Violence in games

Since the Sandy Hook shootings I’ve played with the idea of reducing violence in my media. The worst music I listen to is LMFAO, which is sexist and stupid, but they have great bass lines. If they sang about shooting, I wouldn’t listen to it. Movies and tv are a mixed lot, but I don’t actually see that much violence, and when I do it is over the top, and often one side is advocating a stop to aggression (Naruto comes to mind). It may be that I just watch a lot of stuff, so the proportions are better.

Video games pose a problem. I don’t think that games make people violent, based on my experience and those of others around me. I played Dungeons and Dragons at a time when people thought we would go kill each other in steam tunnels. The actual game session is amazingly boring to non-players; if you didn’t have the audio, it would be like watching people working on an invisible puzzle together, but marking down notes and using grid paper as reference. I’ve also played many first person shooters, which are the obvious candidate for training people to be shooters.

Despite not believing that they are assisting people in murder, I wanted to give it a try, to see if I can get away from violence in video games. It isn’t easy.

There are genres that make it easy, like puzzles or racing simulations (though even those have popular titles that are laden with violence). When I look at my own favorites, it seems like the repetitive mini-game in each of them is to hit something with a sword. That isn’t great. And I am trying to figure out why. Is it conflict? Do we just naturally share stories that have people in danger?

I haven’t been exposed to real violence in years, and I feel like it fades from memory, the thrill and pain involved in suffering from or observing a human receive physical trauma. Maybe violence in media is a way that humans retain a cultural memory of just how bad things can get.

Regardless, I am troubled, because I have an opportunity to invest in violent games, or do something else. I am starting a new RPG campaign, using a system that seems to lean on violent encounters. At the same time, I will soon have a laptop that can play Guild Wars 2, a game that I’ve been excited to play for years, and which is basically grinding through violent acts for hours with friends online. I wanted to play because I am working so much it is useful to have a grindy and entertaining distraction to decompress before sleep. Now I am not so sure.

I am a gamer. The materials and processes that have emerged in my life time makes it easier than ever to create interactive stories for people. I love it. I want Clover to enjoy and learn from them. But I have a lot more thinking to do while I figure out how I want to be exposed to violence, and what it says about the stories we share.

「WORLD ORDER」の”AQUARIUS”

Whoo, been a long day! I almost didn’t make this post today, but it turns out like most World Order videos, it is the perfect way to decompress before resting.

This video starts out with some great shots of what looks like an area in Kyoto, kept up in a style from the past. Basically, where every highschool aged person goes to for festivals (in anime), and where every samurai rebellion happens (in anime, and sometimes for reals). I love it!

However, what really gets me about this video is that it is more tender and personal than the others, with the crew interacting differently than in past videos. Their hand movements and patterns, while still synchronized in a machine-precise way, are more intimate. I know, that sounds like a funny assessment, but I think it is part of the narrative. It could be that the robot salary men are becoming more human with each message. We’ll have to see how it develops. ^_^

Oh, and we got to see some ninja signing and techniques being done! Genki Sudo really held back, considering his background. That sequence was well done, especially considering how many times they had to perform it, in different locations.

Okay, next video in a couple of days, with a very interesting message, and their most intricate scene yet!

「WORLD ORDER」の “2012”

These posts are a little late, but it is time for another week of World Order videos! These are from the second album entitled 2012, which basically means there is no way to find out any info on this due to the search results you will find for “world order 2012”. Did you know that Genki Sudo wrote the Protocols of Zion, which will result in the end of the world?! No doubt that is why the crew is hanging out in Mexico, looking for secret Mayan/Vampire artifacts!

As usual, they are amazing, but this video is also really sweet. It shows many aspects of Mexican culture in one hyperkinetic montage. My favorite part is when they cut from in front of the church doing the extended-arm bit, and it goes to an elderly person holding a young child. The lighting is soft, and they look so happy; it snaps me back into realizing that World Order has a mission, and it is showing that we are all one. ^_^

A couple more videos coming later this week: synchronized martial arts action and one of the most intricate WTF moments of any World Order video!

Tropes vs. Women in Video Games

I am a dork, I forgot to mention this until I was just reminded… by the message thanking me for funding the project.

Anyhow, Tropes vs. Women in Video Games is a web video series by Anita Sarkeesian, the person running Feminist Frequency. It is important to me, because by examining these tropes, we have a tool to expose people to what they mean, and give us a chance create new and positive ideas that encourage equality, as well as just being more creative.

There are a lot of great projects on Kickstarter, but this one was in particularly interesting and disturbing. You can read the full post on the harassment Sarkeesian received, here is an excerpt:

The intimidation and harassment effort has included a torrent of misogyny and hate speech on my YouTube video, repeated vandalizing of the Wikipedia page about me, organized efforts to flag my YouTube videos as “terrorism”, as well as many threatening messages sent through Twitter, Facebook, Kickstarter, email and my own website. These messages and comments have included everything from the typical sandwich and kitchen “jokes” to threats of violence, death, sexual assault and rape. All that plus an organized attempt to report this project to Kickstarter and get it banned or defunded. Thankfully, Kickstarter has been incredibly supportive in helping me deal with the harassment on their service.

The sad thing is this kind of backlash happens all the time whenever women dare to speak up about gender and video games.

That is unacceptable! It is difficult enough to have an active voice and share in a culture that marginalizes your contribution by default, but this is so over the top, it is painful to hear. In order to improve our collective quality of life, it is essential that we are able to hear everyone’s voice. This cast the broad and diverse gaming community is a shameful light, mostly because all the chilled folks are having fun and increasing their hand-eye coordination, rather than spewing hate speech at people.

Anyhow, be on the lookout for these videos, and next time I will be better about posting early enough for you to support a great project like this! ^_^