How often do you think about gun violence in gaming?

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Posted by liquiddragon (3526 posts) 9 months, 28 days ago

Poll: How often do you think about gun violence in gaming? (248 votes)

Almost every time I play a game with an emphasis on shooting guns. 8%
Often (at least once every 1 to 2 weeks) 5%
Fairly often (at least once every 1-2 month) 8%
Once in awhile (6 month to a year) 9%
Only when tragedy occurs. 5%
Never 61%
Show votes 4%

Hey, I'm not trying to start a debate on gun control and I'm obviously not blaming gaming for mass shootings. I do however think it's worth thinking about our media, our culture, because all of it is at the end of day, no matter how small, both a reflection and an influence. Gaming is a piece of that puzzle, a piece I'm assuming, we all engage with a lot. And shooters, even if you're not that into them, are hard to avoid.

I know very little about guns in real life. It's not something I grew up with or have had any interest in. As an immigrant, it's something I still have to grapple with about this country, even to this day after having lived here for 20 years. I might've touched one once in my life, and I mean touched, not held.

These days, and I'm sure a lot of you feel this way too, a tragedy feels like a countdown to just another one.

Anyways, do gun violence in real life make you consider more about their depictions in your entertainment? Sometimes it crosses my mind and it seems so insane how prominent, how popular the genre is and millions upon millions of ppl are in front of their screens, virtually murdering with their favorite firearm of choice.

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#1 Posted by nutter (2297 posts) -

Games have a limited narrative/interactive toolset. Shooting is an easy point, click, change something mechanic. Violence and action are easy languages.

When games aren’t about cutting or shooting fools, they tend to be simulations like sports or racing.

There are more narrative games these days, which is cool, and adventure games made a nice comeback, also cool. But making things dead with guns, knives, fireballs, or fists remains easy to convey and sell. Other games are relegated to emo or walking sim slang.

This might be an unpopular opinion, but I really love some of the action movies that have been coming out of Indonesia and South Korea over the last decade or so. The latest example, the Netflx-optioned The Night Comes for Us makes me want to join the NRA (not really, it’s just a visceral gut reaction).

The amount of horrific violence inflicted by signs, tools, and household objects makes me wish these characters would have guns to just get it over with. Not that I want to lose the amazing choreography, nor that I think it would improve the movie (it wouldn’t), but my empathy meter goes off the charts seeing the folks in that film just brutalize each other so horrifically.

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#2 Posted by hans_maulwurf (642 posts) -

Hardly ever. As far as I can tell - other than when it comes to armed forces/police - I've never even been in the vicinity of a real gun, let alone touched or fired one. Guns are a concept as much removed from the reality of my day to day life as any other crazy action movie shit. Consequently, shooters also feel quite removed from any kind of perception of reality that I have.

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#3 Posted by burncoat (559 posts) -

I don't know if I should vote for "fairly often (once every 1-2 months)" or "only when tragedy occurs".

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#4 Posted by oldenglishc (1547 posts) -

Are you Jack Thompson? You have to tell us if you're Jack Thompson.

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#5 Posted by Justin258 (15690 posts) -

If nobody ever brought it up, I would never even think about it.

I can count the number of times I've been to a gun range with my fingers. I have fired two or three different handguns, a bolt action rifle, and a shotgun (cannot tell you any details about any of them, sorry). I didn't particularly enjoy any of them, but I am glad I had the experience so that I know at least something about firearms. Even with my limited experience, I can tell you that firing a gun in a video game is nothing like it is in real life. Shooting a gun in a video game is about as close to real-life shooting as driving in a video game is to real-life driving. Just not the same thing at all.

It's worth noting that I do spend a fair bit of time playing FPS games and I kind of always have, but the experience is so arcade-y, so disconnected from what it really feels like to shoot a gun, that it doesn't even connect as a related thing until I think about it. It's a gameplay mechanic in a fantasy world so ridiculous and nonsensical that my consciousness doesn't connect the two together until I actually think about it. I've also never played ARMA and I've only played a little bit of Insurgency at some point. Games along those lines never interested me - no, I don't want your slow, plodding, clunky game that prioritizes half-baked "realism" over actual fun.

