Video games: a world away from frogger, that’s for sure 2 Comments

Video games: a world away from frogger, that’s for sure

Video games are taking over. Believe it.

According to some, they will transform you into a leery-eyed serial killer, while others advocate that they actually reduce ‘real world’ violence and depravity. They can turn you into a drug addict, but they are also considered art. The most extreme games are illegal, yet easy to download. Whatever you think about video games, someone else thinks the opposite.

The lead column in the latest issue of Voiceworks (#80 MISSIONARY) is Giles Fielke’s ‘Video Games: A Virtual (and Violent) Reality’.

Here are some excerpts:

“…imaginary worlds are real and have always existed – human beings have forever had the ability to visualise themselves in another place or time. But because we can now actually create virtual spaces that exist as virtual terrain, and because this technology is becoming more and more ubiquitous (88% of Australian households have some sort of electronic device capable of playing computer games), it is time to recognise virtual gaming as bona fide and here to stay. New social norms nearly always encounter fierce enmity in their early stages before being treated more earnestly; this hostility is another generally accepted social norm in itself. Whether these new domains are ‘acceptable’ or not is not the issue. The reality is that once these new norms are borne into existence, they will persist regardless of institutional acceptance. To refuse to accept the illegal and extreme aspects of virtual gaming as a reality is both careless and dangerous.”


“In the now century-old film industry and the world of literature before that, simulation of violence and sex has been subject to similar regulatory and censorship debates that now face the virtual game domain. David Lynch, a director known for a penchant for sexual violence and horror in his films, upon being asked about his use of fear invoking imagery stated, rather bluntly, “Have the suffering on the screen, not in your life”.  While Lynch was talking exclusively about film, can we potentially apply this same rule to next-level media and specifically interactive virtual gaming?”


“The discussion of whether the actions of game users or game producers are legal is slowly fading into the background in the face of the incoming virtual world. ‘What the consumer wants the consumer shall have’ is the motto of the ultra-capitalist society that defined the previous century, and as Italian philosopher Giorgio Agamben has recognised, existing in a perpetual state of exception to the law is the overarching politic that governed the events of the twentieth century, and continues today. Similarly, popular culture commentator Randy Schroeder pointed out in his 1996 article ‘Playspace Invaders: Hulzinga, Baudrillard, and Video Game Violence’ that “in the video-game world, violence and breaking the rules are not only acceptable, but necessary to win…Video games do not teach the wrong ethics, they teach that ethics are superfluous: only the game counts and the game can be started over and over again…There are no more consequences, except the need to restart.” “

Giles’ column discusses the recent furore over the rape-simulation videogame Rapelay, the impossibility of regulation and censorship, and the possible cathartic nature of video games. The question I want to put here is: what do you think?

Is there a place for violent and ‘deviant’ video games in society?

John Birmingham wrote earlier this month that games have the capability…

“to create an entirely new aesthetic medium every bit as important as cinema or the other established visual or performing arts…games have the potential to offer an experience that is much richer than films. As an art form…film and television had the 20th century; games will have the 21st.”

Should video games have equal standing with film, literature, television and the rest of the entertainment/arts media?

Whether or not you agree, everyone is aware of the potentially beautiful and addictive nature of video games. A truly eye-opening and fascinating read is Tom Bissell’s account of how he spiraled down from prize-winning young writer to video game addict (with complementary cocaine addiction).

And apparently violent video games are good for your brain (at least according to The Sun).

  • Jenna

    As the article says, literature and films have been criticised for their inclusion of sex, violence, and topics of an unsavoury nature. I don’t think the banning of either is a good idea, and, in general, I don’t really rate censorship. It would be contradictory of me to use a different rationale for video games. There’s something to be said for the interactive nature of gaming. If it was a book or film there would probably be a clearer sense of you as the audience of the text, whereas gaming might blur the boundaries a little more and make players imagine themselves as their characters. However, it’s pretty easy to imagine yourself in the narrative context of a book or film, so I don’t really buy the idea that violent or deviant video games are the cause of violent or deviant behaviour. I would criticize the game RapeLay on an ideological level, rather than attack its medium.

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