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Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

Whenever you see a report on video games in the mainstream press it's usually about one of two issues; violence or sex. While every form of entertainment will bemoan that he media picks out the worst of their industry to report on, I'm of the opinion that we as gamers really do this to ourselves. Those shock pieces that Fox news (news?) ran about ultra violence in games used to be a poor representation of the medium I enjoy. It seems that I have less and less of an argument these days when people tell me games are nothing but killing for the point of killing.

Call of Duty : Black Ops is the best selling game on the Xbox 360. The story is an attempt at a story, but mainly a vehicle to move you from one explosion or shocking moment to another. What do I remember about the storytelling, the directing, or the presentation? Jack shit, really. There was something about numbers and a guy who puts on his sunglasses at inappropriate times, and I think I killed Hitler or something but then it was ACTUALLY Hitler it was a body double or some bullshit. What exactly do I remember about Black Ops? I remember pulling a Vietcong out of a boat into the water, plunging a knife deep into his throat and nearly decapitating him. His head hung by a few sinews of muscle as blood poured into the river. It was fucking disgusting. I felt dirty for playing it.

That's just 30 seconds from just one of the top games out there. Gears of War? Guns with fucking chainsaws on the end of them. Apparently shooting a dude just doesn't get it done with enough style.

I'm guilty myself of putting literally hundreds of hours into the Battlefield series. I don't even bother to play the story mode, either. I just jump straight into the multiplayer, grab an mp5, and start shooting. I've been known to spend 8 hours straight trying to kill enough people to unlock a new gun, just show I can keep killing people quicker.

I'm not some sheltered soccer mom. I understand that we are the descendants of Vikings and Gladiators. The reason we are alive today is because our ancestors were ruthless, merciless killing machines. They wiped out every competing civilization and sent their seed down through the family tree. It's in our blood to kill. Our culture is saturated by blood from movies to music. You can't escape it and, in moderation, it's healthy. We need that release. Every day I put on an ugly polo shirt and stand in a small room pushing buttons. The animal instinct in my is suppressed in the name of civility. That's a good thing, but there's an animalistic side to all humans. It builds up in us and we seek out those forms of entertainment that turn our release valve from dancing to horror movies. Give me an hour on Battlefield 3 setting fire to the earth to reset my stress level. A new gun unlock and I'm ready for another day wearing an ugly polo.

But with movies I can watch a violent slasher film, sure, but I can also watch a comedy. There's a pretty even distribution I feel of genres so we can explore every side of escapism we need. Every movie released isn't a gorefest. I can go to the art gallery and see gruesome depictions of hell and suffering from a renaissance painting, or I can get lost in the psychedelics of at abstract piece to ponder god. WIth games, my options as a core gamer are mainly limited to violence.

I've already touched on the AAA titles that have little story to back up their bodycount, but even the games that have stories that elicit real and earned emotions are usually about putting a bullet in the bad guy. The Uncharted series has better storytelling and pacing that most summer movies, but I struggle to find the series protagonist, Drake, the relate-able every-man they are going for seeing as by the end of the game you've mowed down hundreds of rent-a-cops. I will freely admit that on more than one occasion the Mass Effect series succeeded in bringing tears to my eyes, but the main goal still was to blow up a race of invading space robots. Hell, even Mario is about smashing a giant turtle to save your girlfriend. No romantic comedies here my friend.

But would a Jennifer Anniston RomCom be fun to play?

The difference between art and movies and games is that a game has to be fun to interact with. To an outsider Medal of Honor and Call of Duty look identical, but to a gamer we know it's all about how that game feels in your hands. How smooth does the character control? How satisfying is the feeling you get from pulling the left trigger? When I push the B button is the resulting action on screen good enough to release the dopamine I so desperately crave? In the case of Battlefield, pulling the trigger and watching the enemies' jet go down in flames it is a yes......a definite yes. But would pressing the B button to serendipitously get into the same taxi as Kate Beckinsale be just as good?

We've seen limited but cult success in the games industry for games not featuring violent conflict as the main draw. The Sims series is probably the best example of this. Most everyone is familiar in one way or another with the Sims, the quirky 'life simulator' in which you create a family and simply live their lives for them. Everything from taking out the trash to getting up early enough for work is in your hands. It allows us to explore the 'what if's' in every day life. You can sleep with the man at the bookstore or tell scandalous lies about your boss to usurp the throne. You can even start a life of crime or become the next president of the free world. Everything is essentially what you make of it. So go ahead and create Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack, hijinks await!

I'm a huge fan of the Harvest Moon series. They all start pretty much the same - a distant relative has passed on leaving you the family farm in their will. So you, a city boy/girl, pack up and move to the country. The mayor of the town shows you your new farm (which is more of a dump than you could have imagined) and gives you a tour of the nearby town. From their the game is about managing the daylight. You try to fit in as much planting, milking, picking, sheering, and clearing as you can into one day without passing out from exhaustion. Maybe today you want to take it easy on the farm and go into town to balance your frienships you've been forming over the years. The townspeople usually reward you with interesting stories and gifts as you become more of a member of the community. Love and marriage can bloom eventually, giving your character a much needed morale boost as he comes home to his spouse at the end of the day.

Animal Crossing lets players experience the trails of home ownership and relationship juggling as the only human in a town full of eccentric anthropomorphic animals. You'll dig up fossils, wish on stars, and collect sets of matching furniture in your quest to pay off the slumlord Nook the Raccoon.

While these games tell stories of human drama and relationships, none of the match the level of a Benjamin Button or Shawshank.

