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“Video game violence is awful! Today’s youth are being desensitized by all the blood in video games! Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat, Mortal Kombat! I’m making a law to censor video game violence! Blah blah blah…” To people who enjoy playing video games or are in the video game business, these are common phrases that are thrown against the game industry. “Video games are chock full of violence which are making our kids do more violent things! We need to destory all gaming, ever, to save our kids’ childhood!” These quotes have also been said about video games. I’m here to give a bit of a talk about video game violence.

First of all, a history on the topic. In December of 1993, Senator Joseph Lieberman was one of the first to really speak out against video game violence. He called a congressional hearing to discuss the hot topic which, at the time, made millions of yound people actually wanting to hear a Congressional hearing. Of course, the millions who watched were desensitized by this speaker’s boredom and felt compelled to jump out the window and start looting and vandalizing, hoping to take something that belonged to Lieberman. Anyway, he commented about a whole lotta jazz, including how violent video games could become the Cabbage Patch Dolls of the 1993 holiday season. He said that the Cabbage Dolls, “never oozed with blood and kids were never taught to rip off their heads or tear out their hearts and spinal cord.” WHAT? How the heck does he get off comparing violent video games to Cabbage Patch Dolls? Who voted him for senate guy?

But still, this caught America’s attention to the games Mortal Kombat, Night Trap, and Doom. Mortal Kombat is, as many know, a pretty violent video game where two guys fight eachother. The animation in this game wwas incredibly fluid, and the sound, music, and secret codes were unrivaled. All the images were of real people, so it gave it all the more of an eerie feel. The feeling that you got from playing this alone in a dark arcade was one of total fear, but also one of a total adrenaline rush as you defeated all the human contestants and then, if you were lucky, face up against the mighty Goro, a four-armed beast capable of destroying you in a few seconds. The game was really challenging and really fun.

Night Trap, more of a cult hit, was a game on CD where you had to save a family from a bunch of these evil gang members. The game was revolutionary at the time for its gratuitous use of Full Motion Video (FMV) , which is where everything is actually video taped from real life and put onto a disk.

Doom was a shoot-em-up where you were stuck on Phobos and you had to kill the alien menace or else Earth would be doomed. It featured, again, revolutionary, 3D graphics where you could control the guy from an in-the-head camera. The game had plenty of demons to kill, and it also had the occasional occult sign, which freaked the living daylights out of gamers who were playing the game all by themselves in the middle of the night. All this weird stuff aside, though, it was very fun, and is still considered fun and a classic hit today. While most adults were saying these games were bad, a whole bunch of America’s youth were running out to the store to buy MK and Night Trap. Doom was only available for computer at the time, and it was paid for on the basis of ‘shareware,’ a term that has revolutionized (Notice I love saying that word?) the world of computer video games. It meant you download the game off of a modem and then, if you like the first few levels, you could pay an amount of money to the owners through mail and then they would send you a password to unlock more parts of the game.

Now, for all the good people reading this, you might have noticed that all of these games made an imprint in the design of some major area, whether it be realistic people fighting each other (Mortal Kombat) , real FMV of houses and people interacting (Night Trap) , or in the marketing potential of video games (Doom) . So, from my conclusions, these games actually helped the video gaming industry grow exponentially, even if they had to include some violent scenes.

Night Trap the game was actually discontinued on the Sega CD system for awhile because of the pressure the company that made the game, Digital Pictures, was getting over it. I was one of the lucky few who got a chance to play this game, and let me tell you something-this was one tough cookie of a game. You had to memorize times and codes and all sorts of other things. It was a very cheap game in terms of how to get everything to work. Now, as for all the violence, it wasn’t that bad. If you call a guy sneaking out of a closet, tripping on a bed and getting flown out the window, without seeing what happens to him after that, incredibly bad, you might need to set your ‘disgusting’ standards a little bit lower. Now, if you got really deep into the game, you would see a few disturbing images, although even these were easily taken in and thrown away quickly. I was mesmorized the first, and only, time I saw this-It was of a guy hanging upside down in a closet with some tubes and other painful looking instruments pierced into his neck and head. A bit of red liquid, which was supposed to be blood, oozed through the tubes. Although it looked painful, it didn’t leave me wanting to go out and do something like that to somebody. In fact, it made me think that that was a pretty cruel thing to do and, if anything, wanted me to stop this sort of thing. Now, I was only in third grade when I saw this and, if I can actually remember this for that long, apparently it left some kind of impression of it on me. But, even so, I only saw it once, even though I played the game plenty of times after that at my friend’s. Of course, shortly after seeing that we died because it was so hard of a game you could barely progress after that. That was one safeguard the game had against letting younger kids, even though we were pretty little at third graders, to see this stuff-the game was stinkin’ hard. The only reason we got that far was because my friend’s dad helped us out with writing some stuff down and memorizing places.

The same rule applies for Doom-most of the really bad stuff, including the satanic messages (there are only nine or ten of them in the whole game, by the way) and gobs of blood, were shadowed from the youngings by the difficulty of the game. Even for experts at the game these things were tough to get to because the game was just so hard.

Mortal Kombat was a different story. There was buckets of blood easily accessable for anyone, so it was a bit worse of a game. Of course, even this game shielded the really bad stuff from unexperienced players-the Fatalities, which were a big draw of the game, were only known by a few for the first year or two. And the moves, which consisted of such yummy things as a guy ripping the head, with a spinal cord attached to it, out of a human body, were difficult to pull off, and the computer didn’t go doing them all the time either.

Of course, don’t think about the past all the time, though. Vilence is still rampant, and even more so today. Mortal Kombat and its sequels (three of them) have, amazingly, taken a back seat to goryness to a bunch of other video games. Turok; Dinosaur Hunter, which was released in December of 1996, touts you to ‘make the dinosaurs extinct again!’ Hey, why not? There’s a lot of realistic blood, coupled with even more realistic movements of humans choking on a bullet to the throat to raptors wincing after they are shot by a shotgun. This game was made in the likes of Doom, although even this was probably worse.

Another few games that pushed the envelope of content were Final Fantasy VII (seven) Castlevania X, both for Playstation, and, some consider, Cruis’n USA and Cruis’n World, two racing games for Nintendo 64 and the arcade. Final Fantasy VII really went into some graphic material in the Japanese version, including going to a, ummm, brothel. Also, all the content of the Japanese game will be ported directly over to a US version, one of the first times a Japanese RPG has done this. Castlevania X’s (No, the X doesn’t stand for a really bad rating) Japanese version’s early screen shots included what really looked like a burning cross and a blood-soaked, crucified Jesus being. Uh oh. This is getting pretty bad. Fortunately, this reports are not confirmed and the game has not finished completion, though once it does we’ll find out for ourselves. On the lighter side of violence was Cruis’n USA and Cruis’n World, which were demoaned as being ‘cruel to animals.’ In the arcade version of USA there were cows you could hit that had their meat fly everywhere. No blood. No guts. In fact, it was really funny to see little steaks fly out of a cow you hit. The home version of this game took out the cow-bashing, which critics cried at censorship! In Cruis’n World, you can hit kangaroos and cows and even more things. It will

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Karl Becker, the author of all these articles, uses New Tricks for his writings.

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