Saturday, August 13, 2022









This project has two different arguments, games have a stigma of being labeled as violent and addicting. This is mostly a blanket statement made by those who don't understand the full breadth of what video games offer. Video games have a large supply of depicted violence, but there is also significant titles based on non-combative play. 

Video games carry a large stigma of being labeled simply as violent and addicting. This view typically comes from a small sampling of how video games are played, the types of video games that are commonly marketed and a lack of knowledge in the breadth of video game design in general.

The argument about how video games are violent and addicting really stem off into two different directions. The aspect of violence is about 70% true, based on studies made during the 2019 E3 show. 

Violence sells, and this has been witnessed in multiple forms of storytelling dating back to the ancient Greek drama. To label the industry, though, as violent, is to say that movies are violent.

This is not to say that violent video games outnumber non-violent games, but with 33% of games represented at the Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3) had no violent depictions 

High percentage of the games that were registered as violent also included games that only showed some small depiction of violence at some point. 

This article also suggests a wide range of defining what is violent, which may or may not actually define how much violence the game depicts. If the video game has even the slightest hint of depiction of violence it will slide right into this category. Does not take into consideration if the depicted act of violence is the motivator for the character in the story even if the rest of the game has zero violence depicted at all. This kind of research does not prove to be untrue but it does not help breakthrough through the stigma. 

Take in consideration, though, how violence has been utilized in the media for decades. These are numbers in sales based on movie tickets over a period of about 7 years:

  • Annual movie ticket sales worldwide in 2010 were calculated at over $31 billion.
  • Canadian films grossed about $7 billion in 2011. [1]
  • From 1995 to 2012, the top grossing movie for each year was a decidedly violent movie with the exception of four films, all of which still had elements of mild violence. [2]
  • Films that are rated PG-13 hold almost 50 per cent of the American market. Films that are either PG or PG-13 make more money than all other film ratings combined.
  • The majority of video game players (53%) are between 18 and 49. [3]
  • Only 25 percent of all games sold are rated for adults. [4]
  • In 2010, consumers spent approximately $25 billion on video games.

By their very nature, video games are a means to get away from things, to step away from stressors, and play something fun and violent engaging. They can be built to be addictive, exciting and offer stimulation to engage the gamer into playing for hours. Building these video games with current technologies is also exciting, fun and offers a lot of opportunity to create some real interesting mechanics in game design. 

Majority of the games released are meant for adult players, and not children. Through the use of 2 different governing boards, the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, ESRB, and the Pan European Game Information, or PEGI, are major video game content rating systems established to monitor the amount of inappropriate content an application displays.  While the industry does try to label which of their titles are appropriate for children, it is still up to the parents to enforce the practice by adhering to these guidelines. 

Why not be built as tools for mental wellness and relaxation as well? What can designers come up with which defines a means to relax while still being fun to play? 

An example is the title “Fez,” which is a puzzle game based on 3D space in a 2D layout. 

“The player-character Gomez receives a fez that reveals his two-dimensional (2D) world to be one of four sides of a three-dimensional (3D) world. The player rotates between these four 2D views to realign platforms and solve the game's puzzles. The objective of the game is to collect cubes and cube fragments to restore order to the universe. “

This game is based on thinking and learning rather than violent choices. Through the colors and music, the player is given a mellow yet colorful game, offering a low key escape yet fun gaming  experience. 

There are other video games that have no aspect of violence in their goals, like the one in this project, are to help reduce stimulation and to encourage relaxation. Numbers of titles represented in the 2021 E3 Convention, while small, one third of the titles at the show were non-combative: 

In a paper by Marc Sestir and Bruce Bartholow, Violent and nonviolent video games produce opposing effects on aggressive and prosocial outcomes, comparisons between gamers who played violent games versus those who played non violent games. Their studies constantly showed a higher level of aggression immediately following their game play than those who played nonviolent games. 

