Have Video Games Reached an Unacceptable Level of Violence?

Footage from the new Doom trailer is just...gross.

Footage from the new Doom trailer is just…gross.

When the original Mortal Kombat exploded onto the arcade scene back in the ’90s, gamers had really never seen anything like it before. The violence level was so amped up that it shocked just about everyone. Of course, this means impressionable and easily titillated teenagers flocked to the game and as a result, parents and various authority figures started to get antsy. Not too much later, we got the ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board).

We have it for the same reason movies have the MPAA. Those who choose to believe that exceedingly violent imagery has no impact on developing minds are simply choosing to be ignorant. Multiple studies concerning this subject have been conducted and the results have often been crystal clear. This is in regards to children, however, not well-adjusted adults. I’ve always wanted to see more studies about how violence affects fully-grown adults with no record of mental instability.

But anyway, aside from all of that, the question remains: Is it really necessary? Another question would be, “how much further can we push the envelope? Is there a line? Have we crossed it? Would we even know if we crossed it? What most considered “violent” in the media twenty years ago might be almost tame by today’s standards. The violence quotient appears to be ramping up with every passing year in gaming; this year, we saw the horrifically brutal Mortal Kombat X and today, there’s the arrival of Doom gameplay.

We even find unnecessary levels of violence in RPGs like The Witcher 3.

We even find unnecessary levels of violence in RPGs like The Witcher 3.

Both offer in-your-face gore that will make some cringe and others laugh. Both are supposed to be violent, of course, and both are not designed for children. That’s all well and good. I’m just starting to wonder when it stops or if we even know how to stop. The violence and overt, grotesque brutality has continued to rise over the years and one wonders if it does anything to increase our enjoyment of a game. And if it does, what does that say about us? We can call them stress-relievers, we can say we can easily distinguish fantasy from reality, and we can use ourselves as examples; i.e., “I played GTA at age 10 and I don’t run around killing people!”

All right. But put aside the possible negative effects for a moment. Are there any positive affects? Does any of this have any redeeming value whatsoever? What do decapitations and body mutilations have to do with entertainment? If we do consider it entertainment, isn’t that indicative of some sort of deeply entrenched societal issue? If we took it all away, would many gamers cease being entertained? If the answer to the latter question is yes, and the other answers remain in doubt, we may have a problem on our hands.

4 thoughts on “Have Video Games Reached an Unacceptable Level of Violence?”

I’d say they reached an unacceptable level years ago. When I was a kid, I thought it was sort of funny but I don’t really think it’s funny anymore. I mean, how many things are we going to sit there and laugh at? Things that our ancestors would’ve found horrifying and disgusting?

I think it’s a difficult question. The problem is that, as the article says, we don’t really know where the line is anymore.

Actually…what the industry is trying to tell us is that there IS no line.

And I’m not sure that’s right. In fact, I know it’s not.

I honestly don’t know. Maybe it’s more a question of whether or not we even need extreme violence in the first place, and whether or not parents can actually be parents.

Damn good question that.

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