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Views On Increasingly Convincing Violence In Games?
Inspired by Bambuz who has interesting views on the subject, I think this deserves it's own thread. I'll start off with a big rambley one and see what you lot think.

Basically the issue is that as graphics and physics etc improve, developers will be able to display all parts of a game with more conviction and immersion - including violence, bloodshed, horror and trauma (note that I sometimes use the word "horror" to refer to all of the above). What will happen with this, is it a good thing, a bad thing, or neutral? Is it an issue at all? Bambuz certainly thinks so, this is his recent GA post:


>So the only thing stopping you from acting out what you're consuming is the quality? Good lord, don't ever turn on your television.

No, it just doesn't interest me and doesn't make me feel anything I'd like to from a game or movie or documentary or anything... Feelings like excitement, sense of wonder, thrill, etc. - it does not produce that. Just sadness and disgust.

Sure, maybe some people like it as an "experience", like to be hit with a baseball bat to their nuts (jackasses). Maybe I'm just a wuss but I just don't feel that way. There's nothing "awesome" in it per se.

There has to be something else beside violence to make it worth inclusion. It's a special thing that has to be used with much thought and care. Much more thought, when it becomes more powerful with technology. There are pretty brutal things in quake 1, but the graphics are so bad you don't really notice or think of the torn-off faces etc.
Most healthy people have these things called mirror cells in their brain that make them feel empathy. They feel a bit what other people they see are feeling. If the technology becomes better, and the humans being mutilated look more and more human, people start to feel more and more empathy and thus eventually disgust and uninterest.

This is not a one-way process though. People like violence too, ice hockey and gladiators and whatnot. It's been a dilemma for thinkers for hundreds of years.


And my reply:

If the technology becomes better, and the humans being mutilated look more and more human, people start to feel more and more empathy

So far, so good. That is hopefully the point of at least SOME of the horror, to provoke an emotional response.

But...

and thus eventually disgust and uninterest.

That doesn't follow. Okay, the disgust might follow, in some instances - but one can feel empathic with someone's trauma without feeling disgusted by it. At any rate, it certainly does not necessarily lead to disinterest. People find horror interesting - that is why horror and violent films are popular, why people rubberneck and are drawn to freakshows, why shock/gore sites flourish. People are interested in that stuff.

Personally I am very squeamish about real life horror, but I find fictional horror to have a valuable role in both entertainment and exposing you to the traumas of the world in a more digestible dose (of course, there is a large difference between fictional horror and real horror, but not as much as between no horror and real horror). It also adds to the immersion of the experience, where appropriate.

So when it comes to games, you cannot say that horror within them will lead to a certain response. Some people will be repulsed and lose interest. Some people will have more interest if they have ghoulish personalities. Some people (if the game is immersive enough) will feel empathy and wish to enact virtual revenge for what they see. Some people will be terrified but get a thrill out of it (some of D3 did this for me).

I do agree with one thing though:

As games become more realistic, and it is possible to portray human trauma with more conviction, it is increasingly important that developers use violence and horror appropriately in games - it needs to be justifiable, appropriate, and approached with consideration of the effects. Casual and crass horror will seem far worse when it is portrayed with modern technology - and something like SOF2, Carmaggeddon or Postal, will be much less appropriate than, say, Doom3. This wouldn't be an increase in self-censorship, as the overall level of horror portrayal could actually increase with less horrific situations portrayed more realistically, compared to the older way of very horrific situations portrayed with crude pixellation. But it would be an increase in responsibility.
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Yeah 
There certainly are exceptions, I imagine most of us who grew up playing violent games turned out fine. But with the increasing realism my "restrictions" become a little more strict. 
Oi! 
Spambler was half quoting bambuz and half posting his own stuff... 
Argumentative Research Paper On Violence In Video Games 
As mentioned in a previous post, I recently wrote an argumentative research paper on the topic of violence in video games for an English class. It apparently was well-written since I received a grade of 100% on it, but I'm not sure it has a lot of relevance to the current issue (it only briefly mentions the increasingly convincing violence) and it's also written more for someone new to the issue.

On top of all that, it was also an exercise in convolution. What I mean is there was at least one spot where I carefully quoted someone who was clearly against media violence, but I made it sound like he was fine with the idea.

