People like banning things — books and films have been dealing with this issue for quite a long time, and the banning of games is no different. We watch the decisions of approval and censorship boards, waiting to see what will slip past, what will receive a de facto ban, and what will be banned outright. Vancouver Game Design wonders if this doesn't have to do with a fundamental misunderstanding of how the player-game interaction functions:
What if the experience that games have become can be better equated to the feeling of being at the dance performance. It is the act of being somewhere, of being involved, of feeling. Does your son, your brother, your husband, enjoy shooting people in Counter-Strike? Do they enjoy running over pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto? Of course not. What they are enjoying is the feeling of the act, of the responses they get, the feedback. They enjoy exploring the idea and the act. When you shoot a man in a videogame you are not the shooter in the videogame, you are yourself pretending to be the shooter. You are playing cops and robbers.
The main argument for videogames not being seen as art is that they do not inherently communicate a meaning. The sole reason for this is because that is what entertainment does; it is the dance performance in front of you that you can choose to interpret however you want. But videogames are not entertainment, not by this standard. They are something more innate, more primal and deep. We need to have that escape, that outlet — 'play' is our safe place to experiment. The player can take as much as they would like out of the experience, dig as deep as they want, but there isn't always an inherent message.
"Is it healthy for any culture to ban something that would explore their taboos in a safe environment?" the article asks. Well, no, but there's a very long history of it — I can't imagine that banning potentially unsavory materials will ever go away. Still, this exploration of how people can and do relate to their gaming experiences is an interesting essay and worth a read.
Banning Videogames — How We Misinterpret The Experience [Vancouver Game Design via GameSetWatch]