Is It Time for Games to Get Serious?

Should more mainstream games push thematic boundaries and explore the murky depths of human nature?

'

In November 2009, Infinity Ward released Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 amid a flood of mainstream criticism surrounding the game's No Russian mission, an optional level that allows players to kill civilians. Most of the disapproval leveled at Infinity Ward questioned the studio's motivation for including the level: the studio was not, some argued, attempting to give players a meaningful insight into the moral consequences of war. They weren't attempting to make players feel uncomfortable, or demonstrate that video games should allow players to experience viewpoints distinctly outside their own. What Infinity Ward was doing, it was argued, was creating a controversy for the sake of a controversy--a hook to sell more games, get people interested.

Regardless of Infinity Ward's motivation for the No Russian mission, or how well it was executed, the studio's attempt at something different was an example of a rare moment in the mainstream AAA space. While the surrounding controversy played itself out in the mainstream media, the games industry was left to face a new kind of self-examination: Should more games attempt to explore the extent of human suffering? Are themes of rape, real-world violence, sexism, racism, genocide, and torture acceptable subjects for a mainstream AAA game to touch on? Does the nature of games, both as entertainment products and interactive experiences, prevent them from meaningfully exploring these issues?

One might be led to believe that if mainstream games could successfully explore more mature topics, controversies such as the one surrounding Modern Warfare 2 would no longer arise in the public arena. If mainstream games could prove instrumental both as entertainment products and as methods of exploring human nature in a way that could imbue people with empathy, the cultural recognition we have so long courted would finally arrive. People would finally get games. So why aren't more developers doing exactly that?

While the nature of the video game business is partly to blame for scaring developers away from real-world issues in the AAA space (that is, the reality that games have to be fun to sell), the fear of negative media attention has quickly become one of the biggest contributing factors to risk-averse creative behavior: mainstream publishers and developers would rather play it safe than have to defend themselves against charges of indecency or exploitation, particularly in a space where selling copies is more important than debates surrounding cultural value. But while the reaction of the mainstream press in these instances is rarely surprising, a lot of the most recent media negativity has come from a place much closer to home.

Earlier this month, Crystal Dynamics was forced to clarify a misunderstanding surrounding reports of an attempted rape scene in the studio's upcoming Tomb Raider title, which explores the origin story of series protagonist Lara Croft.

"Sexual assault of any kind is not a theme that we cover in this game," Crystal Dynamics head Darrell Gallagher said in a statement. "We're sorry that this has not been better explained."

But why is sexual assault not a theme covered in this game? What would be unfathomable about an attempted rape scene in a game that depicts the character-building early life of a female protagonist?

While the Tomb Raider misunderstanding produced a varied response from the gaming press, almost none of it questioned the reasons behind Crystal Dynamics's reluctance to speak out on the issue outside a forced media-friendly reply.

Hitman: Absolution (also published by Square Enix) received similar attention last month, following the release of a trailer depicting a violent sequence between Agent 47 and an all-female group of assassins. The trailer provoked a heated response from the gaming press, ranging from dissatisfaction with the state of game development to arguments surrounding the existence of an embedded rape culture within the gaming industry. (It's worth noting that consumers, for the most part, expressed none of the same grievances as the gaming press, pointing to larger questions about the disconnect between games writers and their audiences.)

While the discussion surrounding the nature of sexism in the gaming industry and the representation and treatment of women is one that should continue to be had at all costs in order to exact and encourage positive change, the anger displayed by the gaming press seemed in this case to reach extremes; this, coupled with IO Interactive's refusal to speak about the controversy above a simple one-sentence response, highlights the need for a more open discourse between game makers and the media where mature content is involved.

When Ian Livingstone, life president of Eidos Interactive, a subsidiary of Tomb Raider and Hitman: Absolution publisher Square Enix, was asked to clear the air, he acknowledged that the media--both mainstream and games-specific--is partly to blame for the fear developers feel in discussing or exploring sensitive issues.

