Death Race and the History of Gaming Moral Panic
The establishment of violence as a key theme of video gaming ties video gaming to other areas of culture historically dominated by men, such as military culture and sports competition. Chapter 3 examines video gaming’s first moral panic, which erupted in response to Exidy’s Death Race in 1976. The game’s broader context, including the infamy of the Death Race 2000 film, and the game’s cabinet graphics, which feature drag racing ghouls wearing hoods, lend credence to the claim that the game is reveling in a smorgasbord of car-on-pedestrian violence. Moral guardians decried the game’s perceived violence, and the game sparked a public debate about the propriety of video gaming for young children. The public outcry over Death Race fueled sales of the game and established the Exidy brand-name. In the long run, the game set a template for future moral panics and for the process by which violent games create heavily mediated moral panics that fuel sales. By assessing the linkage of video gaming as a medium with violence, this chapter explains how popular culture can celebrate the achievements of gamers and the benefits of gaming while suggesting that gaming has a corrupting influence on culture and on players.
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