The Necessity of Violence
Winnie Song

I appreciate the thoughtful treatise on human nature but maybe — just maybe — you made a video game about violence because you wanted to make money.

Maybe it’s not some grandiose acknowledgement of the supposedly innate violent tendencies in humans, which sounds cool but is rather uncooly used to justify a lot of crappy stuff outside video games. Maybe instead the act of mobilizing those arguments allows you to justify the position you wanted to take from the start: you want to be a successful game developer and successful games are sometimes very violent. This is why you make the argument, again and again, that you’re just catering to our supposed biological capacity/desire for engaging in actual, non-virtual acts of violence. Why? Because it serves your purpose.

You state at one point that the games you love aren’t really about violence. That they have violence in them but it isn’t their main focus. Unequivocally that’s worse because it makes violence the subtext, the scenery, and the unquestioned background that gets uncritically swallowed by those who interact with it. Just like in your video game.

An interesting research question would be to see whether people who have actually experienced or witnessed the violence you portray appreciate your game. Because my guess is that the vast, vast majority of your players have not and can thus dwell in the blissful ignorance of what violence really entails. I would also bet that people with real-life experience don’t engage with the types of material you just produced.

Maybe that’s just it though — video games like yours give people the illusion that violence is somehow under their control, that they can manage, confront, and overcome their fear of being both violent and violated. That’s why it seems so fun (to borrow from Tarantino). But it isn’t fun. Fun is the illusion we get sold by movie producers and game developers under the guise of ‘art’.

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