I’ve always stood on the side against the argument that is that violent video games will rot our brains and will turn our loving youth into savage murderers, I mean I used to watch a lot Bob the Builder when I was younger and I didn’t turn out to be a construction worker, I just write about video games on the internet.
However, with the introduction of virtual reality potentially playing a huge role when it comes to shaping the future of video games, it’s a strong possibility that if the quality of the content is strong enough that it could turn some of the video games we all know and love into VR simulators, which would be fantastic in some circumstances, turning games like Gran Turismo, a racing game that is known for its realistic racing mechanics, into a tool that could be used to educate people on how to drive. My concerns with virtual reality turning beloved game franchises into realistic VR simulators rises when we look at how some of the violent and already realistic franchises and how series such as Grand Theft Auto could, potentially, be seen as VR crime simulators which could, unfortunately, lead to instances where those that previously claimed that violent video games could turn people into thugs could end up being correct.
Grand Theft Auto has been blamed for various crimes since its initial debut back in 1997, most cases usually involving a perpetrator being found out to be playing a game of GTA prior to committing their felony, most commonly being a crime involving, as the name of the game suggests, car theft, but following the nature of the game there have been a multitude of cases where more serious crimes, such as murder, have taken place.
Like I said, I’ve always been on the side that video games aren’t the cause for people committing crimes after playing them, I’ve never finished playing a session of Assassin’s Creed and had the hankering to go and do some murders, y’know go and stab people and the like, but I’m sure people have, and in my personal opinion I don’t think that it’s the game’s fault, more that, unfortunately, the people that have gone out and committed murder after playing a violent video game have probably suffered from untreated mental illnesses, and the video game has been blamed for the instance as it’s an easy target to pin the blame on as video games have been used as the doormat to welcome unexplained crimes for a long while.
That being said, on the 4th of August 2008 a student in Bangkok was arrested for the attempted hijack of a taxi and murdering the driver in the process and was quoted saying that he “wanted to find out if it was as easy in real life to rob a taxi as it was in the game” which, I’m sure, wouldn’t be the first time that someone was directly inspired by a video game to replicate the events taking place on the screen, but that leaves me asking two questions.
The first question that I could ask would be would the introduction of virtual reality to violent video games such as Grand Theft Auto lead to an increase in crime, with people being further inspired by the events that they can be involved in the game world, or would virtual reality do the opposite and cause a decrease in the crime blamed on video games, as people that have the potential to cause these crimes would be able to experience what it would truly be like to go out and commit mass genocide without actually doing it.
Who knows? All we know, for now and the foreseeable future, is that there isn’t a scientifically proven link between the violence we see in video games and crimes committed in the real world and most of us, myself included, have never had the notion to want to go out and rip someone’s spine out after playing Mortal Kombat X. If that was the case, being incredibly inspired by the video games we admire I would endlessly be attempting to join the UNSC with a thirst to take down endless amount of covenant scum with all the countless hours I’ve spent in the Halo universe. To be honest, I wouldn’t complain about being a Spartan, I mean Master Chief is pretty cool, right?
Feel free to let us know your thoughts on the moral issues surrounding virtual reality and discuss down in the comments below. Do you think that the more violent games could be turned into simulators, or that it won’t make a difference and people will still look at them as just video games and won’t feel the need to go round a stab their neighbours? I know I won’t be killing anyone when I get my hands on a VR headset and a copy of, oh I don’t know, Battlefront VR. I think I’ll stick to shooting stormtroopers if that’s alright.