Social Realism

Reading chapter 3 on Social Realism made me do a lot of thinking. I had to disect the title so that I can have a much clearer understanding of the chapter. The term social makes me think about society and the people who function within the society. The word realism can refer to many things but the one term that caught my attention is literary realism. According to Wikipedia, literary realism is a literary movement stressing the depiction of contemporary life and society as it exists or has existed. In other words, the ability to create art based on real life experiences. Now every games does not fit into the category of social realism, however, since the 2000s many more games have been produced to depict actual real life or realistic events and we have shifted slowly but surely away from the fantasy world.

In the section entitled “Are Military Games Realist?” it states, ” What is interesting about America’s Army is not tbe debate over whether it is thinly veild propoganda or a legitimate recruitment tool, for it is unabashedly and decisively both, but rather that the central conceit of the game is one of mimetic realism”. Have you ever played a game that involves shooting and wondered why it feels like reality? I know that I have. This statement made me wonder if there are actual military agents who provide their views from their time in combat so that a dramatic story line can be based off of it.

Another thing that caught my attention while reading this chapter was the “Columbine Theory”. According to this theory games plus gore equals psychotic behavior. While viewing this video, it made me question this theory.

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3 thoughts on “Social Realism”

  1. Your questions about why shooting games feel realistic and if there are individuals providing their real stories for a storyline are disturbing because they are very real questions that I’m almost afraid to know the answers to.

    These questions are worth being explored because it does seem likely that many realistic videogames would have to based, in some part, on someone’s reality…it simply could not feel so realistic otherwise, in my opinion.

    Is this ok? Is it ok that we might be playing games where we are in the shoes of someone else who was actually walking around ready to shoot people? No matter who it was or what the circumstances were, I still find this to be a troubling thought. While it is debatable whether or not this is the case and whether or not it is ok, if it is, another question arises regardless of the answer. If first person shooter games are based on the experiences of real people, should gamers be aware of that? Should there be something in the game pamphlet that says who parts of the story were based off of, and what parts they were? Would it be more dangerous to do this because it would make some gamers want to be these people?

    Your questions are thought provoking and deserve some investigation as we continue to discuss the impact videogames have on our lives, especially since these games are growing increasingly popular.

    1. “If first person shooter games are based on the experiences of real people, should gamers be aware of that? Should there be something in the game pamphlet that says who parts of the story were based off of, and what parts they were?”

      This reminds me of the terrible 2009 movie, Gamer. This movie is based around the premise of players controlling Death Row inmates and forcing them to fight arena like battles. For the players, their avatars are just a tool for them to fight with, not actually real people. This, of course, becomes a major plot point of the movie, speaking about the avatar’s humanity and desire to escape his wrongful Death Row sentence. The movie also focuses around another game, Second Life, where gamers control real world people in whatever perverse way they desire. I wonder if humanity has a strange affinity for voyeurism and control.

  2. I am skeptical about claims regarding the realism of video games, in particular when people say that FPS (first person shooters) are terrifyingly real.

    Yes, you hold a gun and it shoots bullets, just like in real life. And yes, when you hit somebody, they die.

    However. In real life, there is no auto aim. You sweat, you get fatigued, you have fear. Sometimes, you can’t see very well because the sun gets in your eyes. You also don’t come back to life, you can’t kill somebody by shooting them in the foot…. I could go on.

    These are games. They are constructed to mimic real life scenarios, that much is true. But the reason they are unashamedly mimicing horrific real life scenarios is that gaming as a culture is actively making the assumption that the average person won’t shoot up a mall after playing call of duty. Are they wrong for making that assumption? I hope not. Anybody that easily swayed will be swayed by something else, like military propaganda.

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