In many nerd spheres, there is a lot of talk about “pandering”. In gaming specifically, the term has been used to refer to series that unnecessarily add or feature components just to “pander” to an audience for the sake of getting sales. This has been a recurring discussion point, but came to a head again with the recent changes to the Street Fighter V beta version’s changes. Essentially, some of the characters’ intros have been less sexualized, which has led some factions to claim that this means game developers are pandering to liberal, progressive critics. I know some people might not want to have this discussion and will get mad at me for this, but pandering is a serious problem! Looking at the current landscape of characters and features, it’s time we had a good, hard look at this industry and put a good effort into adding some damn diversity.
Yesterday, the White House unveiled “Now is the Time: The President’s plan to protect our children and our communities by reducing gun violence.” Super good! I don’t intend to attack the the President, his plan, or even the fact that he calls for more research into any possible relationships between video games and violence. With the trauma of gun violence being so severe in American culture, encouraging research into what many citizens believe to have a causative relationship with violence, i.e. that violent video games lead to violent crime, is the right call. While it is politically unfortunate that the President seemed unable to find a place for video games in his plan than under the section to “End the Freeze on Gun Violence Research,” (page 8), I don’t think that we have much to worry about regarding any lasting effects on public opinion. We know that all good research into the topic, assuming fair distribution and reporting of research results and data, is going to show that video games and their place in society are nothing to be afraid of.
Here is my point; how do we already know that we have nothing to fear? Hasn’t research already shown that violence in video games has a lasting effect on gamers, causing them to be desensitized to violence and therefore less likely to check impulses toward violent behavior? Since video games are more immersive than other forms of media, doesn’t it stand to reason that they affect a greater ability to impact and change the human psyche? Let’s look into why not. Continue reading