How are games like real life?
What is so fascinating about violent digital games?
So what is the attraction of violent action games? It is best to compare violent action games with an action film in which the player is part of the action. Tension and thrills are usually created through combat and shootouts against an overwhelming number of villains or monsters. The player can safely assume roles that are not possible and not desirable in normal life. Probably such game themes would have irritated most adults in their own childhood. Mostly similar things were played, whether with toy weapons or miniature soldiers (about which there have even been similar debates). The decisive factor here, however, were not digital images, but fantasy and daydreams. In fact, one can state that virtual worlds are the continuation of the traditional daydream by other means.
As a rule, people do not want to go to a real war, but neither do they strive for a gangster career and do not want to have to flee for their lives from a horde of mutated people in real life. But in digital games this (and much more) is possible in a protected space. The violence used in the games can take on extreme forms and in Germany is in most cases marked as adult entertainment by the USK. However, it has always exercised (like film, comics or books) the attraction of the forbidden for children and young people. Back in the 1990s, the game indexing list was a list of games that gamers needed to own. Only the permanent availability and problem-free possibility to reproduce content differentiates the situation today from that of a few years ago; little has changed in terms of the actual reasons for fascination.
The question of the effects of media violence is usually associated with the question of its influence on children and young people. Plato and his student Aristotle discussed this topic as early as ancient times. Plato took the position that not every fairy tale would be suitable for children. Aristotle, on the other hand, was convinced of the cleansing effect of violence and referred to one of the common theories of violence, the catharsis theory. This discussion has continued through the centuries with all emerging media such as film or comics and is now being carried on with screen games. Basically, however, the question is always how much real and fictitious violence a society is ready to accept.
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