Up For Debate - Has Videogame Violence Ever Gone A Step Too Far For You?

Written by Neil Soutter on Fri, Jan 1, 2016 12:00 PM
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I don’t know how far some of you have got into Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but there comes a moment where a number of missions revolve breaking into enemy encampments guarded by child soldiers. Otacon makes it pretty clear over the radio that you categorically cannot kill these children, incurring a mission failure if you do so.

That doesn’t make it any less strange of a feeling when you’re aiming a gun at a child’s head and pulling the trigger. Albeit with a tranquilliser dart, but the effect on me was still very much the same. Kojima was clearly trying to make a bit of a point here, and it certainly succeeded in raising a few internal ethical quandaries. Short of killing these children you can drug them, punch them out, slam them to the ground, and even at one point pull a child’s arm out of its socket. I needed a cup of tea after I did all that, let me tell you.

Now I know JRSchro has already done an excellent piece on Videogame Violence And The Issue Of Censorship not too long ago, but I wanted to take a different tack and explore at which point videogame violence becomes uncomfortable to you, and also why.

For me MGS V: The Phantom Pain was one of the strongest feelings I’d had about the matter, and it didn’t even involve killing anyone. I’ve mowed down thousands of digital foes and not felt an ounce of remorse, but there was something there in The Phantom Pain that affected me. It’s not the first time child soldiers been a matter of discussion in an MGS game of course, but it is the first time they’ve cropped up in gameplay. 

Obviously I could be alone in this matter. A quick Google for the subject matter pops up with a GameFAQS thread asking “You can't kill child soldiers? WTF. This bothers me, it shouldn't be considered a failure.” The author of that thread seems particularly bothered that he can’t go above and beyond what I found uncomfortable.

Part of it boils down to the graphical advances being made, but I don’t think that’s all. As the videogame medium advances we’re approaching more complex subject matter than we did before. It’s easy to get into the good versus evil mindset when you’re killing comic book villains, Nazis or Stormtroopers, but once the lines between right and wrong are blurred the situation becomes a different beast. These soldiers are doing things in a situation which is out of their control. They're not inherently villains. It's easy to point to the fact they're children to explain it all away, but I killed babies in Silent Hill without blinking, suggesting there's a combination of factors at play. 

So what games have made you feel uncomfortable in terms of violence, if any? Is this likely to be a more common thing as we go forward, such as when combined with VR? Let us know what you think below!

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09:05 Jan-17-2016

Literally the only violence that has gotten to me in a video game and just made me want to get it done with was torturing that guy in gta5 as Trevor.

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04:56 Jan-03-2016

I do love MGS 5, but still haven't grasped the entire lore. But "Otacon" telling Boss that he cant kill the kids? Otacon? Ain't Otacon Hal... Huey's son? Is he even a part of MGS 5, ntn more than having his name in some dialogue..

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04:56 Jan-03-2016

I could be wrong, can n e 1 enlighten me on the same?

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06:07 Jan-03-2016

You are right, he is Huey.

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14:01 Jan-03-2016

Hal, Otacon, is Huey's son and is 4 by the time MGSV takes place.

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23:41 Jan-02-2016

Never have found a game I've thought was to gory. The gorier the better.

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21:07 Jan-02-2016

SS!!! POW POWPOW!!! remember the apple 2. Violence I never had a problem, at least until video games actually make an emotional involvement of an actual violent situation, video games are too easily distinguished to actually get upset by it

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19:09 Jan-02-2016

This is my fetish
jk

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13:59 Jan-03-2016

We know you're not really joking lol.

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17:29 Jan-02-2016

Violence in games & movies was a lot more extreme 20 to 30 years ago. What we have now are the sissy versions.

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12:29 Jan-02-2016

nope, the more gore and brutality the better.

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16:26 Jan-02-2016

Yep, I want it ALL!

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12:16 Jan-02-2016

Some Games are too violent like GTA and Mad max, But the good thing is they are for adults, so the effects are very limited...I guess!!!

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13:20 Jan-02-2016

My parents would have had zero problems with me playing anything like those two if I were a kid now. In fact I feel like GTA 5 was nowhere near as violent as it could be, a bit watered-down, if you will...
Soldier of Fortune, Postal and DooM3 had it way worse and were fun as heck!


Education is key. Reality vs game.

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21:05 Jan-02-2016

You got my point. I too started playing violent games since like 11. Today, I can't kill an Ant. Its just mindset and education given to u .
Real life violence can be real traumatic. But Games are fun, mayn.

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21:53 Jan-02-2016

Oh yes. It's fun to shoot cats off the barrel of your shotgun in Postal, but that doesn't mean that I would so much as slap a cat IRL!

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12:07 Jan-02-2016

Yes, on occasion, just like other mediums.


I remember being a little disturbed by soldier of fortune 2 with its dismemberment. But it was a good action game

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12:11 Jan-02-2016

But context seems to be important. Most of GTAV is so blackly humorous, that it seems to offset the terrible things you can do in the game.

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12:21 Jan-02-2016

Generally though I am the sort of player that will try to do the less evil thing during game-play and just wont touch certain games as a personal preference.

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12:25 Jan-02-2016

Even though violence is a part of the medium, I like to think that I play games largely for their immersive story telling elements.

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22:07 Jan-03-2016

why are you talking to yourself?

