Help me understand: is the gaming community offended by difficult subjects such as violence now?

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Ungodly

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David Cage is pretty well known for not making good games, and writing poor narratives that tend to lose themselves in sometimes hilarious ways. Also he's awful at being subtle.

For me I'm more interested in how the next Last of Us plays and looks in game. I don't need to know that the Last of Us part duo is going to be fucked up, just show me how it plays and when it's going to be released. Also I agree with what Alex said on the beast cast, and that they shouldn't close a show you want people to be positive about, with a trailer that's grim and pessimistic.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@cikame: I hadn’t thought about the perspective of “hey this kind of violence shouldn’t pop up at a press event for the masses.” I think that’s actually a pretty good point. I don’t think all press events need to be PG but that was the only thing in the whole conference that went all that far as I recall. But then you could argue that a lot of the games were loosely violent so maybe there’s no need to shy away from that level of violence? I’m not sure where I sit on that.

@frostyryan: How were these poorly done? Both were excellently crafted sequences from my perspective, neither glorifies outwardly the subject they show.

As for the PC discussion, I feel strongly that it is NOT old men vs young folks, and I think there are a lot of minorities that have suffered greatly at political correctness’s hands. Homosexuality and dark skin used to be politically incorrect. Free speech is hugely important to protecting everything from assholes to “trigger warnings and minorities as well as moderate to extreme thoughts and statements. We cannot have freedom for some without risking being ourselves on the other side at some point.

Political correctness has always been an issue and may alway be and it should be seen for what it truly is and not as a utopian ideal. It’s dangerous, more so in my opinion that true liberty.

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impartialgecko

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@boonsong: my thoughts exactly. I'm not offended by violence, I'm offended by companies like Sony throwing pig shit up on screen and telling us it's strawberry jam. Sure, TLoU2 could contextualise that scene in a really effective, believable way in the game but that trailer just sucked.

On a side note, I'm seeing a lot of people throwing around the ol "political correctness" chestnut in this thread. It's amazing to me what poorly written, stiffly-directed videogame cutscene trailer hills people are willing to die on because they don't like the idea of a multi-million dollar studio's work being criticised on the same level as any other work.

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stryker1121

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#57  Edited By stryker1121

TLOU's trailer is without context, and the way Naughty Dog is showing off the violence of the world like it's another feature isn't challenging, or even interesting, it's just pointless brutality. It makes the game seem like a feral post-apoc world like any other - you wouldn't even know it was from TLOU if not for the clicker appearance.

And the title of this thread is misleading and hedging toward the idea of criticism as offense. Doesn't put the thread off to a great start and makes me think you're trying to get a particular response.

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impartialgecko

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@opusofthemagnum: both scenes suck from a craft standpoint. Esp the Naughty Dog trailer. Stiff camera work, no use of cuts to emphasise impacts, poor lighting so you can't see the character's faces probably. It prioritises showing the audience the violence over creating a specific response. It's meant to say something about the characters but by just showing a hammer hitting the joint of her arm, we're forced to fixate on the fact the ND can animate blood seeping throw cloth real well. The audio was mixed down and the ADR mixed up, emphasising SFX rather than character voices, in this game being sold based on its characters.

This esp contrasts with the original game which used camera angles in-game and cinematic edits in cutscenes to create emotional beats. This honestly felt more like a cutscene from a God of War or Tomb Raider game, where the skin textures and cloth physics are more important that what the characters are saying.

If you want recent examples of how to do horrific violence well, look at a Jeremy Saulinier film like Green Room or The Descent by Robert Marshall. Those films are far far more violent than the TLoU2 trailer yet any given scene has orders of magnitude more humanity and context than this dreck.

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BaneFireLord

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I was more put off by how pointless TLOU2's trailer was than by its violence, though I can understand why some people would be put off by it for that reason. It was five minutes of a grimy mud-and-blood tech showcase with no real discernible point to exist beyond "Hey y'all, TLOU2's gonna be GRITTY and VIOLENT. Check out how GRITTY and VIOLENT it's gonna be. And also LOOK HOW GOOD THIS MUD LOOKS!" We knew TLOU2 was gonna be a somber, gritty bloodbath with pretty graphics from the moment it was announced. That trailer gave absolutely no new information about the world or story beyond some vague references that lacked sufficient context to even be intriguing. It was a nothing trailer, lacking any sort of substance beyond the most basic reinforcement of things we already knew.

Then again, I'm also in the camp that thinks the very existence of a Last of Us sequel is a bad idea that seems antithetical to the entire point of the first game, so I'm not really the right person to pass objective judgment on this.

