The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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isiolia
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Re: Violence in Games

by isiolia Sat Jun 16, 2018 3:12 pm

Key-Glyph wrote:And I suppose I'm also interested to hear what you guys make of crowds supposedly going wild for contextless gore, especially in light of the conversation about wanting the artistic motives of the developer to be known. Regardless of whether it was a reaction to The Last of Us or not, does an audience response like that creep out those of you who would prefer explanations to justify an extreme level of gore? Does it affect how you interpret the developer's stated motives if it seems like there's a huge market for stand-alone gratuity that they might be playing into?


I think, to a point, E3 reaction type stuff has to be taken with a grain of salt. The crowd there might just be excited to be at E3 or the presentation in general. Maybe they're stoked about seeing new footage of a game, impressed by technical aspects, or any number of things other than being directly excited by the gore. Can be hard to say for all of the games shown, since some of the presentations were purely videos, and others (like Sony's) were more involved for parts of them. They had live musical performances leading into a couple games, themed venues, that sort of stuff. So, coverage made a point to show some crowd reactions.
Personally though, I do remember some of the reveals in years past where I found the audience reaction to be disturbing. Not to harp on Mortal Kombat...but...when they showed the latest one on stage and people were cheering for the fatalities and such...yeah. Though I think that was also the year where people pointed out the number of severed heads in trailers, and other wanton violence.

I don't think the developers have secondary motives there. For TLOU2, I played the first game, and the rationale given for the second in interviews I've seen makes sense. Also, as I'd mentioned in the other thread, what's typical for similar media (The Road for example). To me it's like wondering if a movie like Platoon is pandering to the slasher audience. Both may be violent, but, to very different ends - enough that I don't think there's crossover appeal.
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Re: Violence in Games

by Erik_Twice Sat Jun 16, 2018 8:36 pm

I just think the medium just takes violence for granted.

That is, when games show this kind of extreme violence like decapitation or even ripping somene's organs out of their live body, nobody thinks much about it. Nobody seems to think it's strange or even extreme. The average AAA game has unrealistic fountains of blood where someone gets their head chopped off and it comes out like a hose, but nobody seems to realize it's weird. It's just how things are, something completely apolitical, that doesn't affect the message nor what the game is about.

I think the best example of violence being "taken for granted" is Uncharted's "Nathan Drake is a mass murderer debate". Simply put: There's no debate for me, if your characters kills hundreds upon hundreds of people in gruesome ways he is a mass murderer. If you didn't intend to make him one, then don't make him kill all those people. Think about it, it's beyond creepy and weird that killing hundreds of people is supposed to be something neutral that doesn't reflect on the player's character or the themes of the game.

This is actually one of the reasons why the newer Wolfestein games make me so uneasy: The protagonists seem to reflect fascistic values better than the game's Nazis. The Nazis in Wolfestein don't actually resemble Nazis. They are unrealistic, dehumanized caricatures mixed with exploitation tropes (Sexy nazi women, ocultism) and racism. Blazkowicz, on the other hand, is the kind of man fascism likes. He beats fascim, not by believing in democracy, in fairness or justice but by being better at violence than his opponents. He is very much an ubermensch and the political marketing (Punch a nazi) only makes the game look more in line with fascist thinking than, say, democratic values. Was this the intended message? Of course not, but it's the impression it gives me in practice.

I think games should really go back to basics. What is hyperviolence trying to portray? Are Tarantino-like blood fountains truly the best way to conveny the game's themes? What do you intend to say by having the protagonist kill hundreds of people? Is it really cool to chop someone's head off?
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I'm completely with Exhuminator in that the level of violence in video games is disproportionate. How many best-selling novels have the "good guy" kill hundreds of people? How many movies have you seen where the protagonist chops people's heads off? How many songs do you hear on the radio about mutilating people?

Just compare the popularity of romance in games with the popularity of extreme violence. It's completely out of whack! Grand Theft Auto got recalled because it could be hacked to include consensual sex, but smashing someone's genitals with a wrench and then pulling his teeth with plyers didn't even make mainstream news. That's not normal on any reasonable level.
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isiolia
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Re: Violence in Games

by isiolia Sun Jun 17, 2018 12:37 am

Erik_Twice wrote:I think games should really go back to basics. What is hyperviolence trying to portray? Are Tarantino-like blood fountains truly the best way to conveny the game's themes? What do you intend to say by having the protagonist kill hundreds of people? Is it really cool to chop someone's head off?


Perhaps the difficulty there is that you don't get much more rudimentary, in terms of game mechanics, than removing opposing pieces from the board. I think most of the games aren't really setting out to "say" anything by having the player kill hundreds of enemies over the course of the game. Most of the time, they're just kind of doing what the majority of action and RPG games have done more or less since the start of their genres. Filling a game with content like that adds up. Examples like you gave are probably easier to hold up because other aspects of the games are more developed, so the mass-killing sticks out. Or maybe the greater detail just makes it register as that, where when Link or Cloud do effectively the same thing, it doesn't.
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Re: Violence in Games

by PresidentLeever Mon Jun 18, 2018 3:03 pm

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Re: Violence in Games

by BogusMeatFactory Mon Jun 18, 2018 5:14 pm

Erik_Twice wrote:--
I'm completely with Exhuminator in that the level of violence in video games is disproportionate. How many best-selling novels have the "good guy" kill hundreds of people? How many movies have you seen where the protagonist chops people's heads off? How many songs do you hear on the radio about mutilating people?