"It's a sad reflection in many ways that people are always looking for bad news in games," Livingstone told GameSpot. "What has come out in the media is this tiny bit of footage [of Tomb Raider] which has been interpreted in completely the wrong way. Never was there any intention to imply rape."

"Historically, some of the past Lara Croft games have been criticised because people wanted to know more about her as a person. Now, with today’s technology, we can show a more realistic character. It’s crazy that we're being criticised for giving people what they want."

Speaking on the Hitman: Absolution trailer and the reaction it prompted from the gaming media, Livingstone says the problem is with the medium itself: games are simply treated in different ways to other art forms, even by those who speak on them with authority (and who, he seems to imply, should perhaps know better).

"If [the Hitman trailer] had been a film, no one would have commented on it, in the same way no one would have commented on a Tarantino film being outrageous or sexually exploitative," Livingstone says. "But because it’s in a game, it always seems to be viewed in a different way. If Hitman had been a female attacked by a group of half-naked male models [in that trailer], no one would have said a word about it. The fact that it was females attacking Hitman caused controversy because there was an automatic assumption that it had strong sexual context."

"I don't know if those people in the games media who criticised the trailer saw the intentional humour that was in there; I think they misinterpreted it. It was intentionally over the top. But Hitman has always been over the top."

So does the presence of confusion, misunderstanding, and lack of dialogue that occurs when games try to tackle serious subjects mean that the medium just isn't ready yet? Or does it mean that developers should simply try harder?

The argument that the interactive nature of games should prevent the medium from exploring the same themes that other art forms explore freely is not one that would often be heard from a game developer. Yet Livingstone believes exactly this. For him, no amount of open dialogue should stop game developers in the AAA space taking a "responsible" approach with the subject matter presented in games.

"Sure, this happens in film now, and society has grown used to seeing these issues on the big screen," Livingstone says. "But interactivity might allow some people the opportunity to control a character in a way that is not satisfactory. It exposes you [as a game publisher and developer] to the potential of players reacting in a negative, unsavoury, and unwelcome way. Where does that lead to? There's no point in going down that route."

"I think [game developers] have to act responsibly and take a moral standpoint on this. If you're going for a realistic interactive cinematic experience [in your game], which is more than possible now, I think you have to put some safeguards in place."

While Livingstone doesn't speak for other developers in the AAA space when he says games shouldn't push thematic boundaries, the distinct lack of mainstream titles meaningfully exploring issues outside those that have come to be associated with the medium says enough. Video games have the ability to do something no other medium can. Developers shouldn't be afraid to introduce new ideas in the mainstream AAA space. They shouldn't be afraid to talk about it. And we shouldn't be afraid to let them.

'

Written By

Want the latest news about Hitman: Absolution?

Hitman: Absolution

Hitman: Absolution

Follow

Discussion

0 comments
ickda
ickda

why do you guys like this pag for?

I have set up a petition for Ao game and the pag over here is emptying of comments and my ao thing is still low   in numbers. in a nother one it was ridiculed why are you pp bing so odd for, it sound like my numbers be higher then hell, no?

s3c
s3c

The complaints about the "Saint's" video for hitman is evidence enough that there are people just looking for something to complain about just so they can label themselves the "good guys". The saints obviously want to kill 47, not undress him. For Pete's sake, remember the Double Mint gum commercials? There is more sexual innuendo in those commercials than there is in the Hitman Saint's teaser trailer! Honestly people, it's time to grow up. Nobody cares about your good guy badge!

speed45823
speed45823

When Doom 1st came out, everyone nagged about how violent the game was and how "Satanic" the game was. Fast forward 15 years and we all have known, played and loved the game. Bottom line is, "Don't chicken out just because some wimp pussy don't like the content." Take initiative.

Stolet
Stolet

I hate how everyone bitches about videogames being violent when other forms of entertainment are way worse. This idea that videogames are violent and make people violent is complete bullshit. People are very ignorant these days.

