Thursday, May 26, 2011

Americans and First Person Shooters

Extra Credits has a video blog post on why Americans are attracted to first person shooter (FPS) video games. His argument is that this is rooted within American culture and perceptions of violence. Americans tend to focus on the individual versus society. Guns are symbols of personal freedom. Violence comes out of the struggle of the individual for freedom. This plays itself out in FPS games in which it is the individual against hordes of "others." Furthermore one's advancement through the game is mainly marked by more powerful guns, which are external interchangeable tools. Japanese culture tends to see violence as a spiritual struggle which, while manifested externally, is really a refection of an internal conflict. This plays itself out in Japanese games where weapons are not simply tools that one picks up, but extensions of the self. One advances by internalizing greater powers. The FTP has advanced enough that this model may not hold up. For example Mass Effect requires one to lead a team and use bionic powers with less emphasis placed on guns. Still this piece holds for more traditional games and is useful food for thought.

If only someone told me this argument years ago when I was a kid. Mom you have to let play Wolfenstein. I am exercising my natural American love of liberty and abusing it. If you do not let me play I may grow up to become a liberal and not support the invasion of other countries.



Chris said...


Clarissa said...

I don't know. My husband loves first-person shooter games and he's Russian.

I was a huge DOOM player when I was in my early twenties. And I'm Ukrainian.