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Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

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Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Krubixcube on Wed Apr 03, 2013 10:22 pm

http://www.polygon.com/2013/4/2/4174344/opinion-why-my-wife-wont-play-bioshock-infinite

First of all, this thread is not about video game violence affecting the real world so leave that conversation at the door. Instead the question is more, does the violence that has become routine in all video games necessarily serve the story or the atmosphere that game is creating? The question was spawned by the article above which referred to Bioshock Infinite (don't worry it's spoiler free so go ahead and read it)

Interesting article and I can't say I disagree at all. Would this game have been any less enjoyable with less violence? Like I said in the Bioshock Infinite Thread, in the game's many themes violence was not one of them so having it so blatantly on display with neckbreaking and blood splatters and heads literally exploding doesn't really make a point it just gratifies the current gaming audience.

Hell, would the game have suffered at all if they took out the amount of blood splatter and decal? I have a hard time arguing that it would.

I think the argument makes sense to what Neph saying about Bioshock's world feeling more complete as well. It made sense to murder everything in Bioshock 1 when they attacked you because they were mutants man! But in Infinite...not always. Given, I wasn't DEEPLY bugged by it but the article mentions something along the lines of a few big gunfights being replaced with intense conversation and I agree it would have worked much better.

The main question I have is though: do you think we'll look back on video games in 10/20 years and think that all the absolute necessity for violence in all games was a good idea? Not to say violence has no place in any video game just like a blockbuster without violence would be dull, nor do I argue that violence can't be fun but especially in story driven games does it particularly make sense?

But also, does it just feel like a bit of immaturity? Does one come across as sheltered or a goody-goody if they ask for less violence in a game? In certain parts of our community that attitude still reigns supreme, having all the head exploding and blood is still celebrated. This despite the average gaming age going up to the point where having those elements as some sort of reward or sign of "maturity" no longer applies. This comes across in the comments section of that article where one commenter describes the bloody violence in games like Call of Duty as: "While COD or Counterstrike are the modern versions of cops and robbers, Developers should consider when making these games that removing blood and gore can also make some people think that pulling a trigger on somebody is easy."

A statement which I think is retarded, and comes from someone who has never even seen real footage of someone being shot. The gushing fountains of blood we see in movies and games are not "realistic" violence they're just gore. Manufactured to look and feel satisfying. Will someone playing COD think any differently if the gore was turned up or down? Probably not, they'd probably just keep making jokes about your mom is an awesome lady.

Discuss.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Miraculous Kaydybug on Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:01 pm

I love ridiculous over the top violence in games, and other media (my favorite game this gen is No More Heroes 2, and my favorite anime is Elfen Lied, both are extremely violent), but the violence has to fit the game's style, story and tone. Like having heads exploding in Metal Gear Solid (not counting Rising) would just feel weird. A game that rewards a player for not killing having blood fly all over the place just would be off.

I can't speak for Infinite, but I'm actually kind of surprised it's that violent. Just didn't seem like that kind of game not really sure whether it makes me more interested or less interested in it yet.

I get what the comment you quoted is trying to say but he worded it awful and probably doesn't understand his own point. The reason violence in games, movies etc is over-the top, cartoony, etc is because violence in media can't be realistic because actual violence (on the level of killing) is actually disturbing and not entertaining at all. I'll laugh at setting people on fire cutting off their heads and other shit in games, but i can't even bring myself to go hunting. I did it a few times when i was a teenager, but shooting animals is just uncomfortable for me. I might have cried a couple of times, m-maybe. Though i don't have problems punching people so I don't know.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by volvocrusher on Wed Apr 03, 2013 11:38 pm

Well I'm sure those people deserved it. It's like why I was laughing when Hitler died in Inglorious Bastards- almost any other historical figure and I would have thought it was disturbing. That's when violence works for me- when the guy on the receiving end is a real dick. The bigger the dick, the gorier I want it. I mean, that cop whose brains you scrambled was about to do something really fucked up, but he was just a part of a crowd and that was too violent. It didn't feel satisfying, it was out of place and disturbing.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by avidacridjam on Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:51 am

Kayshire Cat wrote:I love ridiculous over the top violence in games, and other media (my favorite game this gen is No More Heroes 2, and my favorite anime is Elfen Lied, both are extremely violent), but the violence has to fit the game's style, story and tone.

Exactly. Context is everything.

I don't intentionally seek violent games but I've played my fair share of them. I haven't played Bioshock Infinite either. I've done my research on the game to know that its violent and have read a handful of reviews to get an consensus of whether or not it stands out. This same argument occurred when Tomb Raider (another I haven't played yet) came out. These games are M Rated and they are being marketed to a certain demographic.

