DayZ is a new PC game that is so real it makes players experience violence and murder on a never-before seen scale and is being hailed as a “murder simulator like no other.”
“The game play leads to a degree of psychological tension and emotional response that players report never before experiencing in a computer game,” writes Evie Nagy for Fast Company, about the incredibly successful new game developed by Dean Hall of Bohemia Interactive.
Described as a zombie apocalypse multiplayer PC game that sold one million copies just a month after its Dec. 16 debut, Hall admits that he “wanted to see a videogame explore areas like loss and fear and anger” when he created DayZ.
His accomplished his goal.
As Nagy describes, the success of the game “comes largely from DayZ’s use of permadeath–meaning that players have only one life in the game and lose everything if they are killed–as well as a scarcity of survival resources, and a kill-or-be-killed relationship with other players, who often need your supplies to stay alive themselves. There are also zombies.”
The game is based on Halls’ experience in the New Zealand army during a survival exercise in Brunei that nearly killed him in 2010. He developed a modification of a military simulation game known as Arma 2 and included psychological elements that add real tension and fear to game play. It all adds up to a game that “feels” startling real to players.
For example, he describes a letter he got from a father and son who were playing the game together. Their characters were getting ready to go into a barn in which they feared another player might be hiding. With their characters approaching the barn from different angles, the father shot at someone in the distance.
“Then he walked over and realized it was his son,” Hall explained. “His son is like, ‘Just kill me. Just kill me.’ Because his legs were hurt and they didn’t have any morphine and stuff. I felt really bad about it, but the father said it was awesome … they had this amazing experience together. And he wasn’t normally into computer games.”
As Negy describes, another commenter on the game called DayZ “a murder simulator like no other” as he went on to describe the various stages of emotion he experienced after making his first kill.
The player admits that he started off “feeling a wave of guilt and grief for the stranger sitting across the Internet, who in that moment lost everything he had accomplished in the game.”
But then the “worst thing happened,” the player writes. “I started to rationalize my kill. ‘Well he probably would’ve tried to kill me.’ ‘Well it’s only fair, I’ve been killed 10 times by players like him.’ ‘It’s only a game.’ Anything I could think of to make myself feel better. This is what makes DayZ so great. To think that this ‘game’ gave me the opportunity to struggle with morality in a way that other forms of entertainment never have. It also shows you how people can do horrible thing to others as long as everyone is doing it (think Nazi Germany). How every time you kill someone that feeling of remorse and grief is a little less painful until one day you feel nothing at all.”
Reading this description makes it hard to ignore the fact that some of the most gruesome mass shootings of recent history involve a person who was addicted to violent video games. Is this how Sandy Hook shooter Adam Lanza, who was addicted to the violent Call to Duty game, got up the courage to slaughter 26 people, 20 of whom were first-grade students? Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian shooter who gunned down 77 people in 2011, played the same game. James Holmes, who gunned down 12 people in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last year, was an avid player of another violent video game known as World of Warcraft.
It’s no secret that the military uses similar first-person shooter games to train soldiers to kill. Because of this kind of training, Lt. Col. Scott Sutton, director of the technology division at Quantico Marine Base, told The Washington Post that soldiers in this generation “probably feel less inhibited, down in their primal level, pointing their weapons at somebody.”
If it makes soldiers more comfortable with killing, just imagine what it does to a teenager like Adam Lanza who already had psychiatric issues on top of going through the usual emotional chaos attributable to the typical adolescent.
Thus far, research into the link between violent video games and movies and the propensity to kill is inconclusive, but that hasn’t stopped lawmakers from trying to get something done about this largely unregulated field.
“In today’s world, where kids can access content across a variety of devices often without parental supervision, it is unrealistic to assume that overworked and stressed parents can prevent their kids from viewing inappropriate content,” said Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WVA) who has long been critical of violence in entertainment and the media, just after the Sandy Hook killings a year ago.
“The only real solution is for the entertainment industry to reduce the often obscene levels of violence in the products they sell,” he told Polygon.
Thus far, nothing has been done and games like DayZ that turn violence and murder into a spare-time sport.
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