These are just my experiences, however. For me, it's an adrenaline rush, a competition and challenge of skill or a representation of a cool action movie that I get to be a part of. That's just fun.

Sometimes it crosses my mind and it seems so insane how prominent, how popular the genre is and millions upon millions of ppl are in front of their screens, virtually murdering with their favorite firearm of choice

Art is kind of a funny thing. We describe it as "entertainment", as "media", sometimes as "fun", but all of those things really fall short of art that doesn't represent anything fun. I checked "Let the Right One In" out of the library two days ago and have already finished reading it, I was glued to that book. Why? Why would I, a mentally stable person who is usually very calm, never violent, and frequently rather passive, get into a book that features discussion and description of grisly murder, pedophilia, and a dude who pours acid on his own face without dying? I've also spent time listening to death metal, a genre of music which is also frequently grisly and repulsive, so what's up with that? I guess I just enjoy some really messed up art? Along with a whole lot of other people, because this stuff keeps getting made?

I'm digressing outside of the discussion of guns in art, though, and asking questions that I really don't have an answer to. I guess what it ultimately boils down to is that humans are, in some capacity, violent creatures, and even though violence provides no benefit to us in society we can still get a rush from it when it's in video games/movies/books/music/etc.

As far as when guns are involved in mass shootings... that's a different discussion altogether. I am by no means an expert in this field and what I have to say should be taken with a grain of salt. I don't think that video games/movies/music/whatever have much to do with that, they're a very convenient scapegoat for organizations that benefit from pointing the finger in another direction. People who take up firearms and shoot random innocent civilians don't do it because they played the No Russian level in Modern Warfare 2 or they shot up random people on the street in Grand Theft Auto. They do it because they want attention, or because they're sociopaths, or some combination thereof.

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#6 Posted by Asmo917 (839 posts) -

I enjoy shooters. I don't like real guns. Somehow, I'm able to hold these two ideas in my mind at the same time and recognize, if not reconcile, the hypocrisy.

I think about shooting and violence in games fairly regularly. I wish we had more designers and developers willing to explore ways of interacting in games with your environment and with other characters/players without shooting, or violence in general. I don't know what that looks like outside of what we've been shown so far, as @nutter has already pointed out: sports games, simulations, "narrative" games. I want to see more experimental takes on conflict and conflict resolution. I really like and think it's brilliantly subversive that Far Cry 4 could just end with the player completing their stated goal if you just...waited. I also played a shitload of that game gunning down anything that moved.

Smarter people than me have said this better, but you can enjoy something, love it even, and still engage with it critically and wish for it to be different or better. That's where I am with video games in general and options for dealing with conflict.

And yes, I plan on playing more Black Ops 4 tonight. People are messy contradictions, yo.

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#7 Posted by Marcsman (3823 posts) -


Not real, they're games.

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#8 Posted by someoneproud (624 posts) -

Think about real life gun-violence a bit but never due to depictions in games.

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#9 Posted by Corvak (1975 posts) -

I think the connection between tragedy and pop culture is partly a result the human penchant for pattern recognition. We love patterns, and it's what pushed us above all the other primates on the evolutionary chain. We used it to learn how to farm, and how to build civilizations. But we also get so obsessed with patterns, that we force them where they don't exist. We connected stars to form constellations, we see faces in random objects or playing old rock albums backwards and hearing 'demons' in the distorted sound.

I feel like this is why it's so easy for us to make the connection between events and circumstantial evidence. "This person committed gun crime, but also loved Grand Theft Auto" or "someone worshipped Satan and played Magic: The Gathering". It's especially apparent when the person doing the analysis doesn't understand the pop culture phenomenon being blamed, because they didn't grow up with it. It's why our grandparents' generation blamed Rock and Roll and comic books for so many things in the 50s and 60s. It's why our parents' generation blamed video games and rap music for those same things. The lesson I take from that is - if and when there is a new media that our kids are into, take an arms length look at what it is before simply blaming it for all of the stuff we don't like because we grow to fear change.

