Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

November 8, 2011 -

Ralph Baer, who is best known for creating the first home console system, isn't all that pleased with today's often violent video games. In an interview that appears in the lifestyle section of the Salt Lake Tribune, he goes so far as to call modern day violent video games a 'disgrace.'

In 1967 Baer invented a device called the Brown Box, which featured two corded controllers and a game system preloaded with a number of simple games that could be hooked up to a television set. Five years later Baer perfected his original design and released it to the public as the Magnavox Odyssey. While the Magnavox Odyssey was not as popular as future game systems from the likes of Atari and others, it served as a starting point for the home console industry.

Baer reflected on his work and how along the industry has come since his breakthrough device in a recent interview with the Salt Lake Tribune:

"Could I project how far this thing was going to go? The answer’s obviously no. Nobody realized, even at that time, that we were on this geometric curve ... that would go straight up to heaven," Baer told the Salt Lake Tribune. "It was unforeseeable; it was fantastic. I’m glad it happened. And if I hadn’t had started it, someone else would have."

"I knew how television sets worked because I designed and built them. I knew how studio equipment works. I knew how the transmitter works. I had used test equipment that creates bars and rectangles on the screen. So putting stuff on the screen was no mystery. It was natural. But doing something with it, that was the ‘eureka,’" he said.

When asked about today's games and their levels of violence Baer didn't mince any words:

"I think it’s a disgrace," he said. "What I created got abominated. You can see the same thing in music, literature, art — any form of art.”

Baer is certainly entitled to his opinion (and he's earned it), but we are a long way from 1967. Source: IndustryGamers

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Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Abomination?
Really?
I mean... Does he really think he has ANY say at all in what was created after him?
If so, I must say that I honestly didn't know Ralph Baer was such an out-right Twat!

I did play pong... back in the day when the "pong console" was the hype...
...and having played games ever since, I'm happy to that the world learned from all of Ralph Twat's mistakes and made games that were FUN, instead of a dull tech-demo which actually had nothing to offer other than being "first"...

Abomination? *Pfft* Talk about someone who has out-lived his time...

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

I don't blame Baer at all for his opinion. As much as I love violent video games, honestly, it would be better for the industry overall to not be so reliant on the blood and guts factor to sell games. Shit, look at Tetris, one of the oldest and most well-known games of all time.

But the problem isn't necessarily that games have gotten increasingly more violent, it's that the depictions of the violence that has been present in games for a very long time have gotten a lot more detailed and graphic, as the technology has improved. For example, take the original Super Mario Bros game. If someone had come up with that idea a few years ago, as opposed to back in the 80's, there's no fucking way it'd pass for a kid's game. A fat plumber who stomps turtles and eats mushrooms? Just imagine how they'd portray such a character today if it was a new concept and not a gaming icon. Mario might still make money in that instance, but he'd be vilified rather than respected.

Look at the first Mortal Kombat. Shocking back in the day, but not so much in 2011. Why? Because today, when you show a dude getting his head ripped off, because of technology, it feels a lot more real than it did twenty years ago. There's no way to help that, but we CAN help making so many games that hinge on gory violence and shock value. The industry just doesn't really WANT to, because there's a lot more gamers to sell to than there were twenty years ago, the average gamer isn't 10 years old any more, and the 10 year olds that play games today want the violent shoot 'em ups just as much as the grown-up gamers do.

Increased popularity gives greater incentive to appease the masses of casual gamers yearning for more blood and guts, and an ever-present demand for better graphics drives up the cost of investing in something that goes against the grain. Face it, the people who wanted games to mature, and not necessarily by embracing violence, lost this battle looooooong ago.

The rise of the indie market gives me a bit of hope, but not much, especially when you have larger companies like Bethesda trying to snuff them out with bogus trademark infringement suits. The big guys are afraid of the little guys dipping into their Kool-Aid, I'm telling you, and it's going to ugly.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

I suppose a more recent example might be the LittleBigPlanet series. The game isn't violent or gory at all yet does extremely well.

One needs to take individual taste into account as well. For me no amount of violence will sell me a game if it's just not fun.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Fiction is violent ... get over it!


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Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Though I don't think there's anything wrong with violent games, I do think it's used in overabundance. It's used as a crutch a bit too much I think at the expense of more innovative game design. There will always be a place for violence in every art medium, but it tends to dilute its value when overused.

-Greevar

"Paste superficially profound, but utterly meaningless quotation here."

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

 I agree 100%. Imagine what it would be like if the movie industry only made testoserone laden action movies. That would be wonderful for the action movie crowd, and no one denies that most blockbusters are action movies, but where are my comedies? Where are my thought provoking dramas? 

Still, gaming is a very young art. We are part of the very first generation that grew up as gamers. I see a lot of potential for growth, but I fear that potential might be stifled by the huge budget it takes to make a game. Not many companies are going risk 60 million a something exciting and new, especially in this economy.

If something new does come along it will be thanks to the indie scene on the PC. The same environment that gave us amnesia and minecraft.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Alright, so he's an old man who doesn't like the direction some of the games went.  But show some respect, people, he's RALPH BAER.  You owe your hobby to this man, whether you agree with his assessment or not.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

"Old man?"

His next birthday will be his 90th and he is still going strong.

I'm an old man and have known Ralph since his Magnavox years and only wish I could muster the disapointment he expresses about the direction we've taken. Violence/gore sells! It's the world we live in. And, of course, the really big bucks would involve the next logical step in game development....PORN! I'm sure that should Ralph or I live long enough, that particular barrier will fall as well.

Robert G. Stanton, Sr.
TSC Management Services Group, Inc.

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Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

"And, of course, the really big bucks would involve the next logical step in game development....PORN! I'm sure that should Ralph or I live long enough, that particular barrier will fall as well."

Ahem

http://cinemassacre.com/2007/08/22/atari-porn/

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

That bridge was crossed a long, LONG time ago with game's like Custer's Revenge.

There is a porn game industry, just that since an AO rating is an industry sanctioned ban such games don't see a market unless it's strictly online sales.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

It would have happened regardless sir. As the consumers of a medium grow up, it grows with then.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Not only that, but as people age, they tend to selectively alter their memory and forget just how mixed things were in their own time.  His own erra had a lot of very dark things that were considered normal and acceptable that would be considered horrific today.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

RCG syndrome.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

No one tell him about God of War.  There we have violent art based (loosely) on old violent art.

Also correct me if I'm wrong.  But isn't Beowulf both one of the oldest known works of fiction AND violent?  Yeah, console guy here has to go pretty far back in his way back machine to purify everything to insipidy clean levels.

No drama, no tragedy, just drooling into your purple Barney cups.

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Art was alot better back in the old days. None of that pesky violence and gore in ancient Greek tragedies,  Shakespearean plays or Grim fairy tales. 

"No law means no law" - Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

"Gee, Lois. Can you hear me all the way back there in the '50s?"

-------

"WARNING GUARANTEE: This post contains material which a truly free society would neither fear nor suppress."

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

...I hope he is not implying that "any form of art" would be better off without violence.  Seriously. 

GET OFF MY LAWN!

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Well, at least he's fair and honest. He's not selecting games out. He doesn't like the violence (that's his choice), but he at least says all other art forms have it too. From Renaissance paintings and sculptures to 19th century literature, from Shakespeare to silent films, if it ain't violent, it ain't art!

Ya hear me, Roger Ebert?!

Re: Ralph Baer Calls Violent Video Games 'A Disgrace'

Regarding Ebert, I tend to disregard the words of ANYONE who acts like their taste in a medium sets an arbitrary standard.

 
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