We're working on it, though. Heavy Rain, while ultimately the video game version of Seven, had some very quiet and emotional moments. Controlling a dad as he played with his kids in the backyard gave the story so much more kick when said kids later meet horrible fates. I was the one that pushed my son on the swing set, and now that I have to crawl through a tunnel full of broken glass to save him, I'm that much more invested. Trying to not go too far into spoiler territory, Heavy Rain managed to balance story telling and action in a way games hadn't seen before. As Ethan, you don't kill countless no name baddies on your way to save your son, instead your put through awful trials by a serial killer to see how desperate you are to see your son again. At one point your asked to cut off your own finger in under two minutes or he'll kill your kid. You desperately scramble around the room looking for something, anything to cut your finger off. I spent all my time gathering up medical equipment such as gauze and realized I was quickly running out of time to find an actual implement of amputation. Less than 30 seconds left to start my stomach churning task, I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and a pair of rusty poultry scissors. What followed was the most haunting piece of gaming I've ever played as I chugged the whiskey and balanced my button presses between hacking away at the bone and trying not to pass out from the pain. Sure, it was violence, but it was violence other than chainsawing a billion space aliens. It was human drama. A man going over the edge to save his son.

Games have a long way to go before games like Heavy Rain sell as much as Call of Duty, but I believe as the medium continues to evolve we could see a higher level of maturity being asked from our biggest game companies. Violence doesn't have to be sensless. Thankfully we're starting to see more and more examples where the point of the game isn't that killing is fun, but that violence is sometimes necessary to serve the story. One bullet can be more meaningful and impactful than the millions I've spent in battlefield as long as there is a well developed human pulling the trigger. We will get there eventually. I just hope all this violence doesn't kill the creativity in the process.

As far as sex in video games......well, we could always use more of that.

#1 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

Whenever you see a report on video games in the mainstream press it's usually about one of two issues; violence or sex. While every form of entertainment will bemoan that he media picks out the worst of their industry to report on, I'm of the opinion that we as gamers really do this to ourselves. Those shock pieces that Fox news (news?) ran about ultra violence in games used to be a poor representation of the medium I enjoy. It seems that I have less and less of an argument these days when people tell me games are nothing but killing for the point of killing.

Call of Duty : Black Ops is the best selling game on the Xbox 360. The story is an attempt at a story, but mainly a vehicle to move you from one explosion or shocking moment to another. What do I remember about the storytelling, the directing, or the presentation? Jack shit, really. There was something about numbers and a guy who puts on his sunglasses at inappropriate times, and I think I killed Hitler or something but then it was ACTUALLY Hitler it was a body double or some bullshit. What exactly do I remember about Black Ops? I remember pulling a Vietcong out of a boat into the water, plunging a knife deep into his throat and nearly decapitating him. His head hung by a few sinews of muscle as blood poured into the river. It was fucking disgusting. I felt dirty for playing it.

That's just 30 seconds from just one of the top games out there. Gears of War? Guns with fucking chainsaws on the end of them. Apparently shooting a dude just doesn't get it done with enough style.

I'm guilty myself of putting literally hundreds of hours into the Battlefield series. I don't even bother to play the story mode, either. I just jump straight into the multiplayer, grab an mp5, and start shooting. I've been known to spend 8 hours straight trying to kill enough people to unlock a new gun, just show I can keep killing people quicker.

I'm not some sheltered soccer mom. I understand that we are the descendants of Vikings and Gladiators. The reason we are alive today is because our ancestors were ruthless, merciless killing machines. They wiped out every competing civilization and sent their seed down through the family tree. It's in our blood to kill. Our culture is saturated by blood from movies to music. You can't escape it and, in moderation, it's healthy. We need that release. Every day I put on an ugly polo shirt and stand in a small room pushing buttons. The animal instinct in my is suppressed in the name of civility. That's a good thing, but there's an animalistic side to all humans. It builds up in us and we seek out those forms of entertainment that turn our release valve from dancing to horror movies. Give me an hour on Battlefield 3 setting fire to the earth to reset my stress level. A new gun unlock and I'm ready for another day wearing an ugly polo.

But with movies I can watch a violent slasher film, sure, but I can also watch a comedy. There's a pretty even distribution I feel of genres so we can explore every side of escapism we need. Every movie released isn't a gorefest. I can go to the art gallery and see gruesome depictions of hell and suffering from a renaissance painting, or I can get lost in the psychedelics of at abstract piece to ponder god. WIth games, my options as a core gamer are mainly limited to violence.

I've already touched on the AAA titles that have little story to back up their bodycount, but even the games that have stories that elicit real and earned emotions are usually about putting a bullet in the bad guy. The Uncharted series has better storytelling and pacing that most summer movies, but I struggle to find the series protagonist, Drake, the relate-able every-man they are going for seeing as by the end of the game you've mowed down hundreds of rent-a-cops. I will freely admit that on more than one occasion the Mass Effect series succeeded in bringing tears to my eyes, but the main goal still was to blow up a race of invading space robots. Hell, even Mario is about smashing a giant turtle to save your girlfriend. No romantic comedies here my friend.

But would a Jennifer Anniston RomCom be fun to play?

The difference between art and movies and games is that a game has to be fun to interact with. To an outsider Medal of Honor and Call of Duty look identical, but to a gamer we know it's all about how that game feels in your hands. How smooth does the character control? How satisfying is the feeling you get from pulling the left trigger? When I push the B button is the resulting action on screen good enough to release the dopamine I so desperately crave? In the case of Battlefield, pulling the trigger and watching the enemies' jet go down in flames it is a yes......a definite yes. But would pressing the B button to serendipitously get into the same taxi as Kate Beckinsale be just as good?

