That’s the question Tyler Nagata asks over at gamesradar. He answers it by giving a rundown of some real-life examples of bloody combat. But is that really an answer?

Of course, games, or at least some genres, have always been violent. You can’t get more violent that slaying hundreds, or thousands, of virtual enemies. This has been going on since the days of Telengard.

No one minded back then, for several reasons. First, gaming was still a niche hobby. Outside of game magazines, there was hardly a mention of games, good or bad. Second, graphics being primitive, there wasn’t a lot of mess. And third, at least in my experience, the majority of players weren’t kids.

Today, it’s different. And I think the biggest difference is that so many games are more visually violent than ever before. The detail is greater, with blood, limbs, and organs splattered all over. Some games could rival a slasher flick with the amount of mess they display.

Allied to that is the ability in certain titles to break the rules, in particular by killing “innocents”. Grand Theft Auto comes to mind here; you can have a fine old time running down pedestrians on the streets.

That isn’t any more violent than hacking your way through a band of goblins or frying a bunch of orcs with a fireball. It’s just a different context, which seems to upset some people.

Games are no more or less violent than they were in the past. We were killing back then, and we’re still doing it now. Only the visuals have changed. Not necessarily for the better. I suspect that not many would be complaining about “today’s violent games” if the graphics were on a par with the old 8-bit ones.

But for those of us who’ve been around long enough, it’s still the same old hack/slash/burn it always has been. Plus ca change…

Are Games More Violent Today? on gamesradar