Sniper Sniping

Last night I got shown a computer game called Sniper Elite. As one whose interest in computer games was already petering out during the salad days of Sonic the Hedgehog, I was taken aback at the accomplishment of the graphics and the brutality of the violence.

You play the role of a sniper in wartime Berlin, apparently out to stop plans for nuclear weapons getting into the hands of the bad guys. The game allows you to shoot people from hundreds of metres away, and then follow the trajectory of the bullet – to the point where you see the head of your victim get destroyed in a flash of blood and guts.

Because I’m not able to imagine any circumstances where I could take pleasure in destroying someone else, and also because I’ve seen people lying dead from gunshot wounds to the head, I thought it was pretty repulsive, and I was thinking: this is classed as entertainment? If you were forced people to play these games after a day’s work, it would be brainwashing. Yet millions of people voluntarily sit down for hours on end with these games every day, using them to release tension, indulge sadistic impulses, and simply delight that they’re blowing people to bits.

Can’t we all just go back to Frogger?

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July 2007
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