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

Thanks for another great editorial.  As the audience for games has grown older due to pure demographics, and has hopefully matured along the way, it would be nice to think that the time has come for games to mature along with us.  I think we are just now finally at the turning point.  It may not have hit true AAA space yet, but there are games that are sticking their toe in the waters.  The projects David Cage is working on and The Witcher series from CDPR are both obvious examples, though they are both also just outside the mainstream.  I'm hoping in the next decade we'll finally start to see "Oscar caliber" games in the AAA space.

 

And even if and when that day does come, there will still be silly, exploitative drivel just as there is in other mediums.  And then in another decade the line between the drivel and an insightful, ironic send-up of self-aware drivel will start to blur...

FalloutOutFun
FalloutOutFun

Is it odd how I've always wanted a game that could allow my character to smoke a cigarette? Why keep that from games? When I play Fallout I tend to pick up Cigarette cartons and packs, but my character can't smoke them. 

I want more games like Fallout. I always found Grand Theft Auto quests to be near impossible for me. I like the way Fallout quests go, in terms of the 3rd and 4th game (New Vegas). How you can buy your weapons, give them mods, repair them.... etc. I want more of that. More of a connectability to the character in the game. You can escape your life, and live another reality :) I also love the gruesome thought of post-apocalyptia. The thought scares me yet draws me in closer. 

thelmus12
thelmus12

A thought provoking piece. Great article Laura. Whilst I'm happy with a certain frivolity in some games where common sense takes a back seat to action, there is certainly room for more mature themed games,but ONLY if the story is up to it. Its' like the movies. You can get movies that are little more than vehicles for action stunts and fancy computer imaging and you get others where the action and effects are designed to drag you in. The characters in a great film often don't say a whole lot but speak volumes with looks of brooding emotion or body language, the very colours of the scene and individual props made to evoke feelings of empathy, fear and anger. Great games can do the same for it all comes down to making the audience (or in this case player) get themselves emersed and asking that age-old retorical "what would I do if I were him". The best make you forget the "if"

In regard to violence or sexual content the same applies. These are definitely not for kids, but adults should be able to enjoy games that evoke the same questions as a great movie. I would hope that any game exploring such matter would understand the role it plays and treat it with dignity and respect. It would be up to reviewers and those in the industry with a voice to demand it and condemn when it isn't. Not a small thing to do in a world where the millions of dollars can rest on a favourable response. If not, the new freedoms enjoyed by us aussies with regard to the censors will be very short lived.

Pyronius
Pyronius

Infinity Ward creates morally ambiguous game level for the sake of generating a controversy.

 

Gamespot writes article encouraging moral ambiguity for sake of controversy...?

 

While I believe that handling mature themes in games can be done whilst retaining artistic integrity, am I wrong in interpreting Laura Parker's train of thought in this article as suggesting that we shouldn't be afraid to encourage higher degrees of user violence and sexual assault, for the sake of the social crucible? Is it really 'mature' to assume that understanding violence and sexual assault better equates to maturity? For who better understands these themes than the perpetrators or victims of these crimes. And the initial example of CoD clearly isn't referring to the latter...

 

How does empathising with a murder or rapist within the context of a 'mature' game result in moving past such base impulses? And at what point does 'empathy' become 'being', especially within the context of this highly immersive art form? Obviously, no conclusive direct link has ever been made between computer game violence real world violence, but nonetheless...

 

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against 'mature themes'. People have mentioned games such as L.A. Noire and Heavy Rain, which I think are fantastic games that exemplify mature ways to handle mature themes. But this article is being controversial for the sake of being controversial, because it bases its argument on people complaining about a level of CoD where you can kill civilians. Is anyone else not in the LEAST bit surprised that people would complain about that?? Did we learn NOTHING from the awfulness of Postal??

