Why is Killing a Fundamental Game Mechanic? | Game/Show | PBS Digital Studios

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Violence and death pervade video games in a way that is atypical of most other forms of media, but why? Outside of the act of just shooting a gun or swinging a sword, the smallest moments of “winning” or “overcoming” in a game are marked by forms of violence and aggression – even Kirby is known to swallow enemies whole. But is it something deeper than just game designers that have a propensity towards violence? Maybe the system, or more specifically computers, favor violent acts at their most elementary building blocks? Join Jamin on this week’s episode of Game/Show and find out!


1:50 Kid destroys XBOX 360 Over Black Ops

1:51 Shakespeare’s Globe Theater Doc

2:35 Space Invaders Pinball Machine

2:37 Classic Game Room –– Pac Man

2:42 Super Mario Bros. Mushroom World Pinball Machine

4:15 Aspiring Game Programmer –– Motivational Video



Terminal Hunter




“Oh Damn!” by CJVSO

“Digital Sonar” by Brink

“Mindphuck” by Known To Be Lethal

“After Hours”

“Lakes” by Chooga

“Beautiful Days” by Extan

“Spectrum Subdiffusion Mix” by Foniqz

“Good Way Song” by Electronic Rescue

“Alice y Bob” by Javier Rubio and Parsec

“Sleet” by Kubbi

“Toaster” by Kubbi

“Patriotic Songs of America” by New York Military Band and the American Quartet

“Lets Go Back To The Rock” by Outsider

“Run” by Outsider

“Fame” by Statue of Diveo

“Freedom Weekends” by Statue of Diveo


Hosted by Jamin Warren (@jaminwar)

See more on games and culture on his site:

Made by Kornhaber Brown (

And regarding my glasses:

Nguồn: https://egyptchm.org

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  • Well, it is really depends on what kind of game you are playing, many puzzles and adventurous games have minimal or no amount of killing.
    Of course you can make a puzzle or an adventure game where you use violence and you can make RPGs and action games without violence, it's just that both cases are a little harder because of the type of the gameplay.

  • in fallout new vegas killing is a choice. in a lot of quests you can complete just talking and negociating your way through

  • killing isn't a fundamental game mechanic of all games – just games that involve killing…

    driving games, puzzle games, crafting games, sports games, hidden object games, sudoku, mahjong… the list goes on and on and on, not all games are about killing!!

    What makes an action movie so great? The hero overcoming great odds and surviving. What makes it so compelling? Danger! We love tales of dangerous situations where the hero triumphs against the odds – games that involve "killing" allow us to take that place, to play the hero and fight against the odds and experience the thrill for ourselves.

    People like to escape their humdrum existence and feel like a hero, that's what these games give us.

    It's the same reason people play sports games, they're living out the fantasy of managing a fantastic football team, or being a racing driving for a top team, driving the best cars in the world – only a tiny percentage of people ever get to experience these things for real – so video games give us a chance to experience it for ourselves and live out the fantasy.

    Violence in video games gives us a chance to be a hero in an epic tale, taking out "bad" guys left, right and center – the bad guys are bad, so it's ok to shoot them!

  • My take on this is: Violence in games, be it on the psyche or on the digital flesh, dulls us to violence. It makes us less sensitive to it, it makes us practice not having empathy (and shooting). We know its not real, but it still has effects. Later on we may not notice how it affects the way we feel and act. In some cases it might even help some people to see these types of events as a game (one special forces guy I knew who always played war games as a kid told me he sort of saw it that way, though he was troubled by having to have killed a buddy they were leaving behind to otherwise die of his wounds).

  • what about survival horror games? a lot of survival horror games have it so that killing enemies isnt always an option and sometimes, is never an option. yes, you could die, but if anything they show that you dont have to be a violent hero to be a video game hero.

  • I think procederally generated games especially in strategy games make it better. the whole concept of 'fixed' strategies for the map to me is just boring .i'd much rather have stuff in the game chance, like units, the way the map is generated. where the resources are . who is , or isn't your strongest threats.

    because if the games static to me. it just gets really quite boring.

  • Games are definitely evolving. Killing will always be there, but now the field is far more diversified in beautiful ways that allow different people with different goals and dreams to play their way through. Eloquent discussions on this channel. I'm subscribing.

