If you are reading this article then you are probably one of three things: bored out of your mind, hopelessly lost, or my mother. I created this grand waste-o-space to share my thoughts on the game industry and identify what certain games are doing right and what they're doing wrong. Is that new game really as amazing as reviewers "get paid" to say it is? Here I hope to reveal whether or not a game is all that you dreamed.
With that aside, let's dive head first into the matter at hand: video games and their cultural relevance. At times I fancy myself a philosopher of sorts, so bear with me!
There are a gratuitous amount of people that look at games and dismiss them as mere toys; on the flip-side, those same people constantly criticize games and even attempt to hold said games responsible for their own failings as a society. How could anyone even dream of holding a toy responsible for a murder (The Manhunt incident)? Or any act of violence, for that matter? And no, Chucky doesn't count. Truth be told, people are caught in the choice of acknowledging video games as an acceptable part of our society or dismissing them like every other childish fad.
The problem is they are already far beyond that: they're a direct reflection of the state of our culture. Upon the dawn of the sixth generation of hardware, there came about a subtle shift in western made games, and it reached its peak in the 2005-10 period. Grand Theft Auto IV, Call Of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Gears Of War, Halo . . . the list goes on. Violence has become the only creative element that really sales; well, violence and whatever has "Wii" or "Mario" pasted on the front of it and "Hero" on the back.
Why is it that shooters sell so well? I'll give you a hint: it has something to do with violence. What's that you say? "Perhaps it's because people are so violent"? Bingo! Now, I know, right about this time you're thinking "but people have always been violent, Malcolm!". To that I'd respond with a resounding "duh" and then choose to completely ignore you . . . . Anyway, the reason that the best selling video games are so violent is simple: rebellion. The whole industry is in rebellion, mainly due to a complete lack of respect and acceptance that gamers experienced in the mid eighties to the mid nineties. Gamers were usually portrayed as creepy, basement dwelling scum, or better yet, angry fat kids. Well guess what? Those scum are the ones designing games nowadays, and since society wouldn't accept them . . . why should they accept society's rules? So they lash out through their chosen form of expression.
My little theory still doesn't pan out quite yet, amirite? Well the people buying the games right now -that's me and [hopefully] you- guess who they look(ed) up to? Their predecessors, the angry fat kids and the scum. So we buy what they say is cool; we're already naturally violent, so it's not like this takes much stretching. Thus the industry as we know it is born! There's also the theory that as the "faceless generation" we're merely seeking attention, just like with the "emo" movement. From one extreme to the other, or so the theory goes.
One way or another, what we've learned leads back to one central point: video games effect, and even shape, our lives in profound ways. Anything that has the potential to have the message of a novel, the shock value a of film, and the emotional roller coaster of music should never be regarded as "less than" or a toy.
As horrible as it sounds, video games can change lives (for better or worse), while toys can only change moods.