This is just suggesting that developers do not need to rely on violence to maintain a positive environment for their game, but it does mean they would walk a challenging line between what creates an area of entertainment and also one of mindfulness. With over 70% of the games being sold in the major markets of the US being based on violent tendencies, how does a developer market themselves past this stigma?

Many games, violent and non violent, are based upon multiplayer interactions, playing between two players who meet online and play at the same time. These games have systems to keep players from cheating technologically, but there's really no way to monitor and control actual player behavior when interacting with other players. The term "rage quit," is synonymous with games like Call of Duty or Warframe. Online behavior in these games has long been noted, in particular League of Legends has a history of having a toxic community in their social channels.  

There are a few communities which have positive communication between players, with rules and moderators enforcing them. These more positive social channels are a result of being based around non-violent games. Building this library of titles could encourage more parents and children to choose games based on mental health and mindfulness.  

Consider the history of how social engagement and gaming correlate, from sitting at a table and rolling dice to kicking a soccer ball around, people have learned to play with each other. When games were taken to the internet, a whole new era of identity and social presence came to life. Video games became, and still are a chance for someone to become something different, 

as is with role playing games,or  RPG’s as they are labeled, such as Dungeons & Dragons. 

Many of these games themselves come from strategy games used to train soldiers on how to prepare and execute a battle plan. Violence is just as part of video games as is violence is with humans, which could be a correlating concept on why violent games sell so well in the United States. 

Another perception which is slowly creeping into the lines of non video gamers is video games as a tool. "Edutainment" is the combination of gamified elements mixed with learning, has been around for many years and uses gamification messages to train people how to utilize a process effectively. A lot of developers stay away from this side of development because of the small pay and small marketability. *There is a simple truth though*(opinion, bring data to this)  that these tools which offer motion focus base goals and color control can actually be utilized as a therapeutic vehicle for people who are struggling with a neurological disorder.

In order for more people, especially health care professionals, to see video games as an actual tool, 

 the better chances of this genre succeeding, even thriving. The objective here is to help people understand how video games can be utilized as tools outside of training and education. Tools in helping people work with the challenges that come with a neurological disorder. Based upon how definitions of art therapy color therapy overwhelming with their data. This could just be seen as another vague method to treat or help another vague concept.

This concept of opening up a new genre is more about offering a specific index to tools and therapy options through video games. With this as an actual labeled genre, developers and researchers can find each other, and can utilize the research into a similar therapeutic methodology. 

*While being significant to devs, the genre will also offer a way to index these titles for players and health care professionals as well. The connections built around this genre can potentially offer deeper understanding how people on the spectrum can handle different scenarios. 

There is a small history of video games which use different techniques to promote facial recognition in a simulated social structure, one of them is called "Find Me," which was a simple game asking players,most of which were children suffering with are on the autism spectrum, to locate the person in the actual scene. Each level of the game which shows a certain number of images which represent objects in the world, the player is tasked with finding the person. While this game had a small sample of testing players and a small sample of testing time it showed an improvement of how players interact with the game levels. See the appendix for the list of the study results.

By nature, Autism Spectrum Disorder searches for order, simple yet focused tasks in safe environments.

Another of the topics that will be something to strongly consider this as a genre will be based on the stimulation a game offers. Stimulation is based on many factors, such as  the types of colors and cultural imagery, time a game may require to play, or pace the game requires to be successful.  

One of the largest considerations for developers will be how to get a player off (off-boarding?) of a game, and back into the world that they live in. Video games by design encourage players to continue to play more, the amount of stimulation is geared towards engagement from the players. Take in consideration the size of the current titles' land masses, ranging from 10m2 to 45m2 in size, requiring players to spend hours searching for different kinds of quests or goals. The design in itself is built to take time, based on challenges and achievements. All of this is encouraged further with added DLC and extra game play systems. 

This is all by design, as this is the business model of the industry. Movies and toys copied off each other for years before video games had been built, video games really have the basic structure for constantly building on a series. Each iteration building on the previous technology and story, building upon sales figures and audience feedback.