Risky behaviour in video games (and other media)

Posted: 2014/07/03 in Indie Games

Keen-eyed viewers will notice that I haven’t exactly been posting up a storm, lately. In real life I have a business to run, and this is our busy season and it’s really time I focus on that (and family, and chores, and all the other non-optional elements of life). That said, I read an article on Kotaku that inspired me to comment. Actually, it was the comments to the article that inspired me the most.

The article was Video Games Didn’t Make Me Gay, But They Did Make Me Proud, which I found to be an insightful read in and of itself, but it was this comment that really got me thinking:

You mean unprotected? I’m surprised there aren’t more safe-sex initiatives in games, now that you mention it. Seems like the sort of thing that social and mobile games would be particularly good at.

There’s more than just sexual pursuits where this happens, though. In how many movies or video games do you see the star riding a bike without a helmet, for example? Almost all of them. Then there are portrayals of smoking: I live in Canada where 84% of the population does *not* smoke tobacco, yet the majority of movies depict tobacco use as if it’s normal as opposed to the self-destructive behaviour that it actually is.

Risky behaviour is routinely shown in all kinds of media, and I don’t think that’s an accident. In the same way that watching someone walk a tightrope without a net is more gripping than someone doing so while observing proper safety procedures. It’s very illogic is part of the appeal, I think, on some level.

I’m an avid cyclist and always wear a helmet, even when test riding a bicycle in a parking lot or going to the corner store. After all, don’t most accidents happen close to home? But it’s rare to see someone riding a bicycle (or even a motorbike) in most films and games with a helmet. It’s not rare to see someone smoking. I don’t consume porn anymore, but when I did it was rare to see someone using protection.

It’s like a parody of the real world… or at least, a parody of the world that ought to be.

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