Ever since Sandy Hook, video games have been in the limelight along with guns as the center of political attention. Again. Even though I find it infuriating that old men in suits are brainwashing the general public into thinking that video games cause violence or are a threat to our children, I was particularly interested in a certain governor. This governor would be Mr. Dannel P. Malloy of Connecticut. He said, and I quote, “If we spent as much time and energy on destigmatizing mental health treatment as we do in the proliferation of these video games that destigmatize violence, we as a society would make great gains.” So, there is a conscious effort from video games to distance themselves from the issue of violence.
So, obviously, this post is going to be refuting the claim that video games destigmatize violence, and I will be using the two games above, Spec Ops: The Line and Hotline Miami, as my studies. Let’s talk about Spec Ops first.
Spec Ops the line is one of the most poignant, crazy-ridiculous games I have ever played. It’s a game about violence and how ridiculous your everyday Call of Battlefield Dude Bro 2 games have become. It gives an illusion of choice and an amazing ending all in the name of showing just how absurd video games really are, and how real war and violence is. It’s a great game by all accounts. And the theme, what the game’s story and message revolves around, is violence. It does the exact opposite of destigmatize violence. It shoves it in your face and says, “See? SEE? LOOK WHAT YOU’VE DONE!”
Does it destigmatize violence? Does it try to shy away from the topic, act like the issue doesn’t exist? Nope. Not in the slightest. Now, we can talk about Hotline Miami, a game with a very similar theme.
Hotline Miami is a game about insanity and violence, and becoming desensitized to it to the point where everything becomes a blur. And it’s not just the character that’s forced to cope with the things that you’re doing. You have to cope with your actions. By the end of the game, you walk by the corpses of Russians you have slain, the music is gone, and you say to yourself, “What in God’s name have I done?” But you won’t stop, you can’t stop. You have been pulled into a spiraling decent of senseless violence that you cannot escape, and by your own choice.
Does Hotline Miami destigmatize violence? Does it tell you that what you’re doing is okay, that it’s normal? Nope. Not in the slightest.
And these aren’t the only games that make you consider your actions and violence in general. There are plenty of games out there that place choices and revelations in front of you regarding violence, too many to name here.
So I really don’t think that Mr. Malloy has a firm grasp on the situation. I don’t think a lot of politicians have a firm grasp on the situation. Certainly not more than me and you. Had Mr. Malloy been an avid gamer, I think he wouldn’t have said what he said, because there’s plenty of examples in this wonderful industry of ours of games that stigmatize violence.
Also, on a side note, I HIGHLY recommend Hotline Miami and Spec Ops: The Line if you haven’t played them. Both those games are awesome in their own respective rights. Should you buy these, have fun!