Violent games are creatively too easy, says Spec Ops writer

Walt Williams says violent games not bad or wrong, just too easy; would like to see more hopeful characters written in the future.

Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams believes violent games are, creatively speaking, too easy. Speaking today during a Game Developers Conference panel, Williams lamented the ubiquitous use of killing in many first-person shooters, saying such actions have become not only mundane, but also run-of-the-mill, and at times even used as filler.

"We're in an industry full of very intelligent, knowledgeable, and progressive people. It's getting harder and harder for us to play these games and to look at them critically and say, 'This is OK.' This makes sense, especially as we get older," Williams said. "I would like to see less violent games out there. Not because they're bad or wrong, but because I think creatively they're too easy."

Williams' talk was focused on contextualizing violence through narrative, using Spec Ops: The Line as an example. He said it was remarkable that Spec Ops: The Line ever came to market, given the experimental nature of the title.

"Honestly, the game was very much an experiment. One that, to this point, I'm kind of really surprised that it ever made it to the shelves," Williams said.

Williams said he is unsure where writing for shooters should go in the future, but suggested that creating more hopeful characters would be a good start.

"Where do you go after doing a game like this? How can you make another shooter…that leaves your characters arguably alive? I think we need to get to a point where we can move back to maybe trying to write characters…that are a bit more hopeful. I think that might be a good first step," he said.

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Discussion

124 comments
griffy2013
griffy2013

Too easy, yet no one is making any good shooters? Right...

holtrocks
holtrocks

Human nature is violent we always have been all through history and nothing will ever change that we are a violent species and violent games use this to they're advantage to craft rather enjoyable yet simplistic experiences, i for one enjoy these games but sometimes i want something more than " kill all enemies to progress the story " gameplay, so therefore i agree with this article. But one sure way to improve shooters from a single player aspect is to add morality choices much like Tell Tales The Walking Dead series where you really struggle to make the decisions.

dmdavenport
dmdavenport

Trouble is, if anyone made a game that was nothing but a story, no one would buy it.

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

The real question is why other developers are still making shitty military shooters after Spec Ops came out.  Did you guys not notice how they thoroughly deconstructed how retarded your genre is?  Have you no shame?

hafizlordfeast
hafizlordfeast

I find it that Gamespot able to have this interview considering that they never even appreciate the game itself. Whathever the reason, Spec Ops The LIne is considered a masterpiece. A unique representation from the many clone games.

Gravity_Slave
Gravity_Slave

"Violent games are creatively too easy, says Spec Ops writer"

lol spec-ops writer? Spec-ops?....ha, consider the source...

DinoBuster
DinoBuster

It's a reasonable observation. Compared to a less aggressive approach, it's easy to build a concept, setting, and back story for an action game that involves blasting the faces off of the guys who are bad. Especially when these games are marketed towards older gamers. Though I'm not a fan, Portal is a great example of a creative conceptual direction to take a product of this nature. Like the dude below mentioned.

jtthegame316
jtthegame316

don't care if a game is violent or not as long as it is fun to play why is this dev listening to the idoits who think real life violence comes from games

tim1935
tim1935

I think the Portal series is a good example of one that does something "different" and does it well.  Maybe there could be some more quality first person puzzlers.

leeko_link
leeko_link

"Violent games are creatively too easy, says Spec Ops writer."

Yeah from now on developer need to make games harder with only 2 lives, character die with 1-hit, enemies die in 10 hits, and if you Game Over then you start back at level 1 with everything you acquire gone. Ah the day when it was still Nintendo Hard, I betcha he'll scream like a scare girl if something like this happens again.

FarmFreshDX
FarmFreshDX

Everyone wants to say that immature kids buy FPS games, but that's totally untrue. If a game has merit, it sells. If it doesn't, it goes the way of the dinosaur. Why is it so strange that the most popular genre also sells the most copies over and over? There's nothing wrong with the genre in any way shape or form. It's how it's used that makes it creative or not. The Bioshock games are a prime example of that. A shooter at their core, but Bioshock changed the way games tell a story for the better.

Bregzeinkul
Bregzeinkul

Wouldn't it be harder, "creatively speaking", to create something new out of stuff that has been done to death?

Megavideogamer
Megavideogamer

The teenager set 12yrs-19yrs  buys the First person shooter games mainly. So this genre does make some money to a degree. But everyone chasing the FPS money pot. IS why this genre is stale. creativily stale. I never could understand how this has lasted this long. FSP shooter MP make the most money. But not very creative. How many rounds of FPS MP can anyone play?

ArataWata
ArataWata

They also sell better.


Cuz kids.

dogfather76
dogfather76

When this guy makes a legitimately good game, I will listen to what he has to say.  Spec Ops is by no means a masterpiece. 

Sardinar
Sardinar

Yeah, Witcher 2 or Bioshock Infinite were VERY easy to make. What a dumb fucking statement.

josh7845
josh7845

Are all films violent? Are all books violent? No, of course not. So why should video games be excused for varying their content?