It's an entirely different (but no less controversial) topic, but if I were to blame video games for something, it would be implementing blind loot boxes, and mimicking the stuff casinos do to entice gamblers to part with their money.

I think my take is that no, violence in games does not cause violence in the real world, but also as a fan of video games, our continued obsession with gun violence in games is getting stale and overdone, and there are far more inventive ways of telling a story, whether it's about war, crime, or anything else than simply giving the player a gun and a bunch of targets. I feel games are slowly realizing this - or fans are less quick to jump on shooters - and this is changing how things are done. For an industry built on the constant change in tech, video game publishing tends to be intensely resistant to change in all areas except graphics.

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#10 Edited by blackichigo (436 posts) -

Not very often because it isn't real.

I'm way more concerned about actual gun violence.

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#11 Posted by Efesell (4568 posts) -

I guess that would depend on the weight a game would put on its guns, which given how most games try very hard to invoke them as cool virtual toys then I think about it very little.

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#12 Posted by frytup (1346 posts) -

Basically never.

I do all kinds of stuff in games that I'd never do in the real world, and the two aren't even remotely equivalent in my head.

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#13 Posted by Slag (8159 posts) -

I mainly think about it in terms of the fact it seems like guns and combat are in just about every game. Seems incredibly artistically limiting to have such a high % of video games use that as a core play mechanic when you compare to games (sports, board games, playground games whatever) throughout human history.

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#14 Posted by UnrealDP (1310 posts) -

Are B and E the same answer.

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#15 Posted by FrostyRyan (2924 posts) -

When the game itself attempts a commentary on violence in games.

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#16 Posted by CaLe (4799 posts) -

Once when that shooting involving little kids happened. A new Far Cry had just come out and I just didn’t feel like shooting things for a while so stopped playing. So yeah, just the once so far.

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#17 Posted by The_Nubster (4292 posts) -

Pretty much every time I see a game with guns as the main way to interact with the world. I'm just sick of murdering stuff and hurting things and causing havoc in most games. If the setting is more fantastical and abstract I can get down with it but boy do I really, really not enjoy shooting real humans with real human guns.

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#18 Edited by hnke (189 posts) -

Murder simulators must be banned, and don't even get me started on parental shower simulators.

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#19 Posted by Nodima (2638 posts) -

Every once in a while, usually when it seems particularly gratuitous. I don't mean like DOOM, but that school/neighborhood shoot 'em up Hate or whatever it was called. Or times like succumbing to the hype and refreshing the Red Dead Redemption page over and over only to see posts like "I hope there's more guns than GTA V that had like two templates reskinned over and over". I would take one good gun, or axe ala God of War, as long as it felt right and suited the game. I often do just stick to a gun or two in games like The New Colossus or DOOM, really.

I'm also deathly afraid of guns in real life, to the point I refuse to fire one out of fear that'll be the time it backfires even if a decorated military professional is the one loading it, so I don't have much patience for gun culture, especially the more modern and (to my mind) unnecessarily deadly the guns get. I'm the sort of person that finds real-world violence in the 21st century a completely bizarre notion despite its exceptionally common occurrence, so sometimes I get a little down on the fact that I spend a decent amount of time gunning artificial intelligence down in video games and getting excited about advances in rag doll physics.

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#20 Posted by Captain_Insano (3533 posts) -
No Caption Provided

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#21 Posted by Rebel_Scum (1442 posts) -

It's a good question but never because I don't live in the US where gun violence is a problem.

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#22 Posted by Tom_omb (1073 posts) -

I don't think of tragedies in the US based around gun violence very often when I play games. Also, I'm not American.

Guns, swords, fists... fighting and killing in general is an extremely common core game play mechanic. I don't necessarily have a problem with this. I think it's a healthy and safe way for many to let out their aggression. But I'm not the biggest fan of combat as an involved mechanic, it's more like the thing you do while you get to the interesting stuff, like exploring a world or progressing a story.

I do occasionally think if there are better ways. I applaud developers who make games that aren't based around combat. There's a lot of negativity in our culture and games without violence can be a positive influence. We don't need to feed on aggression all the time. Not that all games with combat are offensively aggressive, but it is a bit of a cliche.

