The lights are on
Veteran Member - Level 13
How many of you who play some of the more, shall we say, violent video games said something like that to a friend, a spouse, a girl/boyfriend, or maybe the dog if you don't have any of those other things? (and if you don't have *any* of those things, then what the hell are you doing playing video games? Go find at least one of them!)
It's amazing the antisocial behaviour that some of us gamers truly enjoy that we would never even consider doing or reveling in during the other 16 hours a day that we don't play video games (what, you don't play 8 hours a day? Loser.). Going around gunning down soldier after soldier, mercenary after mercenary, robot after robot (hey, robots are people too), we get a lot of enjoyment out of doing all of those things. And game companies know that we love that stuff. Why else create "bullet-cam" or "slow motion replay" for that last head shot, watching the guy's head turn into a bloody red mist?
Now, before I go any further, I'm not going to get into the discussion about video game violence and how it can affect young people, or people with other mental issues. That's a controversy for another time. Others have said much more relevant things about the issue.
And besides. That's not any fun. And that's what this blog is supposed to be. Fun.
What I want to examine is what it says about us "normal" people who don't get all aggressive in real life because of a game. Those of us who don't have games feed our inability to distinguish fantasy from reality.
No, we can distinguish just fine, thank you. It's just, for some reason, seeing a guy get shot in the crotch (and earning an achievement for doing it multiple times!) in Saint's Row 3 is hilarious, but we would be horrified to see it for real.
Not hilarious...ok, kinda funny, but only because we know he's wearing a cup, but I'm sure it still hurt
I just finished Bioshock 2, and one of my favourite things to do once I received the spear gun was to shoot Splicers and watch them go flying, often getting stuck in the wall. I would go up and examine them afterward, and (other than a few graphical glitches where the spear didn't even appear to be going through the body) really enjoy my handiwork. "Oh wow, that one was right through the head! Excellent!" And when you retrieve your spear, there's kind of a sick "Splut" sound as you're pulling it out and the body falls to the floor.
If I saw something like this in real life? I would want to beat the a-hole who did this to a bloody pulp, but in the meantime I'd do whatever I can to help the person and I'd be horrified by the whole thing.
Watch a slow-motion video of some guy in Call of Duty getting his head blown off? Awesome!
See that same movie of something happening in any war zone (or anywhere else)? If you enjoy that, you're a sick puppy and I don't want to know you.
There is something about the fact that these are pixelated sprites and what have you, and thus we know it's not real. So we can get enthusiastic about doing it because we know that nobody *really* died in such a horrific fashion.
Those of you who know me know that I'm a very compassionate person. I simply ooze compassion (I have to see my doctor about that). I'm also very sensitive, and if one of my friends is hurting, I do kind of feel that pain too. Even if you don't know me that well, I think some of that comes out in my blog posts.
But get me in a video game where there can be head shots, nutshots, exploding limbs (yes, I supported the new Carmageddon game on Kickstarter) and all of that? I'm in heaven.
So what is it about us that causes that disconnect? Is that one reason why some of us don't want graphics to become *too* close to realistic? Because then we'll start seeing these video game cannon fodder as real people instead?
It's weird how the mind works sometimes. Some people hate war movies because of the real people who die in those movies. And when I say "real," I mean that real people died in World War II (for example) and this movie about something that happened in World War II (like The Longest Day, for example), so these people could very well be real (even if they are just made-up characters). It's what it represents.
Yet some of the bloodiest action movies, like Inglourious Basterds (yes, that is how the movie is spelled), don't bother them at all. Yes, this particular one takes place in World War II, but it is so obviously not about something real that it's not the same thing.
We're all well-adjusted people here. I think. Let me know if you're not and I'll exclude you.
What do you think of this? Do you glory in the kill shot in one of your games? And if you do, do you even think about how different that is from how you would react in real life?
The goriest franchise I've regularly played is Gears of War. Chainsaw people in half, gib them at close range with a shotgun, tag them with grenades, stab them with a bayonet, snap their neck, the list goes on. And I think that gore makes the game all the more fun. Weirdly enough. When you get a headshot, you don't just get a notification or something. The avatar's head explodes like a watermelon, and your character says something about it (Marcus: Ow, that's gotta hurt!). Thus the stuff your character pulls off carries much more weight.
I'm all for non-gory games. I love Portal, the occasional racing game, Guitar Hero, and whatnot. But I think gore in and of itself intrigues people, and not just gamers. Car accidents generate traffic on the highways all the time. Not because of blockage, but because people slow down to try to see if someone's hurt. Where does that morbid curiosity come from? I have no clue. Maybe it's so that we have a story to tell after another boring day at work.