We've seen limited but cult success in the games industry for games not featuring violent conflict as the main draw. The Sims series is probably the best example of this. Most everyone is familiar in one way or another with the Sims, the quirky 'life simulator' in which you create a family and simply live their lives for them. Everything from taking out the trash to getting up early enough for work is in your hands. It allows us to explore the 'what if's' in every day life. You can sleep with the man at the bookstore or tell scandalous lies about your boss to usurp the throne. You can even start a life of crime or become the next president of the free world. Everything is essentially what you make of it. So go ahead and create Kate Beckinsale and John Cusack, hijinks await!

I'm a huge fan of the Harvest Moon series. They all start pretty much the same - a distant relative has passed on leaving you the family farm in their will. So you, a city boy/girl, pack up and move to the country. The mayor of the town shows you your new farm (which is more of a dump than you could have imagined) and gives you a tour of the nearby town. From their the game is about managing the daylight. You try to fit in as much planting, milking, picking, sheering, and clearing as you can into one day without passing out from exhaustion. Maybe today you want to take it easy on the farm and go into town to balance your frienships you've been forming over the years. The townspeople usually reward you with interesting stories and gifts as you become more of a member of the community. Love and marriage can bloom eventually, giving your character a much needed morale boost as he comes home to his spouse at the end of the day.

Animal Crossing lets players experience the trails of home ownership and relationship juggling as the only human in a town full of eccentric anthropomorphic animals. You'll dig up fossils, wish on stars, and collect sets of matching furniture in your quest to pay off the slumlord Nook the Raccoon.

While these games tell stories of human drama and relationships, none of the match the level of a Benjamin Button or Shawshank.

We're working on it, though. Heavy Rain, while ultimately the video game version of Seven, had some very quiet and emotional moments. Controlling a dad as he played with his kids in the backyard gave the story so much more kick when said kids later meet horrible fates. I was the one that pushed my son on the swing set, and now that I have to crawl through a tunnel full of broken glass to save him, I'm that much more invested. Trying to not go too far into spoiler territory, Heavy Rain managed to balance story telling and action in a way games hadn't seen before. As Ethan, you don't kill countless no name baddies on your way to save your son, instead your put through awful trials by a serial killer to see how desperate you are to see your son again. At one point your asked to cut off your own finger in under two minutes or he'll kill your kid. You desperately scramble around the room looking for something, anything to cut your finger off. I spent all my time gathering up medical equipment such as gauze and realized I was quickly running out of time to find an actual implement of amputation. Less than 30 seconds left to start my stomach churning task, I ran to the kitchen, grabbed a bottle of whiskey and a pair of rusty poultry scissors. What followed was the most haunting piece of gaming I've ever played as I chugged the whiskey and balanced my button presses between hacking away at the bone and trying not to pass out from the pain. Sure, it was violence, but it was violence other than chainsawing a billion space aliens. It was human drama. A man going over the edge to save his son.

Games have a long way to go before games like Heavy Rain sell as much as Call of Duty, but I believe as the medium continues to evolve we could see a higher level of maturity being asked from our biggest game companies. Violence doesn't have to be sensless. Thankfully we're starting to see more and more examples where the point of the game isn't that killing is fun, but that violence is sometimes necessary to serve the story. One bullet can be more meaningful and impactful than the millions I've spent in battlefield as long as there is a well developed human pulling the trigger. We will get there eventually. I just hope all this violence doesn't kill the creativity in the process.

As far as sex in video games......well, we could always use more of that.

#2 Posted by MrWoks (37 posts) -

Thats very long statement to make, to prove how deluded you are.

#3 Posted by No0b0rAmA (1490 posts) -

@Tomorrowman: Don't blame violence as the reason games aren't creative, there are plenty of fun and unique games that involve shooting people in the face, you just decided to name the most generic game you could.

#4 Posted by Phatmac (5721 posts) -

Fuck you dude, Black Ops was awesome!

#5 Posted by Demoskinos (14561 posts) -

There is plenty of creativity. Take one look on the front page of the steam store at all the indie titles. If you keep yourself in a box it can seem that way but it is really really not.

#6 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

There is plenty of creativity, that's true. Tons of amazing indie games. But there is very very little in the way of AAA titles where the main goal isn't "kill the bad guy". The top sellers for the systems (that are story based, not counting sports) tend to be all about explosion. They're trying. There were many attempts in Gears 3 to make me care, but at the end of the day you're just killing hundreds of nameless grunts in order to kill the big grunt with a name. The bones of the top games aren't evolving along with how we're telling better stories.

#7 Posted by Brodehouse (9581 posts) -

There are more games about matching or moving colored blocks together than there are about shooting men in the head. But you've taken three shooting men in the head games and chosen them to represent the entire medium. It's not a failure of three games centered around war to give you 'a break', it's a failure of you to play absolutely anything else. For the record, the most profitable and popular game in the world is not about shooting men in the head, it's about launching furious avian creatures at buildings.

And keep in mind, the core conceit of all gameplay is the resolution of conflict. Generally this means physical, because otherwise it becomes a game of menu selections. Want to know why rom-coms are the most hated popular film genre; they lack any discernible conflict for 80 minutes, create a very forced underwhelming conflict in order to have any sort of drama, and then resolve it ten minutes later. I don't know why you'd want that.

#8 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@Brodehouse: First actually thoughtful response. I agree completely. But my focus is on the top selling types of games for 'core' gamers. Angry Birds isn't in that category.

I do personally enjoy all sorts of indie games and the like. I'm currently in between play sessions of Spelunky, but as far as what the mainstream sees from our industry according to where we're spending our money, shooters and explosions are still where the 'core' is.