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

while i agree that shooters have gone retarded in most cases, i dont see how 'hopeful' adds to the challenge element.

ydnarrewop
ydnarrewop

People are violent. Games are violent. There is money to be made by creating what a lot of people want to experience through fantasy. Yet, there is room for the pacifist as well.

franzito
franzito

The recipe for violent games is easy to follow but hard to understand. Do we really need violent games? What are their purpose? Real life violence is somewhat explainable through many things that make the world "unbalanced and unfair", leading some people to desperate acts whatever the reason. I see violent games as cathartic products, that can make you relieve stress and channel anger.

ViskiJack
ViskiJack

You cant make god games when you are worrying about money and how the damn thing is going to preform.We will have COD clones in FPS God of War clones in action adventures And Skyrim clones in RPG.I now hate those games even though a loved the original first games.Nobody really makes games that have their own identity outside of of these couple of hits.The industry is in the shiter.

bjornborgue
bjornborgue

I think his is a point completely without merit. Sounds more like ramblings brought about by violence fatigue than anything remotely resembling insight. What's next, metaphors are overrated?

Morphine_OD
Morphine_OD

Violence should not only be purposeful, but it has to have a point and a counterpoint. Violence only happens when two sides are equally convicted to their views and refuse to budge.

Evilnator
Evilnator

This game was fantastic, admitedly i've heard the story is very good prior to buying it, well that's the only thing that made me buy it really. Under the shooting and the violence which the developers made very satisfying and enjoyable, you start changing along with the game and its characters, and you do not realise this until the very end, and that's where all the build up pays off.

raiden3788
raiden3788

He is SO correct... Violence has been the easy way to emulate victory and combat since the very early days of video games. And after all those years, most studios are too lazy to find something new.

AHMED-EZIO
AHMED-EZIO

Very good . I do not know what killing is the main filler or the main content of all good games . I suggest simulating real life in an open world game as an alternative to killing people. Imagine with me if a game like GTA or Sleeping Dogs is out of violence I think it will be good even if for a sort of renewal.

grove12345
grove12345

FPS focus too much on story and characters IMO while leaving out major major major gaming mechanics... like teammate AI. Not scripted team AI.

Hidden and Dangerous 2 was pretty much go to mission complete different objective. No characters what so ever. B/c you chose your own team and they had their own skills. The game wasnt pushing you to like your team, you created and developed them yourself, so you liked them organically.

s_h_a_d_o
s_h_a_d_o

I'm not sure "easy" is apt - simplistic, perhaps?

never-named
never-named

Agreed. Very few games convey violence in an effective manner, and for better or worse Spec Ops: The Line sort of ruined every other game, that deals in violence, for me.

tightwad34
tightwad34

Walt Willams was a writer for this game? You mean the former basketball player? That would be some weird shit if it really was him. Highly unlikely of course. Anyway, anyone else out there know who in the hell I am talking about? Oh shit, here come the jokes.

wanaskug
wanaskug

Seriously I don't see any game play in this, why are most mmo games nowadays have this same problem? I'm going back to age of wushu, at least that game has depth.

kohle36
kohle36

@dmdavenport Really? So in your mind gameplay = violence? Lack of violence in a game doesn't mean forcing players to watch a movie.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

@leeko_link Wow.....geezus, how bad can you aim to miss a point?? 0_o

Dude, that wasn't even what he was getting at....clearly reading comprehension is not your friend, I take it? <_<

Komissar33188
Komissar33188

@leeko_link I think you missed the word "creatively". He's talking about how many FPSes become simple shooting galleries after a while, not whether or not they're easy or tough to play.

Llama345
Llama345

@Megavideogamer A lot.  Because you are playing against other humans so the experience is rarely the same. 

Thanatos2k
Thanatos2k

@dogfather76 Spec Ops is absolutely a masterpiece.  It's a genre destroying game ironically targeted at people who don't like the genre.  People who *do* like the genre are too stupid to understand its messages.

Germandude2
Germandude2

@dogfather76That's kind of ignorant considering he's the writer of the game. It's not like he was solely responsible for the generic gameplay spec ops had, he was responsible for the story. Which was good in the game. So he was actually responsible for the good parts of spec ops, which I think is worth giving him a listen. 

josh7845
josh7845

@Sardinar I think he means more in terms of engagement. The way BioShock engages (mostly) is through it's combat.

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

@Morphine_OD So true, indeed. Sadly, a many of histories lessons have been 'taught' w/ that mindset of 'purposeful' violence (for just and unjust reasons).

PumpkinBoogie
PumpkinBoogie

@Evilnator Dammit, it's comments like this that really make me tempted to try this......ugh, and I could get it free w/ PS+, too. 

But I really don't like shooters......dilemma, dilemma. -_-

dogfather76
dogfather76

We obviously have very different taste.  Nothing wrong with that though.  I'm glad you liked it but I just thought it was "ok" in comparison to some of the other stuff I played.