It's not that I glory in the obscene violence that constitutes what seems to be the majority of all blockbuster media and digital entertainment, it's just the fact that it is so common, I'm desensitized to what goes on.
For my mother, she saw a screenshot of ZombiU and a zombie in the act of being beheaded, and said that the picture alone would give her nightmares, and I'm never allowed to play that.
I'm not into gore and violence myself, either, and just because I'm in the midst of playing God of War 3 doesn't mean I'm really into what's going on screen. In fact, a lot of it is just pure disgusting, and surprises me that people have the capacity to create those sequences.
I started my first step into "Mature" gaming with Halo, which really doesn't show gore at all. Then I had to cross the milestone that was Call of Duty, which kind of featured "real" people, but I played through it and the whole thing just came across as an insane action movie. Kind of cool, really.
Since then I've seen a lot of blood, plenty of executions, and enough brains being blasted to make any grandma feel the worst she's ever had in her life.
I don't know what it is, either, but I'm okay with it if I have fun being the main protagonist. I think that maybe it's the empowerment we have as being the unstoppable main character that gives us that "enjoyment". In real life, we would never want to, or be capable of the things we see in games.
I too enjoy the feeling that comes from dismembering my virtual enemies, and I've often wondered what causes the disconnect between whats funny in real life, and in entertainment. It will be interesting to see how the next generation will affect ones willingness to shoot that random guy in the head.
I don't see the lack of shock in the violence and gore in gaming compared to the other forms of media as a realism issue. In gaming, you don't see enemies as organisms but rather as an artificial target. You kill because that is the objective of the game, enemies express no pain or grotesque reactions to getting a cap in their arse as they do in movies.
In gaming, you also know when you are going to kill someone because you are in control. It's kinda easier to brace yourself in games compared to seeing someone getting randomly scalped with no warning in movies.
I love sniping in GTA. Heads vanish, and people fall in their own blood. I am forever making my wife look at some headless fellow laying in the street.
I remember one time I elbowed a Husk in ME2 and paused it almost simultaneously. I resumed, and a blood streat ran the length of the platform. It was gorgeous. I marveled at it for nearly 10 minutes.
I've always wondered about this. In Dead Rising 2, I can run over zombies with a lawn mower, or speed through crowds of them on a dirt bike with chainsaws, and laugh like a maniac the whole time lol.
But, I find parts of shows like, The Walking Dead to be downright disturbing.
Was going to respond to these on lunch and...well, lunch never really happened. Will respond tonight, though!
Thanks, all, in the meantime!
@Cru Hunter: I think you're right that it may be the same thing that makes people want to stop and gawk at accidents and other forms of mayhem. Gears of War is another great example of what I'm talking about too. Who doesn't think it's cool when you chainsaw somebody like that? The original Carmageddon, when you ran over somebody, the female driver (if you were using her) laughed maniacally and said "That had to hurt!"
@GoldvsSilver: It might be a bit of desensitization too. I honestly can't remember what I felt the first time I did something like that. But is there a difference between "desensitized" and "really enjoying" it? And maybe it is that sense of empowerment too? That could easily be the case. I know one of the things I loved in Bioshock 2 was not just the spear kills, but the fact that it was somebody who was shooting at me getting his/her comeuppance that I gloried in.
@Darth: I fully agree! :)
@TheBiasedIrishman: That's true, but I don't know about it being just the fact that they are targets to shoot at. Otherwise, why not get the same thrill from shooting the alien in Space Invaders? Some of us, the more gruesome the kill, the more enjoyable it is.
@Jolt: You do that too? As I've often said, my gaming stuff is in the living room with the main TV, so the wife is always here on the computer when I'm playing. I can't count the number of times that I've shown her something "cool" that I did on the screen. That does sound like a gorgeous Mass Effect 2 image. Too bad you don't have a screencap. :)
@Ace13: I'm sure you are well-adjusted. :)
I agree. There has to be something to the game besides the violence. I do need a good story and gameplay and all of that. I'm not going to stick in Postal so I can get my "violence jollies." But within the games that I find "good" or "great," there is something about pulling of that wicked headshot.
@MasterAssassin: That's interesting about your reaction to movies/TV and games. I'm not that bad, though movies do make me a bit more squeamish. That's probably because, even though I know it's make-up and all of that stuff, it's still "real" people involved. These are actors. It's not quite the same as electronic sprites.