#9 Posted by Vodun (2370 posts) -

Urk, I can't even be bothered to put you down. You're just so wrong in everything you type. Gladiators and Vikings? Sigh...

#10 Posted by Brodehouse (9581 posts) -
@Tomorrowman What you're not getting is that this how it is in _every_ medium. The highest grossing films are not mysteries or dramas or comedies; it's Transformers and superhero movies. The highest selling books are romance novels and teen fiction. Jazz is not playing on pop music stations. They're successful because they're broad, they focus on the biggest demographic most likely to spend money; teen girls and teen boys.

I could tell you're gravely mistaken when you said "maybe one day Heavy Rain will sell more than Call of Duty". That shows no knowledge of the market. Unless we have some huge cultural overhaul, there will always be more teenagers with more money to spend than adults with disposable income. As soon as today's teens grow up and develop more mature or niche tastes, their children will be buying tomorrow's Call of Duty. Nintendo sells to children because it's a self-replenishing market. And broad media trends will always favor whatever 18 year old kids with disposable income like. You're singing the same old tune that your dad sang in 1985, when MTV, Arnold Schwarzenegger and _video games_ were far more popular than all of his mature interests.
#11 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3740 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

@Tomorrowman What you're not getting is that this how it is in _every_ medium. The highest grossing films are not mysteries or dramas or comedies; it's Transformers and superhero movies. The highest selling books are romance novels and teen fiction. Jazz is not playing on pop music stations. They're successful because they're broad, they focus on the biggest demographic most likely to spend money; teen girls and teen boys. I could tell you're gravely mistaken when you said "maybe one day Heavy Rain will sell more than Call of Duty". That shows no knowledge of the market. Unless we have some huge cultural overhaul, there will always be more teenagers with more money to spend than adults with disposable income. As soon as today's teens grow up and develop more mature or niche tastes, their children will be buying tomorrow's Call of Duty. Nintendo sells to children because it's a self-replenishing market. And broad media trends will always favor whatever 18 year old kids with disposable income like. You're singing the same old tune that your dad sang in 1985, when MTV, Arnold Schwarzenegger and _video games_ were far more popular than all of his mature interests.

Exactly right. I hate when people hold video games to different standards then other mediums and act as if all games are violent.

#12 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@Brodehouse: I completely agree. Heavy Rain will never sell more than Call of Duty, I said 'as much as'. I feel like the gap between shooter and non-shooter in our market is still too wide in terms of success.

You're also right that this is in every medium. I do feel, however, that games could do more as an interactive medium to bring more context to the killing, make it more impactful. Not every movie succeeds in that, and not every game will either. I just think the body count to emotional impact quotient is way off.

#13 Posted by S0ndor (2715 posts) -

Uhuhuhuhuh

#14 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3740 posts) -

@Tomorrowman said:

@Brodehouse: I completely agree. Heavy Rain will never sell more than Call of Duty, I said 'as much as'. I feel like the gap between shooter and non-shooter in our market is still too wide in terms of success.

You're also right that this is in every medium. I do feel, however, that games could do more as an interactive medium to bring more context to the killing, make it more impactful. Not every movie succeeds in that, and not every game will either. I just think the body count to emotional impact quotient is way off.

I think that's a fair point but I think we are on the precipice of the violence having an impact in some games. I'd point you to Max Payne 3, where the killing often feels uncomfortable, and what I've heard about Spec Ops the Line which suggests the same thing. The Last of Us also seems like it'll do that too.

It's interesting and I think we will see more of it. It won't be in every game though and I'm glad because that shouldn't be what every game is trying to do.

#15 Posted by Liquidus (946 posts) -

Wow, that's a lot of words to say a whole lot of nothing.

#16 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@ArtisanBreads: I'm glad someone saw the point. I agree that not every game needs to go for that, but I just don't think there's enough of it. For me Max Payne felt uncomfortable for the gore level, and not any story point, but then again I felt the same way about the movie Drive. Either way, it got an emotion out of me and I consider that a win.

#17 Posted by Fattony12000 (7037 posts) -

Fuck that noise, I want piles of ripped tits and bleeding cock-ends.

Also, there are plenty of video games.

Online
#18 Posted by me3639 (1725 posts) -

First thing is you need to stop relying on the news for anything. Secondly, there are a ton of games AAA, indie out right now that offer so many different experiences than just run and gun. If anything as to your pov i would like to see more games implement  a "no killing achievement" or option like in Deus Ex Human Revolution.

#19 Posted by Gamer_152 (14051 posts) -

I don't feel like I entirely agree with either side of the argument in this thread. I do think like @Tomorrowman: that there is a troubling lack of diversity in video games as a medium, and far too great a focus on action over other themes, but any lack of creativity is not being caused by violence, it's being caused by the people behind the games, the consumers and the fact that with the current knowledge of games development it's very hard to know how to make an engaging title that doesn't largely revolve around violence, or isn't a puzzle game, management sim, etc.

On the other hand I've heard the argument @Demoskinos: is using before about all the indie titles and I don't quite agree with that either. Even in the indie space I don't think games have the kind of thematic diversity of other entertainment mediums, and I don't think the fact that a lot of the thematic diversity we do have has had to exist on the fringes of game development, and has been largely rejected by the mainstream industry is a particularly good sign.

