Shoot To Kill

by Hockey1331 on April 24, 2017 - 6:18pm

     In nearly every household, there tends to be at least one video game console with many video games. These video games span from sports games to violent shooting games. Grand Theft Auto V is a video game that has received a lot of scrutiny for the amount of violence portrayed throughout the game. In GTA V, players are immersed into this virtual world where killings and robbery is often encouraged. It is not only this video game that has been criticized but many others as well. Due to the rise of violent video games, many ethical issues have surrounded the video game industry and the question is, should violence in video games be limited? Ethical rationalism can be used to defend violence in video games because, the action of censoring what can be included in a video game would not pass the categorical imperative.

     According to utilitarianism, violence in video games should be limited. Utilitarianism looks at the outcome of an action and if that outcome has benefitted most people. Violent video games such as GTA V often promote killing and robbing people in an online world. Although it is extremely hard to provide conclusive evidence that these violent video games have a direct effect on people, it cannot be said for certain that they do not. In an article the author states that, “[Players] must simultaneously decide their course of action, engage them and keep their attention to many signs of danger to virtually survive within a fast-paced world” (Tang 1). In GTA V, players are subjected to a virtual reality with thirty plus players, all of whom can kill one another at anytime. Players are forced to fight for their life during their time in this world. Another author states that, “[…] video game violence desensitizes players by repeatedly exposing them to violent images. This desensitization makes it easier for youths to commit violent acts because of their feelings towards violence” (Franklin 42). Although this conclusion is dependent on results which are not fully concrete, from a utilitarian point of view there is a chance that video games like GTA V are making people more violent. If this were to be true, then violence in video games is clearly not offering the best outcome for the greatest amount of individuals. Youth will have greater tendencies to use physical forces when confronted in real life situations, which can lead to the harm of others or themselves, should this be true. From a utilitarianism point of view, violence in video games should be limited because of the potential influences these games have on people.

     From an ethical rationalism point of view, violence in video games should not be limited. This ethical framework focuses on one categorical imperative being, the universal maxim. The universal maxim states that any action should be one that could be made a universal rule. In GTA V, there are many acts of violence that are shown in the online world but also in the cut scenes of the main story line. This use of violence in the video game falls under free speech. Censoring what and how many acts of violence can be included would impede on the game developer’s free speech. This would not pass as a universal maxim because limiting video game violence would allow for the limitation of all violence in all types of media. Video games such as GTA V are highly unrealistic and as one author puts it, “The fighting kids do in physical games and video games alike is just a simulation. In other words, it is play” (Toppo). Video games are just play and cannot be associated with the real world because of the unrealistic standards in them like GTA V, whereby characters respawn once they die. Game developers have the right to include whatever they want in their games even if it is highly unrealistic and gruesome violence because it is just a game and the action of censoring what can be included would not pass as a universal maxim. It is up to the people playing these games to realize that they are in a virtual reality where this type of violence does not apply to the real world. That being said, game developers should not be subjected to certain constraints when producing violent video games. From an ethical rationalism point of view, violence in video games should not be limited as this would not qualify as a universal maxim.

     There are many persuasive arguments that can defend either side of this moral dilemma but ethical rationalism does a better job at defending the reasons why there can be no limitations on video game violence. Ethical rationalism does a good job at providing concrete proof as to why there cannot be any sort of constraints. Most people would agree that everyone has the right to free speech which is why ethical rationalism is correct when it argues that limiting what can be included in video games obstructs one’s free speech. The utilitarianism approach does not provide concrete evidence when it argues that violence in video games may affect people. In an article the author says, “Many of the new studies claim a wide variety of benefits from gaming, including improved attention, higher creativity and improved ability to manage difficult emotions, such as fear and anger” (Helmore). There are too many studies that argue that there are no effects, while others argue that there are effects due to video game violence. It is hard to believe one study when there is another study arguing the opposite. If there were constraints implemented on violence in video games, the limitations would be completely subjective as some might find an act of violence fine while others do not. This is why any sort of limitation is not justified and would not pass as a universal maxim. Ethical rationalism does a far better job convincing everyone there should be no restriction on video game violence.

     Violence is portrayed everywhere today, in movies, on TV and video games. Using this reason as an excuse to why people are more violent, is not justified and provides no direct correlation. There needs to be more research as to why this is happening but limiting violence in video games is not the solution to the problem. Ethical rationalism describes the universal maxim and it is for this reason that video games like GTA V should have no restrictions on the violence portrayed. 




Works Cited


Franklin, Adam. “Headshot!: An Exploration of the Phenomenon of Violent Video

            Games.” Electronic Thesis or Dissertation. Bowling Green State University,

            2007. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and Dissertations Center. 23 Apr 2017.

“Grand Theft Auto: The Official Site”. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Helmore, Edward. “Ethical Gaming: Can Video Games Be a Force for Good?” The

            Observer. Guardian News and Media, 12 Apr. 2014. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.

Tang, Wai Yen. “Lose your Self-Control to Video Game Violence: The Dual Impact of

            Ego Depletion and Violent Video Game Play on Aggression.” Electronic Thesis

            or Dissertation. Ohio State University, 2012. OhioLINK Electronic Theses and

            Dissertation Center. 23 Apr 2017.

Toppo, Greg. “Do Video Games Inspire Violent Behavior?” Scientific American. 29 May

            2015. Web. 23 Apr. 2017.










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