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There's a lot of anger over video game violence
by William Volk on 12/19/12 02:19:00 pm   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutra’s community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


This will be brief.

Sunday was my birthday and it also marks the third of a century I've spent in video games (started as a play-tester at Avalon Hill Computer Games in 1979).  In addition to the slew of Facebook birthday wishes one would hope to get, I got this heated Facebook IM Session:


Please stop creating games that harm our society and rob kids from their parents. Please tell me how you can sleep at night?

My Reply: 

The average age for players in Word Carnivale is 40+, the biggest segment is 35 to 54 year olds, followed by 55+ and then 25 to 34 year olds. 85% women.

I have done children's educational games, and in our crossword game (also tends to older players) we have children's puzzles to teach vocabulary etc.

No violent games.


Not good enough. I read the NYT article. You need to implore your industry to do much better, damn you all.

Give it some thought

My Reply:

I don't do harmful games. Never have

Finally I said:

I haven't worked at Activision since 1994. I am guessing you think I'm still there.
(I was the VP of Tech there at the time)

And then this reply:

My mistake. Thanks for clarifying.

Interesting, because for the last almost 20-years I have been working in educational/casual/children games.

There's a lot of anger about this issue. Just noting that. 

Something we need to think about. 

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Arseniy Shved
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It's funny that the ones who do not express their anger in games, do it in real life.

Ardney Carter
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If you want to call comments in an IM session "real life"

Laura Stewart
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I've actually been relieved at the near absence of remarks about violent video games that I've experienced ( IRL, Facebook etc ). Especially considering how much I remember occurred right after Colombine. I had been wondering if that had been affected by the rise of social and casual gaming, that less deviance is being assigned to a behavior now seen as more common.

William Volk
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What made this interesting is that I tried to defend the work I had been doing over the last 20 years (casual/educational/social) and it took me some time to get that this fellow was talking about Activision.

Not that there isn't a day that goes by that I wonder why I left, given the incredibly difficult nature of the mobile social game market :-)

Laura Stewart
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It will be interesting if you experience at uptick in flaming, given the NRA's labeling violent video games as the only social demon behind school shootings. *sigh*

Benjamin Delacour
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I half-watched a piece on the news about video game violence inspired by the recent shooting. The shooter played the violent video game StarCraft, it said repeatedly. It did not show StarCraft, but instead had a whole series of images of mostly military FPS games in the background. The interview and quotes it had were fairly knowledgeable and fair.

I could have missed some coverage of StarCraft specifically in the segment before I started watching but I'm willing to bet that there was an unintentional disconnect between the background graphics and the spirit of the piece - someone probably said "prepare video background for violent video games" and it was mashed together. The impression anyone who didn't know about StarCraft would take away is that it was a violent military FPS. It's easy for things to be misinterpreted (or even intentionally manipulated) like that.

Do you have a guess at the NYT article that might have sparked the emails?

William Volk
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Maybe this?