I also don't accept the argument @Brodehouse: puts forward that this is how it is in every medium. It's a popular defence and not without some merit but, I do think other mediums could stand to diversify a little, but just because the highest grossing films may be superhero movies or the highest grossing books may be teen fiction, doesn't mean that those mediums are in the exact same position as video games. To take film for example, while the superhero movies may be the highest grossing there's still a hugely thriving audience for romances, drama, comedy, horror, thrillers, mysteries, etc. that we just don't see in video games. Whatever's highest grossing in the film world, they're not stuck in a situation where 99% of what the mainstream industry produces attempts to present comes under one theme, and even in superhero movies or action movies we can see overlapping elements of comedy, romance, drama, etc. that we just don't see nearly as much of in games.

None the less, I think it's an interesting debate.

Moderator
#20 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3740 posts) -

@Tomorrowman said:

@ArtisanBreads: I'm glad someone saw the point. I agree that not every game needs to go for that, but I just don't think there's enough of it. For me Max Payne felt uncomfortable for the gore level, and not any story point, but then again I felt the same way about the movie Drive. Either way, it got an emotion out of me and I consider that a win.

MAX PAYNE 3 SPOILERS HERE

.I thought the moment at the end/beginning where the police guy was on the runway and it let you decide to pull the trigger or not was pretty effective in this regard. I didn't but it almost seemed doing so was a more merciful move. Max's whole dialog there about him being a stupid gringo sent to be a killer effected me personally. And moments where you saw say the police raiding the favellas and just mowing them down and eventually harvesting their organs made me question all the killing of the gangs in retrospect. Not that they weren't bad too but you had to question it. At some point it was like who are all these people I'm killing? You didn't really know and I thought that was an effective point.

Seeing Serano in the hotel all fucked up and siding with him was pretty crazy. It made the killing all seem so dirty, that Max played a dirty role even if he didn't really have a choice in all of it. Also the moment when Max was questioning the guy with no legs outside the office... though that might be to your point more just gore. Effective either way.

#21 Posted by laserbolts (5311 posts) -

I basically disagree with your post completely. I would outline why but others have already done it well enough.

#22 Posted by QuistisTrepe (628 posts) -

@Tomorrowman said:

Games have a long way to go before games like Heavy Rain sell as much as Call of Duty,

Because clearly you're the best judge of what gamers should be playing, right? What do you care anyway?

What a douche.

#23 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@me3639 said:

First thing is you need to stop relying on the news for anything. Secondly, there are a ton of games AAA, indie out right now that offer so many different experiences than just run and gun. If anything as to your pov i would like to see more games implement a "no killing achievement" or option like in Deus Ex Human Revolution.

This I like. Remember when everyone was talking about the premier of Watch Dogs? What did everyone say? "It looked awesome till the guns came out". I feel Deus Ex may be on to something.

@Gamer_152: You sir, are a genius. It's the ability to look at an argument from all angles that shows wisdom. I'm playing devil's advocate by looking at the top selling 'most popular' games out there from the point of view of the mainstream, but there are so many more layers than just 'call of duty is violent'. Is it really possible to make a game NOT about violence that isn't a puzzler/sim? Can we have something about human drama that isn't ultimately about killing waves of people/creatures? That's the debate I'm trying to spark.

When I see the Tomb Raider trailers with Laura and the deer I think we are starting to get there.

#24 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3740 posts) -

@QuistisTrepe said:

@Tomorrowman said:

Games have a long way to go before games like Heavy Rain sell as much as Call of Duty,

Because clearly you're the best judge of what gamers should be playing, right? What do you care anyway?

What a douche.

I don't agree with calling him a douche but your point is fair. Also hate when people hold up Heavy Rain personally because that game was supposed to be about story I guess but the story was just GARBAGE. Awful.

#25 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@ArtisanBreads: Yes, the story was garbage, but it had moments. Ending was terrible, the whole Ethan red herring was a joke, but those few moments were still 'put down the controller' powerful.

#26 Posted by Demoskinos (14561 posts) -
@Gamer_152 Film has also had almost a good century now to develop as a medium. Video games are in fact still very young not even 50 years old yet as a industry and technology evolves at such a pace that the motivation is always pushing the newest hardware. Film doesn't have that pressure. They dont need you to buy a specific device to watch the film like is sometimes the case with video game exclusives.

There is also the issue that games need gameplay movies need only a story which leads to better stories as its the only focus and doesn't have to wrap around some obtuse gameplay mechanic. As Jeff has said before at the end of the day every story revolves around conflict and its the easiest and most effective gameplay loop. Pathologically I think it's so appealing because you can satiate our sort of natural animalistic desires to kill without ya know actually harming anyone. It pretty much boils down to being the easiest route to take to guarantee sales. And I pulled out the indie scene simply because indie games are usually much less risk adverse. AAA games take a lot of resources and nobody wants to end up risking the jobs of hundreds of people.
#27 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3740 posts) -

@Tomorrowman said:

@ArtisanBreads: Yes, the story was garbage, but it had moments. Ending was terrible, the whole Ethan red herring was a joke, but those few moments were still 'put down the controller' powerful.

I guess I didn't find it appealing in really any regard. When there are those kind of issues at a basic level I can't take other moments seriously.

To me David Cage has made a living off of one sequence at the beginning of Indigo Prophesy and since then hasn't done jack. The rest of that game was absolutely laughable. But some people love Heavy Rain so that's just my opinion.

#28 Edited by Natesaint (148 posts) -

Violence has broad appeal. That being said there are plenty of non-violent games out there. I think non-violence is becoming more mainstream. Violent games may not be losing ground, but non-violent games have become increasingly popular over the past few years. Perhaps it says something about the human race that we enjoy so much blood with our entertainment, but probably not. I don't see the collapse of society due to violence in entertainment mediums as inevitable.

