Back to Reality: Video Games ≠ Violence

The date was the 14th May 2010. The critically acclaimed psychological horror video game Alan Wake had just been released here in the UK. I had it right there in my hands, and was ready to throw money at the tall, attractive guy behind the counter at my local Gamestation. There was a kid and his father in front of me.

“You definitely sure this is what you want?” He asked to his child, in front of the cashier. What a smart move. The kid excitedly nodded and the father handed over the game and his debit card. The game in question was Call of Duty: Black Ops. Surely, the store assistant was not going to sell this to the obviously under-age child just because his father was buying it for him? I was wrong. Father and son both left the game store as satisfied customers.

I handed over my game eagerly, ready to just get the hell home and play something I’d been waiting for since its initial announcement. The young man gave me a hesitant look and glanced at the game. It was then that he dropped a nuclear bomb. “Do you have any ID on you?” He suddenly wasn’t so attractive anymore.

Alan Wake was rated 15. At the time it was released I was the grand age of twenty-five, and was beyond certain that it was painstakingly obvious I did not look like a fourteen year old.

it was painstakingly obvious I did not look like a fourteen year old.

I was also quite sure I would not be playing truant even if I was. I looked way too prudish for that. Apparently, it was a new policy for customers they had not seen come in before. Okay, bear in mind, he was a new staff member, and I’d probably visited the store about fifty thousand times since I’d moved to the area.

Hang on, scrap all that… hadn’t he just sold a copy of Black Ops to a kid who looked young enough to be my child? Furthermore, what was that child doing out of school? That really wasn’t my issue here, though, and embarrassingly I had to call my boyfriend at the time to come to Gamestation in order to buy the game for me.

Anyway, to the point. I realised that despite the fact that it was ludicrously easy for a small child to get his hands on an 18 rated first-person shooter, it was actually seriously surprising how times really hadn’t changed from when I a child and how my perspective on it had. The on-going argument of whether video games are linked to violence has been continuous since the 70’s, and as of yet there has never really been any real conclusion or flat-out evidence to back this theory up. However, my argument for the small kid getting his hands on Black Ops is slightly invalidated considering that at the age of fourteen, I was grossly investing time into the brutally disturbing first-person shooter Kingpin: Life of Crime. To me that game was highly addictive, as was popular open-world urban crime game Grand Theft Auto, simply because of their irreverent gameplay and unconventional style.

I have no recollection how any of these games came into my possession, because if I were to bring this up in conversation to my mother, she would retort, “I would never have let you play them if I’d known how violent they were.” Sadly, she still has trouble using her iPhone, so technology in general isn’t really her forte.

The whole argument surrounding video games and violence is somewhat bewildering to me. Though I don’t fully agree with children playing graphically violent first-person shooters where you can clean shoot an enemies head off, I have to speak out on behalf of these children as someone who clearly didn’t grow up to be the next Niko Bellic or James Earl Cash. Every case is individual and I feel disheartened when hearing the conclusion that violent video games increase aggressive thoughts, angry feelings, and aggressive behaviours, and decrease empathic feelings and pro-social behaviour. I’m not excusing those who have wronged, I’m just saying that it’s hardly the video games at fault, considering just how large the ratio of gamers is to this day.

All I can say for sure is that kids are definitely more street-smart these days, and the further we head into the next generation of console gaming, the greater the chance of graphics becoming so enhanced that it will literally seem like we are playing an interactive movie. To think those days are just around the corner is undeniably incredible.







One response to “Back to Reality: Video Games ≠ Violence”

  1. James Plant avatar
    James Plant

    That’s a good read. This came up recently again, some story in the news about a murderer blaming video games for his actions. I forget the details, I don’t pay much attention to those stories, mainly as I don’t really understand the reason behind it either. Ultimately this all boils down to the personality of the individual. If you grow up to respect those around you, then no, you’re not going to go on some crazed rampage because you saw it in a game/movie. When gamers get older, maybe this is something that will gradually phase out, as there are more and more gamers every day.

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