I would argue that the vast majority of games released in a year do not include hyper realistic glorified violence. Even of what was shown at E3 this year, only a small handful of the titles featured had hyper realistic levels of violence.

I find that violence in games comes in three categories. The first is satire, where the violence is so insanely off the charts that it is satire. I know that all of you are condemning mortal Kombat but the game series is so ridiculously violent in a way that is not a glorification. It is played up for shock and OMFGWTFBBQ!

The second category tries to use its violence to highlight the horrors of humanity. Games like the last of us used violence in a realistic manner for a message wether you agrees to it or not.

The third category is the glorification of violence. It encourages violence and says, "VIOLENCE IS AWESOME!" That is the stuff that is wrong morally. Games like manhunt were really all about the fetishization of violence.

Also on the uncharted being a horrifying event because of how many people you kill.... play metal slug, or contra, or shinobi or any of that. Count how many people you kill. And of you say that the graphics aren't as good, realize that when you kill someone in uncharted they yell and fall over. No spurts of blood. Metal slug is more visually violent than uncharted.
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Re: Violence in Games

by dsheinem Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:25 pm

^why do you believe it is immoral to glorify violence? What would be the edge case games for *just* crossing the line across the three classifications/categories you are arguing for?
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Re: Violence in Games

by BogusMeatFactory Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:49 pm

dsheinem wrote:^why do you believe it is immoral to glorify violence? What would be the edge case games for *just* crossing the line across the three classifications/categories you are arguing for?


I think it is immoral to encourage and revel in the idea. I feel that very few do so, mind you.

The later mortal Kombat games I feel are edge cases compared to the schlockey nature of the older titles as for a title that edges on the line in satire.

I honestly haven't put much thought into what would be extreme cases for the other categories to be quite honest.
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MrPopo
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Re: Violence in Games

by MrPopo Mon Jun 18, 2018 7:57 pm

Bogus, it sounds like the point you are making is that steak is ok, but veal is not. To me they are equally moral or immoral as your personal philosophy dictates.
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Re: Violence in Games

by Exhuminator Mon Jun 18, 2018 10:52 pm

BogusMeatFactory wrote:Also on the uncharted being a horrifying event because of how many people you kill.... play metal slug, or contra, or shinobi or any of that. Count how many people you kill. And of you say that the graphics aren't as good, realize that when you kill someone in uncharted they yell and fall over. No spurts of blood. Metal slug is more visually violent than uncharted.

The difference is this guy...

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...is a developed character, shown to be a loveable goofball, with a good heart, who wants to help his friends. He's given a backstory (deep-sea salvage expert raised by nuns) and a job (treasure hunting) that don't really correlate with being a mass murdering marauder. Meanwhile Metal Slug's protagonists are soldiers, Contra's protagonists are guerrilla warfare experts, and Shinobi's Joe Mushashi is a trained ninja of the Oboro clan. Those protagonists' actions fall more in line with their origins. Meanwhile Nathan's behavior seems disingenuous to his personality and motive, making murdering hundreds of thugs seem surreal.

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I'm pretty sure this whole thread spun off from some comments I made in the E3 thread. It seems to have gone in a direction I didn't originally intend. My original concern was not that violent games shouldn't exist, or that people shouldn't be able to enjoy violence in games. I often enjoy violence in games, as long as the context is there. Sometimes violence in gaming is cathartic. It lets us satisfy the primal cravings of our inner-caveman urges in a way that doesn't actually harm anyone (physically at least) or land us in jail.

That said, my original point of contention was that TLOU2's trailers showed off extremely expensively produced violence, with little context, seemingly with the intention of attracting interest solely on that spectacle alone. As Bone said; "extremely low IQ" trailers. Sex and violence has always sold media, I'm not oblivious to that. It's just personally I would love to see those millions of dollars spent on showing women getting beaten with a hammer or disemboweled, instead spent on something like a highly polished mountain climbing adventure, open world flight simulator, or SCUBA diving RPG. Fresh ideas that celebrate beauty, innovation, and expansion of this medium's potential... at a production scale that would entice larger audiences. I'd love to see big AAA game development money spent more often on games that aren't simply murder simulators with B movie plots. That's all I was saying.
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Re: Violence in Games

by noiseredux Mon Jun 18, 2018 11:04 pm

Either way it's been an interesting conversation with well thought out opinions on all fronts. I appreciate that.

I didn't watch E3 myself so not really sure what was presented. I'm personally super excited for this new Jurassic World game which is a theme park sim with dinosaurs. Great idea in my opinion. Not an AAA game but I'm glad cool stuff like this is coming out even if it is under represented.
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