As we return from a holiday full of catching up on the year’s best and revisiting Skyrim via Dragonborn (an excellent DLC, by the way), gaming finds itself once more a part of the discussion in a serious debate. The events of Newtown set off age-old arguments on age-old issues—from the mouths of a defensive NRA, an outraged media, and a nation searching for answers. As video game violence once more became a hot-button issue, the industry responded this month with varying perspectives.
Gamasutra editor Kris Graft took the first swing, stating that gaming industry leaders agreeing to meet with Vice President Joe Biden to discuss the impact of violent video games on crime and gun use is akin to the industry admitting guilt in the matter at hand, becoming “part of the problem.” Graft suggested the industry make a statement by refusing to meet with Biden, thus avoiding convicting itself.
IGN’s Casey Lynch quickly countered, claiming that without meeting Biden, the unversed would have free reign to paint gaming with any brush they so chose. Lynch drove home the point that a refusal to cooperate “makes [it] appear that [the gaming industry has] no defense to offer . . . accusers.”
In what some construed as an overly defensive maneuver, the Entertainment Consumer Association (ECA) released an open letter to Biden, citing studies that claim there is “no link between violent video games and real world violence like mass shooting, bullying or youth aggression.”
Veteran developer George Broussard termed the media onslaught “The Video Game Witch Trials of .”
Lost in the shuffle of all this (and this is where you come in, dear reader) is an unbiased perspective. Just as gamers scoff at the notion that digital polygons and plastic joysticks are the root of all societal evil, it is equally precarious to assume zero correlation between this specific form of mass entertainment and the culture of violence in which America resides. If any gamer can lay claim to not desiring to put a little extra weight on the gas pedal or avoid traffic by veering into the oncoming lane immediately after a marathon GTA session, let them speak now. As much as we would like to hope and even, in some cases, assume that basic common sense and intelligence will rule the day, there is, ultimately, still the potential of suggestibility. While the lens in which this should be viewed is often overly magnified, it is difficult to deny the existence of this issue entirely. With that said, any and all perspectives are welcome below.
In other gaming news this week, an intriguing Jurassic Park fan mod is in the works, Dead Island keeps it classy, and CD Projekt Red (of Witcher fame) debuts their next game.
- A Jurassic Park video game, lovingly coded and crafted in the Half-Life 2 engine by gamers doing so for nothing more than love of the franchise? Sign me up. Coming When It’s Done, as 3D Realms would say.
- One of the biggest pieces of buzz in the early New Year? Valve wants to compete with the console crowd.
- WTF is this? No, seriously, who thinks up this stuff?
- Irrational details specs for the PC version of Bioshock: Infinite, and it sounds like the developers are intent on providing a robust port for PC gamers.
- Finally, fresh off the success of Witcher 2, CD Projekt Red has released a teaser trailer for their latest project, Cyberpunk 2077, which depicts a future in which humans embrace cybernetics and in turn, rebel against their natural flesh-and-blood state. Given the developer’s past work in world-building and their attention to detail in the Witcher universe... rest assured, there is great promise here.
- Speaking of Witcher, a secret message hidden in the above trailer seems to indicate that the Witcher 3 may be announced on February 5. Stay tuned...