Doom was my first ultra-violent video game, as it was for many of my generation, but Doom wasn’t really about the violence. It was a horror story portrayed through an action lens, and looking back from our era of hyper-realistic military shooters, it was almost shockingly tame to have caused the stir it once did.
Really since the events in Connecticut last December, I’ve found myself thinking about violence far more than I ever have before. That’s not to say I’m connecting violent media to the events of that horrible day. I have no interest in the larger debate (if it can be called such a thing) about the influence of violent media on children — at least not from a legislative perspective.
But from a personal point of view, I am very cautious about exposing my children to most violent media, whether that be a television show, a video game, the nightly news or even a commercial. I don’t believe that, if they somehow get their hands on a Call of Duty, they will be predisposed somehow to commit some atrocity or lose their ability to empathize for others. No, the reason I make my choice — a choice I demand be left to my discretion as a parent — is that I simply want to let them live in their childhood world as long as they may. Someday they will be older, and it will be irresponsible of me to inhibit their understanding of a too-often unforgiving world, but my boys are still young and live in a world where magic is possible, where they feel safe in their own beds, and where someone cares enough to run interference between them and a world sometimes seemingly obsessed with tragedy and pain.
I make the personal choice about violence and exposure to violent content, one that does not impart an imperative on anyone else, because as I look back on the comparative innocence of Doom, I wish that I had lived longer in a world freer from horror and fury. You see, I believe that something precious is lost once you cross through the veil of a certain innocence to see what the world can really look like.