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23:06 Jan-03-2016

Charactor limit, probably.

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08:51 Jan-04-2016

Because that's the only way to be sure you're talking to an intelligent person :p

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09:07 Jan-17-2016

GG Divayth

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11:34 Jan-02-2016

Whenever I see kids play GTA and COD, it annoys and scares me how little parents care for their child's development. I may have played such games at that age, but I also appreciate that I shouldn't have been allowed to. I don't blame my parents personally, since they think games are just games. But then you get

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11:37 Jan-02-2016

The media blaming game devs for making violent games like COD, yet there are parents going out of their way to get their kids these games then blaming devs, and saying " I didn't know the game was this violent"
Personally I don't like violence in games for the sake of violence, but I can tolerate it, to a poin

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11:42 Jan-02-2016

Don't get me wrong I love games like Battlefield and Fallout, what I don't like is kids playing these games. That's all I have to say agree or disagree at will :).

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11:44 Jan-02-2016

In a game about war there should be violance. To be honest video games censor violance too much that people think war is a good thing. War is dark, gory and evil. In WW1 trench warfare arms and legs flying around was a common sight. Now many young people think they will just respawn after a few seconds and treat guns as toys.

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13:12 Jan-02-2016

Agreed. Nobody talks about shell shock or the thousand yard stare. The nightmares. The psychological and emotional problems the people develop. War is much, much more than just violence...


Yet bull like CoD teaches us that you can survive multiple shot wounds and even a grenade blast in one piece, and get going :)

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01:20 Jan-03-2016

The only game I can think of that shows war realistically, would be Spec Ops: The Line. Things get darker and darker, as your character slowly loses his mind.

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14:57 Jan-03-2016

Ikr, i was about to say the same thing

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13:10 Jan-02-2016

I played Soldier of Fortune, GTA games, Postal 2, Blood 2, Blade of Darkness, DooM3, Quake, etc when I was a kid. So I sliced people into bits, ran over prostitutes, watched people being gutted, etc - so..? My parents saw all that, called those games 'nasty' and that's the end of that. They were fun to play and still are.
Education is key. One must know real from fiction. The rest is pointless.


Like RoboCop - it's probably the most violent maistream film I can think of and it was marketed to kids back in the day. And nobody cared...

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10:34 Jan-02-2016

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2: "No Russian"


That was a little bit too much

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01:31 Jan-03-2016

If you would have said that 6 years ago I would have called you a sissy. But now that I'm older I have to agree that it was a bit much.

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08:50 Jan-02-2016

Although i havent played the game, i think manhunt is that kind of game imo

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07:49 Jan-02-2016

I miss the blown heads in GTA SA with headshots..

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10:17 Jan-02-2016

That goes all the way back to GTA 3 :)
Except that in GTA III you could also dismember people with the assault rifle, etc., whereas that was gone in Vice City.

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07:15 Jan-02-2016

I remember Thrill Kill on the PS1 back in 1998, it's was cancelled at the last minute by EA because they thought it would tarnish their reputation, it took place in a Mental Asylum and featured violence and sexual content. Examples of this content include BDSM and fetishistic costumes and acts, limb dismemberment, cannibalism, and violent special moves with names such as "Bitch Slap" and "Swallow This".
I quite enjoyed it (very similar to Wu Tang Taste the Pain) it was also the first game to receive an AO rating in gaming history :)

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07:05 Jan-02-2016

Kerbal Space Program. Knowingly sending al those kerbals to their deaths was... taxing :'(


Ok but seriously, the only game that kinda really freaked me out was Clive Barkers Jericho. The atmosphere and visuals hit me like a SR-71 Blackbird at full speed when it came out more then 8 years ago.

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13:14 Jan-02-2016

I'll have to play Jericho! Bought it for a buck a couple of years ago, oughta be worth every penny!

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14:52 Jan-02-2016

I can totally recommend it! Gamplay wise Jericho isn't always that strong, but the storyline and some of the scenes are horrifying. It was made by the guy that made the Hellraiser movies originally, that'll give anyone who doesn't know the game a bit of an idea how far it goes.

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19:56 Jan-02-2016

I'm familiar with Clive Barker's work. Especially Clive Barker's Undying :)

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06:42 Jan-02-2016

I believe that if Tarantino produced or directed a game it would be too much for me. It'll be like entering his mind.


His films are amazing but he'll realize that there are no limits in games and he'l just unleash his inner beast.

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06:30 Jan-02-2016

i think it did in some games such as mortal combat X and others which expose too much gore.horror games are probably the most horrific thing in media all by itself.and there is something which is going too far with monsters such as witcher 3 which sometimes does take it too far but rarley actully.

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10:19 Jan-02-2016

Just wondering - is it that you think that it should not be shown or is it that you personally just can't take it..?
I, for one, am all up for a realistic depiction of what happens to victims of brutality. In Witcher 3 it sets the mood for monsters and makes you feel like Geralt and other Witchers are a force to be reckoned with while MK was always about having fun with Fatalities.

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06:29 Jan-02-2016

Spec Ops: The Line 'nuff said !

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06:16 Jan-02-2016

When people watch michael bay's movies, no one bats an eye but when someone plays Grand theft auto, everybody loses their minds

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06:39 Jan-02-2016

People need a scapegoat.

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03:32 Jan-02-2016

You could say the same about movies...

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