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mems1224

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I don't care about video game violence. It doesn't offend me or anything. The problems I had with the pa4 trailers is that I know how awful and heavy handed David Cage is so I just didn't care about that trailer. I am interested in TLOU2 but that trailer was awful. It was just over the top violence with no context as to why I should care about any of the characters involved and that's not what drew me to the first TLOU game. I also just don't care about a game that's like 2 years away

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SethMode

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@opusofthemagnum: I was suspicious of how genuine this thread was, but this last post confirmed it: you are baiting people here and only interested in one response. 90% of this thread has been a variation of "violence still doesn't really bother me, but I don't trust Cage and both trailers were at best weird and out of place, and at worst just bad" and your takeaway was, inconceivably, "Huh, I guess it's just political correctness. I believe in liberty."

Not the best look, honestly.

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fnrslvr

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I actually laugh-groaned out loud at how cringy and terrible the Detroit trailer was. I don't think it's just that David Cage doesn't have the ability to "pull it off" -- which, mind, is an allegation that I don't disagree with -- but that the traileritself was rattling off fucking choose-your-own-adventure game features whilst depicting a little girl getting abused and murdered by her father as fucking content. I haven't thought that Detroit looked like an appealing proposition in any of its showings up to this point, but this trailer makes me want to actively avoid the game.

I'm not going to say that games shouldn't mix player agency with traumatic subject material like domestic abuse (or suicide, or ...), but it probably needs a totally different tone, and it's probably a terrible place to be focusing in on the wondrous possibility space availed by player agency.

---

I didn't really have any reaction to the TLoU2 trailer, and I have no attachment to Naughty Dog or TLoU whatsoever. (I don't even have a Playstation-branded product in my house.) Basically it read as, "okay, post-apocalyptic world with brutal cultists and factions who don't trust one another, oh and more fucking zombies," which is fine except that I'm not interested in zombies in the slightest.

I didn't read the arm-breaking stuff as being coded as domestic violence against women per se, it came across as a very ungendered (albeit obviously very cultish) kind of violence. If anything I might give Naughty Dog credit for being willing to feature women in this kind of violence, both perpetrating and suffering, in a gender-blind way, instead of reserving more damselizing kinds of violence and suffering for women.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@impartialgecko: people don’t generally mind criticism but at least in the states freedom of speech is legitimately at risk. Campuses are cracking down and even the government in the last few years has done some troubling things and said some unfortunate things about not just freedom of speech but freedom of expression and belief. That’s why I take the stance I do. I will say just looking at this thread there definitely is an element of people ignoring the context of statements and lumping everything into “anti-free speech/political correctness” when a lot of people have genuine and legitimate critical feelings on these two trailers. Although I am strongly for freedom of artists to express things, I think the same right for the public exists to express how they feel on this stuff. I think there’s some truth in both of our stances.

As for the craft, I actually enjoyed how the trailers represented things. I don’t think it’s fair to say it was poorly crafted just because it doesn’t fit into your idea of cinematic but I recognize I might be a bit off on that. I personally liked the way TLoU in particular was presented, it fit my preferences. I’m going to go back and rewatch it having read your criticism of that and see what I think. Thanks for the responses.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@sethmode: I’ve said at least once but I think a couple of times that it seems most people feel differently. I feel I was up front trying to figure out if this was just a big PC uproar or it was about the content and the art, so why you feel I duped you by taking a pro freedom stance I’m not sure. Sorry if you don’t feel I’m being genuine but I made his thread because I wanted to get a larger picture than what the Beast Crew was seeing and saying as even that didn’t seem clear on this.

I don’t think the people just saying that they didn’t like the way the content was presented or even don’t like the content/had critical things to say about them are just being politically correct and to be honest I was worried about making this post because I’ve seen “less than left” stuff on this site being kind of overwhelmed. But I was pretty happy that we got a good respectful conversation with people that clearly feel differently and in some cases even disagree. I’ve got a much better sense of the actual responses people are having and very much appreciate that. Enjoying he conversation, sorry if I did something to make anyone feel otherwise.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@stryker1121: I am pro free speech. I’m not going to say I’m not. But the genuine reason for this was to gather information, and I was actually surprised by the response. I expected a little more of the “political correctness” angle but it seems overwhelmingly actual criticism expressed clearly by the community, it even got me to see a few things in a different way. I think now that the Beast Crew maybe didn’t communicate the issues very clearly or maybe projected their own perspective on it.

Being staunchly pro-free-speech isn’t bad. I don’t feel free speech is important because it stops people from criticizing things, quite the opposite. My only issue with PC stuff is when it tries to shut down expression. There’s a difference between saying “I don’t like how they do this” and saying “I would do something to stop this if I had that power.”

