Posted by willza99 (3 posts) -

So one of the usual discussions on games is this sort of thing and I thought why not get more peoples opinion. This originally came about due to everyone talking about Bioshock Infinite (please no spoilers ;) ).

So violence in video games. It is something to worry about slightly. When you try and tell friends/family about a game you may be playing and how amazing it is, realistically should you be saying how the game is amazing because you can “no scope 360″ someone from across the map? or “the screen splatters with their blood”? Not really, not even close.

Violence is within all of us, and it’s there from the beginning, I mean you have to teach children to share and play with each other because initially they might batter the other kid for trying to play with the build-a-blocks or whatever children do now-a-days. We all get angry and very few know how to vent it, some unfortunately decide to throw things (maybe their controller) or hit walls but hopefully not others. Some people look to games to vent, look at http://www.gamessavedmylife.com/ and you’ll see that everyday people use games to release stress or let go of anger due to the violence in the game or the message that it conveys.

A while back I wrote 2 game reviews, the very first two I actually ever wrote and they were about Far Cry 3 and Spec Ops The Line, little did I know how much these 2 games were actually bucking the trend of violence vs the player. In fact recently 2 writers from both those games did several pieces on http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/talking about the future of games and how they dealt with the systems that game designers put in place and also how they met head on the issues of; What happens after the fight? It is a good question, what happens when your character stops, when they give up, when they retire. How does Commander Sheppard deal with all the violence he’s seen? In fact recently I finished Halo 4 for the first time and a line that stuck out beautifully was “Find out which one of us is the machine”. It came from Cortana (Jen Taylor) and it struck a chord with this theme I feel. The Master Chief has been slaughtering his way across galaxies and through several Halos, is maybe the rampancy that Cortana is going through a foreboding for what may come for Master Chief?

Now some games deal with violence not in a serious, what happens manner, but just a funny manner. Who really feels bad at Borderlands? No-one because its imbibed with humour, it detracts from the rather serious fact that you are still massacring your way through swaths of humans.

Obviously games try to rationalise what the player does (or at least many good games do), i.e. there is a just cause for this, there is a war, people were wronged, what they’re doing isn’t right etc. Now I had a conversation with my friend about Lord of the Rings which I feel applies here too, he said that “people want to live in middle earth because its painted in a very beautiful way, but more so because the lines between good and evil are clear and absolute”. Now many of the games i’ve played walk that line too, there seems to be little middle ground, think CoD people are on your side or evil. I’d be much more interested to play, instead of a cool game like Far Cry 3 or Spec Ops The Line, a game where characters have their own intentions and aren’t necessarily fighting for you or the other side, because the world isn’t black and white, not everything is right and wrong, we like to think they are but people have cause and motivation and they aren’t always wrong, however thats another discussion.

Obviously some games don’t deal with death but they do violence, imagine Pokemon or Sonic, you fight and battle other pokemon/eggman but they don’t die. Whose to say which is worse? However I do feel that games that avoid violence or at least avoid fighting proper stick in your mind more, I still remember Abe’s Odyssey from when I was a child, and you never fought in that game, it was a puzzler with deadly consequences, Jet Set Radio was a game where violence was replaced with paint and art instead of bullets and guns, Portal admittedly uses a gun but not for nefarious purposes.

I feel like a fair bit of the violence we see in games today is actually up to the player. I played through the entirety of Mirrors Edge without killing anyone because my thought process was “They’re accusing me of being something I’m not, so i’ll prove to them how wrong they are” not “Well they think i’m a killer so i’ll just have fun with it”. Its an important distinction, I recently wrote a review on the way I played Dishonored as thats another game that gives the player the choice to be good or bad and pays the player with a difference in the way the game plays out. When I was young an RTS essentially meant all that happened was I build up the biggest army I could and then flooded the enemies encampment with 10x their soldier count, however a great popular example that counteracts that is Civ 5 (with a DLC coming introducing 9 new Civs, and a couple new victory paths) where you can have a cultural victory, not necessarily a military one.

