The Violent Video Games Debate

As a stopgap measure until SiteMeter allows one account to hold multiple counters later this year, I have added a Bravenet counter to Sandsday (NOT the rest of the website yet), similar to Da Counter from January through August 2007, so I know just how many people are enjoying the strip each day without wondering just how reliable Freehostia’s stats are. I have 26 separate hits for the webcomic’s title image this month, and at most 13 of those are mine (15 last month but I don’t even know how many of those are mine), hence why the counter starts at 13. But the mere fact that I have to go by the title image is not a good sign. And because I’m not entirely certain how many people really read Sandsday before now, I’m hoping I can set SiteMeter to only display the number of people to visit in the last 24 hours.

This is the last strip in the ongoing debate on violent video games, and because it ends ambiguously, I want to cover some points not made in the strip. First, I want to make clear that “Break the law as much as you can” is not really a plot. If you think it is, you can have your empty action movies.

In itself, video game violence is not wrong. It’s a damn sight better than real violence, and real violence is enough of a fact of life that we should not be censoring video games if the violence is to be expected. But it depresses me to think violence is an actual selling point for games, and for games like GTA and its clones, the violence is basically the point. What I don’t like is the idea of the violence sandbox that’s basically “Kill as many people as you can. Why? You don’t need no steenkin’ why!”

Not that there’s a problem with pointless games. I don’t have a problem with mind-numbing time sinks, because you need one of those once in a while, and I don’t have a problem with violence in video games, but I do have a problem with casual violence as a time-killer. It doesn’t reflect well on the mindset of video gamers, it’s more subject to the desensitization effect than deeper games, and there’s nothing to distract from the fact that you’re basically ending the “life” of simulated people. And people don’t play video games to have moral dillemas, so the conflict gets swept under the rug – if there’s a conflict at all, which is even worse.

I hope I’ve made my position clear, but I fear I haven’t. In fact I may be back to clarify my point.

2 Comments

  1. Mr. Trombley
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    Dear Sir, I’ve written my opinion on this strip here:

    http://tbgloops.blogspot.com/2008/02/ludography-video-game-analysis.html

  2. Morgan Wick
    Posted February 14, 2008 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    With all due respect, I haven’t read your response because I’m scared of your overly formal tone (and the formal implications of your name) and I can’t tell if you’re all that knowledgeable about video games at all, since that wasn’t your interest in the last comment. But thanks for the link!

    I have a feeling you’re going to have a lot to say about my next strip too…

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