Most of the stuff I’ve disagreed with folks on in my opinion didn’t have much to do with free speech or political correctness and more just about what was done well and how the content may or may not have been justified. I even said there were good points about what people felt was problematic. I don’t agree that subjects shouldn’t be covered or even that people shouldn't explore difficult subjects because they are bad at dealing with things. I can understand not trusting David Cage to do something like DV well, but I don’t think it’s fair to say he shouldn’t do it or to hold his previous works against the trailer. I think Cage has done some dumb stuff in the past but I don’t take that into account looking at Detroit and I kind of enjoyed the trailer. Enjoy is a weird word to use I just can’t think of a better term, but I thought it was pretty good. I have experience with DV and I didn’t feel anything was done poorly. I don’t think that Cage will have a ton of subtlety, like I don’t expect him to get into the role of an enabler in that kind of situation depending on how things unfold in a particular playthrough but that doesn’t make the rest worse in my view.

We shall see on that, it could be wrong. But I want to see someone address it, just like I want to see TLoU allow females to be victims and perpetrators of violence just like the boys. I love a female warrior story, because it’s uncommon and just bad ass in my opinion.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@banefirelord: I think I am maybe more a fan of the understated approach so I thought the TLoU trailer did a good job of making me intrigued about what as going on, there were a few kind of hints and questions that the trailer raised that I liked. I prefer that to giving all the context to something, it’s something I really dislike in game marketing. I wish less is more was a bigger priority in marketing games. I can however see how the trailer wasn’t entirely successful at drawing people in, for various reasons and think you are partially correct. Can’t say I agree entirely but I think that’s just different perspectives for you. Thanks!

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Yumewaru

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@opusofthemagnum: It's as if those trailers sucked the fun out of the room. Everyone got real serious and my reaction was very similar to Jeff's. My thoughts reflect much of what has been said in this thread so far.

I tend to prefer games that have combat mechanics and systems. Conflict is inherently present in them. I want to know why the bad guys are bad. I want the motivation to take them down. A game can provide all those things and be a fun and positive experience. They can do so with inspiring characters and with awesome worlds I want to interact with. That said, Detroit and LoU 2 trailers told me that immersion in those games simply wouldn't be a good time.

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Wlleiotl

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while there are some people who do like to pull the 'i'm offended' card, there's plenty of people who are completely desensitized to this type of thing, or dismiss anything that they don't find offensive as manufactured outrage, but will be one of the loudest voices when they finally do see something they don't like, ultimately you only speak for yourself and trying to box this up as anything just weakens your position. people are different, and dismissing people's opinions isn't a stance that holds any weight, you just come across as a child.

personally, i'm not as bothered about the detroit trailer because it had some context, i can understand the 'i don't trust david cage' angle but ultimately people are making a prediction and the proof will be in when the game comes out.

whereas the last of us 2 trailer was just torture porn with zero context (i had no idea what it was until the final frame) and zero insight into the game. if this is what naughty dog think people want from a last of us teaser then i'm definitely not the target audience, and i'm someone who struggled through the gameplay of last of us purely for the story

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impartialgecko

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@opusofthemagnum: yeah bud, the "campuses are cracking down" thing doesn't hold any water with me. If you want to have a conversation about the freedom of the press and the suppression of dissenting voices at home and in the media against the intelligence and law enforcement apparatus, then that's a different and better thread. Trying to smuggle your grievances about having worse arguments than 18-year olds studying political economy in with your hot videogames take has just resulted in a bunch of people making much better arguments about the content of both trailers and their implications for both games.

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soulcake

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Everyone is offended by everything in this political climate and it fucking sucks to be honest. I feel like (and could be totally wrong) It's mainly with the recent American political climate where everyone is just offend by the dumbest thing, it isn't as bad in Europe but it's totally coming over. But hey i am a white CIS male so i should shut up :P

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@impartialgecko: you clearly have a direction you want to take things and as interested as I am in a head to head horn locking I don’t think the Giant Bomb community or mod team want to see that, feel free to PM me if you want to continue along that path individual to individual because I genuinely enjoy that kind of challenging interaction.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@soulcake: I understand why you feel the way you do but I would encourage you to avoid those buzzwords and the like as they seem to just further polarize folks. I don’t think you’ve done anything wrong just for being straight or white, but pushing back just as hard seems like it might just cause more problems and more reputation. Hopefully this doesn’t come off the wrong way.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@wlleiotl: I actually really like what you have to say here. I think the last bit may be a bit sensationalist about the torture porn but even that may have some truth to it. Thanks!

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@yumewaru: I wonder what your reaction would be to a game where good and bad were truly ambiguous not just modern pretense vullshit. Think you could expand on that very simple and vague statement? Lol

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deactivated-5d1d502761653

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Isn't it a contradiction to critique the TLOU2 trailer on it's face value only if at the same time you don't assess Detroit at this stage purely by its presentation as well but point out the questionable track record of David Cage.