  • I like the video. I would add that killing exists for one reason: what else are you going to do? Should Mario tie up the goombas? Should Solid Snake only use tranquilizers? There is no alternative to killing, really. Just from a design perspective, it would be too clunky and annoying to use other forms of capturing enemies.

  • I can't help but think of Undertale watching this. I swear Toby watched this video during development.

  • It's fun to get the upper hand on another player while knowing full well that you are risking yourself at the same time. Getting a headshot isn't even so much an act of violence as it is an act of skill. You might even applaud the other player's skill while bemoaning your own loss. Life and death raises the stakes in a game and makes it more exciting. Sure, there are other game mechanics, but this is a longstanding "gut punch" approach that offers a clear win/loss outcome that's hard to beat.

  • video games do cause some desensitization to violence. They certainly don't cause it. However the problems we have in society had more to do with not valuing another humans life.

  • Um dude I don't know what else to say other then there are all kinds of video games and you should know that so…

  • Well, since fundamental means "a necessary base or core, of central importance", it technically isn't fundamental to video games. Because there are a large portion of games that don't require killing.

    Sure, a large portion of games do having killing.

    But learn to English.

  • there have always been the non-violent game hidden in the background like the sims or sim city or tetris or cooking mama they are just more rare to see and tend to have a less wide appeal to a general market place

  • A game should have conditions for winning and losing. It doesn't have to be about death. Think about when you played games outside with your friends. Ghost in the grave yard, tag hide and seek. Hide and seek may be pretty fun to play during recess but it would make for a boring video game. In a video game, you want to be able to do things you can't do in real life without the real life consequences.

  • A friend of mine and I have playfully had this discussion. He loved to play video games, especially military ones (given he's ex-army) and there's a lot of killing in that. I'm not much of a video game person but I love horror movies.

    He asked me once about all the murder in horror movies and I turned it around on him about his games pointing out that, in his games, he's the one doing the killings rather than, in movies, you're just seeing it so there's a layer between the viewer and the characters.

    That's kind of where it stopped. 🙂

  • Great video, and awesome discussion. I'll throw my hat into the equation, even though I'm sure it's been said before:

    * We're a society of competition. Sports… Business… Games… even life to some extent
    * It's in our PRIMAL nature to be competitive, and attempt to 'win at everything' ALONE…
    * But, it's in our SOCIETAL, more intelligent nature to work together–as a team… to accomplish objectives. Legit ones.
    * On the concept of how games & sports enter the equation… the video said it best, but… yes… humans CAN indeed "play"–and even play "violently" without crossing the line into becoming murderous and psychopathic.

    Just look at football or how about something more violent like MMA or boxing? The thing is… these things TAKE LEGIT SKILLS, years of training, a sharp mind, and people devote their lives to them.

    I think there is NOTHING wrong with games that contain weapons and "eliminating the enemy", since… this is just like football or MMA or basketball or chess.

    The problem (I feel)… is the PURPOSE and lessons / objectives behind it all… seems to be getting lost / dulled / subdued.

    That is to say… I remember in old games like "Metroid" and "Super Metroid" (just for examples)… you had to use your brain. Solve tough puzzles of where to go… how to get there… how to survive… and yet your long-term goal was apparent.

    Even in OLDER games like "Ultima V" (one of my all time favorites, along with Ultima IV, which didn't even HAVE a "main bad guy")… had to use brain… solve puzzles… travel/where to go… survive… and long-term goal was there!

    In some games of today… it's just MINDLESS GRAPHICS & KILLING. Again… in SOME games. In some cases… EPIC graphics, yes… but mindless just the same.

    Apparently, the new SW Battlefront EA (lol) game is an example. Sad! 🙁

  • I think the reason that violence is so prevalent in video games is simply that it is something we cannot do in real life without severe social, moral, and psychological impact.  As a species we are, to an extent, inclined to be violent.  Being that way has made the difference between starvation and death, or finding a mate, or any number of things that would prevent you(especially if you are male) from procreating.  The need for such things is no longer prominent for survival, but the vestigial instinct remains.

  • I would like to point out, my favorite game has no killing, that game is Portal. Not to mention Professor Layton, and there are others still.

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