I’ve been following the release of Grand Theft Auto 4 with some interest. Unfortunately, I don’t have a PS3 or Xbox360, so I can’t kill thousands of innocents, and sleep with pixel prostitutes and generally carry on like a anti-social, unpleasant bad ass.
Obviously, theres a lot of controversy. Rockstar must love things like feministing.com, who seem very concerned with the ability to kill prostitutes after you’ve had pixelated ‘sex’ with them. Although to be fair, you seem to be able to kill anyone after doing anything. Excellent, equality all round!
Now game technology is improving at a much faster rate than anything in movies, et al, and games are a non-passive form of entertainment. At least at some level “I” am performing the actions. I find the argument that games cause violence incredibly weak. Perhaps it would make us less caring, more inured to violence. Perhaps. But would it be a causal factor? I find it very unlikely. At least right now. If you want to stop people shooting other people, get rid of the guns.
But… and this is a big but… I grew up playing pixelated pacmans, and sorcery+, and rampage and others. I did not grow up playing movie quality interactive software. To me, the line between reality and games is obvious. If I kill someone in a game, there is no relation at all to me doing it in real life, because I know the game is not real.
But what if you grew up playing these totally immersive games? Maybe not now. But maybe in 10 years, imagine GTA X. What happens to those generations? Does the level of immersiveness, closeness to reality make a difference? If so… when? And… how?
Fascinating world we live in!