Call of Duty, Halo 4, Far Cry, Borderlands – all violent games, yes, but the real damage is being done by those that conceal their violence behind a duplicitous family-friendly wrapping.
Yesterday The Guardian published a feature entitled ‘Violence and guns in best-selling video games‘ that, to be fair to it, included an absolutely LOVELY interactive graph.
The point of it was to highlight the violent content of last year’s 50 best selling games. According to VGChartz.
Select the likes of Call of Duty: Black Ops II and the pretty wavy lines link to Content Label tags reading ‘Intense Violence’, ‘Strong Language’, ‘Blood and Gore’, ‘Suggestive Themes’, ‘Use of Drugs’ as well as seven tags in the Weapons section – ‘handgun or pistol’, ‘shotgun or rifle’, ‘grenade or explosive’, ‘machine gun’, ‘sniper rifle’, ‘launcher’ and ‘assault rifle’.
The likes of Assassin’s Creed III add ‘Sexual Themes’ and ‘dagger or tomahawk’ to the mix while Mass Effect 3 ticks the ‘Partial Nudity’ and ‘Sexual Content’ boxes.
The real surprise, though, is the number of titles picked up for their alleged violent content. These include the likes of gore-fests Animal Crossing: New Leaf and Mario Kart Wii (Comic Mischief), the barbaric trio of Just Dance 3, Zumba Fitness and Gran Turismo 5 (Lyrics), the blood-thirsty Mario Party 9 and Kinect Sports (Cartoon Violence) and the explicitly vicious Wii Sports (Violence).
Only six games succeed in avoiding any violent tagging – FIFA 13, Kinect Adventures, Madden 13, NBA 2K13, FIFA 12 and Forza 4.
On this basis only 32 per cent of the 50 listed titles contained no violence while 38 per cent were classified as E (Everyone) by the ESRB. 38 per cent contained realistic firearms – which is perhaps less than you would have thought?
Perhaps the real villain, however, is not The Guardian but instead the ESRB, which ultimately is the body, that decided on the content warnings that dictated the data.