Has Game Violence Generated More Hostility in the Community?

People want to believe that extremely violent imagery has no effect on the behavior of adults. But are we seeing the opposite?
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In case everyone had forgotten, video games are supposed to be entertainment.

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Entertainment is supposed to be something one does in his or her leisure time, in order to unwind and decompress.

However, the disturbing trend continues: Gamers seem to only be “entertained” online when they’re screaming at each other. Now, being someone who grew up with gaming, and someone who participated in passionate SNES vs. Genesis debates in school, I’ve noticed the change. Granted, kids aren’t hostile and nasty by default (or at least, they never used to be), and this is now a mainstream industry catering to 20-, 30-, and even 40-somethings and above.

That stipulation being made, the evidence should be obvious.

Gamers seem to only respond to negative headlines, not positive ones

It’s true that in any walk of life, people tend to crave conflict. They enjoy the drama. I’m not one of those people but I like observing the effect such conflict has on a community; in the gaming community, that effect is quite pronounced. The hottest articles on any given day of the week are almost always inflammatory. In fact, they’re purposely inflammatory, penned by those who thrive on ad revenue, who have marked the very trend of which I speak.

It’s much easier to get hits with “10 Reasons Why PlayStation 4 Was the Wrong Buy” than to get attention with “10 Reasons Why the PlayStation 4 Rules.” Both are capable of bringing visitors and comments, but we all know which one will reign supreme when it comes to general activity. As a perfect example, I just penned a piece that focused on the beauty of our chosen hobby, as opposed to the rampant negativity that has taken hold.

Nobody cared. I’m not sure even a hundred people read it. At the same time, I’ve written dozens of other pieces that simply cater to demand: Give ’em what they want, as they say. But isn’t it sad that the best-written, best-researched pieces we’ll ever see (and no, I’m not claiming my piece qualifies) will never get noticed, while “PS4 Will be Dead by 2016” can get ten zillion hits?

Is this just standard Internet crap or has video game violence really had a drastic impact?

The anonymity granted by the Internet is a big problem. In fact, it could be the biggest reason why gamers act the way they act online. Still, can it really be the entire issue? It doesn’t seem possible, because I don’t see this when checking out other entertainment-related online communities. You won’t find this sort of behavior in a book forum, for instance, and it’s rare to see such rampant, asinine immaturity in music forums and communities. It gets a little worse when chatting about movies but even then, that industry isn’t a patch on gaming for outrageously awful behavior.

As we all know, gaming has gotten more realistic with every passing year. As such, what passed for violent gore in the past isn’t remotely similar to what we see now. We’re starting to see characters that really look human, and when those characters are subjected to the most brutal attacks, and the result is ultra-visceral gore, I wonder: How can it not have an effect? Even if it’s minor/subconscious?

Here’s my point: If the industry as a whole had gone the Nintendo direction, and video games were still like Zelda and Mario, and there were very few mature games in existence, would we be seeing the same disappointing trends in the gaming community today…? I’m not so sure.

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A gaming journalism veteran of 14 years, a confirmed gamer for over 30 years, and a lover of fine literature and ridiculously sweet desserts.