 

The basis for the rest of the article is needlessly controversial because of this initial CoD example. Laura Parker isn't citing a game that is being criticised for being violent, but for being GRATUITOUSLY violent. 'Maturity' means more than just including 'mature themes'. It also means handling said themes correctly.

eastley000
eastley000

I agree, to a point. I think it would be great for games to explore these different areas like most other art forms do.  I do think that exploring some more 'mature' topics is okay, if done appropriately. Games like Heavy Rain or LA Noire even look appealing because of there very "human" approach to characters. But I don't think games should invite rape scenes or sexual content into the normal. I think there is a fine line between being a mature-themed game, and an inappropriate one.

rob_dAmAgE
rob_dAmAgE

In full agreement with this article. I'd also like to add (& I know that I will receive a lot of hate mail for this one) that the Kane & Lynch series has thankfully always pushed the edge on what is acceptable and what is not. Granted it's easier for a game that is less a AAA title to push said boundaries but nonetheless, Eidos & lO created a very edgy series that will always be on the top of my list of mature titles!

Kraken422
Kraken422

The Tomb Raider trailer including rape themes makes perfect sense to me it would help develop a character and bring weight to the story. If a rape was actually shown on screen or there was a rape mini game only then would it be (massively) inappropriate. 

 

The Hitman trailer is another issue. I haven't played Hitman so I don't know how tongue in cheek the game is, it may have been having a laugh about how ridiculous the situation was. The thing is from an outsiders point of view it looks like a massive over sexualisation of both women and nuns in an attempt to sell games. It doesn't add to the story and is offensive on at least two level. Also the crap about Tarantino getting away with this all the time is bullshit, these kinds of things always draw controversy in movies, maybe not as much but part of the reason the response seems so loud to us may be because we spend so much time looking at game related media.   

SpookyHoobster
SpookyHoobster

I think the main thing stopping this from happening is how strongly minors enter the M rated spectrum. Games like the Halo franchise where it really should be considered more PG-13 but is technically rated R means that video games need to keep it (for the most part) minor friendly. The rating system is broken for video games if "rated M" truly meant "rated R" I don't think people would care as much if devs made bolder moves.

jevanteb12
jevanteb12

Hey, did that Irish gangster character, Gerald McReary from GTA 4, said the "N" word on the cutscene?

PandaBear86
PandaBear86

I hate realism in video games. I play games to escape the boring world around me, not to dwell in it more. If I wanted realism, I would walk outside of my house, look at the trees, and breathe some fresh air. I don't need technology to experience realism. Give me something creative and imaginative instead. 

xKLIPSx
xKLIPSx

whoever says that realistic shouldn't be in video games your all dickheads. i would love games to be more realistic if will give the game a better storyline. if you don't like it don't by the game. just go and buy a kids game because most people would like more violence gore and blood sexual themes and nudity and also rape. to have a better storyline you need all these. and also if you don't won't these stuff in games why buy movies like saw, or rambo 4. i don't understand people complaining out this. i got a solution if we can't get more realistic with games stop putting it movies  

Snide-Cipher
Snide-Cipher

Top article, makes me think about Fallout 2. If Black Isle was around and made that game now then they would be lynched, yet I was playing it when I was an impressionable youth and have made it to adulthood without killing a single child or pimping out a single spouse. There is way too much politics in the gaming space. They should make a Hitman expansion where 47 has to assasinate the heads of a few media companies. Mission acomplished. 

DarkSpidey69
DarkSpidey69

I don't understand why people are throwing their hands up in the air to be honest. Especially in the case of these 2 trailers. To be completely honest, Tarantino was the first thingto pop into my head when I was watching Hitman, but what really gets me is the Tomb Raider trailer. I did think they were hinting towards rape, and I thought "makes sense". If you're playing as a naive girl all alone that you have to now get to kill someone for the sake of character growth, that'll do it.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

No thanks, I want my games unrealistic, I get enough realism everywhere else, at work, at the grocery store, at the gas station, on the news, even at home, nothing says realism like getting your power or heating bill. Give me more stuff like Skyrim and Fallout and Bioshock, place I can go that is so unreal that I get lost in the world and forget about my real life seriousness.

Aufmachen
Aufmachen

Everything has two sides and anything will do,just don't go thus far as to cross the line of what is considered off-limits or it means something intentionally inhumane.Don't lay any blames on games when things bad happen,blame yourselves for your lust,your uncontrollable impulse acted on,What is not to blame if one gets really "serious",ehh?unfair to single out games!some people commit crimes even though they don't play games,some people learn to respect,forgive,even voluntarily die for who you love from games.It all depends on the belief people have!

