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Violence and gore: does it sell games?

Yesterday we reported that the video game ban in California was rejected by the court, however two researchers who have based careers on the subject believe that the debate on the subject isn’t over.

The Supreme Court in California ruled that the video game industry should be allowed to continue to sell violent games to minors (by 7-2). Rich Ryan PhD and Scott Rigby PhD, the co-authors of Glued to Games: How Video Games Draw Us In and Hold Us Spellbound have said that they feel the debate will continue, however it should be viewed as a positive thing.

Rigby says “I’d like to see more research done on violent video games. The reason this battle between game makers and politicians and parent groups has existed is because there’s been a vacuum of understanding about the psychology of games. I agree with the court’s decision with respect to their interpretation of there not being conclusive research that necessitates putting games in a separate class simply because you’re interacting with violence in the game. Our research is consistent with the fact that it might not matter if the violence is happening.”

“As a father and a psychologist, I wanted to take a critical look at violence in games. I was more interested in why I’d catch a bug in my house and release it outdoors, but in Call of Duty or Gears of War, I’ll do a headshot or chainsaw an enemy. Our research found that blood and gore provide an informational feedback loop that satisfies the underlying need for autonomy – one’s account for basic need satisfactions — and you can turn the blood and gore off and people will still enjoy the experience.”

Ryan added “The debate isn’t over, but I believe we’ll see a more refined debate moving forward on violence in video games. I believe we’ll see people hone in more on what issues there might be for violent games for children. There remain a lot of open questions.”

Unsurprisingly, it has been shown that just because a game contains a lot of violence, it isn’t an indication that it will top the bestseller charts. We already knew this ourselves, but it seems that some of the researchers were surprised. Some gamers might like blood and guts, but the game still has to be playable to become a best seller.

Rigby added “Bulletstorm is a game that illustrates the importance that what really makes a game interesting is its ability to satisfy core needs like autonomy – having meaningful options to pursue. The ability to creatively kick people into cactuses and use a whip to torture enemies wears off after the first hour and then you realize there’s not anything else there. No matter how exciting or violent the game is, it’s not really the violence that matters. Modern games have to satisfy multiple needs in a deep way, and Bulletstorm failed.”

Kitguru says: Violence in games, is it a selling point for you, or a secondary issue?

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