Industry sounds off on violent games debate

Developers from Gearbox, Epic Games, and Blizzard challenge assertion that games cause violence; "It's like finding your dad's Playboys under the bed and blaming Playboy."


Violence in games does not cause violence in the real world. That's the message developers from Gearbox, Epic Games, and Blizzard have provided in a clip from the upcoming film Video Games: The Movie released this week.

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"There's always a lot of media talking about violence in video games. And certainly there are violent video games. But that's not how you describe the medium of gaming," Blizzard Entertainment chief creative officer Rob Pardo said. "The interesting thing, I think, with games, is that we actually have an even better ratings system than movies but there's still kind of this general misunderstand with the older generation that all games are like Grand Theft Auto. It would be like saying, 'We don't want anyone to go watch movies because all movies are violent.' But people don't say that because everyone really understands movies as a medium."

Gearbox Software creative designer Mikey Neumann said parents should be accountable for the media their children consume instead of blaming the gaming industry.

"It's weird how when you watch the people and they go to Congress and they're angry: 'Our kids are being corrupted.' I'm like 'Yeah, exactly. Your kids,' Neumann said. "They're your children; you should be not corrupting them. 'I leave them alone ten hours a day, he's getting corrupted by this.' Well no sh**. It's like finding your dad's Playboys under the bed and then blaming Playboy."

Former Epic Games design director Cliff Bleszinski is also quoted in the video. He said the causal link the media draws between games and violence is a fallacy.

"Last time I checked, Cain didn't bludgeon Abel with a Game Boy; Genghis Khan didn't have an Xbox Live account; and Hitler didn't play Crash Bandicoot." -- Tommy Tallarico

"People like to make just kind of a causal link and say well video games cause violence. It's like, let's see, so, there's more crime in the summer and more ice cream is sold in the summer, therefore ice cream causes crime. That's not how legitimate scientific research works," he said.

Game composer Tommy Tallarico, cousin of Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler, acknowledged that violence is a fundamental element of the human condition, but said this is not a reason to blame violent games for violent behavior.

"Violence unfortunately is a part of human nature. And last time I checked, Cain didn't bludgeon Abel with a Game Boy; Genghis Khan didn't have an Xbox Live account; and Hitler didn't play Crash Bandicoot," Tallarico said. "I don't believe that video games are murder simulators; if anything, what the statistics prove is that it's exactly the opposite."

Lastly, Epic Games art director Wyeth Johnson said he believes the violent game debate will subside in time, due in part to the game business being young, relative to other forms of entertainment.

"You realize that it's about imagination and invention and connection to a world and it doesn't have these big trappings that people apply to them," Johnson said. "So I think it's a problem that's just going to naturally evolve away and we just have to defend the industry until that evolution happens."

Games have been a much-discussed topic by mass media since the December schoolhouse shooting in Connecticut that left 20 children and six adults dead. The shooter was reportedly a "deranged gamer."

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