Violence in video games has always been a contentious issue, but until recently, the debate has been largely one-sided. As part of the recent film Video Games: The Movie, leading industry figures discussed the issue of violence in video games and what effect it has on the children and adults consuming them.
In a scathing review of the mainstream media mind-set toward the topic, Mikey Neumann, creative designer at Gearbox Software, Cliff Bleszinski, creator of Gears of War, and a handful of other important industry figures tore into some of the common misconceptions and misdirected blame that revolves around violent video games.
Neumann called attention to the fact that blame is often diverted from parents themselves and onto video games, “It’s weird how when you watch the people and they go to Congress and they’re angry: ‘Our kids are being corrupted.’ I’m like ‘Yeah, exactly. Your kids.’”, he continued, “They’re your children. You should be not corrupting them. ‘I leave them alone ten hours a day; he’s getting corrupted by this.’ Well no s***. It’s like finding your dad’s Playboys under the bed and then blaming Playboy.”
Bleszinski spoke of the illegitimacy of the connection between video games and violence, saying, “People like to make just kind of a causal link and say well video games cause violence. It’s like, let’s see, so, there’s more crime in the summer and more ice cream is sold in the summer, therefore ice cream causes crime. That’s not how legitimate scientific research works.”
Brian Fargo, founder of InXile Productions, used the industry’s strict rating system as an example of how games are meant to defend against underage players, “We’re just like any other industry that we have these rating systems in place and there’s going to be something for everybody.” This echo’s Neumann’s point that the parent is responsible for the content that their child can acquire, not the industry.
This outlook is echoed by Steven Ogg, the man responsible for bringing the maniac Trevor Philips to life in GTA 5. Speaking in an interview with PC Advisor he said, “The hypocrisy drives me crazy,” he says. “It just sets the wrong focus. Why not talk about gun control? Why not talk about parenting? Why not talk of lack of family values? There are so many other things to talk about.”
Real-life ex-gang member Shawn Fonteno, who plays Franklin Clinton in the game, told PC Advisor he believes that this is where a lot of people’s misconceptions stem from. Regardless of the fact that it’s advised for adults only, the lingering view that games are just for kids means uninformed parents assume that Rockstar is deliberately trying to market towards them using hyper-violence.
“People already have it in their mind that GTA is for kids because it’s a game,” said Fonteno.
“Then they hear about the violence and they’re instantly going to attack because it’s a game. Now, if it was a movie it would be a different story and these same people would be out there supporting it. GTA V is like a movie. Once they get the game in their hands, they’ll see. It says it big as day–Mature. It’s not for the kids to go get. It’s for mature audiences only. If kids get it, then that’s on their parents.”