After looking into some research for my Critical and Contextual Studies Article on the subject of games within narrative, I found an interesting quote; “The relationship between fictional representation and real world acts of voilence, whether supposedly inspired by films, novels or computer games, is a notoriously thorny issue…” (Atkins,B 2003). This highlights the idea that games get a different classification of violence to other forms of media. Atkins goes on to say that there is an inconsistency within the responce that violence receives from the general public, “The ‘realistic’ violence of the opening Normandy landing sequence of the film Saving Private Ryan (1998) was critically appraised: the ‘realism’ of first-person shooting games is often subject to condemnation and potential censorship.”. The comparison between these two is obviously drastic. It is strange that games seem to get such bad credit for showing a sense of realism within them, albeit if it is violent. Why is that games are targeted constantly with this? And is this ever going to change? I was shocked to see that the book I took this quote from was written in 2003, and still games have a reputation of instilling violence in people. Perhaps this is because of the emotions and feelings that are intended from the game or film.
Films like Saving Private Ryan tend to have depressing themes that underlie the general narrative drive of the film; they often want to upset the viewer so that they become connected to the protagonist. So, violence is accepted in this form of media. In games however, people generally see games as a form of entertainment that is meant to be enjoyed, with violence bing seen as a negative part of this because violence shouldn’t be enjoyable. Saying this though, games still follow the same style of narrative that films do, so why should the use of violence be seen differently. If it is the case that people think that gamers enjoy games because thy get to watch peoples head blow apart right infront of their eyes, then maybe they should look at it a different way. Gamers enjoy games because of the gameplay not the violence more often than not; well this is the case with me. Sometimes I do find enjoyment in the violent parts of games but I do not in any way agree with actual violence in real life. I am actually really against it in any form possible. The reason I ‘enjoy’ it within games is because it is often an overexaggerated vision of violence that is usually placed into games for one of two reasons: 1) the lighthearted approach, when you get extreme violence that, in a way, is ‘taking the piss’, is intended to be funny instead of horrific. This style of humour could be compared to films like Disaster movie, Scary movie or any of the other films like this. 2) ‘Realistic’ violence, often shown in games that want to focus around a basic real world event, most likely war but other events can be used. In this case violence is used to show the player the ‘realism’ within the narrative, you can’t have a war without blood or gore. To me this is exactly the same as a film that is based on a war, fictional or not.
In conclusion, the fact that games and violence is a bad combination will probably never be resolved, since Atkins wrote the book, More Than A Game in 2003, nothing has changed. Violence within games seems to be a taboo area because people catergorise videogames as simply games, and games are meant to be a form of entertainment that people enjoy all aspects of. Maybe we have advanced to fast into games that have complex storylines often influenced by the medium of film and reality. Perhaps its a case of introducing consequences into the act of killing in games? Surely seeing a character who you are controlling have the tramatic side effects of war is enough? This is all that you see in films isn’t it? Maybe we need more games that express different emotions, like Limbo for example, the concept of that is quite depressing. This would clearly highlight the difference within games.
Atkins, Barry (2003), More Than A Game,Manchester, Manchester University Press, p21-24