1) Fiction Is A Lie
2) Immersion Requires Truth
3) Your Brain Cares About Fiction Because It Subconsciously Thinks It's True
These three statements are the foundation of why "believability" as a concept is important. It's why we care about "canon" or why we get invested in characters or why we get upset when things are "spoiled" or "ruined". Fiction is a lie, but it's a lie we care about. People can make up any story they want about Star Wars, inventing their own arcs and characters as they go along, but they still got upset when Lucas "ruined everything". Sure, Lucas' stuff had the special effects budget and all, but it's not more "real" than your version - it just has a bigger budget. Individual "fanons" or "headcanons" are just as real as Lucas' canon, in the sense that they're all lies that have been made up. And yet people get angry, because that's how the lie works: your brain sees it as a form of reality.
All the reasons we care about stories - all the pathos and drama and emotion - are related to the fact that at some level our brains treat these stories as being "not stories". In many cases this manifests in subconscious reactions, which is something I've emphasized in the past with regards to design. Things like realistic armor and weapons can make the impact of combat feel more "real" and therefore more dangerous, whereas cartoony designs make it feel less so. Tricking people's brains into accepting a false reality has many different facets - the way people behave, the way things develop, the way objects feel and look. Heck, it was about 90% of RedLetterMedia's review of Star Wars. People don't care about accuracy and consistency for no reason, they care about it because it's part of the emotional evocation process.
|STAB WOUND DETECTED, INITIALIZE SCREAM.MP3|
But then why do people enjoy it?
The simplest answer is that even though we know it's false, the simulacra of life are there to convince our brains that on some level it isn't. This is why we put so much effort into creating "humans" in games who scream and bleed even though the same job could be done by silent, untextured models like these guys. The reason we bother making the lie of fiction convincing is because that's how it hooks up to our brain and produces all those feelings and emotions. We know we can't be hurt by a work of fiction, yet there's an entire genre of games and movies designed to provoke horror and fear. We know fictional characters aren't real, yet works of fiction constantly attempt (and often succeed) to make us care about the characters and what happens to them.
|"You're all the real bad guys" says Booker, gunning down another thousand citizens.|
this scene after the cop ad-libbed the line about having a family. It was so upsetting to him that even though he knew it was fake and nobody was getting hurt, he was still emotionally moved to the point that he almost couldn't continue the scene:
I dunno, you play somebody who’s psychopathic or who’s violent, you try to draw the line somewhere. I mean, I don’t really believe in killing children or women! You have to be…playing a bad guy’s one thing, but turning it too far in the wrong direction doesn’t make me happy. [src]
And yet there's plenty of people who see Mr. Blonde as the apex of masculinity, with good reason: he's calm, he's in control, he holds power over others. While everyone else is freaking out, Mr. Blonde is as cool as a cucumber, and isn't disgusted by things that normal people would be. By the standards of power fantasy, Mr. Blonde is the coolest dude ever. The fact that he's immoral might turn away some, but for others it makes him all the more enticing - he doesn't even give a shit what anyone thinks of him. He is a badass. And yet all the things that make him "badass" are supposed to be part of his depiction as a morally repugnant piece of shit.
|A simple game of cops and robbers.|
What's interesting to me is that his logic is almost the opposite of the earlier statement of cruelty in games being okay. Madsen justifies playing a bad guy BECAUSE it is a "bad guy"; not because it's fun or cool, but because he thinks it's important that characters like this are shown to be awful, villainous people. By contrast, the "cruelty is okay" logic suggests that you can do whatever you want to do in fiction without being criticized for it, no matter what sort of acts you're emulating or carrying out or how it's depicted. As long as you don't do it in real life, nobody's allowed to criticize you. Yet Madsen is disgusted by these actions even when he knows it's not real, because instead of being kept separate from reality, it acts as a mirror for it.
Do violent video games cause people to murder in real life? I don't think so. I don't think they CAUSE it. Are they RELATED? Sure. The same desires fuel both fake-murder and real-murder; desire for power, for supremacy, for apex masculinity. Obviously it's better to have fake-murder than real-murder, but that misses out on an important issue, which is that there are ways for people to be absolute pieces of shit without actually killing people. Maybe video games don't cause real-life violence. Do they factor into harassment, or misogyny, or rape threats? Does the culture that thrives on the victory of the strong over the weak - of the badass motherfucker over the pussy faggot - REALLY have nothing to do with these things? When people are saying things like "sexism is integral to the fighting game community", or physically threatening people who criticize their culture, or taking films like Red Dawn and Olympus Has Fallen to heart...is this completely unrelated to the violent media that these cultures are centering around?
Ask yourself this: what separates a game or a movie from propaganda? Does anything? Would you care so much about "being badass" if it hadn't been rigorously established as an ideal by the culture you've been immersed in since your birth? As much as people are willing to give leeway to people's morality in the past, they sure don't apply much thought to it in the present. Nothing's changed. You're still a product of your culture, if you allow yourself to be. Question why you think these things are acceptable.
|Honestly I should've just posted this picture and that's it, that's the entire article.|