I feel for the writer's wife that she can't enjoy the game due to its violent content but I wonder if she knew what she was getting into? In this internet/information age it's almost essential that you learn whatever you can about whatever entertainment you seek before you try it. Maybe she knew and it just didn't work out anyway.

A lot of the violent games I've played in the past had violence that was clearly fantastical or surrealistic and fit the worlds they inhabited, like the God of War series or Mortal Kombat. The Metal Gear Solid series had a handful of deaths that were shocking despite the crazy-ass world/story that was depicted.

I keep hearing that same criticism of the Uncharted series, about how Drake mows down dozens of baddies and doesn't seem to care. I disagree with that. The game was designed with gunfights in mind. I'm sorry but those guys nine times out of ten opened fire on you whether you provoked them or not. They drew first blood, so fuck 'em.

The decision of whether or not to include blood and gore is a decision the developer must make. If the game is unappealing to me because I feel the violence is gratuitous, it's my decision as a consumer to decide not to play it but I don't make that decision for anyone else nor do I want to. If I want to be immersed in a similar world or setting with less violence I'm sure I can find an alternative.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Krubixcube on Thu Apr 04, 2013 11:09 am

But I still feel that's treating violence or an aversion to violence as the same as being prude but I'd more ask is it all necessary? Do we need the gore? The fact that the wife was absolutely fascinated by the story (which is the main draw of that game) but didn't get into the gore is a fair point though.

I think the only issue I take with that argument is why should "M Rated" be associated with blood and gore? Why should someone who picks up an M rated game automatically think that? We certainly don't think that when we pick up an R rated film. Now, I don't think that this woman was saying "HOW DARE THEY MAKE A VIOLENT GAME?" she was just enthralled by the game but couldn't handle the level of gore in it...something that isn't really important to the story.

I think it's a bit too easy just to say "Well, if you don't like it get out" because that just makes video games more exclusive. I agree, games like God of War...you ABSOLUTELY know what you're getting into with those. But Bioshock Infinite isn't really advertised as a bloody game, I think it has a LOT to offer in its story and having even an option to turn off or tune down the gore in the options wouldn't hurt the core engagement of that game at all. Then you get into self-censorship issues and such...and I feel that.

I would argue that violence just needs to grow up along with the other conventions that are used in design. Violence is a tool, and it should be on an adjustable slider as it's needed not just "E games have no blood. M games have people exploding and blood fountains". Obviously generalizing there but still...

Given, Tarantino, for instance, made a distinction in an interview between what he called movie violence (the fun stuff) and actual violence (the hard to watch stuff) and there's a point for both.

I just think the medium has matured enough that we can have an M rated game without having loads of gore in it. I'm not squeamish at all but I can think of a few games where I thought "did we really need that level of violence?"

We're still in an era where we simultaneously argue that video games have grown up and yet we still celebrate games for having gory features. And again, I'd never ever argue that there's not a place for games like that. There definitely is.

But here's the crux: I think in some games, violence has become a tacked on feature, much like multiplayer or shiny graphics engines. It's more of a tick on a box than it is a thought out decision.

The thing is, despite that article I don't TOTALLY agree with it. I think there's a place for a certain level of violence in Bioshock, I think it fits with that world. But could the same effect be achieved with less gore? Yeah...probably. The game does some AMAZING things with its score in that you get this dissonant-ass violin when you get a headshot which is much more shocking than seeing the head explode. But yeah, Bioshock is not a game that could have no blood, but like Greenman said, there are a few scenes near the beginning where it just seems a bit juvenile in the level of violence (against seemingly innocent people as well).

Yeah, we're absolutely immune to it because we've been playing games for years and we don't notice. But I think we're old enough to be able to honestly say whether or not a game could benefit with less of it.

Also, I don't buy the Uncharted thing either, for the record. Yeah...it's true that Drake mows down loads of baddies, but that game's story was never making a comment on violence, just like Indiana Jones doesn't make a serious comment on then nazis.

But then you have games like Mass Effect, where i personally found a lot of the conversations a lot more engaging than the actual firefights. More development into non-combat systems would be a great way to build tension in future games.

I feel like violence is like a horror monster. If you see too much of it it kind of loses its punch. It's the THREAT of violence that really makes you tense as hell. I think that's why Stealth games work for me so well, because you don't want to be caught.

