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.

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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.

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"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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