Certain technical codes such as the position of camera angles depicting a violent scene or the lighting of a specific scene can affect the way that the violence is represented and how the audience receives the information. The non diegetic sound can change the mood of the visuals; in Call of Duty 4 there is a scene in which the protagonist (whose eyes you are viewing the events through) is tortured by terrorists burning lighted cigarettes on your lifeless body as they beat you up to near unconsciousness the sound can suggest pain and agony because.
Even when you play as the character killing other men, the non diegetic sound makes you as the player feel sympathy for the death of another man; however when looking at Grand Theft Auto IV, the game uses non diegetic sound to connote justification and triumph. The way some may interpret this is that violence is acceptable. Certainly the Camera angles such as a low camera shot in GTA IV which gives a view of the character as powerful and dominant with his weapon gives the audience a glamorization of violence. Sympathy can be generated for a character if the camera takes the POV of the character.
Again using the example of Call of Duty 4, the question can be asked, which end of the barrel of the gun are the audience looking down? The audience identifies with the perpetrator of the violence. Realism in a game changes the emotion we feel and how we identify with the characters, in the example of “Call of Duty 4”, we see total and graphic realism of a war, however it is edited and uses sound effects. We as an audience know however that the violence has no real consequences and can be watched in the knowledge that no one is hurt.
We as an audience become emotionally involved with characters as they are in depth characters who we relate to. When one of these characters dies we feel sympathy. However, when violence is shown as unrealistic, then this causes the audience to become desensitized to the violence and see it as acceptable such as with popular gaming genre ‘beat em up’ using the example of games such as Tekken (2009) and Street Fighter IV (2009) where we as a player choose a character that we see as likeable, the games sole purpose is to beat someone up and win.
Games like Tekken and Street Fighter are produced more commonly and more realistically due because young people gradually become desensitized slightly each time that developers have to increase the realism more every time. Games act as a further release for children to let out frustration without becoming physically violent. In a social context, it could be argued that video games do not cause aggression in young children but instead they provide an interactive release instead of a physical release from watching violent television shows such as the popular WWE series a notable part of this show is its “don’t try this at home” slogan.
Children are influenced by media, when they see a protagonist being violent to another man, a protagonist we as an audience see as a role model and a hero, young people replicate these actions. A separation needs to be found to further analyze whether violence in the media increases the aggression in young people totally, I have so far already identified that when violence is unrealistic in media, the audiences response is to replicate as a sort of “copycat” violence.
In today’s economy, more people worldwide can now access videogames such as Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty. An element recently implemented to enhance the video game experience is online multiplayer. This creates a global village as you are communicating through media with other people who via internet are playing with you even despite them being located in a different continent. This links in with Propps theory because on Call of Duty multiplayer, you can play the role of various characters, good and evil.
Reflective of the violent minded society today, regardless if you are on the good team or the bad team, you perceive yourself as the good one and everyone else as enemies to kill. The inclusion of technology such as headsets makes killing people more realistic than killing a computer; it is a person with a voice. This shows that young people aren’t satisfied with just killing people anymore, in order to fulfill their needs as a consumer, videogames have increased interactivity and with that they increase how personal it becomes as consumers crave more involvement and more immersion.
This interactivity and technology is increasing with every version of a game so when will it get to a point where players are no longer satisfied with murder in a constructed reality? Grand Theft Auto presents the audience with a constructed reality. When a player is killed they almost instantly come back to life with full health and no consequence. Equally, if the player is arrested, they are not jailed for their actions, they simply walk free. GTA is not an accurate depiction of life.
Players become desensitized to the violent and crime, they are used to a ‘life redo’ that the real world doesn’t offer them. They do not understand long-term consequences. To combat this, PEGI, the board of gaming classification in the UK puts age ratings of 15 and even in the case of GTA an 18 certificate because it is assumed that people of that age know right from wrong and realize the consequences of their actions. The issue is that these games are so easily obtained by minors who do not register moral correctness as easily as those above the classified age.
Young people above the age of 18 are usually ‘casual gamers’ from a survey I undertook, 85% of gamers aged 18 and above only play around 2 hours a week with 10% not playing videogames and just 5% playing over 3 hours. They use gaming as a form of escapism from a stressful week. People under the classified age however are still developing a complex; they see violence and crime in the game and think that the real world around them is just as bleak.
Linking in with “mean world syndrome” where children who watch high levels of violence may be lead to believe the environment around them is a mean and dangerous place. In a historical context, children have been submerged in media violence for generations, presented in a similar to the style of hyper reality seen in Grand Theft Auto. In Hanna Barbara cartoons of the 70’s such as Tom and Jerry, violence is portrayed as “mild cartoon violence” presented to the audience in such a way it is humorous and can easily be distinguished as a constructed reality.
In over the top fashion characters are mutilated often with fatal consequences, however the character makes a full recovery in the next scene. We can compare this harmless “slapstick” comedy of the past with an ultra realistic and graphic depiction of death that young people are exposed to in Grand Theft Auto and other similar games. Children have always been exposed to violence, yet the interactivity of the violence today makes them feel part of the violence and thus making them more involved. Videogames give young people a form of escapism into a life that is different than the one they live.
The reality that they construct allows them to perform things deemed unacceptable or simply unachievable in everyday life. However, this causes desensitization to right and wrong, giving them a warped view of morality. Violent videogames influence violent behavior in easily led and easily manipulated young minds. Although games that promote violence and crime are censored by the British classification board (BBFC) and PEGI, these censors can be easily evaded and young people can gain access to harmful pieces of media.
Violence video games like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty promote and in some cases glorify violent actions, until further regulation is put into practice on these games; young people will play these games without the moral thought not to put into practice the violent deeds played out in the videogame.
Books: Burton, J. Stevenson. E (2008) AQA media studies: AS Media Studies Nelson Thornes Stephen Moore, Dave Aiken, Steve Chapman (2005) Sociology AS for AQA Collins: London Peter Bennett, Jerry Slater, Peter Wall (2006) A2 Media Studies: The essential Introduction Routledge; Oxon Internet: https://www.thesun.co.uk