As a controversial computer game gets its UK release, hunker down and prepare for the latest kneejerkification of the soapbox community. Yes, the tired ’violence in video games and its effect on our kids’ debate is due for yet another airing.
Doom 3 was released in early Septemberand it’s sure to reignite debates that have continued since the original stoked the fires of moral outrage on its release in 1993.
ID Software may be the developer of the game, but the real harbingers of doom are those responsible for scapegoating software developers for the content of their titles – thereby blaming the monkey and not the organ grinder.
The collective we shall call "people who are against things that are bad" often have their hearts in the right place, while misplacing their heads between their buttocks.
Let’s not forget that in 2000, Republican hopeful George W Bush blamed the internet for darkening the hearts of the boys responsible for the Columbine High School massacre, while it was oft whispered that the boys’ favourite computer game was, guess what, Doom.
But a lot has happened since the release of the original Doom. And what was deemed controversial 10 years ago no longer has anything like the same impact. The graphical content of Doom 3 is certainly gut-wrenching to behold, but it can’t hold a candle to the morally dubious voyeurism of smaller modern titles such as Manhunt or Postal 2.
In fact, Doom 3 is probably only likely to offend two groups. First, anyone steeped in the sectarian dogma of Judaeo-Christianity will be offended by its satanic imagery. Second, any parents who buy it for their children while ignoring the Entertainment Software Rating Board content and age group ratings may be appalled.
This leads me on to my next point. A cultural change is taking place because the key demographic for video games is shifting towards older gamers. People who played on computers as children haven’t gone away – they have instead grown up with an industry that has also matured. We live in a culture that still thinks playing computer games is a child’s pastime.
Ironically, this makes it easier for kids to purchase inappropriate material as the general public is blindsided by its own blinkered vision.