There are a lot of debates about whether violent video games contribute to causing violence in the world. They do. To remedy that, some have tried to develop nonviolent video games, notably A Force More Powerful, which we have but have yet to try out fully because Jasmine‘s PC is so phenomenally slow. Violence in video games is so dangerous, in part, because it misrepresents violence in reality; there is no cost and no real effect.
Now, artist Zach Gage has created Lose/Lose, a simple arcade game that takes a small step toward changing that. When an object in the game gets destroyed, so does an actual file on your computer. Here’s his statement:
Lose/Lose is a video-game with real life consequences. Each alien in the game is created based on a random file on the players computer. If the player kills the alien, the file it is based on is deleted. If the players ship is destroyed, the application itself is deleted.
Although touching aliens will cause the player to lose the game, and killing aliens awards points, the aliens will never actually fire at the player. This calls into question the player’s mission, which is never explicitly stated, only hinted at through classic game mechanics. Is the player supposed to be an aggressor? Or merely an observer, traversing through a dangerous land?
Why do we assume that because we are given a weapon an awarded for using it, that doing so is right?
By way of exploring what it means to kill in a video-game, Lose/Lose broaches bigger questions. As technology grows, our understanding of it diminishes, yet, at the same time, it becomes increasingly important in our lives. At what point does our virtual data become as important to us as physical possessions? If we have reached that point already, what real objects do we value less than our data? What implications does trusting something so important to something we understand so poorly have?
Following Lose/Lose, maybe it’s time for a new rule: violent video games must have violent consequences. I cringe, though, at the thought that people would probably play them anyway, just as they continue to get into real fights.
At the very least, it is time for a real warning on video game packages. Not just the current system of labels which even seem to make a violent game look more enticing, but truly substantive warnings, as on cigarettes. The research exists to support it. Still, that’s pretty pedantic. Do grown-ups really need to be told that they shouldn’t fantasize for hours about going on killing sprees? We should know better.
(h/t Joel Dietz)
Correction: A previous version of this post stated that the game only deletes files internal to itself. Zach Gage wrote in to clarify that, indeed, the game can delete any file on a user’s computer.
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seriously? get over yourself. violent video games dont magically make people violent.
I’d suggest looking at this article from the APA, cited above. It may not be magic, but there is a major correlation.
How about this:
That graph, despite the pretty video game covers, doesn’t really capture a causal link between the games and the levels of violence, for which there are a great many other factors. The APA article is much more to the point.
Eric is now the proud owner of this video game as I’ve given up all hope on my Commodore 64
I’ve been playing violent video games for decades and never had any violent tendencies. I know A LOT of people who play the same games, and not one of them has flipped out or even used harsh language because they play these games. With the number of people I know, according to the nonviolent game crowd it should be a statistical certainty that at least one of them would have gone postal. None have.
The article you cited is chock-full of weasel words and phrases (have been linked to, data suggests, “some” studies) that it’s really hard to take it seriously. What’s even more silly is that 8 out of the 10 references were produced by the author. You can prove anything if you’re self-referential, just look at the Bible. You also gotta question anyone who draws “factual” conclusions from meta-analyses.
What the problem is that there are crazy people out there. Crazy people do crazy things. Crazy people play video games too. I’m sure that at some point practically everyone who has committed a murder played a video game at some time. You might as well blame v-necked t-shirts for violent crime while you’re at it.
Oh, goodness! I’m wearing a v-necked t-shirt today. Watch out for me.
But seriously. You’re right that much of the research cited in that article is by the author. And one is a “meta-analysis.” But these are articles that appeared in peer-reviewed scientific journals, including Science, the Annual Review of Psychology, Review of General Psychology, and more. You can’t publish in journals like those by making stuff up. In an interview format like this, it makes sense that he should be citing his own research—that’s the work he knows best.
Your countering his claims (based on professional research) with the evidence of your personal experience and that of “A LOT” of people you know, actually, is far less reliable than anything he’s saying.
If your child is playing video games, steer clear of multiplayer options. Typically, these games allow a chat feature, which means that your child may be talking with people much older than they are. If you do allow it, make sure that you monitor play time closely so that you know what your child is exposed to.