Overall I think violence is probably used too much by game developers and they may try to distract us from it by justifying it or making it somehow amusing or okay, but ultimately I think it comes down to the player choice in games where they do have one. Does the player just mimic what they’ve done for everything else, or do they make a conscious decision to take the high road and win not through body count but through actions.

Thanks for Reading ;) Please feel free to check out: http://willza99.wordpress.com/ for my reviews and hopefully more discussions like this in the future :)

#1 Posted by Clonedzero (4196 posts) -

Violence has been glorified since the dawn of civilization and society. Hell theres cave paintings displaying the "glory of the hunt".

Almost every game i own has violence in it in some way or another. I'm not a violent person at all. I haven't been in a physical fight in over a decade. But i love me some violent videogames.

Violence is popular in movies, shows, games ect. because its something everyone understands. Its part of human nature. Hell i think violent video games are a positive influence on our culture. People can easily get their aggression out against fake people on a screen rather than in the real world.

Violent video games will always be around, just like action movies will always be around. They're not going anywhere. Theres also no shortage at all of non-violent games too so its not like this is an issue.

To your points about games offering alternatives to violence i find them awesome, and i almost always take them if i can. Beating able to defeat the final bosses in most of the fallout games simply through dialogue is awesome, i always did that. Being able to not kill anyone in Deus Ex: Human revolution (aside from the bossfights) is great, i did that and it was a blast sneaking up, doing non-lethal takedowns, using my trusty taser.

I love RPGs where you can take a speech skill, or charm skill, or whatever where you can use it to talk people down and avoid a fight, or hell intimidate them into backing down so you dont actually have to hurt anyone. Playing a stealth game wtihout ever being detected and harming no one, now thats satisfying.

But still, sometimes i wanna blast aliens apart with an assault rifle, kill a god damn dragon with a sword or carjack a bitch and run him over with his own car. Cus, hell why not?

#2 Posted by willza99 (3 posts) -

@clonedzero: haha i understand the feeling of being powerful in games, and that is good (except certain games where it doesn't work e.g. F.E.A.R. you're meant to be scared but your a walking death machine so it just doesn't mesh together well).
I'm not saying violence should be forbidden, god no, i hate the idea of censorship along with everyone else. I just get tired i suppose of games where violence is the main attraction like CoD, maybe its just a stupid `elitist` or whatever sensation where i feel people don't get enough out of the medium and then publishers want to then put out games which mimic the others on market. This is why I also love indie games, ingenuity and innovation within games, its always fun to watch the mechanics at play.

#3 Edited by believer258 (12208 posts) -

Dishonored. Terrible example of this. I feel like every time that game comes up I mention that the gameplay encourages the violent approach while the story wants you to be non-violent. Ugh.

Anyway, violence. As video games have matured some, we've seen more and more non-violent games, but I do not think that's necessarily what we need. Instead, I would say that violence needs to be handled more maturely. It needs to be given a purpose that's more than just "entertainment", like Spec Ops the Line does. Violence is something that video games can do exceptionally well when compared to other forms of art (don't dance around it, if we're talking about violence in games then it's going to come to games as an art form), so maybe we should use that instead of shunning it.

If you want a less clear line between good and evil, try out The Witcher 2.

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#4 Posted by willza99 (3 posts) -

@believer258: Its true how most the powers and all the gadgets in dishonored point toward fighting, but once again its player choice so I appreciate that far more.

Violence has matured in some cases, in others it hasn't and is the only attraction. I mean come on CoD used to be serious fights and now its kinda turned toward the `war on terror` and its meant to try and shock the player. The story is ridiculous and unfortunately it sells. Not everything progresses.

And I do mention Spec Ops because as i said sometimes games ask the question of whats the motive and they try and justify the acts you perform. Spec ops does more by asking what effects this has.

