Friday, July 04, 2014

Nobody dies in a video game?

Creative ways to kill humans? An awesome variety of ways to kill humans?

"Whoa! D'you see that? He shot him in the mouth!" "Haaa—the cannonball goes right through the guy's head!"

Um, every once in a while, step back to think about what you're doing when you play. Nobody dies in a video game? They're just polygons and normals? Games have come so far now from Castle Wolfenstein that the nobody-dies-in-a-game defense doesn't work anymore. With phenomenal rendering diffracting light off the edge of a forehead and cheekbone and animating individual stray hairs in realtime, you are definitely killing humans when you kill game characters. When you target a character, are you concentrating on the screen coordinates that fall within the render boundaries of a game character in a given frame of video so that associated animations will start playing? Function woundHead { if (hotpoint == "true") { findLocOnHead ...}? Of course not. You want to watch the guy's head explode.

It's true that playing violent games won't turn you into somebody who, in real life, opens fire on a campus or in a mall, I agree with you on that. But look at what you're doing. What you're enjoying. A fun leisure-time activity is turning people into small piles of ash or bloody carcasses? It's not like you're making large pixels displayed in a humanoid configuration turn yellow and radiate outward and disappear. Your targets are very real-looking humans. Those images of humans travel through your optic nerves in exactly the same way as images of humans in live footage displayed on a similar screen. If you saw the same carnage in live coverage of violence in Iraq, would your reaction be the same? "Did you see that? His head flew off! Let's watch that again!" No? Why not? Nobody dies on a TV screen. It's just pixels. If you're evolved enough to see the difference and to be disturbed by live images of violence, rather than entertained by them, why doesn't that translate into your game experience?

Why is it entertaining to view images of carnage that so closely resemble live footage?

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