If you have any experience with video games, you’ve probably experienced violence in those games at least once. And if you have any experience with discussion about video games, you’ve probably experienced the claim that video games cause violence in some way. In a series of essays, I’ll be examining the role of violence in games, the research surrounding that violence, and what we should be doing about it all as people who are ultimately immersed in this violence.
In this short essay, I look at how games teach us how their mechanics work, and one way in which that teaching goes wrong: when the mechanics are too hard to understand because we aren’t given enough information.
Stories have a wonderful ability to allow us to explore complex moral topics without needing to engage in the direct harms that happen in those stories. Using the game Blasphemous, I wanted to explore the concept of guilt and how guilt figures into being a moral person according to the game’s themes.
Video games demand that we keep going and continually work to overcome the hurdles that confront us…but is that always a good thing? Using the game Undertale, I look at the theme of determination, and how the game portrays determination as a way of exploring the value of sticking to your goals and seeing them through.
What does it mean to look at someone else as an enemy, and to kill them in a game? It’s an action that we undertake all the time, and yet to what extent is our character “in the right”? In looking at the themes of the video game NieR, we can see how a problem of perspective in everyday life gets explored through video games.
Video games allow you to steal stuff all the time from other characters. In fact, games make it pretty easy to get away with theft. And yet…we recognize that theft is morally wrong. So what can we take away from all the stealing we do when we play games?
Puzzle games can be a lot of fun and rewarding to play through, but they can also be complex enough to frustrate players. This essay contains some basic tips on how to approach puzzle solving in general so that players who want to get into puzzle games (but might feel held back) can improve their skills.
As the play-to-earn NFT game Axie Infinity gasps out its dying breaths, it’s a good time to step back and examine the narrative of “play-to-earn” and how the concept doesn’t really work.
What does it mean for a theme to be “played out”? When is a game’s story boring because it’s just rehashing a theme we’re all familiar with? In this essay I explore two radically different stories – Aeschylus’s Oresteia and The Last of Us Part II – to talk about the theme of revenge, and some problems of media criticism.
You are fated to play a game called Pathologic 2, and then to come back and read this essay. You cannot escape this fate.