|A fatality effect that is included with Mortal Kombat 11 (you can do this to someone you defeat).|
In a nutshell, what is happening is that there's a team of programmers that are assigned a certain section of a video game to complete. Sometimes it's only a sequence only a few seconds long that just requires a lot of detail. If the sequences are gory, then the programmer spends a huge amount of time examining gory images and making sure that things look authentic. The article I read on Kotaku indicated that in one office, it was pretty typical to see programmers watching videos of real life hangings, people getting killed, and cows being torn apart or cut up online so that they could get blood effects and death just right. Conversations around the water coolers talk about how blood splatters, how it lands, and how meat should look if its decayed, ripped open, etc.
I never realized that this was a thing...that people are actually being forced to watch stuff like this in order to make a living wage in this country (and other countries). One programmer talked about how he had nightmares so bad from staring at bloody images of real life people that were murdered (and posted around his desk for reference material) that it gave him severe nightmares. He said that he avoided going to sleep and took drugs to stay awake. Those that weren't effected like this had grown desensitized to violent imagery and talked about it like sociopaths. Is any of this good for society?
Knowing all of this, I don't think I can ever play a video game like Mortal Kombat ever again. It's not right, despite the fact that its fun to do. That's the problem I think: the things that consumers in the United States find fun or convenient are usually made possible because someone we can't see is made to suffer. I wonder how long this trend can be sustained, and what its long-term effects are going to be on society at large.