ElFlechero
ElFlechero

"If Hitman had been a female attacked by a group of half-naked male models no one would have said a word about it." Actually, I think they would have said "what the heck is this crap?"

SDTalyor
SDTalyor

If its done in a way that "explores" the matters, letting players make their own choices have their own beliefs, etc., then so be it, but if its done in a preachy fashion telling me what I should think, feel, or believe then count me out.

DonAddUp
DonAddUp

Often the dialogue or the plot/story line is the biggest problem with games. I think it's odd that games are HD quality developed by multi-million dollar studios, yet the writing sometimes seems to be aimed at (or written by) 8 year olds. I would expect that in a game in their demographic, but not more mature titles. I think game studios should adopt the old adage, If you don't have anything nice (or quality) to say, don't say anything. I play games well after their initial release, because I'm cheap, and because I'm waiting for the gaming community to sift out the crappy ones for me. I recently played an FPS that got good reviews. The graphics are high level, the controls are top notch, the back drop is awesome, but it has some of the cheesiest soap opera commentary going. I'm no english lit teacher, and I'm not expecting Shakespeare either, but I sure am not looking for Days of Our Bullets which is what you sometimes get. (Remember writers that music and no dialogue can be very powerful, especially when the script is a dressed up version of "I love you man").

As for the content of games, I think they follow our current culture, predominantly in the U.S., where gut shredding, blood dripping internal organ dissecting violence is fine, but if a woman takes her top off, (or slips a nipple), we want to vilify her and all her peers, and the men who view it. (Don't get me started on if a woman submits to her hormones she's empowered, but if a man does it he's a pig, see 50 Shades of Grey) I don't know when violence became eh, okay.....and sex became eeeevillllllll...but I sure know it's that way to stay. If plotlines become more adult I think that's fine, as long as there is a moral or ethical aspect to it. I don't mean religious overtones, but a reap what you sow aspect similar to real life should come across if there is alot of violent content (Cause a gory death, die a gory death). Just please don't abandon imaginative escapist games, sometimes I have enough of real life and need a little male Calgon to take me away....

2muchgrdschool
2muchgrdschool

Like every other art form there will be a mix.  But there certainly need to be deeper games available.  Standard first person shooters or cookie cutter RPGs aren't enough.   On any given day I find it unjustifiable to spend time on something purely for entertainment value. Many main stream movies and a lot of games just seem tired and too stupid to bother with.  I won't be able to buy the next console if the games don't also give me the opportunity to learn something in a new way.  Thankfully it seems indie games are poised to step into the gap to some degree.  But as of now, I maybe buy two games a year.   I've bought a console every generation since the NES (well parents bought that one) and I played PC games into law school, but I still find the most fulfillment in the most old school of mediums....printed books. 

 

Also...how the hell could you interpret those nuns in leather and thigh-highs as anything but sexual?

 

 

Anyway, like the article. 

Whisperblue
Whisperblue

I can't believe the level of stupidity we have reached. Have you ever played ANY Hitman game? - Don't you see that the nuns are a perfect simbolism for Agent's 47 strong, deep beliefs? - That they embody the deadly sins, namely lust and pride? - That is perfectly feasible that top world class females assassins dress like nuns, because no one would ever suspect of them (it is even subtlety implied that they travel in a school bus, please watch the trailer) and because it's very easy to conceal high caliber weapons beneath loose robes?- That they wear erotic lingerie, adding contrast to the fact that Agent 47 is explicitly asexual? But, oh, political correctness. Bad, bad trailer. I must not think by my own.

gokuss4z
gokuss4z

This is some sick $hit games need to stay fun and stop trying to be like real life what happen?

man i miss the ps2 days.

Anthrizacks
Anthrizacks

I'm honestly sick of games pursuing "seriousness." I personally play them for over-the-top escapist fun. Leave "seriousness" to other avenues of art, is it is simply not done as well through video games.

