Now, we must all be sick to death about this topic, but this time, we’re not talking about the detraction that controversy causes for game players. We will speak more what a provocative topic generates as a whole in terms of the community of game-players and those who look in from the outside. Defining controversy is relative; saying that it is something that simply offends people is not enough since nearly anything or anyone can offend someone else-the very nature of the Internet’s recent crackdown on bullying (also known, but not commonly considered the term ‘trolling’) due to a young man’s suicide is a spark from offensive actions coming from offensive reactions. To be more specific, those who caused the action to occur to cause this young man’s depression, and the public reaction which spurred a response. On both of these sides, there is a pretty important constant to consider; opinion.
In many ways, controversy is a cultural force based solely on the nature of opinion and the arguments for or against such opinions. Opinions serve a twofold purpose in society; to provide a method of conversation among peers and to spark debate among peers with differing interests respectfully. Where one person decides upon raising the stakes is hard to pin down reasonably, but the ferocity of those ideas in clashing is at times heavy and, more often than not, unavoidable. A disagreement of terms is usual between people, but when conflict is taken to greater heights, hostility rises from the controversy and it gains the qualities that make the journalistic and legal battlefields. Also, do not forget the nature of human beings to disagree and display basic aggression; protection of children and their senses against a form of escapism is always an hot topic since risque literature hit the normal library shelves in the 16th century.
So, what exactly can be done about the controversy? All the hatred for games that show mature content like GTA and Resident Evil 5 and Doom from people who never played them…what can be done to keep them quiet? Nothing. Its their opinion, and if they feel that strongly that racism or hurtful comments or that basic decency is being exploited, we can’t really stop them believing that. Even legitmate proof would find some way to be argued or dismayed based on the resolve of their beliefs. It is sad, but very true.
Now, before we walk away to our rooms defeated, I ask you to consider this: Is controversy bad for the industry? Of course it shines the game in a bad light and promotes more negative context against video games, but the point still stands that it gives them exposure and recognition towards a buying audience. If Doom had never been seen by a stalwart Catholic mother and had told her friends about the horrors of Satanism prevelent within the game, it never would have had the community of fans and user-created content it has nowadays. Rockstar Games became a leading developer thanks to the massive income associated the hype and advertising…as well as the fierce debates which have been allowed to spread.
It is perfectly feasible to believe that the controversy was perpetrated by the companies themselves, a common practice in TV as well as music. The idea of stewing a greater and deeper debate-or lack thereof but the exposure their game provides-is appealing for the designer and the company simply because of the exposure itself. It creates a number of effects where the disgruntled parents and peer pressure trickle down the experience of their games to adults and children. One player influences another, as does the psychology of those players and their loved ones. A vicious cycle appears where those who argue against the hatred, parents and concerned adults warring against one another, and the complexity of their debate gives more exposure and record sales. One should take care in controversy; while the arguments might be quite obvious and be expected to draw reaction, there are always layers and factors consider. Tread lightly.