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Explosions are cool, but…

I’m interested in interrogating the use of violence as entertainment and how it intersects with designers’ ethics. We’ll get into a working definition of violence, how violence in games simplifies the complexities of real-life violence, and how using violence for entertainment raises important, not necessarily damning, questions about how violence exists in the real world. While the historical world has myriad kinds of violence, emotional or economic, for instance, games focus on embodied violence. I’d like to talk about why they do that, how they could more effectively use this kinds of violence as a metaphor for more subtle forms of violence (since all violence is, ultimately, physical), and more effective ways of talking about problem solving in games. Part of why this interests me, and what I’ll address, is that polite company usually decries violence while justifying it as long as it’s directed at the right target. That isn’t always a problem, but it always needs to be recognized, and that’s worth exploring. How games synthesize this interests me especially, since, as systems, games help us conceptualize why people, the state and individuals, use violence the way they do, and how we can more effectively identify and disrupt violent systems.

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