Pyronius
Pyronius

 @Stolet Eh, whether or not video games make people violent is definitely up for debate. I will say though, the games I play, the movies I watch, and the books I read all have a definite effect on my mental state. They may not make me want to kill, but we all can't but help but be affected by our environments. C'est les vie...  :)

Pyronius
Pyronius

 @jimrhurst 'Oscar caliber' video games, eh? The mind boggles... o.O

 

But I gotta admit, I have trouble imagining 'Schindler's List' from a first person perspective. I feel like the medium of video games themselves changes what is 'morally ambiguous' to being 'amoral'. Case in point - it might be considered 'morally ambiguous' to make a movie about the holocaust, however, many would consider it 'amoral' to make a game from the perspective of a holocaust victim/perpetrator. The simple change of medium alters the context of the narrative or topic.

 

To put it another way, you may like the idea of turning the light of cinema onto the grim realities of a real-life serial killer, but it would be highly tasteless to make a detailed, immersive video game about a real life killer and his victims. Games are a different medium to movies, and are more detailed, and more visceral and experiential. It would be a mistake to think that everything would translate.

 

Though I would love to see some Oscar movies turned into games... I could see 'Castaway' maybe, as some sort of survival type game, or 'The Beach'... maybe... :)

brok
brok

 @FalloutOutFun  Guess you never played The Saboteur then. Not only can you smoke, there's a whole button devoted to it. There's nothing quite like planting some dynamite on a gas tank, lighting up a ciggie, and strolling away casually as the works goes up in flames behind you.

malthias_42
malthias_42

 @Pyronius Did you ever play the aforementioned level in CoD? It did have a story. it wasn't just 'hey see how many innocent people you can kill'. I think the reasons why 'the powers that be' in the company allowed the level to be included in the final game are essentially irrelevant. It seems pretty clear to me that the people that came up with it and put it together, wanted to offer a different experience. And as far as I'm concerned, they achieved that. It was refreshing to see a game try to tackle something where there is a big moral grey area. This was not a simple situation. For some, that sort of violence would be easily justifiable under the circumstances because a) the other terrorists would kill everyone anyway and b) the potential difference to be made by being under-cover would far outweigh the 100 or so deaths. For others, that sort of violence is completely unjustifiable.It asks an important question, which is kinda a big deal for a franchise as seemingly shallow as CoD. take it down to its roots, and it's essentially a thought experiment similar to one philosophers ponder. except they added interactivity. they put you in the situation and let you choose how to react. Surely that sort of thing is what this medium needs more of, not less.I'm not saying it was handled perfectly. It really pissed me off, for example, that it wasn't really a choice in the end. You either remain undercover and 'win' the level, or you don't and you die and start again. But even then, it's not as if they're saying 'congratulations, you chose right'. in fact, it challenges you again at the end; it makes you think 'was it really worth it? was that really the right thing to do?' 

Cinetyk
Cinetyk

 @Kraken422 I agree with you about Tomb Raider. I've been following Tomb Raider (this newest game) since last year and from what I saw it seems logical. Since the time Lara wakes up upside down, you can see some serious weird and bizarre stuff on that location, and the people who live there are very dangerous, almost savage. What do these type of people, and other criminals/outlaws and whatnot, do in places where there is little civilization/police/authority/morals if they catch a woman, especially a young and attractive one as Lara is? The guys chasing Lara aren't just playing tag with her. The inclusion of that underlying hint of the threat of that kind of abuse is, I think, realistic, stems from the desire to develop the character and is not handled gratuitously. And I think it is an element of character development very important to Lara and that "justifies" why she is so strong and courageous and resilient in the future. She had to overcome all sorts of difficulties in this game, including that too.

 

Furthermore, the actual "scene" we see is nothing more than a guy trying to feel her up with his hand, and then trying to subdue her, hardly explicit content............... There have been lots of movies, some highly acclaimed, with far FAR worse scenes, with up to and including full rape. On top of my head I remember Lars von Trier's "The Antichrist" and "Lust, Caution". The game is already rated PEGI 18, and will be without a doubt Mature or Adults Only on the ERSB rating.

