The greatness of videogames has nothing to do with violence

Not everyone plays or even likes videogames. With my passion for them and the fact that I enjoyed both learning new things as well as teaching others about subjects that I’m interested in, I’m always trying to get my friends to understand why I love videogames as much as I do. To me, a great videogame is the same thing as a novel or movie that people love. All you want to do is go around and tell as many people as possible to read that novel or see that movie even, if it may not be their favorite author or genre. Games are art to me and I take every opportunity I can get to show my friends who don’t play videogames why they might want to give them a chance.
I have one particular best friend that I’m always trying to show why I like videogames so much and I’m always trying to get her to see what I see. I believe that desire not only comes from the type of person that I am in general, but also the fact that she has always taken a genuine interest in them whatever I get excited about something, even though she has no interest in videogames whatsoever. Her biggest issue with videogames, and even movies to an extent, is the violence. She is absolutely appalled by any level of violence whatsoever. I understand her reasons for disliking violence and I respect her wish to not engage with anything that promotes it. Unfortunately, that makes sharing my passion about videogames with her difficult at times because there is violence in videogames for sure, but I don’t see videogames as violent. Most videogames do involve killing or attacking some form of enemy with levels of blood and gore differing depending on the game. There is a reason why many games have guns or other weapons and it almost always centers around the idea of being a hero.
In almost every videogame the player takes the role of the hero. What’s the most common goal of a hero in any story? To defeat the bad guy of course! While I would agree that combat mechanics are not always needed in videogames, it seems to be a universal way of allowing players to feel like they are fulfilling that role. My point about this is that, as a gamer, I recognize that there is quite a bit of violence in videogames, but violence is not the goal in most videogames. For example, the game The Last of Us is built around exploring, some light puzzle solving, but players spend a majority of the game killing enemies. That isn’t the point of the game however. The game is meant to tell the story of a man and a young girl traveling across the country in a post-apocalyptic United States of America. The prologue of the game has a very climactic and emotional ending to it. I thought it was so good that I found a video of that section of the game on YouTube and asked my friend to watch it thinking for sure that by the end of it she would say something like “wow, that was really cool.” I was hopeful that it would be a good example to her of why I think videogames are so amazing. Unfortunately, she came back a few minutes after I sent to the video clip and said “I turned it off as soon as I saw the guy get shot in the head.” I have to admit, I’m still a little frustrated about that because I feel like she missed the entire point of what I was trying to show her. She never saw the part that I really wanted her to see. Everything that happens up to the ending builds tension and is what makes the ending to the prologue effective. Yes, the game has violence in it, but the game isn’t about killing.
It might be futile for me to try and make people see videogames the way I’d like them to. I feel like games have come so far over the years with their storytelling, mechanics and graphics that it seems unfair to just write them off as things that you just shoot people in. To people who think that videogames are just shooting simulators: more than likely there will be a form of combat or violence in any game you see, but keep in mind that it might not be the point of it. Videogames offer so much more than just mindless killing. Next time you see a videogame that has blood or guts or people dying don’t just write it off as something mindless and barbaric, there might be a greater message trying to shine through underneath the violence.

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