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

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spraynardtatum

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We live in an outrage culture. Next week it'll be something different.

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UlquioKani

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@theht said:
@ulquiokani said:

@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.

I have no problem with shallow interpretations of real world problems in games. Heck, I think most attempts have been pretty shallow when it comes to games.

My problem is with people trying to frame conversations about these subjects as people overreacting. All I've seen so far are conversations about the trailers, not "outrage".

If these games come out and have poor depictions of real problems, then that's that.

But we should allow the conversation to happen, even if the game doesn't wish to go deep into these subjects, at least let us have the conversation about the shallow interpretation.

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TheHT

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UlquioKani

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@theht: I wasn't implying that you or I weren't having the conversation. If you look at my original reply, my problem was with people fighting arguments that weren't made. Not only in this thread, but in the other, very similar one.

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MostlySquares

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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.

How is it dishonest? The media at large and forum commenters have focused fully on making sure that everyone knows that Cage is some kind of talentless moron who is completely unfit for the task. I've yet to hear anyone talk about this game without also mentioning how much of a low brow dumbass Cage is for not understanding Blade Runner (like most other people, as it turns out..) For some reason it's of utmost importance that everyone knows Cage is too dumb, too incapable of subtlety to tackle domestic abuse (yup.. you need a lot of subtlety for tackling domestic abuse... wait actually.. it never felt particularly subtle. I'm sure some abuse is more intricate than others, but most of the time it's some angry parent/husband/wife whatever who drinks and punches, or a malicious monster who decides others need pain. Pretty much exactly like the trailer depicted.) There is a particularly sketchy slant to this whole debate. It's focused more making sure people know Cage is going to fuck this up and how he maybe should back off and leave it to the professionals (i.e. no one else) than it is about domestic violence.

That's why this overly negative criticism grinds my gears.

My point is that we might want to reserve stark pre-criticism for less fragile topics or topics handled extremely badly. What I've seen so far does not in any way qualify as bad imo.. Maybe let those who try to experiment with risky subjects have a little slack instead of stringing them up after watching an intense minute of their game... Maybe for some games, we let them hit the market before we trash the developer for being inept?

By the way, I did not mean to imply that the silencing is deliberate. The effect of collectively throwing shade at Cage for his hubris, for his nerve to even think about tackling this is nonetheless exactly the same as deliberately trying to push him away from this. Which is unfortunate, but still just the way of things. Which is why I say, maybe reserve judgement this time. People should give him some time to finish the game before they push their thumbs into his eye sockets is what I'm saying..

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fnrslvr

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@mostlysquares said:

(yup.. you need a lot of subtlety for tackling domestic abuse... wait actually.. it never felt particularly subtle. I'm sure some abuse is more intricate than others, but most of the time it's some angry parent/husband/wife whatever who drinks and punches, or a malicious monster who decides others need pain. Pretty much exactly like the trailer depicted.)

I think you're going to have a hard time finding people who agree with the idea that it's okay for treatments of domestic violence in media to be crass just because domestic violence incidents are often instigated by people with crass motives. If people are tugging at their collars upon seeing this trailer, it's not because they think perpetrators deserve some sort of benefit of doubt regarding their motivations, but because people want to do right by abuse victims and not treat their trauma as a plaything.

But for my part, my issue isn't that I feel "offended" by the trailer (as OP put it), or that I think David Cage's track record shows that he's an idiot who can't stick the landing. What made me cringe is that they showed me an abuse story that led to the murder of a little girl by her father, a thing that I'm inclined to take seriously, and then they snapped from that straight into all these different ways in which that scenario could play out, as though the thing they really wanted to show you was their choose-your-own-adventure engine and all these cool immersive interactions you could have and the girl's plight is just content to give the system something to explore. I cringed hard because dude, if you show me domestic violence then I'm going to be inclined to feel bad for victims and reflect on my part in a society that to whatever extent still enables domestic abuse to happen, which is a totally different state of mind from the one where I could be receptive to this immersive choice-driven choose-your-own-adventure product they're trying to get me excited for in the second half of the trailer. I still think games about domestic violence (even flawed ones) should be made, I think that player agency could be leveraged in a domestic violence story as an additional tool with which to impress the fraughtness of the victim's situation upon the player, but I'm pretty sure it's not a good setting in which to have your curiosity tickled or be wooed by the possibility space availed by your choices.

