June 7th, 2012
Confession: 28 years of video games have desensitized me.
Case in point: Last year I recommended a game without thinking twice about its gory content. It was fictional and cartoony, afterall, so there was no need to be sensative about it, I thought. It had a lot of redeeming gameplay qualities, too, and it was dirt cheap—something every PC gamer loves.
Nevertheless, your reader response impressed me. "Too gory for my tastes," said one. "Way to gruesome," said another. Several similar comments followed.
The entire thread made me stop and think: "These guys are right. I should have been more sensative to what I was recommending." Not that The Binding of Isaac doesn't have a place in games. It does. But it's certainly not for everyone and shouldn't be taken lightly.
But it's not just ahead of the curve, thoughtful, and handsome Alienware Arena readers taking notice of increasingly excessive gore in video games. A running theme of this year's E3 has been vile gaming violence. Many are tired of it, and by extension shooters in general.
So in an effort to make repeated gameplay mechanics feel new again, developers are just filling games with more gore, the thinking goes. That's what's upsetting some players, in addition to meaningless violence in general. Things like lobotimizing elephants. Shooting people in the face at point blank range. Stabbing necks.
Obviously, the violence in Mortal Kombat twenty years ago was meaningless. But it was also avant guard for being the first to explore the issue in games. As crazy as it sounds, that's art, people.
What's not art is one-uppmanship. Expressing something without purpose. Obviously violence and even gore have a place in art, including games. But at some point we have to ask ourselves: is this still art or is it cliche?
What do you think readers: Has violence in video games reached a tipping point even for players? Furthermore, when is violence justified in games, and when isn't it?
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