15 years ago the first hand shooter was introduced to video games, making all the more real and intense. War video games continue to increase in popularity thanks to the Call of Duty series. The graphics, detail, picture, sound all also continue to get better and better, making the experience as intense, competitive, and entertaining as possible.
It’s hard to say if video games dull the horrors of war for the people playing them. It depends on the person really. I joke around all the time with my brothers who are avid Call of Duty players, telling them they’re going to turn into serial killers by the age of 30. I don’t actually believe that but some of the gruesome and gory things I’ve seen in the game and them not even blinking makes me think they are pretty much desensitized to the horrors and the impact of war.
In the video game review article in the New York Times, Seth Schiesel early on goes on about the countless Nazis, zombies, etc. that he has killed and how many times he has saved people, bragging almost. He says they deserved it and the thousands of criminals that have fallen because of his shooting, have done so without inflicting any guilt in him.
“That is by design. Moral clarity is taken for granted in most shooting games, because otherwise the psychological weight of killing hundreds or thousands of other humans (or humanlike beings) would make many games unbearable to play.”
Later on in the article, he mentions that the World at War game weaves in the aspect of a cost of the players victory. Some parts of te game you are up close with unarmed enemies and have to light them on fire. Other parts the Sargent is ordering you to shoot down Germans that are running away. The dialogue even includes other soldiers complaining about that being murder, but you do it anyway.
He further mentions that first hand shooter games are still far away from humanizing the enemy, but World at War is a big step in that direction. It pricks at his conscious and he remembers more of his enemies now.
So to answer the question of war games softening the horror, it definitely does to a degree. I mean, people after all are getting entertainment out of pretending to take people’s lives right? But I also don’t think it completely desensitizes its players.