I'll put it this way: if they had've shown the first half of the trailer, up to the girl dying, and left off all the "what if" stuff and the scifi-ish possible-scenarios-floating-around-on-decision-tree-branches aspect, then I think it would've been received better. Sure there'd still be people talking shit about David Cage not having the chops to pull it off, but my own main issues with it would be gone.

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Lanechanger

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To me it came off as more of a things have been a stream of shit in real life lately between shootings, natural disasters, more shootings, alt-right, more shootings, sexual predatory across media, even more shootings that things of such a negative nature like ultraviolence is adding to that weight and fatigue in video game format that they could use a break from.

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UlquioKani

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@mostlysquares: David Cage isn't some indie dev making his first art game, he has a track record of games already. The scepticism towards his work isn't pulled out of thin air. Furthermore, the responses to the trailer have been more nuanced that you make them out to be.

On your point about silencing, if you think the pre-release criticism of these subjects will result in silencing, then it will have the same effect post release. If David Cage doesn't manage to come through and deliver properly on these subjects, will the end result not be the same?

I trust people to understand that the criticism is based on poor execution on the subject rather than inclusion of the subject. It's why I don't think silencing will happen. If publishers are not able to see the nuance in the arguments made pre-release, then there is no reason to believe they will see the nuance post-release.

The film 'Mississippi Burning' was criticized for poorly depicting racial issues (I personally like that movie but I can understand the points being made). This criticism didn't stop films about racial issues being made after the fact.

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Dray2k

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#109  Edited By Dray2k

I'm sure if David Cage is willing to learn from his errors I'm sure that he can create something great. Thats all people are trying to do with the criticism about him.

Look at Kojima, his first projects were either copycats (which were made much better by a team of great artists and affiliates) or narrative atrocities and bad video games. He has some neat ideas here and there but thats about it at very best. Yet now everything he touches is basically gold. There is a lot more to talent than just talent, if you know what I mean.

Yoko Taro, another quite highly praised developer/story telling, clearly had no idea what he was doing with the first games he directed about and without Nier and a capable team he would've be remembered as the guy who the story about a game where giant babies eat bad people.

All the media and the audiences are doing is trying to push David Cage into creating a great story. I'm sure that he is capable is writing compelling stuff, but he never does that in lieu of causing controversy by not trying to create a story by taking the criticism in mind. If he would been talentless, nobody would even consider to pay him an ounce of attention but here we are.

People have to learn that criticism isn't just bitching around but rather its a signal to tell somebody to rise above from what they always did.

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Zefpunk

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#110  Edited By Zefpunk

it seems very interesting to me how the games press can be somewhat hypocritical when they address violence in video games sometimes. they can praise a game like Wolfenstein on one hand, which is incredibly violent, and then criticize a trailer for it's depiction of violence?

i understand how people are referencing the tone of that Last of Us trailer being out of place for the Sony showing, but at the same time i think that Naughty Dog is continuing to back up everything they have said about this game being a game about "hate." the tone is dour, and given the actual world events of the times i can totally see how people wouldn't necessarily want that. however, ND i think at least, is being consistent with the vision they have for this sequel.

i also find it interesting, and have not seen anyone yet mentioning how the original last of us trailers were. the first big gameplay trailer for the original game had Joel brutally murdering other human beings, and culminated in Joel executing one of said humans with a shotgun blast to the head as he begged for his life.

that series to me exists in a world of violence, despite most of the first game largely being about hope, it seems this one will go a very different direction. in my humble opinion, i think that trailer did two things well. continued to enforce the tone they said with the first teaser, and for me at least, was a very effective question starter for what the hell is going on and who these characters were.

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Coryukin

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#111  Edited By Coryukin

I heard the term "murder simulator" used in a serious way on the bombcast when they talked about this. Had a good laugh at that. Thank you for your time Senator Gerstmann.

But really, I don't give a fuck. Being outraged by video game violence in the Last of Us 2 just seems disingenuous to me with all the violent video games we already enjoy playing. I mean, most game stories are built around shooting dudes and some people are choosing to get upset about that particular fact now in one particular game? I just don't buy it. I would need to hear a better argument than what I heard on the bombcast to be persuaded that this should be a thing worth being upset about.

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SarcasticMudcrab

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@sasnake: millenials dude, so fragile.

I don't like or approve of the violence, I have absolutely no interest in the last of us 2 now, but the ill educated online whining from kids is getting insufferable.

