As one of the people responsible for bringing the world the mega-hit PC game Doom, John Carmack is no stranger to the controversy in violence in video games. As it turns out, according to an interview with Industry Gamers, the debate never really phased him.
Carmack says that he “never took seriously the violence in video games debate. It was basically talking points for people to get on CNN and espouse their stuff on there.” He mentions that, during the height of the video game violence controversy, he would be constantly hounded with questions at E3 and had to be reminded not to discuss his own opinions on the matter.
So, what effect do video games have on people? Carmack said:
“And I really think, if anything, there is more evidence to show that the violent games reduce aggression and violence. There have actually been some studies about that, that it’s cathartic. If you go to QuakeCon and you walk by and you see the people there [and compare that to] a random cross section of a college campus, you’re probably going to find a more peaceful crowd of people at the gaming convention. I think it’s at worst neutral and potentially positive.”
While Carmack, who is developing the new game Rage due out this October, has a vested interest in downplaying the effects of violent games, there definitely seems to be a bit of truth to what he has to say.
This weekend serves as a great example; both MLG Anaheim and the EVO world fighting game championships are drawing thousands of players to play games centered around violence, and stories of camaraderie and good sportsmanship abound from both venues.
What do you think about Carmack’s statements? Do violent video games have an effect on people, or is he right in referring to the issue as political “talking points?” Let us know in the comments.