The topic of ages: Video game violence?

It has been discussed since the dawn of games like Grand Theft Auto, with its obscure sandbox-like gameplay about being a criminal in the urban metropolis: Liberty city. And the gaming industry didn’t let those the new possibilities go pass without ‘abusing’ them to match the market. Back then, those bloody pixels wasn’t a target of verbal annihilation for concerned parent, or at least not as heavy as it is today, but as we walked over the border from 2D to 3D; things blew up.

Of course there’s notable examples as the classic Wolfenstein 3D, which was armed with a rather obscure storyline that allowed the player to actually kill Hitler, but the main example I want to focus on is Manhunt. Manhunt is a third-person stealth horror game, and it is easily the most gory game series for the Playstation 2 I’ve seen so far. It was even gory enough to get banned in New Zealand and Australia, even though it was marked as a “15+” game before it was banned in Australia. Manhunt is also a violation of § 131 StGB in Germany, and yet it was the country where I got my hands on the game, kinda ironic. Anyways: When Manhunt hit the stores back in October 2007, it quickly became the media’s punching bag and was accused for being the catalyst of a number of murders. The media quickly jumped to conclusions with this new and ‘vile’ game. Things like “Police reject game link to murder”, “Game blamed for hammer murder” and “The murder of a 14-year-old boy was game’s fault”  Though that wasn’t enough to stop the teenagers and young adults of UK from buying the exciting collection of sinister pixels.

That should be enough information to state my subjective opinion.

I know it isn’t that serious as it sound, or well, the murders are serious yes, but not the game itself. It’s like blaming the bullet in the skull of a dead man, and not the human behind the trigger. The media are blowing a fiery wind at the fire, with the intention of getting a new shocking reason and false truth behind any tragic event. Then the innocent parents are sitting home  in front of the tv, in all their ignorance, and listening to journalists, reporters, psychologists and what not, talking about the vile, nefarious nature of video games. Sure, if I didn’t have a living clue about games, I would also be worried for my children. (Please note that I don’t have any children) It’s easy to make the games seem like the villain, especially you don’t know better, but banning the game will only get the young more curious.

I must admit that I love video games, and I think that they play a huge part in the social and emotional evolution of children, but I don’t consider them dangerous. But again, it’s hard to talk about some of the mainstream games without realizing how grotesque it actually is. Taking an overly popular game like Call of duty, you’ll see children down to ages of 10 playing, even though the PEGI mark clearly says either 16+ or 18+. (I’ll discuss my relationship with PEGI another time) And these modern shooting games aren’t all that family friendly. I’m also mentioning this as a site note, that games like these are not only meant for kids with their level of gore, but the game itself isn’t designed for ten-year old kids either, which means that the kids way of playing the game online, is against the way more mature gamers plays it, and that is very annoying for anyone who expects to play with decent people.

I don’t think children see these violent things as clearly, or rather, it just isn’t what matters in their universe, especially not when it comes to competitive games. I’m not saying that parents should let their children play games like Manhunt, but they shouldn’t be afraid of their kids becoming something they aren’t already.

So all in all, I think that the mature society are making a way to big deal out of games, and adults should protect their kids of course, but they should know their “enemy” before making any unnecessary accusations. They should simply bear in mind; that maybe the game is violent, but that doesn’t mean it’s dangerous.

-Jonas Christensen
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