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#23 Posted by NTM (11872 posts) -

Most recently... pretty recently. And not because of any current issue that is happening in reality. Just how it is actually kind of weird to enjoy and see people revel in the act of shooting in games, like with recent discussion of RDR2 (which I just so happened to pre-order an hour ago, and I never pre-order) where it had a bunch of people talking and laughing at their experience of shooting human or animals in it. It's weird to me personally because I love guns and shooting in games, but I kind of detest it in reality. I don't really ever want to go to shooting ranges and try shooting guns myself.

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#24 Edited by John1912 (2504 posts) -

I kinda hate these topics.. Along with games being too sexually exploitative. I am anti gun, and 100% advocate gender equality. But I also support freedom of speech. I have yet to meet a person where either of these issues has personally impacted their ilfe through video games. There are plenty of people on both sides. I have played games since the 1980s. NOT ONCE has it EVER changed my life, how I think, or act! Its FANTASY!

How many books can you pull off the shelf with similar themes? How many women watch day time soap operas, or books with Fabio on the cover. Im sorry but while I support the left wing, it gets taken too far. The world has become a partisan shit show for it. Slow your roll. Video games are not the place to start.

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#25 Edited by WezqApe (86 posts) -

Pretty often ever since I started to wonder why I find it pleasant to spend my spare time virtually murdering thousands of people. Of course the Battlefields and Counter Strikes that I've spent hundreds of hours playing aren't real, but at some point it became impossible to ignore the cognitive dissonance between abhorring real life violence and shooting and killing people in a game for fun.

I have no issues with people playing violent games nor do I wish anyone to stop playing or developing them, and I still enjoy many games with violence in them, as long as there's a reason for it. For me it was just important to step back, acknowledge what I enjoy and attempt to understand why.

I actually found it funny that I decided to avoid first person shooters for a while and at one point enjoyed a 4x game where my strategies caused the deaths of billions of innocent virtual people due to war or starvation instead.

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#26 Posted by steveurkel (1611 posts) -

I spent half the day at Mandalay bay today and I thought it was sad, but then I went and played a video game with guns and I didn't conflate a real life tragedy with the tool I use to escape the tragic murderous shit show of earth.

Red dead reviews fire off in an hour. I hope to god no one makes this a thing due to the violence in that game.



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#27 Posted by soulcake (2818 posts) -

I think it's since Hatred since i last thought about this, I get the "edgyness" it was going for but in the end it just a other "look at how controversial we are" like a Postal, it's just there the shock the weak of hart. And as a European you almost never get in touch with guns in your daily life (at least i don't). maybe if you're in the military or the police force. So it's kinda neat i guess that you can use games to "explore" what these things feel/could do in real life. I play a lot off Mil sims so i guess that's what i mean with "feel" of a gun as a tool.

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#28 Posted by AdamALC (295 posts) -

Games are games, movies are movies, books are books, scrolls are scrolls etc. Humans have always glorified violence in their entertainment as a means of catharsis.

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#29 Posted by FacelessVixen (2668 posts) -

Given what I've been playing recently: Pokemon Ultra Sun, Mario Kart 7, Star Fox 64 3D, and Monster Hunter World, not really.

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#30 Posted by Brendan (9218 posts) -

I'm Canadian so I absorb (and therefore think) about gun violence in real life quite a bit but for games that are largely military/sci-fi military settings the two are never connected in my head.

The only time I've ever thought about it was a few years ago when playing GTA V, and felt uncomfortable with the slapstick sandbox ability to shoot random innocent people. Felt weird when images of American mass shootings popped into my head.

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#31 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

Gun violence, in and of itself, is not something that bothers me in games, movies, or books. What I tend to be more personally bothered by is specific context. That is to say, depictions of "realistic" or "believable" modern violence are things I tend to stay away from. Fictional media depicting modern war, for example, is something I have little interest in. On the other hand, I've found movies like Hardcore Henry and John Wick to be incredibly fun to watch. The violence is so over the top and ridiculous that it ends up being entertaining, and even if it's using real guns, it's removed enough from reality to be entertaining: there's not a secret underground world of assassins, for example.

