Volume 24, Issue 1, Spring 2017
Only a Game?
On the Meaning of Violent Video Gameplay
Many are disturbed by acts of simulated violent portrayed in contemporary video games. In this essay, I ask if violent gameplay is meaningful or significant outside of the gaming context. Following a recent discussion of the meaning of actions by T.M. Scanlon, I argue for two interrelated theses. First, I claim that in-game actions are only meaningful when the considerations and reasons that drive in-game actions are the same as those that drive analogous actions outside of the game-world. Second, I argue that this condition rarely holds because the gameworld creates a unique context in which the reasons and considerations that drive action are significantly altered. I conclude that violent video gameplay can be but is rarely meaningful outside of the gaming context.