Also, God of War and Mortal Kombat are absolutely geared for gore, and in those games they work. No argument there.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by avidacridjam on Thu Apr 04, 2013 2:13 pm

There's no shame in not being a gorehound, just like there's no shame in not wanting to see explicit sex or nudity (although, what the hell Wink ) or strong language. It's just stating a preference and while it may shut you out of certain films/games/books/music, that's a decision you, as the consumer, has to make and no one can make it for you.

Games have evolved but there is still an audience for certain experiences. Irrational Games knew they were putting out a game that's part of an established franchise, which comes with certain expectations on behalf of an audience that has responded to its previous entries. If you're making a game with a multi-million dollar budget of a certain genre and belonging to a franchise, I'm sure the conversation of how violent it can be came up. They made a decision and stuck with it.

Games have matured over the few decades they've been around, yes, but games like this still have an audience willing to buy and play them and as long as that audience exists, games like that will be made. That of course doesn't mean this is the only kind of game that matters or gets made and these will not be the only games that endure years down the line. We can always have the conversation about whether or not violence benefits the game but that only helps us decide if we should play it.

Not all R rated films are violent, yes, but games are different than films and I'd like to know the title of an M rated game that isn't just an electronic paintball simulator or a beat-em-up. Heavy Rain, perhaps, but what else and there a built-in audience for that? The ESRB rating (and content description on the back of the game) serves a certain purpose. Again, if you have certain filters and you don't do your research about your entertainment choices, you run a greater risk of being turned off by what you face.

I've heard people make the same criticisms of the first Bioshock; how the bleak presentation of Rapture and the scenario or the horror elements of the encounters drove them away. By now I read enough or listened to enough podcasts to have a general understanding of the world of Bioshock Infinite, its setup and the characters you face and it doesn't sound like a pleasant place to be in. Right then and there, I have enough info to know whether its right for me or not.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Captain N on Thu Apr 04, 2013 8:30 pm

I think it really depends on the game, like it's setting, themes, and stuff. I'd much rather take a non-violent approach in games when it gives you that option, but sometimes violence is the only option you have. Like Fallout 3 or NV, it's only natural that the game is going to have violence in it because of how people are trying to survive and make a living under the harsh conditions of the wasteland. People are just looking out for themselves.

Sometimes you can talk your way out of a gun fight, which is good but sometimes you have no choice but to fight. Like sometimes when you play Fallout 3, you're just minding your own buisness traveling the wasteland, some guy comes up to you to give em some caps, you have the option to give him the caps or open fire on him. That really is up to you if you want to give him the caps or blow his brains out.

I don't generally mind violence in games, it's been that way since the start. But I still think it has to do with what the developer is doing for the context of the game. I still think if you don't like a game, don't play it. Like how are you going to force yourself to play something you don't like? If you do, you're obviously not going to enjoy it, or who knows, if you give it a shot you may end up liking the game.

And no one is saying to drop or tone down the violence all together, it just has to fit in with the context of the game, plus the themes it has.
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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Nephilimi on Thu Apr 04, 2013 10:57 pm

Violence is overused and poorly used in video games period. It certainly works in some games but the majority of the time it is out of place. Bioshock Infinite is a particularly bad example. It's just so absurdly unnecessary and out of place. That being said a good bone crushing punch is super satisfying in Batman AA. And there's a place for the ultra violent for the point of being ultra violent games.

To me it's like putting big boobed, attractive women in games or models in the Spike video game awards. Somewhere some goof things gamers are slobbering fools that appreciate this kind of stuff. Slap some violence in because that's what those apes enjoy.

I agree with you completely about "realistic" violence. I was actually just talking to a friend last week about how interesting an actually realistic shooter would be. I've done fatality inquires, police shooting, etc and people getting shot in real life is nothing like it is in a game. I can list a half dozen really interesting misconceptions about guns that are false in movies.

EDIT: I just read your second post Twolf and I just absolutely agree with everything you said. I don't have anything to add.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Krubixcube on Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:58 pm

Yeah, the thing is, and again, I think it's important. Having over the top violence in a game like GTA makes sense. The games (at least in their heyday) were kind of parodies of the crime genres and self referential. Just like violence in a Tarantino movie isn't disturbing because the it fits the semi-comical/over-the-top tone.

Saw another post on infinite that brought up a good point though saying "BioShock Infinite is in many ways so, so close to being That Game, the one we can show to our non-gamer friends and say "See? Look at this! It is so awesome! Check out the story! It's like LOST! How neat is this?" But it's not That Game, because it's so hilariously, egregiously violent that a large number of people will never give it a chance." (Kotaku)

And that brings up another point. Yeah, we can say "well, if people don't want to play it...DON'T" by why should we be so inclusive? Why should we push people out of every "mature" game because "mature" inherently means gore and violence, and lately, a million uses of the word "fuck" which is another topic entirely.

