Violence and Video Games

Hello all,

My name is Matt, and I’m an aspiring college student majoring in Computer Science. I originally chose my major because I wanted to work on video games. I felt I was a creative person who could work with ‘modern-day storytelling.’ (That’s what I like to call it)

However, I’ve also wanted to lead a morally good life. I wouldn’t want to do condone any game that is morally questionable (Rockstar Games - the maker of Grand Theft Auto - is obviously not on my hot list of employers).

I recently found that the pope had something to say about video games. Here is a memorable quote: “Any trend to produce programs and products – including animated films and video games – which in the name of entertainment exalt violence and portray anti-social behavior or the trivialization of human sexuality is a perversion, all the more repulsive when these programs are directed at children and adolescents.”

It seems that violence is the top “priority” in making a game, with sexuality coming in a close second. Developers are becoming more and more permissive in the content they put in games. Go figure - games with it tend to do better than games without it. People are attracted by the racy subject matter. As demands and sales go up, more of these questionable products are made. Some people who play these eventually learn to develop them! This has become a vicious cycle. As the cycle continues, people are effected by the subject matter - spiritually and psychologically, and morality seems to become a distant, abstract concept.

I really don’t like the way the industry is going. People can’t let the problem get bigger - it has to be nipped at the bud…somehow. I don’t think video games should be banned - the majority of people would not accept such a proposal. Attorney Jack Thompson has tried several things and has failed. I want to do something that is not only acceptable to people but also acceptable to God. In light of these difficulties, I’d like to ask some social questions:

**1. Should the change start from the consumer end or the producer end?

  1. I believe sexuality should be done away with entirely - it’s just not necessary. While I would agree that many games (like God of War, Grand Theft Auto, and Gears of War) are EXCESSIVELY violent, I’m not sure if ALL violence should be taken away. How much is too much?

  2. This is too much to demand of one man with little influence (like me). Is there any advice to offer anyone who wants a career in games yet wants to lead a morally sound life?**

Sorry about the lengthy question. This is something I’ve wanted to get off my chest for a while. Thanks for hearing, and I hope to hear from you soon.

P.S. (To gamers: I think Hideo Kojima is onto something, but he’s not quite there.)

P.P.S. This is my first post! :slight_smile:

Hi Matt,
You sound like a very thoughtful person. I wish more people going into that business could be as thoughtful.

I don’t game myself, but I have friends who are members of Christian gamer clubs. Perhaps you could try to find a group like that to give you some ideas.

Keep asking questions. Is there a Christian group of college students on campus. Perhaps you could get their input as to what they would like.

As far as where should the change begin - with the consumer or the producer? I think we will have to have a cultural change before any of that will come about.

As for:

Read about the lives of any of the saints and you will find that most of them thought that the mission given to them by God was too much for one man with little influence. Keep praying and God will lead you.

God bless you!

Source of quote?

It seems that violence is the top “priority” in making a game, with sexuality coming in a close second.

Nope, entertainment is the first priority of making a game. Money is the second priority. That’s why games like Tetris, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong Country, the Mario series, Legend of Zelda, Sonic the Hedgehog, Golden-Eye, and Grand Theft Auto are big hits: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment. It’s jus the form of entertainment that’s different.

Sure there are violent games, but there are also non-violent games. To categorize all games as violent or to have violence as a first priority is the fallacy of generalization. And generally speaking, game developers don’t like it when people come to them thinking a game must be violent in order to be a success.

Developers are becoming more and more permissive in the content they put in games. Go figure - games with it tend to do better than games without it. People are attracted by the racy subject matter. As demands and sales go up, more of these questionable products are made. Some people who play these eventually learn to develop them! This has become a vicious cycle. As the cycle continues, people are effected by the subject matter - spiritually and psychologically, and morality seems to become a distant, abstract concept.

I really don’t like the way the industry is going. People can’t let the problem get bigger - it has to be nipped at the bud…somehow. I don’t think video games should be banned - the majority of people would not accept such a proposal. Attorney Jack Thompson has tried several things and has failed. I want to do something that is not only acceptable to people but also acceptable to God. In light of these difficulties, I’d like to ask some social questions:

The problem is the entertainment industry at large, and society in general as well. Entertainers are getting raunchier and dirtier because thats what people want: shock and awe. It’s a trend that’s been down throughout the whole of history, and it will continue to be a trend so long as mankind is imperfect. Pray for the world and make sacrifices for the conversion of sinners, for such will aid the world greatly.

  1. Should the change start from the consumer end or the producer end?

Live in Christ, and worry not.

  1. I believe sexuality should be done away with entirely - it’s just not necessary. While I would agree that many games (like God of War, Grand Theft Auto, and Gears of War) are EXCESSIVELY violent, I’m not sure if ALL violence should be taken away. How much is too much?

I agree, and we must start small in battling the spirits of sexuality and violence (for our fight is not with men but with demons). God makes use of the small in order to bring out big changes in the world, just as He used the Cross to redeem mankind.

If you want to start something, make a fun game, like Mario Kart Wii or Pac-Man or some such. Gamers want entertainment; once the violence and sexuality gets too much, too general, that it’ll stop being entertaining. One can always hope, and work toward a better game.

  1. This is too much to demand of one man with little influence (like me). Is there any advice to offer anyone who wants a career in games yet wants to lead a morally sound life?

Nothing is too much for God, so unite yourself with Him and work through, with, and in Him. He trusts in you - you must trust in Him.

You can learn to develope your own games if you don’t want to join a company. See if your friends will join. You never know.

Hi, Matt! Welcome to CAF. :wave:

I used to play much more video games than I do at present. A wife and kids take a surprising chunk out of my video game time. :slight_smile: I used to be the king of Goldeneye and Mario Kart 64 back in the day…:yeah_me: :wink: (And I could still take anyone, anytime with proximity mines in the facility :smiley: )

I think we need to do what we can on both ends. If you have been blessed with a talent for computer programming and you feel God calling you in that direction, then by all means, do us all a favor, get in the industry and start producing high quality games without the questionable elements.

For the rest of us, we can help by simply not buying these bad video games and to start buying good ones. Eventually, people get bored with the sex and violence, which is why the next batch of games always needs to be even more over the top to hold people’s interest. I’m not sure if we’ll reach a breaking point in the culture in this regard or not, but I know I can take responsibility for myself and my family.

I agree. I’m not sure of the answer. Eliminating all violence would pretty much eliminate 95% of all videogames. We’d be limited to Tetris and Pong.

But I think there’s a difference in the violence of Grand Theft Auto as opposed to Super Smash Bros. Even something more “realistic” like Call of Duty is better than Grand Theft Auto, I think. It’s much easier for us to separate ourselves from the game when it is taking place in the the Mushroom Kingdom, or even a war zone as opposed to the city streets.

My first advice to you is to remember this: Everything does not depend on you! Trust in the Lord. He’ll take care of you.

No one person can do everything by themselves. It’s the people that try to do everything that get burned out and end up doing nothing. But when we do our part, it makes it easier for other people to do their part, and then we start to make progress.

We need good, moral people in the video game industry just as we need good, moral people in Hollywood. We can’t expect to change any industry from the outside. We have to also work from the inside. So if you have the necessary skills, desire, and moral resolve, I say: God be with you!

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