Monday, July 04, 2005

Realistic Video Game Violence and Environments

"Anyone who clings to the historically untrue -- and -- thoroughly immoral doctrine that violence never solves anything I would advise to conjure up the ghosts of Napoleon Bonaparte and the Duke of Wellington and let them debate it. The ghost of Hitler would referee. Violence, naked force, has settled more issues in history than has any other factor; and the contrary opinion is wishful thinking at its worst. Breeds that forget this basic truth have always paid for it with their lives and their freedoms."
-Robert A. Heinlein
I did have a very interesting thought about video game violence while playing Battlefield 2. I realized that I never attached any real world significance to any of the killing I do in the game. Every time I kill an enemy the violence of the killing never occurs to me. Instead I find myself picturing some pimply faced 13 year old kid whining and complaining that I had ‘got him.’

I do however find myself attaching real world significance to the environment. There are houses, apartments, shops and billboards and I keep thinking about the people that used to live there. What happened to them? How would it feel to have your neighborhood become a war zone? You get the impression from a lot of the Middle Eastern maps that they have been getting blown up for years and years and yet there are also new, half completed construction projects. They keep getting blown up and they keep building new ones. The weedy brick path up to the TV station that is lined with palm trees, how long ago was that a brand new building? The half built damn that somebody must have thought was going to be a great boon to the area, will it ever get finished? What would it be like to live like that?

People keep going on about how the graphics are getting realistic and the violence is getting too real. But the realistic graphic violence isn’t turning me into a crazed killer, but rather getting me to think about the innocent victims of that violence and destruction.

It reminds me of a commercial that was on TV in the US a few years ago. It was for one of those ‘too violent for TV’ videos that showed real people getting killed and maimed. The commercial showed a few clips that cut away right before the gory part. One was of a woman about to cross a train track in front of an on coming train. That commercial proved to me that I have not become insensitive to violence because I could not watch that commercial. I had to turn away. Knowing that it was real, knowing that woman was about to actually be hit by that train was just too much.

Oh there was another one from about the same time. This one regarding child / spouse abuse. It just shows this little kid about 3 or 4 years old, sitting on the stairs in his house. In the background you can hear his drunken father yelling at his sobbing mother. Then you hear a loud ‘SMACK’ and the kid on the stairs starts dramatically at the sound. Oh man, that commercial got to me. Every time I saw it, even knowing it was coming, I would jump too and get this queasy lurch in my stomach. Wonder what they did when filming it to get the kid to jump like that. He is way too young to be acting.

There was a good deal of violence in video game links floating around this week too. One piece was written by a guy who went to school at Columbine when the shootings occurred who claims to have known both some of the victims as well as the two killers. I started to read it but unfortunately got distracted by work and never went back to it. The Slash Dot article that lead me to it also had a few reaction links to that article but I didn’t get a chance to read them either.

No comments: