Game violence redux (or: you are part of the problem. Yes, you.)

(This is adapted from a longer response piece to an article that, honestly, didn’t warrant it.)

I’m beyond tired of this damned violence discussion.

I’m not tired of the discussion per se. It’s important. And this has nothing to do with any specific author, since so many seem to be prey to it. (If not in their official work, then in their bandwagon-tastic Twitter and Tumblr feeds.)

No, I’m tired of this shape of the discussion. The medium is changing, positively changing, more quickly and drastically than it has at any point in its entire history, and is doing so while other media like film are demonstrating more resistance to change and experimentation than ever. The winner of the last VGA game-of-the-year award was THE WALKING DEAD, for Heaven’s sake: an adventure game (adventure game!) that people are lauding for its intelligent and tragic attitude towards death.

There are challenges, especially the treatment of women in the industry, but those are things to celebrate.

Yet the grotesque inferiority complex–the barely submerged and all-encompassing self-loathing of both gamers and game critics–is so pervasive and so all-encompassing that any positive development is ignored, while any stupid negative step or mis-informed promotional screwup or unenlightened developer soundbyte is hoisted up and carried around  as proof that things are just as bad as they’ve ever been. Whatever that was supposed to be. 


Games aren’t making kids into killers.  They aren’t getting more violent, absent the ongoing changes in graphical fidelity. They aren’t getting dumber. They aren’t all just mindless shoot-em-ups. And Call of Duty’s fading seizure of the increasingly-marginally console space aside, there are a TON of important games making doing very well that either feature cartoony representations of mild violence, like Skylanders and Jetpack Joyride, or are completely and utterly nonviolent, like Super HexagonWhere’s My Water, Just Dance and FarmVille 2.

By perpetuating this…by moaning about how Everything Is Terrible Forever And It’s All Our Fault For Being Horrible Gamers Oh God Why Couldn’t I Be Into Whittling Instead…you’re nothing more than a Useful Idiot. You are playing into the hands of everybody that wants to avoid real solutions, and you’re doing it by blaming a medium that’s actually improving by leaps and bounds. You are helping ensure that any movement towards useful things like reasonable gun legislation gets sucked into the endlessly swirling vortex of Game Violence Discussion.

You are not being “reasonable”. You are not being “rational”. You are not being “mature”. You’re just discouraging the people who are actually working to change things by devaluing that work.


Cut it out.


2 thoughts on “Game violence redux (or: you are part of the problem. Yes, you.)

  1. ThirteenthLetter says:

    “reasonable gun legislation” – Whoops! I saw you palm that card. It’s risky to assume that everyone who’s reading your website agrees on this topic.

    • craigbamford says:

      I don’t.

      What I do know is that the game discussion is a distraction from the gun discussion that actually DOES need to happen. It’s a quite deliberate distraction on the NRA’s part, too, but there’s still no reason for the well-meaning but politically-ignorant to aid and abet that distraction.

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