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Yumewaru

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@opusofthemagnum: Bloodborne comes to mind first as having those blurry lines. It's a very subjective game to me. Despite what the lore actually is, I'd wonder the meaning of things. The "Good vs. Bad" became an ambiguous, dreamy thing. So, in this case, I'd say I was set on a certain path regardless. Ultimately to see it through to the end.

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StevenWallaby

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#78  Edited By StevenWallaby

@mems1224 said:

I don't care about video game violence. It doesn't offend me or anything. The problems I had with the pa4 trailers is that I know how awful and heavy handed David Cage is so I just didn't care about that trailer. I am interested in TLOU2 but that trailer was awful. It was just over the top violence with no context as to why I should care about any of the characters involved and that's not what drew me to the first TLOU game. I also just don't care about a game that's like 2 years away

This, I think to label all criticism as "this is offensive because it has violence" (note how Wolfenstein II's depiction of domestic violence has been praised) and ridiculously twist it into an issue of political correctness is very flippant. I really don't get this insistence on elevating every single discussion in games that isn't about gameplay or graphics into some projection of outrage onto people. It's extremely tedious and dumb. The criticisms of both trailers are very valid. They're both very cynical and tone deaf trailers, wanting to be dark and serious but just looking like edgy, context-less (in the case of TLOU 2) posturing.

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Darknorth

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That preview of Detroit made me much more interested in playing it. I admit I'm a literal guy who often misses subtlety, so I can understand that I might be weird and took the bad response of the Bombcast guys to mean that in this case, I am definitely weird. However, I don't feel bad about looking forward to it.

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Fezrock

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I'm gonna add my voice to the chorus saying that I just don't trust David Cage to tell that, or any, story.

As for the TLOU2, honestly I'm just bored by the excessive need for content to be as dark, "gritty," and violent as possible. I'm not offended by it, but I think it's bad storytelling to go that direction without a good reason/explanation/context for why things are that way. It's something movies were doing a few years ago, but fortunately seem to mostly be past now; except for the DC Universe movies. And it's something TV was also doing; but the TV landscape is so fractured now that it's almost impossible to discern trends (but there does seem to be less "generic, troubled anti-hero/villain protaganist facing an even worse world" than there was. Everyone wanted to create the next Tony Soprano or Walter White, but didn't have the skill).

But video games, at least AAA ones, seem to mostly still be lagging a few years behind TV and movies. Far too many are all-in on the dark-for-its-own-sake (Nintendo being the exception) still. This year seemed like it was starting to break that mold, but now TLOU2 wants to drag us right back into it. At least, the trailer did; hopefully the game itself will be better.

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hermes

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#81  Edited By hermes

I think most of the Detroit backlash is because David Cage track record is not the best to handle subjects that require more thought that straight power fantasies. There are also people uncomfortable with the gamification of the scenario, the result of Cage's template of gameplay being applied to this scenario, like there is a right way to "win domestic violence". Going through interviews about it, you get the grasp that he really has no ulterior motive for the sequence other than shock value and easy morality.

About TLOU2, I wasn't offended, but I can see how people would be uncomfortable about the scene they choose to show. Also, as far as scenes goes, it is a very awful one. Five characters, of whom we have no context, knowledge or familiarity (was the hanged woman Ellie? I couldn't really tell), engage in some torture and executions. That is about it. It was as free of context as it could get, closer to a clip of a movie than a trailer... There was nothing that indicated it was The Last of Us, all cutscene, no gameplay, no editing or soundtrack, nothing other than a blink-and-you-miss-it appearance of the clicker in the end. If it wasn't there and someone superimposed the title of one of the dozens of survival post-apocalyptic games soon to come, it would not have been out of place.

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thatpinguino

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#82 thatpinguino  Staff
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Strangestories

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#84  Edited By Strangestories

The Last of Us 2 trailer reminded me of the E3 showing for the first game ages ago. I was watching it with my brother and there were so many brutal scenes which didn't necessarily bother me because it was in the context of the main character (Joel) protecting someone (Ellie) from bad dudes. But what really bothered both of us was when Joel smashed one on the baddies with a brick and the entire auditorium was losing it with joyful screaming and applause. It was so off putting to hear other people clamoring over such brutal violence. Not the violence itself, but the violence combined with the reaction.

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militantfreudian

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The Last of Us obviously didn't shy away from violence, but in cutscenes, the violence was almost always off-screen. I thought it made it more impactful in away.

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Brackstone

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As others have said, David Cage is not the one to be handling domestic abuse with any sort of tact, so that's why the Detroit trailer was criticized. Someone on Giantbomb recently said that everyone gets tricked by a David Cage game at least once, but we're at the point where enough people have been burned that the wider reaction to his games now reflects his poor track record.

