Column is a monthly feature that explores the world
of creativity and aesthetics.
Killer Gaming: The
Instinct of Aggression
de Sousa, Director, AbleStable
A good computer or console game is
wholly absorbing. Whether you're
a newbie or an old hand, playing a
your place of being. The player learns
the rules of engagement as they pit their wits
against the unknown and progress through the
Good games require the right balance of challenge
and reward. Some pander to our thirst for adventure
and mystery, others to our ego,
competitive spirit, or aggression. I ponder on
when a game crosses the boundary from being a
positive force to
a negative one...
comes in all shapes and sizes. For this column
I will restrict my definition to
how it applies to gaming:
the player's actions result in sounds or images
that depict realistic pain or hurt in a representation
of a living entity.
do not view the cartoons of Tom and Jerry as
gratuitously violent. Their representation is
unrealistic and their recovery from misfortune
in expression and action, immediate.
In other words,
of violence is playful fantasy rather than one
level of game violence is an issue that we have
long contemplated in our home. We have a library
of games designed for
the Nintendo Wii which my son
his birthday in January - lucky boy :)
Sports which is bundled with our newest console
includes Wii Boxing. This is a "soft" boxing
game with three modes. In the main game the player
is rewarded when their punch strikes the face
or body of their opponent.
The opponent "reacts" to a well landed
punch with representations of mild pain. Their
changes and their body contorts in discomfort.
Monkey Ball Banana
Blitz, another Wii game, delivers a small
up in the pained
mention these two games as although they are
at the very lowest level of gaming violence,
there is no doubt the games cross a threshold.
What is interesting is that the many other
have "physical challenges" resulting
in an opponent being disadvantaged, do not appear
perceived gaming violence seems closely aligned
to the level of realism
in the negative effect a player's
opponent. That is, the game-play might be identical,
but there is no perceived violence
if the opponent is not represented as being hurt.
early example of a great series of games for
the Play Station One which contained cartoon
violence is Crash Bash. Indeed the game play
continues to be outstanding to this day, despite
the less sophisticated graphics as compared with
modern console games. There are numerous instances
characters are "bashed", but none where
they are shown to be realistically hurt. Crash
is like an interactive version of Tom and Jerry.
I don't believe the experience is any
less challenging or competitive because of the
lack of gore. It is however less aggressive.
and audio violence is de-sensitizing. One quickly
becomes accustomed to violence through a coping
mechanism which helps us
survive by giving us the ability to adapt to
circumstance. In the game and movie space however,
is a force
ever more increasing and explicit peril.
is no question that
we all need to be desensitized to a degree. If we
stay in the dark all our lives, the daylight will
be too strong to ever venture out into. That said,
if we stand in a floodlit room for long periods we
our eyes so as to not see the subtlety of colour
and tone. As with all things it is a matter of balance.
less our parents and peers are sensitive to our
needs as children, the less we feel empathy
to others in adult life. If we are ignored, so
we ignore, if we are loved, so we love. Think
about your childhood and how the seeds of your
temperament grew according to the climate of
your personal environment.
violence may be necessary in the
context of a narrative. I do not for example
view the depiction of violence in the movie
gratuitous, despite its intense and explicit
portrayal of Maximus Decimus Meridius.
The movie is about physical, psychological, and
political power and shows both
and brutal consequence. Playing
a console game as gladiator is very different.
The message and complexity of the movie
is transformed into a simplistic struggle defined
by violence and survival. It is the place
the deranged Commodus is seen to inhabit as a
bloodthirsty spectator watching the reinaction
of a battle in the Flavian Amphitheatre now known
as the Colosseum.
violent games is simple. Playing them is simple
focus is to stand victorious,
your enemies, inevitably slain. From
childhood we struggle long and hard to construct
a wall of bricks and know how short a time
to knock it down. You
choose whether to
spend time building, or
practicing the ignoble pursuit of destruction.
The greater challenge by far is to master the
instinct of aggression.
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