The debate rages on concerning violence in videogames. Some question why it exists, while others argue that censorship sucks and adults should be freely allowed to consume whatever type of entertainment they desire. I, however, have a different theory. Let’s take a look at the game Manhunt as an example.
This game is not about sneakin’ around, trying to see what the biggest mess you can make is. It’s about much more than that. This game is in direct relation to the JTHM (Johnny the Homicidal Maniac by Jhonen Vasquez, for the uninitiated…) in all of us, the little black beast that we keep to ourselves.
Ever say “I wish he were dead”, or “he makes me so angry I want to kill him”? Of course you have. Everyone has. This game is the digital manifestation of those thoughts. It’s not about suffocating some guy, or creating the pink mist… This game does one thing and one thing only: it asks you a question. A very simple question to state, and a very simple question to answer:
Is your black beast fictional or real?
Do you have a little playground for the demon inside of you, someplace it can go and harmlessly let out it’s frustrations and rage? Or are you so jaded and blind that you refuse to admit that everyone has a dark side…worse, are you unable to discern the difference between reality and fantasy? If you enjoy this game (along with ANY violent video game or movie, regardless of it’s subject or presentation) you are not sick. You are normal. You are provided an outlet for the most primal emotions that you, as a human, have. Your most carnal instincts. If you don’t like this game because the graphics suck, or the control is wonky, fine. BUT. If you despise this game because you say it’s “too violent” and “unnecessary”, and “too realistic”, and whatever else, I believe you are the sick one. That’s not to say that you can’t see it as being gross, or that you don’t like it because you supposedly don’t like violence (then why do you slow down to look at car accidents, hmm?) What it means is that if you say that violent things such as this push sane and “normal” people into being murderers in real life…well, I’m sorry, but you are wrong.
The first step anyone takes to becoming a murderer in real life is not being able to tell the difference between reality and fantasy. Manhunt is fantasy. Does that mean something similar has not happened/could not happen? No. But your experience and memories of it happening are. It’s a video game. It is designed to be a playground for your little black beast. If you take it as being anything more serious than that…well, turn yourself in now.
You have to allow the little monster to come out every now and then and release its frustrations. If you don’t, you risk becoming a quivering mass of nervous and dangerous flesh. What better place to do this than in a simulated environment with simulated violence where the only things harmed are your eyes for staring at the screen?