not its bullets, with tongue planted firmly in cheek—while Postal is a cartoon, albeit a sometimes tasteless one. Hatred, if nothing else, pretends to do away with all aspirations toward anything except violence fueled by senseless rage and hate. That is its creators of definition of pure “entertainment.” Death and misery.
Point number two is fidelity of the game’s graphics/animation and what they’re used to achieve. Hatred’s trailer lingers. In multiple instances it revels in the moment of the kill as the main character, for instance, sticks the barrel of a gun down a screaming woman’s throat and pulls the trigger. It details every element of that, each portion of the struggle, every feeble flail of arms and legs.

Video games have a habit of making violence seem “awesome” or “crazy” and upping realism in pursuit of that, but Hatred doesn’t only focus on the “coolness” of the kill. Rather its trailer shifts its gaze slightly to glorify fear—fear instilled in helpless victims, no less—and the power one person can exert over another with it.

That doesn’t feel quite so good or palatable. Humans are empathetic creatures. Very few of us enjoy seeing another person beg and plead for their life (some even prefer more abstract enemies like aliens or zombies), but Hatred asks us to feel good about that.

This article was written by: Rachel Baker – Click to Become a Patron or to follow on Twitter.

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