Published on November 16th, 2014 | by Westin

What if Violent Games were not Mainstream?

Take a moment to think about some of the most recent ultra-hyped games.

Did your list happen to contain any of the following?

  • Destiny
  • Sunset Overdrive
  • Call of Duty Advanced Warfare
  • Dragon Age Inquisition
  • Farcry 4

Chances are, you probably came up with at least two of the listed games, which is not surprising.  Why?  Well, these are the types of games that people generally keep track of.  Violent video games.

  1. behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

Now let me be very clear in that I’m not saying that violent video games are bad or that there should be less gore and violence in modern games.  Rather, what I’m trying to do is point out a trend that we rarely (if ever) think twice about, which is that mainstream games tend to be heavy on the violence.  For the most part, we’re geared and ready to go for the next game featuring monster decapitations, badass guns, and kill animations.

But, what if we lived in an alternate reality where violence wasn’t the most idolized aspect of gaming?  Obviously, gaming and other forms of media are reflections of the cultures that they cater to, so if a society wants more blood and gore, then that’s what the people will get (unless you’re in a place like Australia where gore is censored).  However, going back to our hypothetical situation, let’s assume that this alternate reality is the exact same world that we live in today except for the fact that violent video games aren’t mainstream.

Of course the biggest question we would need to ask ourselves would be, “what would take the place of violence in mainstream gaming?”  Puzzle solving?  Adventuring?  Adult activities?   Actually, based on the picture below from Statistica reflecting 2013 game sales, our most likely substitute would either be sports, family entertainment, or racing.


stat 2

Based purely on these statistics, it would look as though Sports would fill the voids of Action and Shooter, but maybe that conclusion is a little too simple.  If two game genres were to disappear, it wouldn’t necessarily mean that the next best-selling genres would take their places.

Another perspective to consider is that many violent games include aspects of other genres such as puzzles (God of War), RPG elements (Fallout), or racing (Knights of the Old Republic).  Could any of those included elements take the place of violence in gaming?  Personally, I think it’s possible.  The game that immediately comes to mind is the puzzle game Portal.  While Portal‘s story did have undertones of a violent past, there was no violence until the very end and yet, I greatly enjoyed the experience.  So I certainly believe that it’s a possibility.

portal gameplay

Good, clean, family fun! (Just ignore the crazy robot trying to kill you).

But here is the big question, “is there a gaming genre or element that could replace the satisfaction and enjoyment that comes from playing violent games?”  Maybe there is no substitute for violence.  Perhaps, violent video games are a form of catharsis and are safe environments to express our violent nature.  I’ll be honest, I have a hard time thinking of a comparable experience to “Boom!  Headshot!,” however just because I can’t think of a similar experience from a non-violent game, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

While we probably will not see a time when violent video games aren’t on top, I find it fun thinking about such a reality.  Not because I am against violence (Halo will always be close to my heart), but because I think it’s good for us to look at gaming trends we usually don’t think twice about.

Anyway, back to slaughtering Darkspawn for me!

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About the Author

Westin Westin ran a gaming based YouTube channel for a year, graduated with a B.A. in Radio/Television/Film, and will be getting married in Fall 2015. When he’s not doing production stuff or wedding planning, he’s working on his unplayed game list on Steam (or playing Guild Wars 2 with his fiancé).

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