This weekend I picked up Grand Theft Auto IV. My wife wasn’t super excited about the idea so I asked her why and she said because it’s so violent. I asked her why punching someone on the street and stealing their car was more violent than shooting someone in the back of the head. She said because it’s in the context of battle and defense and something about WMD’s and that’s when she started to laugh at the absurdity of the issue and said that the one just felt more violent than the other.
It’s an interesting issue, both the question of which violence is worse and the bigger question of how video game violence affects our culture (if at all). I think there are good philosophical arguments for both sides, though I have a hard time believing either side without any solid evidence (which is difficult to quantify). Therefore I tend to lean toward the personal anecdotal evidence that it has no discernible affect on me (I’ve never been in a fight, have become less physically aggressive over time, am still horrified by actual violence, etc.). This is not to say that I will be playing these games with my 10-year old kid, but I’m not ready to blame our culture’s violent tendencies on Halo.
What are your thoughts on violence in our pop culture? Do you discern between Doom and GTA IV or is violence to aliens the same as violence to zombies the same as violence to human soldiers the same as violence to human citizens? Does the quality of the graphics matter? Do you have anecdotal evidence of it increasing kids’ aggressiveness? Are you someone who thinks all video games are a waste of time no matter what the content? What are your thoughts?