danny_dm_moore / Member

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On Taking Risks With Video Game Violence

Tomb Raider

Video games are fairly violent, I think that is a statement all gamers can agree with, if not totally then at least partially. The medium was built upon games that had you destroying enemies in order to win. When games were first around, this was mainly due to a level of technology that allowed for only a few things to be on screen at once, and an understanding of basic gameplay tropes.

Well its 2012, and games are starting to mature, and along with that comes high tech consoles and PC's that can deliver almost photo realistic visuals. The same tropes exist today, and killing enemies as a means of progress is so engrained in the medium that games that dont have it are relegated to the indie scene, the problem I have, though, is that no one is taking a risk with the violence in games.

This might be a controversial stance, but the whole world, and especially game critics such as the fine folks at Gamespot, are talking about how games need to move forward, to mature and grow as gamers mature and grow, and find it's own niche as entertainment, instead of trying to copy movies. The thing about that argument is that only AAA blockbuster games try to copy movies, and even then it is action movies with tons of inconsequential violence.

The movies that deal with the cost of violence, what actually happens to victims, their families and the emotional trauma of the ordeal they are put through are never, or rarely, given a video game make over. Take the movie Irreversible, for example, there is no game version of that. If you dont know the movie, look it up on IMDB (dont watch it, unless over 18 and have a strong stomach), done? Good, as you can see, there will never be a game about the same themes, but there should be.

When all the controversy over the new Tomb Raider reboot occurred earlier this year, I think I must have been the only one on earth who thought that Crystal Dynamicsshouldhave put the supposed 'rape' scene in the game. This is not because I condone the act, of course I don't, but I would have applauded the developers for having the stones to put something so brutal into a 'gritty' reboot of a title led by a female protagonist. At the end of the day, in that situation, that act of violence would have been a very real threat for a young women alone on a island full of gun toting criminals.

People talk about how video games need to mature, but no one seems to have the stones to do it properly, to take the risk and say "Our game deals with this stuff". The Last of Us, another game where such themes and acts of violence would make sense given the world around the characters, wont push this envelope either, despite high praise for how meaningful the combat in the game is right now.

This all stems from the fact that games are still considered as a past time for kids, and as such, developers and publishers are unwilling to put extreme violence into their game worlds because they know that kids will play those games because their parents refuse to pay attention to content warnings on game boxes. It will be those same parents that go crazy and say games are the devil when they discover what is actually in the game and what they are letting their kids play, despite clear warnings that only those over 18 should play them.

Game creators need to take risks with the violence in games, there is room for it. The medium is growing so fast and so many people are wanting more mature stories within the titles being created that by necessity the violence must also mature. I am not saying women should get assaulted in every game from this point onward, but if it makes sense in the context of the world the developers are trying to create, then why shouldn't it be a thing that they can put into their creation?

This is a controversial subject at the best of times, and it is true that not every game needs violence of any form in it, let alone highly sensitive and mature acts of brutality. However, creating titles that create highly violent worlds, but leave out the more brutal acts is not helping the medium, and is keeping it back from reaching the same level as movies or books.

I am fully aware that this post is the same as putting a crosshairs on my back, but no one else seems to asking why such acts of violence are left out of 'mature' games, so I guess I had better do it. If you think I am wrong, agree with me or are unsure, feel free to let me know.