For The Last of us, it's weird because what they showed is closer to those preview scenes that get released online but not anywhere else for a film, but those are always late in the marketing cycle when we have more context for what is going on. This was a very bad choice for a stage presentation because it told us nothing new. It was lacking context, lacking gameplay, and seemingly depending on violence and brutality alone to sell the product. For the sequel to what is often considered one of the best written stories in videogames, advertising yourself like an Eli Roth film is a really bad look, and perpetuates the idea that video games are violent, dirty things made for cheap thrills.

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mavs

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Isn't it a contradiction to critique the TLOU2 trailer on it's face value only if at the same time you don't assess Detroit at this stage purely by its presentation as well but point out the questionable track record of David Cage.

I think there's a difference between a lack of positive signs from Naughty Dog and from David Cage. The surprising thing about the TLOU2 trailer is that they didn't have anything more interesting to say about their next game, which you could still expect to be excellent.

But for David Cage to bring us a game pitch out of the mid-2000s (your choices matter!), combined with what we already know about the game (What If the Future Was Slavery? - now with Domestic Violence Simulator 3000??), is already grounds to believe that the guy who thinks personal tragedy is an adequate double substitute for both plot and character is back on his bullshit.

Time will tell, of course, but there's no other purpose to a trailer than to examine how someone on the inside envisions their product that doesn't exist yet.

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Sevith

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There's a difference between offended and sick of it. Just because you don't want someone with a proven track record of being bad at executing on an idea and frankly not as good of a writer as he thinks he is doing a heavy subject that should be approached with care doesn't mean you don't want that subject approached at all.

I wasn't "offended" by Detroit. I thought that domestic abuse was a really heavy subject that David Cage is unlikely to be able to pull off well, and I have no interest in watching him fumble his way through it while using it as a selling point.

I wasn't "offended" by Last of Us II. I rolled my eyes at it because "violence as a selling point" does nothing for me and has done nothing for me since I stopped being a teenager who conflated edgy with good. I don't enjoy watching people get tortured for no other reason than being tortured. Not because it "offends" me, but frankly, because I've gotten so desensitized to torture porn that it's just... boring. Boring and kinda childish, in a roundabout way.

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DonPixel

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#89  Edited By DonPixel

Talking about Last Of Us 2 I just find it tiresome, I'm sick and tired of post-apocalyptic zombie, but human nature is the real "bad guy" scenario.

Seriously people over analyze on the "philosophy of The Walking Dead" (or alike). I feel this kind of stories get to much credit for what they are, they basically Mexican soap operas with zombies. THE DRAMA!!

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@thatpinguino: I thought I was clear, I was looking for criticism/reactions and trying to figure out what the Beast cast was talking about because they were kinda unclear as to why that stuff bothered folks/themselves. I’m looking to find out how people feel, not how critics feel because they too often have a bias or a shtick they are hawking. I’ll check out the article but I’m more interested, in this case, in what the community thinks about it.

@brackstone: I definitely get that he has screwed up in the past but it feels like people are using that to say there was something wrong with the trailer which I don’t get. Most people’s reason for disliking something is that something else was bad. Artists usually start out with little skill and work their way up to being masters of their craft. I’m not assuming Cage is doing that but the content of the trailer didn’t seem problematic for the most part.

Not saying people are wrong to not expect much by it seems like some people are projecting that bias into the trailer rather than looking at the content on its own, which muddies the issue for me. But maybe I’m wrong and certainly spiraling off topic lol.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@sevith: I was asking questions, not pointing fingers. I understand people being unconvinced that Cage can pull off heavy subjects. I am more interested in what people honk about the content his team DID produce, ignoring his past work and it’s quality level.

That said for someone who isn’t offended by something you sure use a lot of negative language while talking about it. You don’t seem bored you seem to think it is immature and maybe inappropriate, is that accurate? I guess maybe that’s why it’s boring to you? I don’t mean to be a jerk but it seems like you care about it more than you’re letting on and maybe your desire to be bored by violence instead of reacting to it is your version of “edgy.”

Just playing devil’s advocate to you talking down to the idea of violence like that being potentially interesting to someone.

As for violence being for the sake of violence, is it possible they used violence to mask more concrete information, to bring intrigue to the trailer, but simply didn’t execute on it or misread the market? I mean there will probably be context for that moment in the game so it isn’t violence for the sake of violence, it’s just not giving us plot details. I guess I’m now more interested in why people want to get so much info out of a teaser or a marketing campaign. Isn’t it better to just be surprised and not know a lot going in? I love when media markets itself without context but shows a potentially interesting premise. Cults and SHTF is enough to sell me, add female protagonists and I’m even more on board, I don’t need to have a teaser’s content justified. Maybe I’m just more trusting/enjoy the unknown more than is normal. Curious what anyone’s feelings on that are. Sort of a “if a tree falls in a forest” question but if here’s context and hey just don’t give much because they don’t want to give away the plot, is it still violence for the sake of violence? I could go ether way on that question, I’m not sure.

