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Violence for Violence's Sake: Can Games Move Beyond Death?

An opinion piece wondering if popular games will ever be able to move beyond the act of killing.

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thorstein1577d ago

Finally a well written piece about violence without the finger pointing.

While I do have questions about some of the article: such as why the reaction to Newtown? Was it the way the press covered it? Why not similar reactions to what goes on in innercities across America?

That asked, I do agree with you to a point. But I also think there are many, many games available that don't involve killing. Although, many 1st person games tend to focus on this, I love the call to have a 1st person game that doesn't involve killing.

Deus Ex Human Rev allowed for this. You could complete the game without killing anyone, it even gives an achievement for doing so.

tekksin1576d ago

yeah a well written piece about a gaming cliche thats been dealt with for very long. Anything coming out of nintendo has no killing. MGS and infamous have the option of no killing. etc etc etc. This article is all kinds of useless.

Plenty of games do more than shooting. I mean, almost every single fighting game doesn't even deal with death. Every single racing game. Seriously, get a grip and take a look around. You'll get nowhere with your head up your ass.

Gh05t1576d ago

Well written... Over half the piece is exerts from other work all agreeing with him. I feel like I am watching the San Fransisco episode of SouthPark and everyone in that article is enjoying the smell of their own gas in sweet satisfaction thinking they are above everyone else and so enlightened.

JervoNYC1577d ago

Author here. Thanks for your comments.

The reaction to Newtown hit me particularly hard, as the victims were little children, and my wife was 7 months pregnant with our first child at the time; every mass shooting has bothered us, but this one struck us in particular if only because we were about to become parents ourselves. And, also (as the piece says), it happened right when I was starting to get frustrated with Far Cry 3 (and, in particular, with what FC3 was attempting to say about violence). That whole moment nearly inspired me to try and go a whole year playing games without firing a gun. In the end, I couldn't go through with it; I needed to play GTA V. But it was a pivotal moment for me all the same.

And while Deus Ex is great for allowing you to not kill anyone (except the bosses - until they patched it, those bosses had to die), that's not even really the point. Games like Portal 2 are engrossing and entertaining and you don't have to hurt anyone. It's possible; difficult, but possible, and worth pursuing.

Spotie1576d ago

I'm seeing the same problems here that I see elsewhere.

1. A laser focus on games. This problem with violence isn't limited to gaming. While you touch on this in your article, I have to wonder if you treat the music, movies, and TV you consume to the same criticism. Do you ask why a good action flick has to have so much violence, or why so many innocent people get killed in horror movies? If you do, then alright, but I see people attacking gaming far too often for what they accept in other media without question.

After all, there's still the attempt to say violent games cause violence when they do not. It's as if everyone has forgotten how that wasn't the case anywhere else, just to drive an agenda.

2. You're mentioning games from two genres, both of which have the word "shooter" in them. Shooting requires guns- or bows, at the least- and something to shoot at. Unless it happens to be a puzzle game like Portal, your targets will most likely be other people.

But why not look outside of those genres? Where is the mention of music games? Or other puzzlers? Where's Mario? Where's Journey? Where are the racing games, or the sports games?

You honed in on the genres that have violence as a general prerequisite; that would be, as I mentioned before, akin to criticizing a horror movie for its blood and gore.

If violence in a game is something you're no longer comfortable with, that's perfectly fine. But you're taking a limited sample and making it out to be the overwhelming majority, when that's most certainly far from the truth.

I agree that gaming is in need of more variety, and that the popular games are violence-heavy. But there are plenty of games that are not those most popular ones.

JervoNYC1576d ago

I mention games specifically because it's not a passive media; you actively participate in it. You watch movies and read books and you listen to music but the game only performs if you physically engage with it. And I mention games specifically because *most* games - not all, of course, but most - involve shooting something in order to progress. Shooters are, by their very definition, violent - but should an adventure game like Uncharted require you to kill 700 people?

I like violent movies, but I also like non-violent movies; same with books. But I feel more and more like the ratio of violent games to non-violent is far more out of balance than anything else. When I look at the games I've played over the last 5 years or so, the vast majority of them have involved killing. And I really try to broaden my gaming palette as much as possible. I like driving games - a lot - but they don't come out with the same frequency as shooters. There's only been 2 Portal games since 2007. I adore puzzlers - but most of the good modern puzzle games I play are on my iPhone, not on my PS4.