Because fuck is a fucking fantastic word, but it needs to be used properly. Like Deadwood...so many, but so good.

But back on topic, even if it's not HORRIFYING to other people. I think a lot of people would look at over the top violence in the most serious of our games and say "...well this is dumb, it's like a teenage boy's wet dream" and they wouldn't be wrong...

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by SanAndreasX on Sun Apr 07, 2013 8:47 pm

I like over-the-top violence myself, as long as it fits the game. Ultra-graphic violence would be horribly out of place in a game like Ni no Kuni or Valkyria Chronicles, not so much in Fallout 3/NV or MK.

I grew up gaming in the 80s. I was there when Mortal Kombat came out, and I played adult-oriented PC adventure games like Leisure Suit Larry, The 7th Guest, or Tex Murphy when I was in my teens. I also remember Nintendo's content restrictions patterned after the Hays Code that the movie industry used from 1930 to the 1960s when the MPAA ratings system came out.

At my age, I don't feel the need to hoot over Sub-Zero ripping someone's spine out like it's cool and edgy. Only 13-year-olds think that what passes for "mature" content in video games is cool. At the same time, I'm still amazed we're fighting the same battle over video game violence thirty years later.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Krubixcube on Sun Apr 07, 2013 9:32 pm

I'm not sure if you guys are with me on what I'm necessarily saying though. I'm not complaining that violence exists, I just think it's a tool that could be used better. Whether that be to make it more or less violent doesn't matter, as long as it fits the game its in.

The point being, sometimes violence is used in a way that doesn't really fit...but it's thrown in because I feel a lot of gamers still get their panties in a bunch if a game has "dumbed down" its violence which is ridiculous.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Miraculous Kaydybug on Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:13 am

The gaming community at large sees "dumbing down" anything be it difficulty, gameplay, story, or even stuff like violence as catering to FILTHY CASUALS. Or at least to vocal minority does. I think anything can be used to broaden the audience, but a lot of gamers see making any type of game more accessible as some kind of betrayal.

Just look at DmC it was made in a way to appeal to a different and broader crowd, but goddamn all the insane hate it got was well insane. Some people even went as far as do things like petition the Obama to have it removed from shelves.

I think developers need to find a middle ground where they can please both newcomers and gamers, but that's easier said than done

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Krubixcube on Mon Apr 08, 2013 12:19 am

I think that's a very good point. That idea that it's a betrayal does seem to run through a lot of the community.

Not only that, but I think the reason Infinite is easy to take issue with is because Ken Levine BLATANTLY said that the ad campaign of the game was aimed towards frat boys playing halo, to get those people who wouldn't be drawn by just the story. And it makes you wonder how much of the violence in the game was that same kind of catering.


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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Nephilimi on Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:29 am

I agree with Twolf. Saying something to the effect of, "well violence has it's place and can be used effectively and works for some games..." etc etc etc, are all just empty statements. Of course they're true, but the real issue is just that games in general have too much violence. It's used too cheaply and far too often. Just like big breasted women or bald tough guys. And it does turn people off.

Levine was very honest in that hour interview I watched. They asked about how Jimquisition criticized the box art for putting Elizabeth on the back. His response was that they poled thousands of people to find the best box art that would appeal to the most amount of gamers. So while he didn't like relegating her to the back, he said that he wouldn't let this entire great project that so many people worked on failed or sell fewer copies because of the box art. He seems to be a very genuine guy, a realist. So I can totally see him allowing this out of place violence to appeal to a larger market. Based on the interview, I assume he would see it as a small artistic concession for a much larger gain. That's how it feels to me.

That's the insulting thing to me. Just like clueless super models at the Spike VGAs. Some executive thinks I'm an idiot because I play games and that I will just enjoy senseless violence for violence sake. Watching a trailer with hardcore executions in Killzone 3 will get me excited for the game just because. I remember that brutal melee kills were one of the main selling points they kept hammering on for that game.

And I'm one of those vocal minority against dumbing down games for the filthy casuals. I hate that shit. Making games more accessible is a betrayal if that accessibility costs the game. There's absolutely nothing worse for me than a core game mechanic getting nerfed because it's too complicated. FF13 should be an insult to anyone's intelligence. Dragon Age 2 was a fucking joke. Dead Space 3 is a slap in the face. Killzone 3 makes me cry. All of those games fundamentally changed as a sequel to appeal to more people and destroyed the previous game.