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OpusOfTheMagnum

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@strangestories: I never really felt anything when people cheered for a good guy giving the bad guy a hard time and protecting his charge. I can understand why people who are generally uncomfortable with violence feeling a bit grossed out by cheering like that by I remember having a “fuck yeah” reaction because of the context. Maybe I should honk more about the context issue here because it seems in my gut I care about it more than in my rational thought process.

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sammo21

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its easy, niche communities with not as many people as you think are the loudest. Those people are also constantly doing weird things and also looking for anything to get offended over. The Overwatch community, one of the worst active game communities, is a prime example.

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TheHT

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Hmm, well the new Last of Us trailer didn't elicit a strong reaction from me either way. Came away from it with a "okay, that was a trailer" kind of feeling. Felt like a fluff introduction to three characters I have zero context for. I mean, they seem cool, I guess? That one lady looks jacked, so that's pretty rad.

So far as the "these things shouldn't be in video games" thing is concerned: I remember when the first Last of Us had a showing at E3, I felt disturbed by a) the level of violence, and b) the audience reaction.

These were separate feelings, and neither led to any kind of desire for Naughty Dog to change the game. The first was more of a "holy shit, he just shot that dude's face off while he was pleading for his life, how horrific" which I imagine was a desirable reaction on the dev's part. The second was me wondering why the hell people were cheering so boisterously at something so grotesque. It's one thing to cheer in glee for Thor wrecking fools on a rainbow bridge, and another entirely to have the same kind of jovial enthusiasm for, I dunno, the end of Se7en.

My point though, is that having a negative emotional reaction to something (being disturbed, uncomfortable, etc.) doesn't automatically mean that you want it gone from the work, or even necessarily that you think it's bad. And when someone does think something's bad, it doesn't always mean they wish it didn't exist. You can offer a critical opinion without actually desiring conformity, and you can dislike something while accepting that it simply isn't your cuppa. Don't get me wrong, some people surely do want all games to kneel to their sensibilities, and that's ultimately every creator's cross to bear.

Anyways, the Detroit trailer struck me as another grim situation used to show off the whole player choice thing, and also show another android in a human situation... situation. Watching it I definitely thought there'd be people mad about it not treating child abuse with the utmost of tenderness and reverence, but I don't really expect nor need that from this game. It's a melodrama. David Cage makes weird sci-fi soap operas with quirky adventure game mechanics. That he waxes on about emotion and occasionally speaks like he's in tune with some serious shit just makes the end results that fall short of his lofty musings that much more bizarrely charming (at this point anyways). I guess it's kinda like video game kitsch? Makes you wonder what it's like behind the scenes on his stuff.

I remember thinking the precursor to Detroit was pretty legit though (the short film Kara). Again, it's far from subtle, but it's fun and well enough executed melodrama.

All that said, that Waypoint article's interpretations take a haaaaaaard turn into absurd-land, and the Eurogamer interview is real standoffish in a weird way. Talk of the scenario being extreme, shallow, inappropriate, and then if David Cage considers nothing off-limits (which in context comes off as more of a "have you no shame" sort of thing). But I mean, that's all technically fair game. Just folks giving their opinions.

Things only become insidious when those personal standards are treated as more than just. And I'm not saying we're not already there with some folks.

Haven't caught up on the Beastcast, so I can't comment on that.

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Quid_Pro_Bono

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#95  Edited By Quid_Pro_Bono

@opusofthemagnum: You should try reading the article, it's a very measured critique of the decision to write a domestic violence scene. It probes Cage's reasons for choosing a domestic violence story and contrasts the way Cage talks about the scene with an interview between Alex and the creator of Papo & Yo.

Now to answer your initial question: You say you want people to help you understand if the gaming community is offended by difficult subjects such as violence. I can't speak for the community as a whole but I can certainly say that what I felt when I saw the violence in the Last of Us 2 trailer wasn't offense, it was a bit of disappointment and a bit of surprise. I was very surprised that the best foot Naughty Dog could put forward was this one, and I was disappointed that I didn't really like the foot they stuck out. I loved the first game and I'm definitely going to give the second a shot, however I didn't feel the draw to enter the world of TLOU2 from that trailer, I felt like I didn't really want to see that person get shot in the head by arrows again. I've played plenty of violent games, but that doesn't mean I enjoy violence without context or purpose, which is sadly all Naughty Dog had to give. I wouldn't say that the violence was there to provide an air of mystery; to be honest I don't really know what you're getting at with that.

