Violent Video Games in the Media

BY Andrew Miesner / May 26, 2009

Violent Video Game Media Coverage

Written by Earl “TheUltimateGamer” Lovings

(This is an editorial piece.  The opinions in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of compLexity Gaming or its parent company.)

In a 4 part article series, TUG breaks down each point of view in one of the most controversial topics in gaming. Part one is a bit of a history lesson…..
This past year in high school, I had the chance to do a research paper on a topic of my choosing. So, I figure, why not stick to the basics and go with something so easy, a caveman could do it? Joking aside, the constant barrage of media blasphemy that we see on a regular basis from “news channels” (I’m looking at you Fox News), the internet, and your every day newspaper trying to “protect the children from the devils work,” is just insulting to the every day gamer. It has gotten to the point now, that the government wants to step in and do the parenting job (*cough* California *cough*). Why and when did this all start? Have we as gamers become secret training dummies for the next epic war break out? Is there a common meeting ground so that, we as a gaming nation, can game in peace? Will “the man” have his way and soon be able to make it miserable to be a gamer? So many questions, 4 articles to cover it in.
Un-humble beginnings.
Since the dawn of anything epic, people have always wanted to bring it down. Comic books, TV, Rock and Roll, Movies, and Video Games alike. Since the release of the Atari in the early 70‘s, gaming has provided entertainment for the every day man. But, back in those times, the arcade was the place to hang out for fun times. Normally, having various arcade cabinets that people could either use tokens or quarters for hours of fun. One of the very first controversial video games came from this; Death Race. Exidy, the studio that created this game, was inspired by the movie Death Race 2000. In the game, 1 to 2 players could take control of on-screen cars to mow down gremlins that would come across the screen. Each time you would hit one of these gremlins you would hear a scream and they would soon be replaced by tombstones. This would also earn you points pending on how well you did your job.
The outcry from this controversial game was ineffable. Roughly, 500 units of the arcade game were shipped. Some were dragged out into the parking lot of the streets and torched. This game also got a run on an episode of 60 Minutes. That was only the beginning.
Moving into the 90’s
Roughly, 500 units of the arcade game were shipped. Some were dragged out into the parking lot of the streets and torched. This game also got a run on an episode of 60 Minutes. That was only the beginning.The early 90’s were filled with all sorts of controversy. Starting with the movement from the late 80’s of the home console. The rebirth of gaming came from the “Father of Video Games,” Shigero Miyamoto. Before Nintendo came into the picture, video games were all but dead to rights with the crash of the video game market. With this new system, gamers could now enjoy their games from the privacy of their own home. But, if you still wanted something that the home console couldn’t offer, you would go to the arcades. The next game to step into the ring of media fire was, MORTAL KOMBAT!!!! The game had you fighting your opponent, and each time you would hit them a certain way, you would see realistic blood fly from them. After winning 2 matches, the announcer would say, FINISH HIM! At that point, you could enter various button combo’s and dismember your opponent resulting in a fatality. The game later moved to the Super Nintendo and allowed gamers to turn off the blood and gore feature. Also, the blood was changed to the color green, if you didn’t turn off the blood and gore.
The Sega CD had a game called Night Trap. The story was: A group of young co-eds are staying at Mr. and Mrs. Martin’s for the night. The Martin family seems like a normal American family, however, odd things have been occurring at this house. Five girls who previously stayed at the place had disappeared, so the “Sega Control Attack Team” (“Sega” changed to “Special” once the game was ported to other consoles) is called upon to protect the new guests and find out what happened. As the new wave of girls arrive for a slumber party (one of which is undercover SCAT agent Kelli, played by Dana Plato), the vampiric Auger begin to invade the house (wikipedia). The media had a field day with both of these games, which ultimately lead to the development of the ESRB.
The shots heard around the world…
Deemed as one of the most controversial FPS games ever, Doom has always held the spotlight when it comes to media controversy. The Columbine High School shootings with students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold are always brought up in each discussion of violent video game controversy. The media tried to say that the 2 boys created level simulations of their high school and students in the Doom game. But, further investigation put that rumor to rest.
Moving into the 21st century
With video games moving into the 3D realm, it was only a matter of time until someone stepped up to the plate and pushed the envelope that extra mile. As controversial as Doom was, what game could top it? Grand Theft Auto. This game has caught scrutiny on many levels because Rockstar Games has gone that extra mile every time. Whether it be the hot coffee mod, showing full frontal male nudity, or giving people rewards for committing crimes, there will always be a Jack Thompson Jr. there to piss and moan about how “controversially evil,” this game is for anyone. Manhunt also falls into that category.
Since history can’t be repeated or changed, the only thing people can do is plan for the future. If the past is any set grounds for the future, its only a matter of time before the next controversy has its time in the spotlight.