 

I don't understand how this particular thing can cause so much controversy. Like you said, If they make games where we can actively do very vicious stuff, for no apparent reason, and if it's depicted very viscerally, then THAT would be massively inappropriate and it would be time to criticise THAT. Not this here.

AceMarine45
AceMarine45

 @PandaBear86 realism in games is a way to make the gamer have a relation to the game; to have something they can associate with. This creates immersion, which is the escapism you desire. What you hate might actually be what you are seeking. To me there isn't enough realism or immersion in video games today. For many games today it is all about cheap trills without meaning. If there isnt a believable story I can tie to why things are happening in my game, then i'll lose interest quickly, because whats the point?

cellbuster
cellbuster

 @PandaBear86 I think you just need to play a different bread of game.  There is room for more mature topics and realism in video games but I understand the escapism factor can also be important.

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

 @xKLIPSx why is rape necessary to tell a good story, I have played many games with amazing stories and none of them had rape involved, nor did they need nudity to push the story along, and while i have played many good games with blood and gore, I have played just as many without. Makes me wonder about your mental stability if it takes rape, nudity, and gore to make a good game for ya.

blackwing55
blackwing55

 @stan_boyd Realism is within story choice actions and morality not just what you see each one of those games you mentioned have realism no realism would make all those games weak you mentioned pitfully sad.

blackwing55
blackwing55

 @ElFlechero I think they would it would be why are the man teaming up to kill a agent thats a women!

N30F3N1X
N30F3N1X

 @Anthrizacks Why not? Deus Ex: Human Revolution is brilliant at exploring human greed, the dangers of giving corporations too much power, and the job the media have in deceiving popular opinion and still is an amazing game.

jimrhurst
jimrhurst

 @Pyronius Thanks for the thoughtful response.  I think that the interactive nature of games does change the equation as you point out.  But it has the potential to make the impact of the message even stronger.  If you go back there is an interview with David Cage talking about a scene in Heavy Rain.

 

Spoilers for Heavy Rain, I suppose....

 

In one section in order to advance the story and try to save your character's young son you are forced to take the life of another man.  He's a petty drug dealer, but also lives in a normal apartment, with kids of his own, and he's never done anything to you.  Cage talks about watching people play this section in a playtest or focus group.  He says people put the controller down, they stomp around the room, they wring their hands, they talk to themselves.  I'm paraphrasing here, but he says "These people have played hundreds of videogames, fired billions of bullets killing thousands upon thousands of human representations on screen.  But we are asking them to pull the trigger one time, to kill one man, and most of them cannot do it.  Most players do not pull the trigger.  Even though it may mean their own son will die in the game!"

 

Now that's powerful.  That's where the interactivity brings the point home in a whole new way that just watching something unfold on screen does not.  The player has agency and takes ownership of his / her actions in a different way.  Was it amoral for Quantic Dream to create this game where they potentially drown a young boy, force you to kill an innocent man, etc?  Or are they teaching us something important about human morality in a very positive way?

 

And this is still just cave drawings compared to what we might someday create.

Pyronius
Pyronius

 @jimrhurst  Oh, I just gave myself a great idea! 'Lord of the Flies' - The Video Game! Dynamite... :)

malthias_42
malthias_42

 @Pyronius also... how do you skip a line in this thing? =\ idk how to separate the paragraphs =\

blackwing55
blackwing55

 @cellbuster realism as in torture controvers like playing a terriost killing inoccents all this is realism and could really enlighten games which are becoming increasingly boring. Unless realism to you is raping some women out on the street than torturing them tell they died is boring then you really need to be arrested. This article is talking about realism in choice and experiance not putting you through eight hours of school or work then go to bed type of realism.

