Happiness is a warm gun

Happiness is a warm gun

Games in all forms have since inception been viewed as intellectually degrading, which is irrational (Johann Huizinga – play anthropologist) games are central to the formation of culture, we learn everything vital to being a person as a child through play. An example of this is God of War. Throughout the game we’re taught a rather twisted version of ancient Greek mythology but it has a basis in ‘real’ mythology and since mythology isn’t really real anyway what does it matter if it’s altered or not? Play is essential to civilised society. It’s a social pleasure and it mediates social interaction, but what if games could mediate or incite crime like the facebook riots?

 

We don’t really want to kill real people in games, that’s why they look so computerised (people in games don’t look like people in the real world usually but they’re starting to) or wear masks or are just plain reprehensible (Inhumane actions result in a character becoming less human), we dehumanize them, separate them, they become the faceless ‘other’. Still the subject fascinates us as most taboo subjects do and video games allow us a neutral non-judgemental environment to play with these ideas of murder, crime and revenge. In that respect gamers are more like sense explorers, than children playing. They are the philosophers of the 21stcentury; they sample a variety of emotions and sensations that not everyone can or is willing to experience, everything from fear and loathing to love and lust as well as pure child-like wonder.

The obvious worry is that people will learn or develop violent behaviour from playing games. In reality a video game has no more power of an individual than a film or a book, it’s just information, holding a gun or a knife and a controller are so far removed it’s laughable. Obviously it’s beside the point, erections don’t rape people, people rape people.“The fighting game, like fighting itself, will always be popular “(Poole 2000). Sadly people are savage in nature, every art form we have originates from that savagery before the television we had public executions and the coliseum and still the most popular forms of media are those that glorify violence, but what’s wrong with that? If mindless violence is not entertainment, then what is?

Although we’ve had light guns for a long time in arcades that emulate the look and feel of real guns, reason dictates that one day there may be a game that could in some way teach you something be it combat or cooking but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Knowledge is without agency, although it is said to be power knowledge has no will of its own it’s what is done with that power that is paramount and that is up to the individual.

 

That being said although the subject matter of most games may centre around murder, games are actually more like sport. In a game the goal is not actually to kill but to win, killing is just the means to an end it’s not an end in itself.

So although in the game Hitman you are a professional assassin and the objectives of the game are to kill people the pleasure doesn’t come solely from the act of killing (admittedly some of it does) the joy of the game comes from the journey and the eventual conquering of the game, saving the world/princess/Holy Grail whatever it is. Killing is just a minor part of whole game, it can never be the main focus.

If there was such a game just about killing you could put all the names of the people buying it on a register because the only people that would play it would be undoubtedly insane and it would probably never make it onto the shelves anyway.If you say video games are violent in the sense that they train someone to be more effective at killing or increase aggressive tendencies then martial arts, body building, fencing, shooting, paint balling etc. should also be suspect. Even if video games did increase the ability to kill they don’t necessarily increase the drive to. The drive to kill is down to the person playing. Just because you play manhunt carve out a niche in virtual butchery doesn’t necessarily mean you would turn those new found skills to actual murder, the two are not in the same ball park, they’re not even the same sport.

The game Madworld is a good example actually because although it’s a game about a murder game show your actual objectives are not to kill but to win the game show and you have this overarching story where you’re a government agent sent into to stop the game show. Another example of this is Manhunt a very controversial game by those lovely people at Rockstar who brought us Grand Theft Auto, that amoral classic. Manhunt is a game about making a snuff film but that’s the goal of your captor not your character, the characters goal is just to survive and get out of this maze of death and kill the director and stop the snuff film. So as a player you sort of a play a rival director following the snuff film directors orders for the time being so as to get closer to him and put a stop to him.

The bottom line is that actually it makes no difference because there is nothing to kill in the first place because it’s just a fantasy, the people aren’t real, all the meaning and the consequence of their lives were imagined and taking their lives has no permanence because you can select ‘new game’ and do it all again.


Article from Gamersyndrome.com

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About the Author

avatar Crime fighter/watermelon enthusiast from merry old England. Armed with a degree in Criminology and philosophy and an obsessive passion for video games. I spend most of my time ranting about video games as art and my goal in life is to be a ponsey video game art critic and die while smelling my own farts and/or build a deathstar so I can obliterate all those who disagree with me.