Anyway, I don't expect many of you to read this 7-page essay (not including the works cited information) since a lot of you seem to have trouble focusing on something that takes more than 5 seconds to read.

http://rpg.spawnpoint.org/misc/articles/violence.html 
Hmmm 
I would have read it, but I lost focus reading Shamblers previous post #17. 
Actually RPG 
I'm not not reading it now because it's long, because it isn't really. I'm not reading it now because as you say it's not quite about this particular issue. But GG with the result anyway!! 
P.S. Maybe Tomorrow 
NT 
Read It 
It mostly cites research facts and other people's opinions more than your own (RPG). But interesting anyway. Something about 10% of games were rated Mature in 2003... I bet that increased b y at least 30% or more now. 
Phait 
Yes, I cited others more often then myself. As I said, it was a research paper.

And I don't know about the percentage of games rated Mature in 2005, but it was a bit higher for 2004 than 2003 (16%). The reason I used 2003 in the essay was because I wanted to directly compare it to movies, and I didn't have any movie statistics for 2004. 
Read It 
If you find this thread interesting, you'll find the essay interesting. 
Probably Relevant 
tho I have not read it mysself yet:

http://www.1up.com/do/feature?cId=3141144 
Heh 
Haven't read that but the quote on Blues says it all.

Anyway, the old "gaming does/doesn't cause violence" issue is old, boring, and less interesting than looking at the violence-within-games issue from a more philosophical POV as Bambuz started. I mean there's not going to be much of a debate about the former amongst us enlightended souls =). 
Hmmm 
 
if people don't explode into a red shower of well defined interal organs, it's not a game I care about. 
Btw Fribbles: 
I read that article, and it seems that, much like my last post, any stable individual will see that Jack Thompson is just trolling. God, he sounds like a egotistical jackass when he's saying "You wise guys who think you're so clever about saying what kids ought to play and then putting [Mature] games in the hands of those kids, you will wish you listened to me.
He Sounds Like A Egotistical Jackass 
oh the irony

it's palpable

sad he isn't on #tf, you could show your almighty 'power' lol, and ban him 
Moron. 
At least use your real name to diss scamp (even if you are entirely correct).

<3 Shambles XXX 
It Is Possible To Obtain Scampie's Powers... 
...but not from a Jedi.

^_~ 
Scampie Wins 
this thread and all of your hearts and veines. 
AntiScamp: 
You're a retard and that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. 
Brain Damage 
My Favorite Part 
is that the headline is grammatically incorrect.

That's good stuff right there. 
My God 
When the news media reports a "new breakthrough," such as the fact that exposure to violence leads to desensitization of that individual's perception of violence.... then, I am scared of those journalists who have so much sway on public opinion.

Of course, I am pointing out here that such facts have been known for a long time. 
Wow 
First of all, the effect of violent media is a hotly contested issue. Second, the research (as it was reported) sounds like a friggin mess.

All the members of one group had a history of violence and had been diagnosed with disruptive behaviour disorder (DBD). The second, control group, had no past record of behavioural problems.

Among the control group, normal frontal cortex activity was seen in those spared heavy doses of violence in the media. But normal volunteers who were highly exposed suffered the same defects as their disruptive peers.


You can't test two different things in the control group. That's not science.

Also: Results showed less brain activity in the frontal lobes of the youths as they watched violent video games. Watching video games is worse than watching tv for requiring no thought. What does that prove? 
 
It proves the article is full of shit. 
Popping Out This Thread 
since a particular q4 video (qcon 2005) showing single player gameplay is out (someone paste the url)... I think the whole q4 video previews thingy was one that sparked this discussion. Some people might want to avoid spoilers.

The animation and models were pretty well done in some areas, but some things were quite cartoony, like the player being strapped into the strogg assembly line, being mutilated and all. That could be a powerful experience but it was not done as "hyperrealistic" as I would have thought, like lots of blood and convulsions and effects giving the impression of agony. First person torture / mutilation simulation.

I wonder if it was an actual decision to nerf it for a broader audience or something. Maybe it's slightly different in the finalized game, I don't know. The footage was not of best quality.

I discussed all this violence thing a little with some friends and now that I read my older comments, they seem a bit one-dimensional - there's, besides realism, also the nonrealistic dimension in use for shocking the players, but nevertheless with better newer technology (especially models & animation) the victims can seem more humane or the happenings more powerful and evoke much more feelings in players.

Maybe that's why nowadays many enemies wear masks, or are disfigured zombies. 
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