For those of you who were not present in lecture today, we discussed violence against women and our societal endorsement of violence as a part of masculinity. To illustrate this point we watched a short video of a young man playing a video game (to me it appeared to be Grand Theft Auto, but I could be wrong) narrating his movements somewhat comically—theme music included—as he follows a prostitute down the street and kills her. I have embedded it below , but be warned, it is definitely not safe for work.
This young man definitely sounds young, and while I’m not all that shocked he created this video, I am sad that this sort of violence is normalized and even seen as humorous in boys. I have a 16-year-old brother who has played video games for seven years and he never plays any that are not all about killing as many people as possible (he enjoys Call of Duty, Modern Warfare, and Assassin’s Creed in particular). He is so desensitized to this violence and often makes “humorous” videos of his own with his friends. They often surround an unsuspecting, isolated player together and mock him over their headsets, purposely give away the target’s team’s position to their enemies, and then kill him to add fatal injury to the insult. My brother does this for fun. He shows me the videos expecting me to laugh; I just feel a sort of vague horror.
I have arguments frequently with my brother that these sort of games desensitize players to violence (I am not saying they make a person suddenly BECOME violent, just that they are no longer as upset about violence and don’t take it as seriously as they would otherwise) and he always become very defensive and insists that it has no impact. IT DOES. When we teach boys to associate masculinity with being the most aggressive, most violent person they can be, they act on that, whether it is through video games or in reality. My brother honestly doesn’t realize that not everyone is going to find ganging up on someone and killing them entertaining. That is just scary.
I think these video games capitalize on the tie-in of violence with masculinity by marketing their games to boys and making them as gory as possible. The games I witness in my house every day are full of big, rugged men with guns running around killing people left and right. I have yet to see a female character. I have yet to see any task that does not involve killing someone, and killing is never punished in these games (if you kill an enemy you are rewarded; if you kill a friend, mistakenly or otherwise, they can often just respawn, no harm done). This violent, masculine culture is only exacerbated through the use of video games, and I think an important step toward eliminating real-world violence would be to eliminate its glorification through mediums like these games.