#29 Edited by QuistisTrepe (628 posts) -

@ArtisanBreads said:

@QuistisTrepe said:

@Tomorrowman said:

Games have a long way to go before games like Heavy Rain sell as much as Call of Duty,

Because clearly you're the best judge of what gamers should be playing, right? What do you care anyway?

What a douche.

I don't agree with calling him a douche but your point is fair. Also hate when people hold up Heavy Rain personally because that game was supposed to be about story I guess but the story was just GARBAGE. Awful.

I think calling him a douche was fair. The OP had some potential, but in the end it was just one big cloud of smug.

#30 Edited by JoeyRavn (4948 posts) -

I beat Spec Ops: The Line yesterday. I was amazed at how original and deep the plot was, even based solely on the concepts of violence, war and humanity.

Lack of creativity is killing creativity, not any other factor.

#31 Edited by ArtisanBreads (3740 posts) -

@QuistisTrepe said:

@ArtisanBreads said:

@QuistisTrepe said:

@Tomorrowman said:

Games have a long way to go before games like Heavy Rain sell as much as Call of Duty,

Because clearly you're the best judge of what gamers should be playing, right? What do you care anyway?

What a douche.

I don't agree with calling him a douche but your point is fair. Also hate when people hold up Heavy Rain personally because that game was supposed to be about story I guess but the story was just GARBAGE. Awful.

I think calling him a douche was fair. The OP had some potential, but in the end it was just one big cloud of smug.

I'd say more unrealistic and selective in what he chose to bring up and ignore than he was smug.

Like lets ignore the hugely popular non-violent games like Minecraft, Angry Birds, the Sims, and numerous iOS games, etc.

Also, there's nothing wrong with dumb violence to me anyways. Its like the "rape culture" thing to me I just laugh at people who go on about it.

#32 Edited by EXTomar (4494 posts) -

There maybe an issue but the problem is overblown. If there is a problem it exists in the "AAA Title" category. Going to the big guys with a pitch for a game that will take 2 years and $50+ million to produce but doesn't involve "summer movie plot explosions" is the very definition of "the hard sell".

How much of a problem is it? I don't see it as much because if a game that doesn't fit one budget can be moved to a different market with a smaller one where if nothing else things have gotten better and we've seen more creative games because there are more markets than just console, portables, and PC.

#33 Posted by Village_Guy (2491 posts) -

Spec Ops: The Line does care about characters and story, and while it isn't perfect, it does it enough that I cared and enjoyed those parts of it. And at the same time is plenty of violent, we're talking burning people alive, blowing people to bits with explosives, blowing peoples heads up at close range, and beating the shit out of your enemies head with the butt of your rifle while blood splatters everywhere...

In short, violence isn't killing creativity - if something is killing creativity then it is the mass market, because they vote with their wallet, and they keep buying Call of Duty games and other violent games that doesn't focus on characters or story.

#34 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@Village_Guy: amen

#35 Posted by Vodun (2370 posts) -

@Gamer_152: I'm sorry but that's just a bunch of BS. Unless you look really hard at the indie productions, movies are exactly as generic and undistinguished at the higher grossing echelons as games. The only thing movies have going for them is sheer volume, more of them are made, hence more interesting ones will turn up.

Considering how young the gaming biz is, and how few are in control of the major publishing houses we're getting an amazing variety and just getting better.

#36 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@Vodun said:

@Gamer_152: I'm sorry but that's just a bunch of BS. Unless you look really hard at the indie productions, movies are exactly as generic and undistinguished at the higher grossing echelons as games. The only thing movies have going for them is sheer volume, more of them are made, hence more interesting ones will turn up.

Considering how young the gaming biz is, and how few are in control of the major publishing houses we're getting an amazing variety and just getting better.

I don't know, Avengers was mostly character interaction with a huge blowout ending.

#37 Edited by Demoskinos (14561 posts) -

@JoeyRavn: I agree. That is the bottom line in the long run. Hell, look at the movie industry how many remakes of classic movies are there now days? I mean just last night as I was walking to the theater that my spiderman showing was in I saw posters for remakes of Total Recall and Judge Dredd. Its lack of people not wanting to take any chances with their franchises.

#38 Posted by ArtisanBreads (3740 posts) -

@Tomorrowman said:

@Vodun said:

@Gamer_152: I'm sorry but that's just a bunch of BS. Unless you look really hard at the indie productions, movies are exactly as generic and undistinguished at the higher grossing echelons as games. The only thing movies have going for them is sheer volume, more of them are made, hence more interesting ones will turn up.

Considering how young the gaming biz is, and how few are in control of the major publishing houses we're getting an amazing variety and just getting better.

I don't know, Avengers was mostly character interaction with a huge blowout ending.

It also didn't have to be 10 hours long and support gameplay.

#39 Posted by AhmadMetallic (18955 posts) -

You wish for better story telling (better: less violence, more diversity, more emotions and drama and maybe comedy), rather than better GAMEPLAY (doing things that aren't killing). 
 
I'm sorry, I don't want more Heavy Rain, these are video games not interactive movies.

#40 Posted by Tomorrowman (147 posts) -

@AhmadMetallic said:

You wish for better story telling (better: less violence, more diversity, more emotions and drama and maybe comedy), rather than better GAMEPLAY (doing things that aren't killing). I'm sorry, I don't want more Heavy Rain, these are video games not interactive movies.

True, those are the things I do want. I'm not saying Heavy Rain is good or necessarily the direction we need to go, I just wonder what would happen if we threw Halo level money at a project like this. Talent, advertising, and all.