Last point: I saw a movie recently; it started out with 2 thugs slicing up a prostitute, featured multiple brutal beatings, and ended with a massive bloodbath, including the murder of the town sheriff. Was this movie considered pornographic? Was there a massive outcry? Were pundits up in arms, talking about how sick and depraved Hollywood was?

Actually, the movie was “Unforgiven”, and won 4 Oscars.

Tetsujin1576d ago

I agree with the author (although I'm not a father) it does get old over time with violent games. At a younger age a lot of people think "oooh, look I can shoot things!" and as you get older it's like "wow, another shooter." The problem I see though is a lot of companies believe no death/violence = kiddy game.

I could use a break from the violence/killing games and play something different for a change, that's actually good. So far I found a few gems however more would never be a bad thing.

Gh05t1576d ago

You are flat out admitting you are letting your emotions over rule your judgement.

Just because you play a game and shoot people in the face does not make you a bad person. Knowing the difference, having good judgement, and keeping with the principles of almost every peace loving philosophy or theology out there will make you a good person.

Don't get me wrong I stopped watching TV for a long time because I was sick of all the rape, murder, and sex from Law and order, CSI, and the countless other drivel that was popular. That doesn't mean there was nothing to watch I just had to find it and yes it was few and far between but that's the joy of freedom right? Let people make what they want and if you don't like it don't play.

I do agree with you that not every game needs to be violent but the fact remains there are lots of games that aren't violent just none of them appeal to you.

For instance like I said on your post there is always Kim Kardashians mobile game. No killing and the only thing that dies is your soul.

Even Super Mario Bros was killing turtles and goombas and was attached to duck hunt where you got a gun controller. this is nothing new but there are alternatives stop complaining because you don't have enough to play. Mind you there are tons of games that don't involve shooting I bet I have 75 games in my steam Library that violence (any more than you would see in portal) is not a main focus.

xtheblackparade1577d ago

I too have experienced this feeling when growing up. I think it's just that. You grow up and you take everything more seriously then you did as a child. Things you do, habits, get deeper attention, your life philosophy changes. As a child we're too distracted by impulses to really notice any deeper layers in these things, which is good because that's healthy for a child and protects them from the big bad outside. Look at it as a finetuning of your moral, you'll act more conscious (also something children often have very little of). And don't forget: everything you do as a child is new and exciting, as an adult you've probably played FPS games all your life..so nothing exciting about that anymore, which gives you more time to think about what you're doing right now as well.

So IMO it's a combination of lack in novelty and more so a need to define your own morality.

AgentSmithPS41577d ago

I'm relatively old but I still like FPS games. I play all kinds of games but I still like gore and craziness, I miss Soldier of Fortune 2 etc.

It's just a game no matter what's in it, if people are concerned about the real world then maybe they should work together to fix the real problems and less time gaming? Yeah that's not as fun...

Sometimes 'games' can be used to help solve real world problems though, like a 'puzzle' game where people manipulated genetic structures to 'fit it together' just right, maybe to fight disease, I don't remember exactly but that's just one example. Who knows maybe try self-hypnosis and program yourself to enjoy saving the world ;).

AgentSmithPS41577d ago

This reminds me of the comments for Ubisoft not having a female... Something like "Go make your own game if you want ___" will probably be said here.

"I just wish that {devs} and publishers ... take the genuine creative risk and understand that there’s an audience ... would love to do something else besides shooting ... love – for once - to be able to get from Point A to Point B without anything having to die."
Maybe people should make a petition or something to let them know that you/we want a game like that?

As far as I know there are many games where you aren't killing anything e.g. racers, flight sims, puzzles, 'journey', 'flower', etc. I don't think I killed anyone in "stick it to the man" but that game killed my patience even though I liked the art style.

I don't care who plays violent games as long as it isn't effecting them so much that they go nuts, as the makers of 'Outlast' say "enjoy." Sadly it seems that some parents, schools, etc are failing at teaching their kids ethics, reasoning, about selfishness, etc, but you can't rely on Ubisoft ;) games to fix that.

uth111576d ago

But a lot of those non-violent games are indies. It seems like you can't have an AAA game these days that isn't dark and super violent (unless it's a racer).

Neixus1576d ago

Well written article, i for one, don't really care for violence.
I just think it has to have a meaning. Take for example Tomb Raider 2013, the violence in that game is just unnecessary.
One part that striked me was when you slide down a waterfall and get impaled by a spike through your head if you miss.

It just have no reason to be there, contrary to God of War where all the violence has a reason for it.

I'm a guy that loves splatter movies / over done violence, but it has to have a meaning.

I hated Tomb Raider2013 because of violence, i loved God of War because of violence.

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