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SethMode

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@zefpunk: speaking at least in regard to GB, they literally mentioned everything you bring up in your post. From Wolfenstein earning it's violence, to ND being trustworthy, to the original TLOU trailer. So I guess I am unsure of your position here. Even this thread addresses all of these points.

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The_Tribunal

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@coryukin: you don't think the fidelity and tone of that trailer played any role? video game violence typically registers as benign or "gamey", but watching that woman's arm get smashed with a hammer did have me wincing.

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Coryukin

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#115  Edited By Coryukin

@the_tribunal said:

@coryukin: you don't think the fidelity and tone of that trailer played any role? video game violence typically registers as benign or "gamey", but watching that woman's arm get smashed with a hammer did have me wincing.

The trailer didn't bother me like it seemed to bother Jeff. Given Naughty Dog's record, I have no reason to suspect that the tone of the trailer is inconsistent with the tone of the story the developer's want to tell in the final game. Hearing Jeff and others be upset by the violence depicted in the trailer and going so far as to call it a "murder simulator" seems a disingenuous gesture given how many games the community at large already enjoy playing that are based around violence. I didn't hear a good argument from Jeff or others as to why the violence in the trailer is a bad thing or even unnecessary.

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Relkin

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I don't really have much to say about the Detroit trailer apart from that I don't have any issue with David Cage tackling that subject, although I imagine that under his direction the father's monstrous behavior will have been instigated by some sort of cyber-internet-ghost-satan. I'm all for people addressing difficult topics like this in art; the discussions that will pop up around it have the potential to inform people, regardless of the quality of the work that's being discussed/started the discussion.

As for the TLOU2 trailer, I was actually into it. As someone who still hasn't played the original game and is more or less unfamiliar with the entire story, having a brief glimpse into that world was interesting. Horrifying, for sure. I had to look away from the screen for a while there; I don't really have the stomach for watching torture, but I learned about the world a bit. Violence is casual; commonplace. There isn't much value in human life. Another thing is the absence of the expected camaraderie we see in books and movies. Most stories would have some sort of bond between the woman being hanged and the one having her elbow beat into mush, but the latter didn't seem to be in too much of a hurry to have the former cut down, and the archer was completely indifferent. The only thing that really bothered me about that trailer is that it ended too soon. Not only would I have liked to see more of the zombie/fungoids(?), but I would have liked to see what the dynamic between the two women and the archer would have been in the coming minutes. The story playing out wasn't done just yet.

I don't really buy the context argument that has been floating around. Plenty of stories don't immediately provide context for the situation they present, and often don't give you all the details when they decide to let you in on it. Sometimes we're left in the dark. Sometimes we have to speculate. Hell, plenty of stories are praised specifically for not spelling it out for us, and leaving us to decide what was going on, or why someone did what they did. Sometimes, that context doesn't even matter. Would knowing that the woman being hanged was a mass murderer make watching her hang to death any less uncomfortable? Would knowing that the tormentors had a good reason, or a bad reason, or no reason at all for what they were doing make them any less ghastly? Context wouldn't have made that trailer any better or worse; it's intent appeared to be to show people what that world was like. Look at the way it's shot; the focus on the horrors they're inflicting upon each other. This trailer was to establish a tone for those unfamiliar with TLOU, or reestablish it for those returning. I think it did it's job.

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spraynardtatum

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#117  Edited By spraynardtatum

David Cage is apparently the Lindsey Lohan / Britney Spears / George Lucas / flavor of the week person that people are allowed to be really nasty to.

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Shindig

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I don't have an issue with Cage trying. He struggles to hit the landing, though. Fahrenheit had the potential to be a brilliant cat and mouse chase where you controlled killer and pursuer. Then it became supernatural bollocks. Heavy Rain is arguably the most level-headed thing he's produced. Detroit seems more along those lines but he's trying to put players in more reactionary positions.

The Last of Us Pt 2 trailer felt like a tonal shift but I agree with some of the bomb crew who suggested that wasn't really the part to play, minus the context. It's a shock and awe job, rather than something to build a picture.

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Amducious

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I'm old, so I no longer give a shit other than whether the game is in my wheelhouse and if it is whether its any good or not.

I also like using 'whether' in sentences as many times as possible. I feel as if I have failed this time though.

Going to sleep, work in 5 hours. Urgh.

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deactivated-5e851fc84effd

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The response to the Last of Us Part 2 trailer was more shocking to me than the trailer itself. I just feel like everyone is a bit more sensitive these days. The original Last of Us reveal trailer was pretty brutal too.