Is Doom too violent?

Anita Sarkeesian is unhappy about Doom's trailer. But does she have a right to be?

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:

anita sarkeesian tweet

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

video game violence

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.

Published Jan. 26th 2016
View Comments
  • topher339
    I think part of the problem is that many people still think of video games as a "kid thing". People imagine their 12 years playing this and don't like the idea. In reality, there's far worse games. Maybe not visually but morally.

    I don't understand why people put games in a different light than film. Most games pale in comparison to many movies when it comes to graphic content. Many things that are considered acceptable in movies, be it sex, rape, nudity, or gore, is treated with kid gloves when it comes to games. There really should be no difference. If something is acceptable in film, why is not acceptable in gaming? These day there are nearly as many adult gamers as kids. Everyone who was around for the NES or Genesis has grown up at this point.

    Bottom line is, there are movies made for all ages, the same goes with games.

    On top of that, saying something is too violent only reflects upon your specific set of moral value. There is not, and never will be, a single moral standard that all people accept.
  • Ashley SSS
    Associate Editor
    Did we hop in a time machine and go back to 20 years ago where people were losing their heads over Doom and Mortal Kombat? Say it ain't so!
  • Engela Snyman
    Featured Contributor
    It seems it is so! We are heading backwards in time! Despite`the graphical upgrades.
  • Mathenaut
    Didn't we leave Jack Thompson behind over a decade ago?

    Such deja vu. Bunch of irrelevant people outside of gaming complaining about things 'problematic' with it. The only impact made by moral censors is censorship, and it's a disturbingly growing trend for games marketed to the US of late.
  • Engela Snyman
    Featured Contributor
    There will always be a Jack Thompson somewhere in society. He's a crafty little bugger.

    I think if more companies just show the finger to these complaints, games will get back on track. It's the media fire-storm they're afraid of. We should just be grateful that Doom's developers are doing just that. Giving them all the proverbial finger.
  • Vordreller
    "Too violent" begs the question: according to which standard?

    People have individual standards. That's part of individuality, it's part of a what makes a society free.

    I wonder, are these people against the notion of individuality? Or just a specific few brands?
  • Engela Snyman
    Featured Contributor
    I think they like individuality but only the type that fits into their ideal. What they deem is good for them should be good for everyone, and they do so enjoy pointing out how much 'better' the world would be if people just conformed to their ideas.

    It's tiresome really, most people just try and ignore them.
  • Vordreller
    "What is good for me is good for everyone, the world would be so much better if everyone did what I approved of".

    Back in the 90's, we used to call people who said that "arrogant" and "megalomaniac"
  • Mackenzie Lambert_5420
    Doom is made for a specific market. For the past two decades, the franchise has made it clear it was not for family consumption. Leave it be. It is no one's place to be the self-appointed moral guardian.

    Anita has bigger things to worry about, like her long overdue for completion Tropes Vs Women or her 55% Twitter Audit.
  • Engela Snyman
    Featured Contributor
    100% agree. She really has no right to complain about a game that was never made for her in the first place. Doom is crazy, gory and awesome, the way is should be.

    And she really should focus on that Tropes vs Women series, it currently has a 1.9/10 ranking on IMDb, not exactly very promising.
  • Jay Ricciardi
    That's a shame about that IMDB ranking, it looks like another angry internet gang-up job: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3897284/ratings?ref_=tt_ov_rt
  • Ashley SSS
    Associate Editor
    You go out of your way to toot this woman's horn when she has done nothing to deserve it.

    If anyone else who did so little to fulfill their promises during crowdfunding would be lambasted, especially if they half-assed it to the point she has. Putting out so few videos, stealing Let's Play footage, and spouting misinformation about whatever game she's talking about in every video? Yeah, she's doing a great job and totally deserves an amazing score. Bravo!

    Gaming needs actual critique, not fear-mongering and misinformation. Her series is all but worthless and anyone who actually plays the games she talks about knows that.
  • Engela Snyman
    Featured Contributor
    I agree.

    But I don't agree with bullying, and this seems to be the case here, I do find Anita's video's not as good in any case. She likes to point out flaws in games that really aren't flaws to begin with (the whole Hit-man debacle is a good example), and the more her content is put under scrutiny, the more it seems to fall apart.

    People are upset because she isn't working on the series. She has put out a few videos, but not enough to appease the people who backed her. She really needs to focus on this.
  • Jay Ricciardi
    Ashley, I do consider Sarkeesian's work to be actual critique. It's not critique that makes some games look good. It's not critique that is perfect and I don't agree with 100% of the arguments. But it is actual critique - even if I don't like every word.

    I think it's worth saying: there are plenty of crowdfunding endeavors that have been slower and have changed over the course of delivery, and haven't been lambasted - not nearly to this degree, at the least. This is because Anita Sarkeesian is hated by some people. And it seems pretty easy to contribute that to the fact that talking about games and gender makes people uncomfortable, and some people feel attacked. Tropes vs Women in Video Games makes some gamers feel guilty about being gamers, makes some feel like they're the ones being criticized directly. But that's not the case.

    I do agree with some of her points. Look at the most recent video in the series about strategic butt coverings - I think she makes excellent, well-presented, critical points that are hard to argue against. That's worth a toot. That's good critique.

    I do play the games she talks about. I don't consider her work to be worthless and I don't consider critique of games I enjoy to be some sort of personal attack on me. And I think that's something not enough people are comfortable saying.

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