An article on Cinema Blend today calls out video game publisher Konami for its upcoming Saw game, saying it “has no portent moral message or even a directive in which the overt violence and scenes of mutilation correlate to something sane people might find enlightening, entertaining or fun. In other words, Konami is publishing a game that’s as sick, twisted and pointless as the intellectually-deficient movies of the same name.” The story’s headline says that Konami should be “ashamed” of itself.
Well, well, well. I can’t speak to the intellectual deficiencies of the films — I get freaked out just seeing the posters — but I have to wonder: why is the author William Usher so surprised? Is there anything more present in popular, contemporary video games than murder?
This isn’t a indictment, and I don’t think that the incidence of violence in gaming necessarily reflects or affects who we are or what we do; I don’t think it’s inherently bad, and I don’t see it as some kind of looming social cancer.
But I do see it. Constantly. And it seems like game after game just boils down to “…and then you kill everyone.” It’s an action-adventure title about gems and mythology, where you kill anyone who stands in your path! It’s an elaborate story about Venice during the Renaissance, and you have to kill the person who betrayed your family! It’s the mob, it’s the army, you’re a special ops guy, you’re a genetically-engineered freedom fighter — and oh yeah, don’t forget to kill everyone.
I’m hard up to classify depraved vs. not-depraved murders in video games — is it worse to kill within a gory horror title, or within a war-oriented one or an adventure one? Eh.
Still, I do wonder about the ever-blurrier line between gaming and movies: Is there some kind of ethical or social difference between gruesome acts in films and those same acts in a game? What’s the difference between just watching violent behavior and sort of play-acting it?
Do you think there’s a difference, PopWatchers? Do horror games go too far letting people “play” depravity? Or is that just another facet of entertainment — like blood-drenched movies or spooky TV?