Detroit's situation is more complicated. David Cage is a pretty ham-fisted storyteller who has misfired more than he's hit the mark. Popular opinion, not fact, but still relevant. Most who take umbrage with him writing a domestic abuse storyline are concerned with his ability to portray the nuance of a violent home-life. The ultimate point obviously being that the abusive father believes he owns and can do what he wants with his daughter and with his android, and that is what makes him bad. I understand what Cage is going for and I understand why he would think a domestic abuse storyline is a good fit for his games - it's a very tidy way of creating a clear moral good and evil that he can use as metaphor for the good and evil of android rights battles.

What stuck out to me is how this trailer fits into Detroit's story in context of the other trailers for the game. So far we've seen the rooftop hostage negotiation and the android liberation that ends in riot or peaceful protest. These are pretty grey - do you kill the android holding the girl hostage or not? Lie about having a gun? Do you riot or no? The implication is that there are multiple ways for this to end which are an adequate solution; multiple ways to "win" and move on.

And then we have the domestic violence trailer. Immediately it's clear that it's more difficult to come up with an adequate solution. How does the player "win" in this case of domestic violence? Escape and leave the girl with her dad? Kill the dad in front of his young daughter? Take the girl and live with her as a fugitive? It's silly to think about "winning" a domestic abuse simulator, but that's exactly what is going to go through player's minds while they're playing this sequence. The type of game Cage is making is incongruous with this scenario simply because making domestic abuse a puzzle is a grotesque thing to do.

It's easy to see now that the critical reception of this trailer isn't simply an offended reaction, but an acknowledgement that Cage is showing his limitations as a creator by using a scenario in his game that is not just inappropriate for the style of game, but also for marketing. I'm not really excited to see the daughter and android be abused by the father. That's not to say that marketing should always excite. However, when taken in broader context with the other trailers that portray this game as a series of puzzles, the reason people (especially those who have suffered domestic abuse) have their reservations is pretty obvious.

Finally, if I can offer a very small bit of advice I'd say that you should consider how your questions are going to be interpreted. The old adage is "you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar." Using the word 'offended' is counterproductive; in a way you're robbing critiques of their weight and merit by brushing them off as a reactionary outburst rather than a well thought-out response. Critiques of art are to be read, thought about, and responded to. We critique what we love as a way to make it better.

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Welding

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#96  Edited By Welding

The inclusion of a subject isn't the problem; the reason for it's inclusion, or lackthereof, is the problem.

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MostlySquares

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#97  Edited By MostlySquares

Here's my take: There is no way you can fuck up dealing with child abuse in a game unless you somehow make it the main goal of your game, to abuse kids. Almost any take on domestic abuse is applicable to some household or another. Everything from mild shaming to brainwashing and gaslighting. From spanking to being threatened by guns and knives.. Left in forests.. Pimped out to friends of their father or whatever it might be. Domestic abuse is a complete fucking wasteland of horrible stories. Regardless of the story you're trying to tell, no matter how gruesome, someone is living in a situation pretty much exactly the same. Minus robots.

What was shown in the demo of Detroit left me with zero qualms. Sure, David Cage probably won't end domestic violence with this game, but if he makes a bunch of people cringe while seeing that shit, good. Cause most people don't fucking know. Turns out, there are as many flavors of domestic violence as there are violent people. The stories I've heard from people would never seem "proper" in a game. They would never work as part of the plot that sets out to "tackle the subject respectfully" because this subject is _FUCKED UP_.

People who have been through that shit are not likely to be the people who react to this. It's the people who have no experience, people who have little to no insight into what actual ruthlessness is who will react to this and whine about it not being dealt with respectably. Fuck respectability, it's a war within a home... You can't depict that without it being a complete fucking clusterfuck. If he bones it, if he fumbles and really makes a mess of this, the result will be a massive debate amongst the gaming press and bloggers and people at large.

Ohno.. A debate about domestic violence within the gaming community.. Games, the ultimate tool of escapism.. Probably no victims of abuse who has anything to say about this stuff.......

In closing: Anyone who feels like they want to tackle this should get all the fucking support in the world. Why anyone would sit around throwing shade at this concept prior to launch is fucking beyond my comprehension. Way to go with the silencing there. Way to go with putting the bar up higher, making it less likely people will try to tackle this in the future. Just thumbs up all around. I'm sure victims of abuse are super eager to share their story when the mainstream press is doing its best to tarnish a product that TO THIS DAY HAS NOT SHOWN ANY SHADY SHIT WHAT SO EVER before it's released.. Making sure that the game will sell a smidge less, which means that the subject is just that much less likely to be tackled by others/backed by investors etc.