#41 Posted by spartanlolz92 (511 posts) -

there are very creative fun and unique games out there but violence is something that just gives us an adrenaline rush so obviously its going to be the easisest form of entertainment to use.

take a look at the romans they had some of the greatest poets of all time yet most people went to see the gladiatorial games it was actually how voting was decided who could have the biggest most bloodiest game.

#42 Posted by believer258 (11629 posts) -

@Brodehouse said:

@Tomorrowman What you're not getting is that this how it is in _every_ medium. The highest grossing films are not mysteries or dramas or comedies; it's Transformers and superhero movies. The highest selling books are romance novels and teen fiction. Jazz is not playing on pop music stations. They're successful because they're broad, they focus on the biggest demographic most likely to spend money; teen girls and teen boys. I could tell you're gravely mistaken when you said "maybe one day Heavy Rain will sell more than Call of Duty". That shows no knowledge of the market. Unless we have some huge cultural overhaul, there will always be more teenagers with more money to spend than adults with disposable income. As soon as today's teens grow up and develop more mature or niche tastes, their children will be buying tomorrow's Call of Duty. Nintendo sells to children because it's a self-replenishing market. And broad media trends will always favor whatever 18 year old kids with disposable income like. You're singing the same old tune that your dad sang in 1985, when MTV, Arnold Schwarzenegger and _video games_ were far more popular than all of his mature interests.

There isn't much to say other than this. If you were to take violence out of the market almost completely, then it would be almost abandoned. It's like if every movie were a Benjamin Button or a Shawshank Redemption - yeah, those are good movies, but people aren't going to go see them in droves because almost everyone likes big dumb violence.

Also, Black Ops's story was nothing award winning and it has several plot holes to boot, but I still think it was better than your average big dumb violent video game, or even movie, story.

#43 Posted by Notkcots (20 posts) -

Jesus Christ, you people are pigheaded. Why are you so resistant to any attempt at criticism of your precious videogames? While I agree the OP is cherry picking his examples (and focusing too much on gore), the point stands that COD is the best selling videogame series ever, so it's still worth talking about. Yes, everyone knows that FPSes and TPSes sell much better than pretty much every other genre (with the notable caveat of sports games, I suppose), but it's still worth asking why that is. Practically speaking "kill a bunch of dudes" is a pretty easy goal to structure a game around, so it's easy to see why so many games focus on it, but that doesn't mean that it's always the best decision. Hell, as the OP said, even platformers have enemies that you can kill. I think that because so many games take the easy way out and center themselves around defeating enemies people have come to expect it in any game they play and it sort of becomes the new default structure for a videogame. In this way, the products people grew up consuming (enemy defeating type games) inform the taste and expectations of their players. After almost 30 years of this structure being so firmly entrenched in games it's become rather hard to change and games that deviate from it are considered risks. I don't necessarily have a problem with these sorts of games, as they're often a lot of fun, but I agree that it's sort of stifled creativity in the industry. Why would you risk making an unorthodox but interesting game when you could just pump out a FPS and make buckets of cash?

Also, I totally agree about Black Ops being disgusting. Gunning down policemen and civilians in the streets of Havana was pretty terrible in its own right, but the violence in the Vietnam levels felt really exploitative and sickening, only made worse by the fact that you just knew Treyarch wanted you to think that blowing the heads off of young, poorly armed Vietcong soldiers with an incendiary shotgun was awesome. The imperialist undertones were really fucking disconcerting. I've never felt dirtier playing a game and I've played Manhunt. At least that game acknowledged how horrific its violence was instead of glorifying it.

#44 Posted by Jay444111 (2441 posts) -

Guys... I promise I am now the TC here. Really, I swear! Also... violence has been apart of the UNIVERSE since the very VERY beginning... I just thought I should mention that.

#45 Posted by crusader8463 (14413 posts) -

@Notkcots: The same reason mindless summer block buster movies make more money then heart warming and well made/acted movies about some guy doing some generic thing. The thing that makes the biggest money is always going to be the thing that appeals to the lowest common denominator of human nature as that's the widest target demographic and that's what companies who sole purpose is to make money are going to do. That's always going to be sex and violence because wanting to indulge in both of those is something every human can understand and relate to. That's never going to change in our life times because that would take generations of change in how we as a people look at the world and think.

Just because generic crap like COD sells billions doesn't mean that other games that are pushing innovation are going away. It just means that those of us that are sick of COD and COD Clone #474684675476 have to sift through more games to find what we want. That's never going away and it's not going to stop. So toughen up butter cup and just stop looking at videos and topics about games you don't like. Do your part and make threads to generate discussion about the kind of games that do push the medium forward. Making another thread or posting about how terrible COD is does nothing but keep people focused on COD. If you really hate a type of game then stop talking about it and try to make people talk about other genres of games or other kinds of games and raise awareness of them.

You are only giving the thing you hate more power the more you talk about it.

#46 Posted by PeasantAbuse (5138 posts) -

I just want to say that you're greatly exaggeration the neck stabbing in Black Ops.

#47 Posted by Vodun (2370 posts) -

@Tomorrowman said:

@Vodun said:

@Gamer_152: I'm sorry but that's just a bunch of BS. Unless you look really hard at the indie productions, movies are exactly as generic and undistinguished at the higher grossing echelons as games. The only thing movies have going for them is sheer volume, more of them are made, hence more interesting ones will turn up.

Considering how young the gaming biz is, and how few are in control of the major publishing houses we're getting an amazing variety and just getting better.

I don't know, Avengers was mostly character interaction with a huge blowout ending.

