Questioning Our Moral Boundaries in Video Games
My intention was not to stir up the hornets nest of fear mongers scared of violent entertainment nor the zealots of jovial gore. This post actually started because did two things in short succession. First, I watched Hugo, which is a delightful and wonderfully made film by Martin Scorsese about cinema and the wonder, and occasional danger, of technological progress. Scorsese shot the film in 3D and it is an absolute marvel to watch. Like Cameron before him, Scorsese makes a compelling argument that 3D film making can be as magical as color in cinema if used deftly and with tact.
After partaking in some child-like wonder, I then played The Darkness 2, which forges a very adult experience. The gore in this game is so over the top I started to marvel at the absurd violence. I think I used to be more squeamish and sensitive to this type of content. What happened? And what will continue to happen? At some point, when game designers reach the upper tiers of photorealism and start wielding 3D as effortlessly as Scorsese, will I consume this content so easily?
Honestly, I don't know. Some depictions of violence are too much for me to handle. I also wrestle with the value of depicting violence towards civilians or children in certain games. My opinions are by no means settled. But this is precisely why I want to think of these moral concerns early. Moral boundaries shift, and that is normal. I just do not want them shifting without my knowledge. The Darkness 2 is generally innocuous, but who knows, maybe I will be playing a Saw derivative some day, happily tearing people limb from limb, ignorant of the borders I thought I would never cross.