My girlfriend is not a fan of violent video games. I for my own part, am not a “fan of violent video games” necessarily, but merely a fan of games. The level of violence in a game does not determine if I want to play it or not, but if the game happens to be violent — as most of the games I play happen to be — it usually doesn’t affect my decision to play the game one way or the other.
My recent purchase of Wolfenstein 3D for my iPhone has put me into a bit of an old school first person shooter kick. I’ve started playing Doom and Doom II again on my PC, two of my childhood favourites. My Dad forbid me from playing Wolfenstein and Doom as a kid, and naturally this only made me want to play them more. In fact, around the time my parents told me they didn’t want me to play Wolfenstein (because it “involved the killing of people”), I had been secretly playing the original Doom game on our family PC for months. Let me be clear, it is my view at the wise old age of 25, that a 9 year old should not be playing Doom. Admittedly I played it, and as far as I know I’m no worse off for it. In all seriousness, Doom and it’s sequel are incredibly violent even by today’s standards, something I hadn’t realized until I started playing them again. My parents had good reason to want to keep me away from it.
Discussions with my girlfriend and my recent realization of just how brutal Doom is/was, have got me thinking about video game violence. With that in mind I proposed a little experiment to my girlfriend. I’m aiming to see just how many monsters/people/robots/beings/things I kill in an average week of gaming.
First I need to lay out a some rules and make some things clear:
1) This is not an experiment to see how many monsters/people/robots/beings/things I CAN kill in a week. This isn’t a challenge, merely an observational experiment to see how many monsters/people/robots/beings/things I WILL kill in a week.
2) What constitutes an average week of gaming for me?
I don’t play any MMORPG’s any more, so I probably play video games on average about 2 hours a day, sometimes more, sometimes less. Not usually in one sitting, half an hour here, fifteen minutes there. It all depends on how much I have to work, how much the missus works, and how much time I spend doing other things like watching TV/films, reading books or comic books or working on the site. So for arguments sake, I’ll say 12 – 15 hours a week. I’ll record the amount of time played.
3) What constitutes a kill?
If I as the player character, avatar, controller, whatever destroys a monster/person/robot/being/thing in a game, that constitutes a kill. I have murdered a denizen of whatever game I’m playing, and it will never be seen again.
4) What about vehicles, surely a tank would count for more than one kill?
Unless there are clearly 4 people manning said vehicle, a tank will be counted as one kill. If I can’t see them, they don’t count! If the head baddie tells me that he and the crew of 14 he’s got inside his vehicle are going to get me, then that’s another thing entirely.
5) Do cyborgs count as two kills?
No, even though I am killing both the living tissue part and the machine part – a cyborg is a single entity. Come on people!
6) Do ghosts/spirits count since they’re already dead?
Yes. If whatever kind of entity I’m dispatching in the game ceases to exist in the game environment, then it counts as a kill.
7) Are you going to go out of your way to not play violent video games during the week?
No. I’m an avid gamer, most of the games I play are violent and killing is inherent to the gameplay. I will not change my gaming habits at all. I currently play the following games with a great deal of frequency: Fallout 3: Point Lookout, Doom II, Ghostbusters: The Video Game, Wolfenstein 3D (iPhone), Command & Conquer: Red Alert 3, Grand Theft Auto: China Town Wars, Battlefield Heroes, Team Fortress 2 and Left 4 Dead. Whether it’s a singleplayer or multiplayer game, a kill is a kill is a kill.
8) Won’t counting kills take the fun out of gaming?
Possibly. I’ll rely on end of level results screens for most of my info. In the absence of that I’ll just count everything I kill. The kill tally will be quite epic I’m sure.
9) Do you think this will alter the kinds of games you play or change your gaming habits entirely?
No. I just want to see what the number is. If it alters the kinds of games you play or changes your gaming habits, then you are probably a better person than I am.
10) What is the point of this experiment?
This experiment is designed to demonstrate in tangible numbers how violent some of the video games I play are. I don’t have an agenda, I’m just curious.
The experiment starts right now, that’s 1:00 pm on Saturday July 25th. It will conclude at 1:00 pm on Saturday August 1st. I’ll be posting a few video updates during the week to keep you posted on my progress.