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Video Games No Longer ‘Murder Simulators’ In The Eyes Of Mainstream Media

For many, many years, the mainstream media outlets have been calling out the video games industry for producing games that glorify violence and turn the players into murderers. Violence is nothing new for games and has been around since the 70s with releases like Deathrace in arcades and in the early 80s with releases like Custer’s Revenge on the Atari 2600. As graphics, animations, and physics have improved, games like Manhunt, Call of Duty, and of course Grand Theft Auto have become the targets for the many outlets to claim as being murder simulators (term coined by disbarred attorney and anti-videogame activist John “Jack” Thompson).

Accusations by those practicing in law and in the media, as well as horrific events such as the shooting at Columbine in 1999, have lead to the multitude of studies that look at the wide range of potential effects that playing video games, violent and non-violent, have on the player. While there are some studies that have shown a ‘connection’ between increased aggressive behavior in players after sessions of violent gameplay, these are typically studies that only look at short term effects, improper definitions of what constitutes someone’s behavior, or were funded by sources that more than likely lead to biased methods and results presentations. Most studies have shown no direct connection, but media outlets have continued to say otherwise.

April 2014 marks the change that we gamers have been waiting for. The Guardian and MSNBC have both shown a change of heart. On April 17th, MSNBC aired a segment in which Ronan Farrow talked with gaming legends Rand Miller (of Myst) and Ken Levine (of Bioshock, Systemshock, and Thief) about the evolution of video games. They talk about how video games have grown in their focus on telling a story and providing an adventure that is driven by the player, something that films and books cannot do. Farrow discusses with Miller and Levine how games like Myst can be a non-violent game with a story to tell and how violence in games can also be a plot device.

Just a few days later, on the 20th, The Guardian released an article by Simon Parkin in which he postulates the idea that the video game industry is on track to overtake the film industry and literature in their abilities to tell a story. He touches on the laughable storytelling ability of games in their early incarnations, such as Space Invaders and Pac-Man, but quickly jumps to the $1 billion-in-one-week splash that GTA V made when it released in 2013, stirring a frenzy that the end of Hollywood was in sight. While other games have released that haven’t made the sales numbers of GTA V, titles like Dark Souls II, The Walking Dead, Tomb Raider, Gone Home, and Papers, Please are referenced in Parkin’s article as solid examples of the story telling potential that the video game medium has to offer the world.

Intro song is “Battlefield (Main Theme Cover)” By: TheInstrumentalCore

Music played throughout is “Firefall Menu Theme” by Boon Sim, the Sound Designer for Firefall
Captured using nVidia ShadowPlay & Edited using Adobe Premier Pro CC
Games with footage in this video: Loadout, Battlefield 4, Titanfall, Warframe, and Hawken.

*Copyright Disclaimer Under Section 107 of the Copyright Act 1976, allowance is made for “fair use” for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching, scholarship, and research. Fair use is a use permitted by copyright statute that might otherwise be infringing. Non-profit, educational or personal use tips the balance in favor of fair use.*

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