I don't know if we saw the same movie, because I saw someone get their ass kicked every 5 minutes. Sure, Iron Man wisecracked once in a while and Loki went on a monologue rant but that's about it. All the characters were firmly established from the get go and nothing changed during the course of the movie. The only remote touch of development was for agent Coulson and he was removed fairly quickly from the plot.

#48 Posted by Gamer_152 (14051 posts) -

@Tomorrowman: Thank you but I don't think I'm anything near a genius.

@Demoskinos said:

@Gamer_152 Film has also had almost a good century now to develop as a medium. Video games are in fact still very young not even 50 years old yet as a industry and technology evolves at such a pace that the motivation is always pushing the newest hardware. Film doesn't have that pressure. They dont need you to buy a specific device to watch the film like is sometimes the case with video game exclusives. There is also the issue that games need gameplay movies need only a story which leads to better stories as its the only focus and doesn't have to wrap around some obtuse gameplay mechanic. As Jeff has said before at the end of the day every story revolves around conflict and its the easiest and most effective gameplay loop. Pathologically I think it's so appealing because you can satiate our sort of natural animalistic desires to kill without ya know actually harming anyone. It pretty much boils down to being the easiest route to take to guarantee sales. And I pulled out the indie scene simply because indie games are usually much less risk adverse. AAA games take a lot of resources and nobody wants to end up risking the jobs of hundreds of people.

Yeah, there are a lot of legitimate problems and hurdles to be overcome if mainstream games are to be less about violence and more about other things, and I definitely sympathise with the industry over them, but I still think criticism of games as a medium is valid, even taking these things into account. For me the unsettling thing is that while it's obviously going to take time for the medium to evolve, it's not going to evolve unless people try to help it do so and I don't see a lot of the mainstream industry doing that.

Perhaps some of the problems the industry have could even be solved today, games do have a reliance on technology that potentially saps resources from development of other areas but perhaps more functional and easy-to-use tools could be a solution to this, various developers have been saying for a long while that it's holding the industry back having to go through so much work just to get the basis of a game laid out, as people like Warren Spektor have said "You wouldn't reinvent the camera every time you made a film", and tools that allow faster development like UDK have helped out a lot of studios.

As for the money issue I think if the industry has worked itself a position where games have to sell in their millions just to break even that's more of a problem that they've caused themselves, and if publishers or developers are more interested in making money or taking the easy route than really benefiting the medium then I think that's something that can be validly criticised within itself, but obviously there are genuine problems with high production costs. I don't know what the full answer to that is, but companies like Valve prove that experimentation and consistently making money is simultaneously possible. I think it's also important to remember that video games do have somewhat of a leg up on films in terms of their evolution, because of the fact that films and television programmes have established a lot of standards and discovered a lot of things about storytelling in visual mediums that games can and to some degree definitely have borrowed from.

@Vodun said:

@Gamer_152: I'm sorry but that's just a bunch of BS. Unless you look really hard at the indie productions, movies are exactly as generic and undistinguished at the higher grossing echelons as games. The only thing movies have going for them is sheer volume, more of them are made, hence more interesting ones will turn up.

Considering how young the gaming biz is, and how few are in control of the major publishing houses we're getting an amazing variety and just getting better.

Vodun, I'd like to start by saying that whether we agree or disagree I think you could be more polite about this, to Tommorowman at least. Anyway, as far as diversity in narrative themes go, no, I really don't think games are providing amazing variety. Some of the highest grossing films are works like Toy Story 3, Titanic, Harry Potter, and Alice in Wonderland, there just really aren't any equivalents for these times of films in AAA gaming. Even with something like a Transformers which is an "action film" there's still much more time devoted to comedy, romance, and general non-violent interaction between people that you're just not going to find in most games.

Moderator
#49 Posted by Ares42 (2573 posts) -

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Console_wars#Home_systems

Worldwide sales figures

  1. Wii – 95.85 million
  2. Xbox 360 – 65.8 million
  3. PlayStation 363.9 million

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_best-selling_video_games#Wii

Wii video games that have sold or shipped at least five million copies.

How people can talk about how videogames are all about violence when Nintendo is one of the biggest operators in the market is beyond me.

#50 Posted by Notkcots (20 posts) -

@crusader8463: I get your point, but I don't agree that the prevalence of violence in videogames isn't worth talking about. As I said earlier, I'm not opposed to violence in games; I'm more curious about how it became so widespread that today games without it are seen as aberrations. I don't think that it comes down to any sort of inherent human interest in violence but rather that we're so used to it in our games that it's hard to imagine them without it. Violence in the earliest videogames wasn't particularly gratifying, since the graphics weren't developed enough to be at all viscerally satisfying. In most Atari/NES era games, defeating enemies was just a means to score more points and many games didn't feature enemies at all. Nowadays, it seems like a lot of games are entirely centered around killing enemies for its own sake. I'm sort of curious as to when this shift occurred.

If I had to guess, I think the prevalence of brawlers during the SNES era might have been the beginning of that shift. The whole point of these games was just beating the shit out of enemies in order to get to a new room filled with more enemies to beat the shit out of. Earlier games tended to be a bit more abstract and unique (often due to technological limitations), but it seems like in the SNES era games started to homogenize a bit and begin conform to a select few genres (beat-em-ups, fighting games, sports games, platformers, puzzle games). Platformers were really popular, but mostly died off during the N64/Playstation era and the rest (besides sports, maybe) became relatively niche. The action game seems to me to be the only one which survived into the modern era and it's become the new default. They've changed a lot with the technology (and were certainly heavily influenced by PC FPSes) but I think that you can directly trace most modern games back to SNES action games in spirit, if not mechanically.