Games are 'way too violent' says Gears of War writer

Tom Bissell says games not entirely blameless in the ongoing debate about violence, developers "consistently underestimate" audience intelligence.

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Gears of War writer Tom Bissell believes games are, in large part, overly saturated in violence. Speaking to The New Yorker, Bissell suggested that games should not be left out of the ongoing violent video games debate.

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"I've been asked a few times to weigh in on the 'violent video games' debate, but I hesitate to because I feel like the N.R.A. set a trap by shining a spotlight on video games," Bissell said. "Which isn't to say that I think that games are entirely blameless. Games, generally speaking, are probably way too violent."

Since the December 14 schoolhouse massacre in Newtown, Conn. that left 20 children and six adults dead, games have frequently been brought up in the ongoing debate about violence in the United States. A new report this week claimed the Sandy Hook shooter was a "deranged" gamer, while West Virginia senator Jay Rockefeller said the industry must lessen the "obscene levels of violence" in today's games.

Bissell was also quoted in The New York Times this week, where he discussed the difficulties of crafting compelling story for shooter games.

"The storytelling possibilities of the shooter are fascinating but they're also very, very constraining," Bissell said. "A shooter story, just by virtue of the fact that you the character, you the player, spend 99 percent of the game looking down the barrel of a gun, there’s really only so much stuff you can do."

He added that developers have made a habit of underestimating the intelligence of gamers.

"Being completely mindful that there's this mysterious person called the player sitting out there, who you're trying to give context to, is the really addictively fun part," Bissell said. "But it’s also the really, really challenging part. I think game developers right now consistently underestimate the intelligence of their audience."

For more on Bissell's latest work, check out GameSpot's review-in-progress for Gears of War: Judgment.

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