But putting an easy mode into Xcom is an awesome idea (there was a big stink about it that I just don't get). It doesn't effect my gaming experience at all. I can play on Ironman Hardcore and someone else can enjoy super easy. The game itself doesn't change, they just swap some stats. Or giving an easy mode in Dark Souls. No worries, so long as its the same game with some shifted stats to make it more accessible.

So I would say the same thing. If violence is integral to a series and I heard they reduced it to make it more accessible I would see it as a betrayal. But I can't really think of any game off the top of my head where violence was absolutely necessary for my enjoyment.


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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Krubixcube on Mon Apr 08, 2013 4:08 am

No no man, you've made some good points as well. People saying games are too violent just because a game is violent is...yeah, stupid. And that does happen, and it will happen. When people complain Dead Space is too violent well...it's a gore game, of course it's violent you fucking stupid people.

I think Neph actually articulates it quite well, I see violence being like big boobs in video games at this current moment, I feel sometimes it's thrown in for no reason other than to well, be there because that's what all gamers like apparently. But sometimes it's just not needed.

I think 9 times out of 10 that big breasted woman is probably be used exactly the way she was intended. To be a woman for boobs to look at. But it's only really jarring when you get a wonderfully deep, complex character who is utterly sexualized because one part of the dev team didn't talk to the other. It'd be like if Alyx Vance had huge tits, short shorts and a more model-face but the same personality. It would kind of create this weird disconnect with her character because she's a very well realized character and reducing her to visual stereotypes would be weird.

Same with violence, I'd be (maybe) more generous than Neph and say 75% of the time, the violence used in games is used exactly how they want it to be "yaaaay, blood explosion".

And you are PERFECTLY valid in disagreeing with this statement: but stuff like the big boobies, the huge levels of gore, lots of swearing (especially that last one) are kind of juvenile things. That does not mean that they can't be enjoayble. God knows I love me some of all of those things sometimes, and I'd defend their right to exist in games to the death. But the fact of the matter is sometimes they can kind of hamper the feel of a game.

Being the film-centric person I am I think the only way I can argue it is with movies just to try to nail the feel of what I'm going for.

1. If Jurassic Park had a sex scene in it would that feel out of place? Jurassic park, very kid-friendly, rollar coaster type of experience. It wouldn't ruin the film but I think most people would agree a sex scene in that movie would come out of no where, it wouldn't fit the tone of the rest of the movie. That movie had its fair share of violence but it was a survival/monster movie at heart so good on it.

2. If Drive, an ultraviolent movie (and well-used at that) decided to have its main female (Irene) a busty, dark haired, short shorts wearing girl would the relationship between the Driver and Irene feel the same? Again, it wouldn't necessarily ruin the film but I think most people who aren't teenagers would probably see the shot tilting up from her legs to her tits and think "...Huh, didn't really need that."

So, rhetoric aside, this shit isn't RUINING video games, I think it's just me thinking "huh...didn't really need that."

The thing about movie violence, and I'm quoting Tarantino now is its very self-referential, seeing those explosions of blood makes you VERY aware you're watching a movie. Whereas that more realistic violence, when it draws back a bit does more to keep you immersed. That's why in Django (SPOILERS when that shootout in Candy's mansion happens it almost feels like a release from the rest of the very real violence we've seen before it. So with game violence, if you go too violent, it makes you very much aware, however subconsciously, that this is a vidya game, which can be a bad thing.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

Post by Nephilimi on Mon Apr 08, 2013 5:22 am

Like pspiddy said, a lot of this is subjective. We could break apart each game and point to the violence and probably have heated discussion about each one. My wife shakes her head and makes fun of me for most of the violence in my games but then she watched almost all of the Walking Dead because it worked so well in the game.

Again in general it's just used so poorly and used as such a cheap gimmick and in general it turns people away. Just like how women are used very poorly in general. I actually really enjoyed Elizabeth in Infinite. She was a really refreshing female character. I found her surprisingly (attractive isn't the right word) but engaging because he was so normal looking and sounding... and she didn't have a fucking fake british accent like every female video game character.

I think Bioshock Infinite is a game where most people would feel the violence was really out of place. Like a sex scene in Jurassic Park.

Violence isn't ruining games for me either but I find myself saying "really?" more and more. And I enjoy a good violent game.

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Re: Violence in Video Games - no, not in that way...

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