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William Rosenthal COMM 1021 29 Mar 2011 Video Games and Violence Technology has changed our generation and way of thinking. Our generation has so much more new media available to us that was not available in our parents’ generation. Technology is now depended on and taken for granted in many instances far more often then we may realize. For example, it is being utilized as a babysitter for our youth, especially with the advent of video game(s). These video games are a great source of entertainment and enjoyment, as they enable you to interact with the games on your own or with your friends. Video games do, however decrease the socialization of our youth, in that the video game is their primary source of interaction rather talking with their parents or peers. This also can increase the penchant for violence in some kids who play these video games, who unfortunately fail to separate reality from the games they are playing. Video game violence is an important topic to examine, as these violent video games have the ability to influence those who play these games in a negative way without ever actually realizing the consequences In this paper, I will argue that the video game Doom, employs ritualistic violence that has the potential to foster violent behavior through the aggressor effect. I will also assert in this paper that the video game franchise NFL Madden perpetuates ritualistic violence through an aesthetic of hyper-masculinity. The video game Doom was first released in 1994. The scenes in Doom are quite violent and detailed, as when you kill someone within the game, their blood


and guts literally splatter across the screen while you are making a kill. This game is very graphic in depicting violence, as ultimately the object of the game is to be the lone survivor. The game itself has been described as a first-person shooter game with “heart stopping action, unspeakable horror, and pure gaming bliss” according to id Software.com backgrounder. These words describing Doom also describe the characteristics of ritualistic violence. The creators of Doom went so far as releasing their source code to the masses that enabled them to create their own “ Doom” and distribute it to other Doom game players provided they did not charge for their creations. While Doom or games of the same ilk do not directly cause violence, such as the Columbine High School massacre, the influence of playing this game consistently and repetitively may play a role in developing an aggressor effect, which is the repeated exposure or representation of violence, in which the likelihood for young children to mirror this behavior is more likely, as they are less able to distinguish fiction versus reality. This game can also be correlated to the theory of disinhibition, as repetitively playing this game can blur the lines of acceptable social norms within society regarding violence, as it undermines the expectations society has regarding violence, making the fantasy of playing this game an alternate and acceptable reality, where aggressive and violent behavior is appropriate. Not all video games in our society are designed or created to be as graphically violent as Doom. That does not mean the element of violence or violent tendencies one may experience drop simply because the graphics of the game illustrate violence differently. The video game franchise Madden is consistently an


example of this violence. When you are watching a National Football League (NFL) game, that same game is replicated so that the events you see transpire on the field of play is a mirror image within this video game. The first version of this game was released in 1989 and has been continually released on an annual basis and is consistently one of the highest selling video game franchises today. The video game Madden franchise perpetuates ritualistic violence through an aesthetic of hyper-

masculinity, where scoring more points than the other team is the ultimate goal. The graphics in this game are so life-like. If you were to walk into a room and did not know a football game was being televised at that moment, you would think that this game was live. The hits of the game sound just like they do on television: hard, powerful, and bone crunching, just as though you are on the field. While the NFL has numerous female fans, this game feeds into male hyper-masculinity, which is an exaggeration of the stereotype in which men are viewed as being stronger or more aggressive then women both on the field and in society itself, as it simply reinforces the brute strength, endurance, and superiority that men are perceived to have within society when it pertains to women. When you are done playing Madden or watching someone play it, you can easily find yourself feeling more aggressive or masculine as it may be, as your adrenaline is running and your blood is pumping. This video game is deemed acceptable in and to our society by the majority, as it falls within the acceptable societal norms we have when it pertains to the game of football itself, despite its element of violence and hyper-masculinity, as we not only watch the NFL games every season (assuming you are a sports fan), but we allow our children to play football for their school(s)and this video game, which reinforces


its acceptance. Winning is what matters at the end of the game, but what does this game really tells us about our society? In closing, this paper has demonstrated that the video game Doom, which is a violent video game, potentially promotes violent behavior through its portrayal of ritualistic violence. This video game demonstrates ritualistic violence through its graphics, which may result in an aggressor effect. Furthermore, constant exposure to this specific video game blurs the lines between what is and what is not acceptable in regards to our societal view(s) regarding violence. This paper has also shown that the video game franchise Madden also perpetuates ritualistic violence through an aesthetic of hyper-masculinity, and may foster an aggressor effect as well. Both of these video games have characteristics that are similar to one another in terms of being violent, yet our society, through its actions, has readily accepted the level(s) of violence and hyper-masculinity that are associated with the Madden games more so then Doom, as football is viewed by many people throughout society as a game we readily play, view and accept into our lives, and we have and will presumably continue doing so, even though the actual consequences of this game are not easily identifiable to those who play this game. This game continually re-enforces our societal “norms� in that men are the one’s who play football, hence they have more endurance, are stronger, and that they are superior when compared to women, which this game continually instills this belief. Video games are a fantastic form of entertainment, but do carry with them a message and a reflection of our society, whether it is realized or not. It is up to us, as individuals, to draw the line between the reality of our worlds, and the fantasy of this medium that we readily and willingly expose ourselves to.


Video Games and Violence