With the all the terrible gun violence happening in the United States, some are quick to point to video games as the source of violent behaviour. Senator Diane Feinstein, the democratic Senator from California has been a staunch critic of video games and “their role in perceived real world gun violence”.
Feinstein has been quoted as saying: “I think the really violent video game becomes a kind of simulator to practice on,” she said. “It enables the individual to become much more familiar with that depiction of death and blood. Of course it’s not the way it is in real life.”
All this talk of violence in the media is actually quite similar to the writings of Fredric Wertham in The Seduction of the Innocent. As we know, Wertham was instrumental during that time in influencing the CCA and was extremely critical of mass media, especially comic books and the violent imagery which they depicted. Comics depict death and blood, and are accessible to those same kids who play video games.
In a similar vein to Feinstein, Wertham writes that a superman comic had a “gun advertisement with four pictures of guns [that] completes the impression that even if you can’t become Superman, at least you can rise above the average by using force…The gun advertisements are elaborate and realistic” (Wertham 53).
But all this talk makes one wonder if video games and comics are truly that bad for kids, and for that matter, adults. It seems to me that video games are becoming more and more realistic looking, that’s for sure.
Recently, Science Daily, a popular science news website published an article saying that according to Iowa State researchers, there is a link between video games and youth violence and delinquency. The article stated that the “results show that both the frequency of play and affinity for violent games were strongly associated with delinquent and violent behavior. However, they also note that “just because a child plays a violent video game does not mean he or she is going to act violently. Researchers say if there is a take away for parents, it is an awareness of what their children are playing and how that may influence their behavior.”
With all the different medias coming out surrounding comics, there has been more video games depicting our favorite superheroes. Take for instance the video game that just came out today, Injustice: Gods Among Us.
In the game, you can play as both Superhero and Supervillain in a Mortal Combat style fighting game (NetherRealm studios, the same developer as Mortal Combat worked on the game). But the game also differs from other fighting type games as it was designed to appeal to comics fans by bringing storytelling to the fore. In the collectors edition, the game comes with both a statue, copy of Justice League Doom and the Injustice comic. The game starts where the comic ends off and each fight is embedded within the storyline. The game therefore is an extension of the comic and depicts the violence through a different medium.
While Injustice might not be bad as some others in terms of its destructiveness, it is still quite bloody and violent. While video games can be linked to violence/juvenile delinquency, I wonder if games based on comics like Injustice are really that bad. What do you think?
Wertham, Fredric. “Excerpt from Seduction of the Innocent.” A Comics Studies Reader. Ed. Jeet Heer and Kent Worcester. Jackson: University of Mississippi, 2009. 53-57.