Kraken422
Kraken422

 @stan_boyd I don't think people are asking to actually see a rape happen on screen in a video game, what they're asking for is those themes to be allowed within games. Look at the movie Gran Torino, a character was raped and the aftermath and her injuries were shown to the audience. This event became the critical motivator of the main protagonist and the reason for his sacrifice at the end. Without themes of rape the movie wouldn't have worked at all. 

blackwing55
blackwing55

 @stan_boyd Any type of game can of realistic choices within them no matter what kind of game no matter what era its created. Without realism in choices and experiances it cant be realitible making its storyline weak. i think people are mistaking this realism as only making games in the current era with things we do everyday that is incorrect. Those who only want to escape a game don't care about story but rather action thats why we have only multiplayer.

Anthrizacks
Anthrizacks

 @N30F3N1X DX:HR was probably my least favorite game released last year. Traded it in after only an hour or so of playing. I never do that.

Pyronius
Pyronius

 @malthias_42 Fair point, I haven't played it, so I'm not really at liberty to comment on the game level itself. I'll take your word for it if you say that it isn't as bad as the press it's obviously getting. And maybe I'm being too hard on the author of the article in turn, apologies to Laura Parker.

 

I will say though that I believe the line between moral ambiguity and amorality can be a fine one. As creatures with a modicum of intelligent thought, we are obligated to push the boundaries of philosophical exploration, whether in regards to morality, ethics, theosophy and any other topic. But as intelligent creatures, we are also obligated to concede when we know that we've crossed those boundaries, lest we stray too far in the wrong direction.

 

And I just pressed enter to skip lines. :)

cellbuster
cellbuster

 @blackwing55 I can understand that throwing in rape and terrorism doesn't immediately coincide with realism, but immediate uproar that follows hints that these scenes that may ensue with our games is questioning whether or not games are being looked at as an artful narrative, or simply child's play.  The latter form denying the existence of these themes all together. I'm not asking for more rape, I'm asking for less "we 'can't' have rape in video games." Is that not fair to ask for?

N30F3N1X
N30F3N1X

 @Anthrizacks Definitely skip it then, I didn't like it much even if I really liked 1 and 2.

However only ME2 is about personal drama (no wonder some people call it a dating sim), in ME1 and ME3 you could really just not talk to crew members at all except in pivotal scenes.

When you are told to go speak to that guy however, he stands right next to the armory, and you can't tamper with your weapons unless you talk to him. Oh, and you weren't forced to be "politically correct" anywhere else either, you can't just tell the guy to "deal with it" like you did with Miranda when she talks about her sister or Ashley when she whines about having other races on board, you can only be a crying shoulder for him. It *definitely* feels out of place (along with a whole lot of other things, ME3 is an incoherent mess).

Anthrizacks
Anthrizacks

 @N30F3N1X Well, I haven't played ME3 yet (and I doubt I ever will given how much I disliked the first two), but the first two games was just hearing about people's personal drama. In that sense, I don't see how this scene (which I have heard about, from you and others) is out of place at all. All you do in Mass Effect is listen to people's boring problems.

N30F3N1X
N30F3N1X

 @Anthrizacks Yeah, but other crew members' personal problems weren't flaunted as one of the main attractions of the game. They *were* useful to the progress and development of the story, unlike the scene I mentioned which is completely, how would you say it, out of the blue.

Anthrizacks
Anthrizacks

 @N30F3N1X Mass Effect "forcing you to hear" about that guy's husband is the same as Mass Effect "forcing you to hear" anyone else's personal problems (which is the entire storyline of the series pretty much). With that said, BioWare is one of my least favorite video game companies, but I do praise their inclusion of LGBT characters/choices into their games, as I myself am gay, and it gets extremely annoying, to me anyway, to have to constantly role play as a straight person or what have you. It's nice to have a company that doesn't ignore that we exist, even if their games are boring.

N30F3N1X
N30F3N1X

 @Anthrizacks Shit happens, but my point still stands. DXHR didn't have to make compromises between being a great game and getting its message through, you weren't missing out on anything if you weren't interested in the deeper meaning of the story.

Take a game like ME3 instead, that's how it *shouldn't* be done - the scene with the gay dude whining about his husband is there for no reason other than forcing you to hear about it. (And Laura still praised it for that, makes you realize how bad of a journalist she actually is...).