Incite by Design

Caustic visions and shared thoughts on design, marketing, creativity, philanthropy, pop culture and business philosophy by Toronto design firm, Ricksticks Inc.

2004-12-16

Violence for Sale

At the risk of sounding like Tipper Gore or family values propaganda, I have to say that I am very concerned with the video game themes that are so popular among youth.

Over the past decade, Toronto has seen a sharp increase in the number of youth violence incidents where death or serious injury was the result. Since guns are more difficult to get in Canada, knives have been the primary weapon of choice.

Is it me, or are kids getting more violent? What happened to a simple punch or verbal exchange?

There are a lot of studies floating around about youth being desensitized to violence via voyeuristic activities (movies, games, tv programs) in which violence is touted. Video games, in my opinion, are the worst offender as they invite interaction with the user and simulate the experience of committing a violent or illegal act.

Some groups are attempting to press for stricter legislation enforcing the age limit, but lets face it, kids will get the games regardless. Those warning labels on cassette tapes didn't stop my brothers from getting their heavy metal favorites, and I doubt they will have much of an impact in dissuading youth from getting their hands on Grand Theft Auto 3.

I'm wondering if anyone out there in the marketing, advertsing or design community has had to promote these types of games, and what were your feelings about the project?

Again, I don't give blame to these videos as the lone cause of violent acts. There are myriad reasons of which are too socially or politically rooted to get in to in a marketing and design blog.

However, I see no value in violent video games. None. If you differ in opinion, I invite you to present your case. What would you do if you were asked to help market a violent product?

Sources

Psychiatric Effects of Media Violence
Children and Violent Video Games: Are There "High Risk" Players?
Violent Video Games: Myths, Facts, and Unanswered Questions
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