I have some news that may surprise you: video games can be violent.  Take a minute.  Let that sink in.  Still with me?  Good, because as shocking as that news may or may not be, OnlinePsychologyDegree.net wants to let you know how atrocious your actions are in the games you play.  While it’s true we do virtually commit many of the crimes on the list, there are completely valid reasons these laws are broken not just to complete the game but because they are the morally right paths to take.


1. Murder

Of course you need to murder in Duck Hunt.  By the title alone, players are clearly put in the role of a hunter, and a hunter can only make a living by bringing in a fresh haul every day.  And in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare, the threat of the world hangs in the balance.  Isn’t the loss of a few terrorists worth saving the lives of millions if the game does not have a peaceful diplomacy option anyway?

2. GTA

Stealing cars in real life is wrong, yes, but how else will Niko Bellic of Grand Theft Auto IV live the American dream than to steal some cars, kill a few prostitutes and ruin a life or two?  Could Niko live a more crime-free life?  Probably, but when the man steals cars, the cops simply give him a progressive star rating like they’re grading a video game.  In real life, we’d only be so lucky to have a one-star rating, hide behind a trash can, and avoid ever going to jail for our crimes.

3. Extortion

Ignoring that The Godfather film is far better than the game, New York City can be a tough place regardless.  As the mafia actually exists, the game provides players a nice outlet to see if this sometimes prosperous life is worth the many risks involved.  It is a much safer option than to let them dive head first into the criminal underbelly.

4. Genocide

Yes, players do kill quite a few aliens in Space Invaders.  To be fair, they are trying to take over Earth by whatever lethal means they deem necessary.  If they are not going to listen to reason or come in peace, why shouldn’t we take hostile action?  We only have one world, so to expect us to simply lie down and die is preposterous.  Those aliens have it coming for trying, if anything, to commit genocide on our planet.  If it comes down to us versus them, there’s nothing wrong with defending our world from extermination.

5. Drug Possession/Public Intoxication

Mario is not taking drugs.  He is eating mushrooms, as we might have in any dinner entrée, to supply himself with a boost of strength.  If the Mushroom Kingdom’s popular plant produced the same effects as shrooms do in our world, Super Mario would be an entirely different game.  He is not addicted to the mushrooms, and in many instances they are not required to actually beat each level – they just make the journey easier.  And to suggest that the potions in RPGs, like the hit role-playing game Zelda (they dropped “The Legend of” and turned it into a full-on role-playing game while you were too busy getting high), are anything like drinking is ludicrous.  Potions in games are much more akin to the drugs one buys at a pharmacy, albeit with a faster healing time, and they surely do not impair a character’s senses.

6. Theft

Everyone’s favorite Italian plumber is not stealing all of those coins.  I have never seen a certificate of ownership that denotes a question mark block as private property.  Most of the coins Mario picks up are strewn about the level, belonging to no one.  If you walk down the street and see a quarter in front of you, do you leave it there because it would be stealing to pick it up?  No of course not, and Mario is doing the same thing.  It just seems that the denizens of his world all have holes in their pockets.

7. Terrorism

Terrorism is bad; no one is going to argue that.  But films and books have depicted similar acts akin to what can be played in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, and games are (hopefully) not using these acts to incite players to enact them.  It is unlikely gamers even have access to the tools necessary to pull off such terrorism, and if they do developers may want to reconsider their target audience.  The primary use of these scenes appears to be in service to the story and characters or to deliver an emotionally affecting sequence.  To censor this portion of the game means that all similar scenes in all mediums should be removed, and that is a slippery slope we as a society should not follow.

8. Sex Crimes

Video games will make you a rapist.  That’s essentially what the next argument says.  It uses evidence of a Fox News pundit (the same channel that gave us this completely fair debate) from last year who had no concrete data to support her claim that games make players more likely to commit sex crimes.  If that last sentence fails to make you suspicious enough about this claim, then I am not sure how else to convince you.

9. Reckless Driving

I have played a few of the Burnout and Need for Speed titles for hours on end, and I can say first-hand that I never felt the compulsion to drive as erratically as I do in the game.  Granted, I don’t have a license or a car, but even if I did, I certainly would not risk wrecking any of the beautiful cars I’ve raced in these titles.

In all seriousness, no one is arguing that games lack in the violence department.  Until there is enough actual data and not here-say about the effects of this violence, however, then I think we can say reasonably sane people know where to draw the lines of their actions.  And the industry has grown to the point that not all games are filled with violence and law-breaking.  From games like Journey to any sports title on the market, if you want to avoid more violent games you can.  Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to return to this great drug-induced murder spree in Super Mario Galaxy.


  1. The example for point 1 is a bit odd.  I wouln’t classify past or present soldiers as murderers when hey have killed on mission.