New Study Suggests Violent Games Criticism Has Decreased as Graphics Get More Lifelike
Posted on Wednesday, April 2 @ 15:00:00 PST by Daniel Bischoff
A University of Missouri researcher suggests that video game violence has become more accepted by the general public, media, and gamers everywhere because graphics have become more lifelike.
Greg Perreault, a doctoral student at the MU School of Journalism, examined violent game coverage in issues of GamePro magazine from the 1990s and found that the publication voiced "a considerable amount of concern about the level of violence in the game software companies were creating... when video game design was limited by technology."
I remember plenty of old-school violent video games, so I can't say that violence as a mechanic has ever been hampered by technology. "Early in the '90s, when video games were still a relatively new medium, journalists expressed quite a bit of concern about the level of violence in many of the games," Perreault said. "It is interesting because the simulated violence in these games was so mild relative to modern-day games."
Perrault's study hangs on the statistics that GamePro's coverage of violence as an issue in gaming decreased as Nintendo 64 and PlayStation arrived, and graphical representations of violence increased in fidelity.
"This is important to note because journalism often mirrors the culture of the audience it serves," Perreault said. "In a sense, the gaming community grew up. They aged from children using video games as toys to adolescents and adults using them as recreational devices. It appears that journalists reflected this trend in their writing."
While I can't argue against statistics I've never seen, I feel like you don't really need back issues of GamePro to tell you that the games media has given in to violence as a mechanic. That's evident in multiplayer games like Call of Duty and certainly a factor in the industry's reviews of Titanfall.
Our Titanfall review received hundreds of comments decrying our score, but the game could not be a better example for the medium's apparent disdain for human life. Consider the title's premise:
Mankind launches out into the stars and immediately starts hauling energy back to Earth. People have to be out on lonely rocks for decades at a time, perhaps their entire lives, to feed an upper class that has lost all interest in them. Then war breaks out and the game's answer is to create new, mechanical suits that probably costs even more to manufacture, operate, and replace (because you know they're going to be destroyed).
While I didn't like Titanfall, I hoped to make the point that the loss of context was the game's greatest downfall. Violence with context can teach us things, while violence in service of greed is one of the greatest issues facing society today. Titanfall had the greed (score a thousand points for destroying something) and none of the context.
I was very disappointed in the reviews posted by my peers. Still, I don't know if you can tie the industry's violence trends to graphics alone. Our world is filled with terror and fear and it's blasted at us from all angles by the media. Maybe hearing about all the murders that happened, are happening, will happen (right next door, hide yo kids, hide yo wives) does more to increase the acceptance of violence in games.
Maybe the trend could be better attributed to all those Law & Order shows or the knowledge that our government teeters on the brink of collapse because of a bloated defense budget utilized to enact a worldwide grasp of supplies that become outdated every second that solar and wind technology improve.
I would argue that violence and the acceptance of violence is driven by fear, not the media. Like many other industries, I'd like to believe GamePro followed the trend because that's where they needed to go to survive as a business, not because they stopped caring. Then again, Titanfall's metacritic score and the dichotomy between my score and those of the widest-reaching sites in gaming don't give me much hope.
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