Violence in video games. The greatest myth that has been forced onto gaming and programming geek culture. This article will show that not only is there no such thing as violence in video games but that the arguments supporting the myth are about as useless as a third nipple. [ 1 ]
Let’s take a good look at what violence is. Violence is harming another human. If I were to pick up a large wrench and beat the crap out of Col. Mustard in the Study, that would be an example of violence, or is it? There’s an immediate problem with that example.
There is no Col. Mustard. Actually, Col. Mustard is a yellow plastic game piece, and if nobody chooses to play him, he is represented only as a colorful plastic-coated card. The small wrench is also a plastic coated card as well as a small plastic game piece.
It’s hard to imagine any actual violence happening between two plastic game pieces or two plastic coated cards. This is pretend violence on a pretend person, with a weapon that never actually existed. In other words, no actual violence happens. We only say that somebody did in poor Col. Mustard. When you cross this line and say that this is real violence, you are unable to see things as they are and probably are incapable of telling the difference between fantasy and reality.
It is the same thing with video games. I have, in fact, killed Laura Croft, on purpose, an uncountable amount of times. Almost by magic, Laura Croft is brought back to life by loading the game from where I saved it. No actual violence occurs, it’s only a game. You’d think if there was real violence and death in video games that I would have been arrested for murder. No real violence, no real murder, no real laws broken. I’ll probably kill her again soon.
So why do some people decry "violent" video games and go to extreme lengths to ban them? I know but refuse to say. I’ll just recommend “The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer if you really want to know. What I will do, however, is show how useless their arguments are.
Argument #1 : Monkey See, Monkey Do
I once saw a monkey scratch it’s anus, smell it’s finger, and fall off a tree. I really saw it. I don’t, however, have any reason to do it. I might watch it again, and even laugh, but smelling fingers and falling off trees is not for me. This monkey saw (and laughed, and showed his friends) and will not do.
The idea behind the "Monkey See, Monkey Do" argument is that everyone is stupid. If your friends jump off a bridge, you, according to the theory, will too. This is absolute nonsense and an insult to your intelligence.
Argument #2 : Don’t Give People Ideas
A more developed version of "Monkey See, Monkey Do" is "Don’t Give People Ideas". For example, if I were to see a movie that featured a "death by teacup" scenario, I might get the idea that killing people with teacups is a good thing to do. Therefore, since I have the idea implanted, if I seek to kill people with teacups, it’s the movies fault.
Not only is this a regurgitation of "The Devil Made Me Do It", but it completely removes free will from the equation. If someone kills someone with a teacup, that person has made the decision himself, even if he did get the idea from the movie. The movie did not force it’s will on the teacup killer.
The more dangerous side to this is that it implies that we should limit ideas in a free society. The people who support this kind of thinking also burn "Harry Potter" books.
Argument #3 : Sends the Wrong Message
The idea that "violent" video games "send the wrong message" is like receiving email that was never sent in the first place. A "message" has a sender and an intended receiver. If no message has been sent, and you say you received one, you might be crazy.
The makers of video games are not putting in subliminal messages in their games. They are not even trying to make a point. They are merely selling entertainment.
This argument is based in pure, unadulterated paranoid schizophrenia.
Argument #4 : Gives Permission
The "permissive culture myth" is used in alot of arguments, not just with so-called violent video games. The idea is that if something is represented in fiction, it gives you permission to do it. So, therefore, if I watch a cop show I have permission to go around and arrest people. This is probably the dumbest argument of the bunch, except for the next one.
Argument #5 : Murder Simulator
The idea that games are "murder simulators" is an attempt to cloak nonsense in science, psychology specifically. It springs from a non-accepted branch of psychology called "killology", or the study of how people kill. This was not born in the halls of academia, but by the military. It is under severe criticism because it states that a soldier, even under threat of his life, will not fire a weapon at an enemy. Only through the application of killology can we get soldiers to fire their weapons and defend their own lives. Sure, whatever, and I just crapped a monkey.
The specific idea that "violent" video games are "murder simulators" that can train people to kill is nonsense as well. By this reasoning, all I have to do to win a skating competition is play Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater alot. After all, by the same reasoning, it’s a skating simulator and after playing it I will have been trained to skate, even if I have never stood on a skateboard.
Playing a game will not improve your aim, or even help you deal with the blood and gore. Ask any soldier if any game they have played compares to actual warfare, and I’m sure you will get an emphatic no. My dad saw up-close action in Vietnam, I’ve asked him personally. My brother cut people out of car wrecks for a number of years as a firefighter, and I get the same response. If video games are trying to be realistic, they are doing a poor job. No game will keep you from crapping your pants if you are actually being fired at, or puking at the sight of real gore.
It could be argued that playing a game can teach you tactics to kill. This may be true in squad combat games such as "Full Spectrum Warrior". Tactics are tactics, whether they are squad based combat tactics or chess tactics. Tactics is where to put your game pieces, not how to pull the trigger.
Unfortunately, some nutjobs extrapolate this to games like "Metal Gear Solid" that "teach" you that if you be really quiet, someone won’t hear you. And that if you stay out of sight, people can’t see you. I knew that already, didn’t you?
- I, Columbine Killer from Wired News.
 Note: You will notice that I referred to the third nipple in the first paragraph of this article. The third nipple was one of the supposed signs that someone was a witch. Appearantly, the “witch hunters” believed that an imp, sent from a ground spirit (Satan) would suckle on the third nipple of a witch. There are no imps, there is no Satan, there were no witches. A third nipple can’t help you identify something that doesn’t exist, and therefore is useless. Much like blaming video games for real violence…