Cheers for the recommendation, yea i just feel in the real world everyone has motivation and cause, its kinda like game of thrones if you're watching that. Everyones got a desire and a point to get it some are obviously bad but not all.

#5 Posted by believer258 (12208 posts) -

@willza99 said:

@believer258: I

ts true how most the powers and all the gadgets in dishonored point toward fighting, but once again its player choice so I appreciate that far more.

Violence has matured in some cases, in others it hasn't and is the only attraction. I mean come on CoD used to be serious fights and now its kinda turned toward the `war on terror` and its meant to try and shock the player. The story is ridiculous and unfortunately it sells. Not everything progresses.

And I do mention Spec Ops because as i said sometimes games ask the question of whats the motive and they try and justify the acts you perform. Spec ops does more by asking what effects this has.

Cheers for the recommendation, yea i just feel in the real world everyone has motivation and cause, its kinda like game of thrones if you're watching that. Everyones got a desire and a point to get it some are obviously bad but not all.

I don't think there's anything wrong with a game where the enjoyment of silly, over-the-top violence is the attraction. Doom, Serious Sam, Just Cause 2, Far Cry 3 (perhaps unintentionally), etc. Call of Duty just happens to be the most popular of stupid-fun, and everybody likes stupid-fun sometimes. I don't think that's "unfortunate". Also, Call of Duty always had some elements of action-movie fun to it.

Dishonored might have that "player choice" but so does the first Deus Ex and Human Revolution. So does Thief 2, if I'm not mistaken, and Mark of the Ninja. And none of those have gameplay that almost begs for the player to kill everything, and Thief 2 and Mark of the Ninja as stealth games actively discourage it.

Like so many other controversies in gaming, people seem to miss what would make something more mature, and when something would be bad. Protesting against violence for the sake of fun (which is what you're saying, it seems) in games isn't going to get us anywhere; calling for developers to think about the purpose of their violence and playing to that purpose is what will. And if that purpose is good old-fashioned gory fun, then I don't see a problem with that.

I was reading Game of Thrones until my Kindle broke.

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#6 Posted by laserbolts (5370 posts) -

@willza99 said:

@clonedzero: h

aha i understand the feeling of being powerful in games, and that is good (except certain games where it doesn't work e.g. F.E.A.R. you're meant to be scared but your a walking death machine so it just doesn't mesh together well).

I'm not saying violence should be forbidden, god no, i hate the idea of censorship along with everyone else. I just get tired i suppose of games where violence is the main attraction like CoD, maybe its just a stupid `elitist` or whatever sensation where i feel people don't get enough out of the medium and then publishers want to then put out games which mimic the others on market. This is why I also love indie games, ingenuity and innovation within games, its always fun to watch the mechanics at play.

Don't worry there is nothing elitist about it. People like certain types of games but we are all on the same level of just being people that play videogames. People that look down on others that favor the mainstream are nowhere near elite or more important.

#7 Posted by willza99 (3 posts) -

@believer258: sorry to hear about the kindle ;)
I'm not saying over powered violence is fun. I find Saints Row 3 amazing and looking forward to Saints Row 4, but they add humour to it, it makes fun of how serious its meant to be.
I'm not saying Violence isn't fun. The point i'm trying to make is that yes there is violence in games, yes sometimes its funny, sometimes is too much, sometimes it doesn't fit. The original point of the article was to say, to those who complain about violence (and i do realise i have my own issues with it but i think thats to do more with the games not the content) it comes down to whether you choose to do it.
People who say this is disgusting, well if you played games like Dishonored (as thats an example we may as well just keep using) and you don't choose something else then its your fault. My point was it comes down to whether you choose to mimic on the rails player agency where you HAVE to kill everyone, or you decide to fully play the game. Explore it and change the way you'd play most games, because otherwise surely you're just mainly playing for violence, and in a medium that allows so much that just seems shallow.