Violence in video games has been a topic/issue since the 1970s. Over 90% of popular video games have violence within them. Some titles like Fortnite, Call of Duty, Minecraft, Valorant and most of the big titles you can think of have violence in them.
We go back to 1976, Apple is founded by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, peanut farmer Jimmy Carter gets elected for president in the biggest political upset in the history of U.S elections. But I am not here to talk about Apple or the U.S election; Death Race was the first video game to set the types of sparks it did from the community.
Death Race was an arcade game that allowed the player to run over humanoid characters, these characters were called “gremlins” and if anything looked more like a human. When the car made a collision with these characters/gremlins they would let out a horrifying screech and their sprites would be turned into gravestones. The objective was to kill as many people as possible. This game was criticized by newspapers and civic organizations for “facilitating violence in the virtual form”. There was a call for a ban on Death Race and funny enough this was the first video game to ever be banned. On average 682,000 hit and run crashes occur every year and thousands die so, in the eyes of the public this was a serious matter.
Below are quotes I acquired from The New York Times. This is from an article dating back to when Death Race was first released in 1976.
“On TV, violence is passive,” Dr. Driessen said in an interview. “In this game, a player takes the first step to creating violence. The player is no longer just a spectator. He’s an actor in the process.
Could it bring out violence during actual driving? “I’m sure most people playing this game do not jump in their car and drive at pedestrians,” he said. “But one in a thousand? One in a million? And I shudder to think what will come next if this is encouraged. It’ll be pretty gory.”
These quotes perfectly explain the real reason why people wanted to ban this game because of the “One in a million”. Concern was focused on the kids and adults playing this game, could someone commit murder or another kind of crime? Can video games serve as a motive for other horrible crimes?
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were involved in a shooting at Columbine High School. They were avid gamers, and their game of choice was Doom – a very violent game that involves the player shooting demons. After these two individuals went to school with guns, they gave video games a bad name. Their actions lead people to believe that video games are a catalyst to violence.
From 2017-2018 researchers at the University of York conducted experiments on more than 3000 participants. One of the studies was about reaction time where the participants played two games – the first game is about a car trying to avoid collisions with other cars and the other was a mouse attempting to avoid a cat. If players are influenced by immersing themselves in an idea or a concept of a game, they should be able to categorize the objects associated with the game. The researchers found that their reaction time was drastically slower with these games.
The next experiment involved the participant playing two combat games. The games included ‘ragdoll physics’ to create realistic behaviour and the other used animation that looked unrealistic. The participants were then asked to complete puzzles called “word fragment completion tasks”. The aim of this was to get participants to associate words with the puzzles. The researchers expected more violent word association however that was not the case.
To further support my defense of these “violent” video games, in 2011 the U.S supreme court declared that there was no connection between video games and violence. I have played video games that have violence in them since the age of Three. I have never had any malicious intent. Death Race had the reputation it did because it was a one-of-a-kind, but in 2021 everyone is used to games with violence, with the scientific evidence and today’s generation playing these games. My verdict is these video games with violence in them, don’t make the people that play them violent.