Just yay, way to go guys!

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UlquioKani

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#98  Edited By UlquioKani

@mostlysquares: Glad to see you fighting an argument that wasn't made. No one in this thread (and as far as I can tell, anywhere else) has made the claim that these things shouldn't be in games. They are saying that, given David Cage's track record, he may not be the best at handling these subjects. If you look at @quid_pro_bono's response, you can see why people have a problem with it.

People, especially the people who have made complaints about this stuff, want discussions about domestic violence and other difficult subjects. But when you approach them, they should be given the same amount of scrutiny as any other aspect of a game.

It is dishonest to frame this criticism as an attempt to silence people who want to talk about domestic violence in games and either shows you've missed the point or are being willfully ignorant.

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BladeOfCreation

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@quid_pro_bono: This is a great response. The only thing I would add is that it looks like in this case the domestic violence against the child is being used as character development for the android. This is a common trope--and common criticism--with domestic violence storylines: the person experiencing the violence is not the key character. If it's not handled well (which it seems like David Cage's track record may indicate), it comes across as if the domestic violence to one person is a personal story for someone else.

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TheHT

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@mostlysquares: Glad to see you fighting an argument that wasn't made. No one in this thread (and as far as I can tell, anywhere else) has made the claim that these things shouldn't be in games. They are saying that, given David Cage's track record, he may not be the best at handling these subjects. If you look at @quid_pro_bono's response, you can see why people have a problem with it.

People, especially the people who have made complaints about this stuff, want discussions about domestic violence and other difficult subjects. But when you approach them, they should be given the same amount of scrutiny as any other aspect of a game.

It is dishonest to frame this criticism as an attempt to silence people who want to talk about domestic violence in games and either shows you've missed the point or are being willfully ignorant.

MostlySquares makes a fair point though. Why is it that a domestic abuse situation needs to be treated with the same level of seriousness of a drama. What's bad about a shallow encounter where a character saves a kid from a violent parent? Something without depth or nuance that's just the barebones observation that "yo hitting your kids is bad."

I guess you could call it trashy, or puerile, or even exploitation fiction, but is there no place for that sort of power fantasy drivel? Is it some kind of sin for that stuff to exist if it doesn't aspire to be on the level of "Oscar bait"? Sorta sounds like it.

What stuck out to me is how this trailer fits into Detroit's story in context of the other trailers for the game. So far we've seen the rooftop hostage negotiation and the android liberation that ends in riot or peaceful protest. These are pretty grey - do you kill the android holding the girl hostage or not? Lie about having a gun? Do you riot or no? The implication is that there are multiple ways for this to end which are an adequate solution; multiple ways to "win" and move on.

And then we have the domestic violence trailer. Immediately it's clear that it's more difficult to come up with an adequate solution. How does the player "win" in this case of domestic violence? Escape and leave the girl with her dad? Kill the dad in front of his young daughter? Take the girl and live with her as a fugitive? It's silly to think about "winning" a domestic abuse simulator, but that's exactly what is going to go through player's minds while they're playing this sequence. The type of game Cage is making is incongruous with this scenario simply because making domestic abuse a puzzle is a grotesque thing to do.

Ehh, I think you're inadvertently giving David Cage more credit than you realize here, which I'm not sure how to feel about. You're describing the situation as one where the various "win-states" are all questionable, which actually sounds like a good thing.

Also about the "winning a domestic abuse simulator" thing, I dunno about you but I wouldn't really be thinking about winning while playing that Heavy Rain DLC for instance. I'll be thinking about how the fuck to deal with this crazy serial killer coming home when I'm snooping about. I'd expect the same to be the case here. I wouldn't be thinking "alright, time to min-max this domestic abuse encounter, awww yeah, winning," I'd be thinking "how the fuck am I gonna deal with this kid's abusive father."

@quid_pro_bono: This is a great response. The only thing I would add is that it looks like in this case the domestic violence against the child is being used as character development for the android. This is a common trope--and common criticism--with domestic violence storylines: the person experiencing the violence is not the key character. If it's not handled well (which it seems like David Cage's track record may indicate), it comes across as if the domestic violence to one person is a personal story for someone else.

If I'm not mistaken the android (who I'm guessing is the same Kara we've been seeing) was previously destroyed by the guy? So yeah, I guess they've both been "experiencing the violence."

Besides that, disliking that a character's being developed by intervening in another character's shit situation is... questionable. If I see a character decide to help out a stranger getting viciously bullied, I don't tend to feel like the intervening character is being shoddily developed, or that the story is doing something heinous, or that the story should be from the perspective of the victim.

David Cage aside at this point I guess, since these considerations are more top level all-narratives kinds of things.