Design Response

Argumentitive Essay

Our Fascination With Violence

Morality and public views towards virtual violence.

The never-ending feud between politicians and the video game industry began in the very early stages of video game development; the debate has almost endured as long as the industry itself. Schechter commented on this phenomenon when he stated that every time a new form of technology appears, it always stirs chaos. From the prevalence of pulp-fiction literature to comic books, people still fear the  influence of violence on seemingly well-established social systems.  Debates about video game violence seem to perpetually revolve around the specific technologies used to depict violent acts which are endlessly retooled with an eye toward interactivity, immersion, and realism.

The aforementioned video game Death Race was the first game to come under the spotlight. The game's company Exidy designed the game's mechanism to revolve around letting the player drive an automobile and running over pedestrians. Though technological limitations could only provide a very crude graphic quality; the car the player was driving only contains eight pixels. One could argue that the "violence" depends on context, as the technical limitations rendered the graphics abstract. However, to perceive pixelated black-and-white graphics as simple as those in Death Race as violent gore is not fantasy. Though it appears to be the only one under scrutiny at that time, Death Race was not an isolated incident of violent gaming; it existed in a field littered with competitor games with equally violent premises. Despite the overt violence in these games, they did not attract the scrutiny that greeted Death Race's entry into public consciousness. Many argued the Death Race is a symbol, which suggests that the game triggered outrage not only because it was violent but because it depicted violence that questioned the state's monopoly on legitimized violence and did not follow culturally accepted narratives of violence. Examples include military or police violence, or the Western film genre which possesses a controlled justice value in which authority is celebrated.

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