Game Development Reference
There have been no studies that directly link video games to actual violence. In
fact, a 1999 study by the U.S. government didn't find a direct causal link between
video games and aggressive tendencies. A 2001 review in the Journal of Adolescent
Health came to the same conclusion, as did a 2005 Swedish National Institute of
Public Health study.
A lot of the critics mistakenly believe that most video games are designed for
children, and that's where much of the concern comes in. But according to the En-
tertainment Software Association, the average American video game player is 33 years
old. Ironically, the violent crime rate has significantly dropped since the introduction
of first-person shooters. This is according to the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau
of Statistics. Clearly, video games haven't made the world a more violent place. In
fact, the number of homicides perpetrated by adolescents and young adults is half of
what it was before the advent of the original PlayStation.
In response to this controversy, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB)
was established as a way for parents to know which video games are appropriate for
their children. The system includes age recommendations and content descriptors.
According to the ESA, in 2005, 49 percent of games sold were rated E for Everyone,
32 percent were rated T for Teen, 15 percent were rated M for Mature, and 4 percent
were rated E10+ for Everyone ten and older. You can find the ESRB's Game Ratings
& Descriptor Guide at http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings guide.jsp .
When a writer is hired to work on a new FPS, he needs to know the intended rat-
ing the developer and/or publisher is going for, as it will directly impact his dialogue,
characters, and situations.
6.15 The Future of First-Person Shooters
From Doom to Doom 3 to Crysis , the technology for making first-person shooters has
advanced exponentially. With the advent of DirectX 10 video cards, we have almost
reached the point of photorealism. The PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 are designed
to work with HDTVs. Both have the most powerful CPUs and graphics processors
ever put in a game console. The physics, the graphics, and the sound have all reached
new heights and will continue to do so, but the underlying narratives in games haven't
really changed. Some of the very earliest adventure and RPG games still have some
of the best stories. The challenge is to make the stories, characters, and narratives
in FPS games as bold and inventive and powerful as the ever-improving technology.
In 1910, movies were no longer a sideshow novelty but were not quite an art form.
Games have reached that same stage. The technology is here. So is the audience. It's
time for writers with vision, ambition, and talent to take FPS stories to the next level.