Is Doom too violent?
Doom is awesome. That's an understatement, really. It is one of the best franchises to come out of the nineties. And despite the old, pixelated graphics and 8 bits sound bytes, it's still really fun to play. Now that the brand new Doom is coming out in 2016, we can all drool at the yellow-filtered awesomeness that is the teaser trailer.
However, not everyone is as ecstatic as fans about this upcoming bucket of awesome. Anita Sarkeesian, feminist activist and gamer, recently voiced her upset over the trailer on Twitter:
What Sarkeesian doesn't seem to understand is that "because Doom" is, by any fan's reasoning, a pretty darn good excuse for violence in a video game.
Part of the beauty of games is that there's such a wide range of styles, stories, and genres that being unable to find something you like is nearly impossible. And despite the very popular idea that violence in games equals violence in real life, there is little to no evidence to even suggest this.
A Quick Study
A chart from the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime ) clearly shows that as game sales go up, violence actually begins to drop. Countries that have larger consumption of video games than the United States have a very low gun-related crime rate.
In Britain, Oxford University conducted a small study on the effects games have on children. It showed that children who play games for long periods of time might become more aggressive, but this effect doesn't vary between violent and non-violent games. According to the author of the study:
“All observed behaviors were very small in magnitude, suggesting only a minor relationship at best and that games do not have as large an impact as some parents and practitioners worry."
There are numerous other studies that do not only disprove this theory, but debunk it so hard it should be dead and buried by now.
So is Doom too violent?
Yes it is! It is a bloody, crazy, gory mess of violence and madness. The developers are sticking to the roots of the original, and turning a pixelated horror-show into a nightmare-inducing CGI horror show. This is hell after all, and that is a very good thing.
Gore in games like Doom, Mortal Kombat and GTA 5 are staples in a their specific genres, wherein players can (and are supposed to) embrace the violence of the game and enjoy the adrenaline rush. Ripping a monster's head off is almost gratifying, and that's the idea behind these games -- just good, clean fun. And "gore galore" is something the film industry seems to enjoy just as much.
A film like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, which was released in 1974, was thought to be too violent, and was at first rated X before being changed to R. Today the film is decidedly 'low-key', and more gore is welcomed in movies, not demonized. People grow, as do the industries they work in. What seems like the devil today might just turn into a harmless shadow tomorrow. We grow accustomed to what we see, and in 10 years' time this trailer might even be seen as 'not gory enough'.
But why the upset from so many people?
Simply put, these games are not for everyone, and people react to things that upset them. Mortal Kombat X had much the same problem last year, which seems to be a running theme with that franchise. Death Race, the 1976 video game, also had the same problem when it first came out. Yet today we barely hear about it.
Trying to root out violence in these games because it offends you is not fair to the franchise or its fans. Doom is part of a genre aimed at a specific group of people, and that group doesn't need to include everyone -- just the ones who actually enjoy this style of game. If you don't like it, you don't have to play it.
Perhaps this sentiment is most aptly stated by Bethesda's Pete Hines:
"If you're not into violent, bloody video games... Doom is not for you,"
Preach it, Bethesda. Most of us will be playing our hearts out when Doom hits the shelves. And we will be loving it.