I have no problem with the absurd anti-demon violence in DOOM. (Demons are assholes. There. I said it.) Even something like Payday is so silly and dumb and unlikely to occur in real life that it doesn't bother me to play it.

I'm generally okay with "military" shooters as long as there's a sci-fi element to it. The one exception to this was Red Faction Guerrilla. A totally legit tactic in that game is sticking bombs to the side of a truck, driving it into a base, and detonating it. I did that a couple of times before I realized it was making me really uncomfortable.

A separate issue from how we engage with this stuff personally is how game companies engage with it. Wearing a ribbon on stage to show solidarity with victims while you don't change any E3 programming is hollow, and frankly I find it emotionally manipulative and worse than meaningless.

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#32 Posted by Puchiko (847 posts) -

Never. I know the difference between a game and real life. I play games to escape from the real world so the whole point of playing games would be naught if I was worried about being triggered by a game.

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#33 Edited by reap3r160 (269 posts) -

I put never, because I MYSELF don't see any connection between the two and IF I think about it it's only how games will be one of the first things to be brought up when something happens and just thinking, "here we go again".

In all seriousness I, like many others have pointed out, see zero connection between the two. If there were ANY sort of correlation or relation, with how much violent media is consumed around the world every single day, Earth would be one giant lawless wasteland.

Since others have sort of given their background on the matter. I love firearms, I've shot bolt actions, ARs(on semi of course since FA is illegal, at least in my state), SMGs, Handguns, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles, a couple machine guns, you name it. That said, I am by NO means a zealot and roll my eyes ANY time the NRA pops up on the news/in the media and do think gun violence is a very real issue and I have disagreements on both sides of the line, but that's an entire different discussion not to be had here. It's a hobby for me, just like any other hobby, it helps me relax at times and de-stress. Shooting takes skill and focus and is just fun to experience different firearms. I also play A LOT of shooters, for a lot of the same reasons but they are two EXTREMELY different experiences.

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#34 Posted by cikame (2915 posts) -

Guns are cool.

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#35 Edited by Hamst3r (5480 posts) -

I put never because "no, not really." - particularly not in how it relates to myself. I'm a gun owner but I'm not a gun shooter; that is, I don't go to the range and I don't play paintball. I did play laser tag a handful of times as a teenager though. I enjoy the depictions of guns in art, I know plenty of random gun facts, and I can identify guns in media...but I don't think I'd really call myself a gun enthusiast. It's more an enjoyment of trivia and simulation, mostly bolstered by sheer exposure - there are a lot of guns in things.

As for the violence specifically, screen violence isn't real violence. It's simulation, and as said a moment ago, I enjoy simulation. I enjoy role playing. I enjoy "what if" scenarios and thought experiments. In many instances, what I enjoy seeing or thinking about is completely divorced from what I enjoy doing. Think of watching a video of someone eating vs. actually eating. I'd rather eat. But then there's martial arts. I'd rather watch other people fight than actually be in a fight. But I'd also rather the fight be exciting and dramatic than dryly realistic.

The only time I really think about the depiction of violence in games and how that might affect someone in the real world is really just when it pertains to some of the bad corners of the internet that young people can get pulled into via the people they meet in-game. That, the game in itself isn't a problem, but the people someone young and impressionable could encounter while playing them could turn out to be a problem if that young person buys into the message the other person is spreading. If they end up seeing that otherwise random individual as an informed and trustworthy source of information. When you're young and are having a hard time sorting out your thoughts, someone who seems to understand you is a beacon of hope.

But again, I don't think the guns and violence in games are the problem. I also don't think real-world gun fun is specifically a problem. That said, I do think the stupidly easy purchase of guns is a problem, and the complete lack of any sort of national registry or mandatory training and licensing institution is a problem. Again, I own guns. Just an untrained and unlicensed individual with completely legal and unregistered firearms that I'm legally allowed to open carry in public without a permit. That's fucked up. That with the aforementioned bad corners of the internet - and just bad groups in general - that people can get sucked into (or are unfortunately born into and grow up in), I think we've certainly got a problem on our hands...but it's not the video games.