A Force More Powerful

23 May 2007

The rise and rise of the computer games industry has been one of the features of the nascent 21st century. Worth billions of dollars worldwide and expanding constantly, every day brings it further away from the geeky niche market it was and towards the status of mainstream entertainment medium, right up there alongside movies and music.

A crowd gather at a (peaceful) rally

Mainstream status brings with it a couple of hallmarks. Plenty of industry awards ceremonies, including a Bafta Category. Undergraduate courses in Computer Game design springing up around the world. Professional careers are available not only in the design of computer games, or the reviewing of them, but in actually playing them. Last, but certainly not least, a profitable sideline in computer game lawsuits.

The one that has sparked more than any is the hugely popular Grand Theft Auto franchise. A virtual crime simulator, through an in game character players are encourage to steal cars, mug passers by and shoot up opposing gangsters. An absolute raft of cases followed its release, filed by anyone from the Haitian Citizens Organization, who took offence to a certain section where the player is rewarded for killing Haitians, to relatives of real life victims of shootings.

The basis that each case rests on is of course that playing violent video games can encourage people, especially children, into carrying out violent acts in real life. This is a significant debate, and behavioural psychologists divide over it but, needless to say, most people within the computer games industry are usually committed to the viewpoint that there is no connection between a virtual life and a real one.

It’s somewhat surprising, therefore, to hear about A Force More Powerful (AFMP), which is dedicated to precisely opposite notion.

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