Computer games (or video games – yes those terms are interchangeable) have come a long way since the 1980s and are quite an important part of tech. They entertain us and provide us with a break from our work. The level of visual detail in them has become amazing and the story telling capability that could potentially put a movie to shame. In some cases video games have allowed for alternative type of sports(known as eSports) in the form of tournaments.
Now this is all well and good, but there is an issue that I would like to consider from a very objective/neutral standpoint. I am of course talking about the violence that one might find in a video game. Violence has been in video games in form or the other. It has been the core part of games such as Wolfenstein 3D in 1992 and Smash TV in 1990. It has of course been in the original Street Fighter which released in 1987 and Mortal Kombat which was also released in 1992.
Let’s focus on Mortal Kombat for a moment. As part of most fighting games, there are up to three rounds in a match. You win the match by winning two out of three of those rounds. At the end of the match, the screen darkens and the words “finish him” or “finish her” come up. At this point you can perform a move called a Fataility to rub your victory into your opponent. This might be knocking them out of the arena onto the spikes below or ripping their head off. The original Mortal Kombat game sold millions of copies in the 1990s. Back in the 1990s I was very lucky to be able to play Street Fighter 2 Turbo and Killer Instinct on the Super Nintendo.
Fast forward to today and that same violence still exists today. The newest iteration in the series (Mortal Kombat X) was released only a few weeks ago and it still features these fatality moves. Ermac (one of the characters in this game) has a fatality where he pulls out the intestines of his opponent. It gets even worse with Sub-zero who has a fatality move that ends up with the opponent’s spinal cord being ripped and their body being ripped in half.
Now first of all, I am not going to put any images or video to illustrate what I am talking about. With that being said some of you might find this kind of imagery really nasty and a little bit over the top. Some people might even like this kind of gratuitous gore in their games but I am not going to judge them. I have seen a video of Marshawn Lynch (an American Football player for he Seattle Seahawks) playing Mortal Kombat X. When one of them executed a fatality Marshawn had to leave the room for a few moments. Even in the previous Mortal Kombat game, they had moves called x-rays where you see somebody’s rib cage being broken. This is also in the most Mortal Kombat X.
It’s not just in fighting games. Again, in Resident Evil 4 there are people who have been infected with some kind of parasite called the plaga. When you shoot people’s heads off, not only does it reveal a horrible insect, but then you have to try and kill that insect. Again, I am not going to show you pictures or video.
So have violence and gore in video games gone too far?
On one hand, you could say that violence in video games has gone too far. After seeing this kind of imagery, one might vomit or have troubles sleeping at night. This kind of imagery may even cause someone to go out murder somebody. However, it’s important to realise that we do not want anyone to think about doing that.
There was even a study that came out saying that video games do affect the social outcome of those that play them. Simply put, this study is suggesting that there is a link between violent video games and aggressive outcomes after playing them.
On the other hand, you could say that the answer is no. After all, people still complain about the violence. All video game developers (and video game retailers including the likes of Steam) are required to tell you the type of content to expect in a game.
I am on the fence on this one. I think that some of the fatality moves and the X-ray moves in Mortal Kombat X are good examples of how the violence and the gore have gone too far. But at the same time, the fact that there are millions of people playing these games online. To some of these people, the violence does not matter. At the end of the day, it is really down to you to decide if you want to play these games.
Do you think that violence in video games has gone too far? let us know in the comments!