While Edwards feels that asking what responsibilities specifically gamemakers have to society is unfair, she said the broader question of what responsibilities artists have in their craft is a relevant one.
“I think in the broader context most people would agree that they have to be true to their artistic vision as part of a broader creative expression of our culture,” she said. “The decision to accept or reject that artistic content is at the discretion of a consumer’s own preferences, or if they’re young, at the discretion of their parents to decide what is appropriate.”
In many ways, the artists’ greatest responsibility is to themselves.
Markus Persson, the Swedish developer behind the massively popular, mostly violence-free building game “Minecraft,” agrees.
“A lot of game developers are game developers because they’re passionate about games,” he said. “They make the games they want to play themselves, and as adults, these games might not be the same as the games children want to play. Personally, I did not create ‘Minecraft’ in an attempt to cater to kids, but rather just made a game that I wanted to play myself.
“Creators have no responsibility towards anyone to do anything; they should simply express themselves as much as they can through the means they choose. Some material produced might not be suitable for children, and that can be regulated with a rating system and responsible parents.”
And perhaps that’s the more important point: Not all video games are for everyone and not all of them are violent. The game industry produces a surprisingly eclectic mix of titles.
Nearly 18 million copies of “Minecraft” have been sold. While last year’s top-selling games included “Call of Duty: Black Ops 2” and “Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3,” half of the top games of 2012 weren’t violent.