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violence not for kids

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#1
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Video games are often violent. There are non-violent games, but the vast majority of games involve violence as a core mechanic to progress.

Is this okay in today's society?

This year's E3 triggered a reaction from much of the games press that so much of what was shown was just excessively violent. Stabbings, shootings etc all made up the core of what gaming was supposedly about, if you took E3 as a guide to gaming today.

There are so many different types of violence in videogames today.
We have...
Assassin's Creed involving everything from stealth stabbings in the back or neck, to slicing with huge axes.


We have God of War with it's rather extreme depictions of violence, gore and utter brutality


I know it's last gen, but we have Killer7 with it's uber stylish violence



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#2
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(Split due to limited media allowed in a single post)
Fallout 3 introduced a gameplay mechanic where you could target specific body parts, then see your attack play out in slow motion
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vHr3Y8ZIhGM

There's Mortal Kombat and Sniper Elite V2, which take this whole slow motion aspect to another level, by showing internal organs bursting and being damaged by bullets/blows
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4sSYGo__Ig
http://youtu.be/MAFzqUrmWXQ

Warren Spector is probably the most quotable opponent to the current trend of 'Ultraviolence'.

Epic Mickey producer Warren Spector had only a limited view of E3 from within meeting rooms, but he still saw plenty of gruesome violence. "The ultraviolence has to stop," Spector told GI.biz. "We have to stop loving it. I just don't believe in the effects argument at all, but I do believe that we are fetishizing violence, and now in some cases actually combining it with an adolescent approach to sexuality. I just think it's in bad taste. Ultimately I think it will cause us trouble."

Spector said he left Eidos in 2004 because of the over-the-top violence he saw overwhelming that company's lineup. "We've gone too far," he said. "The slow-motion blood spurts, the impalement by deadly assassins, the knives, shoulders, elbows to the throat. You know, Deus Ex had its moments of violence, but they were designed - whether they succeeded or not I can't say - but they were designed to make you uncomfortable, and I don't see that happening now." To call Spector's newer efforts "Mickey Mouse games" would be taken as a compliment in multiple ways, we expect.


http://www.joystiq.c...-going-too-far/

What I think would be good to discuss, is your views on this kind of thing. Is some of this violence okay, and others not? Why is this? Is it the context of the violence, the choice of victim, the reasons the character is performing the violent acts?
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#3
PlasmaDavid

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The man is on the money. We're desensitised to violence in vidya games. That being said, it really depends on the frequency and depiction of violence. Something like the Mortal Kombat remake just comes off across as STUPIDLY violent, and lacks impact to an understanding adult audience. Whereas I found Deadliest Warrior, a C grade game by all accounts, to be pretty impactful due to the "realistic" nature of health and injury you'd sustain, playing as figures from human history.

As long as we're "protecting" our kids from violent content, and of course a LOT of parents aren't, then I believe as mentally sound adults we're fine playing violent games. Of course as gaming and the amount and type of violence in games grows, there will always be the "fringe loony crowd" who does get affected by what they play. Hell, I think violence can even be a GOOD thing to witness in a fictional setting, as long as it's re-enforcing the whole "well crap, that's horrible and I'm glad it doesn't happen in civilised society".
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#4
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One opinion I have heard which makes some sense to me, is that technology has become so much more powerful at such a speed that it's outpaced the ability for videogames to really mature with it's storytelling and narrative devices. It took the film industry decades before it had anything resembling special effects, and by that point, though the medium was still young, they had at least some idea of what worked and what didn't.
That's not to say that developers have no idea what they're doing, just that action games seem to have rarely moved past the 'kill all the enemies in this area' mechanic we has back in the late 80's, only the graphics have improved.
At it's core, God of War is a modern Streets of Rage with extra combo systems, graphics and a 3D world thrown on top.
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#5
PlasmaDavid

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^ Gotta agree completely. Film took a long time to "mature" though of course it had its various masterpieces. You could say the exact same about gaming. That's why I don't like a lot of AAA titles. They may have brilliant moments, or brilliant aspects of gameplay/dialogue/story etc, but unless the blend is just right I'm only going to feel like I'm playing a lot of missed oppotunities. Even when something isn't meant to be brain food, even when it's meant to just be a lulzy heap of explosions, you have to get THAT just right.
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#6
Darth Robbo

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I have to say I have a rather mixed opinion on the constant theme of conflict and, as a direct consequence, violence in games. While I enjoy games like God of War and TF2 immensely, they are decidedly violent games. God of War features a variety of brutal finishing moves by a (ridiculously) buff Greek dude, and TF2 is a mixture of cartoony, silly presentation overlaid with a theme of war and conflict (which sees a lot of exploding body parts). Having said that, I feel that these two franchises represent a 'type' of violence that fits in with the overall feel and theme of the games.

On the other hand, judging from about half an hour of gameplay from Lollipop Chainsaw (I watched Catfish play for a while), the violence is so over the top that it moves away from being 'silly' to actually being a rather offensive game in a way. I feel like, where Mortal Kombat is over-the-top bloody and gory, it doesn't pull any punches in being a gory game about brutal warriors trying to smash each other's faces in. Lollipop Chainsaw, on the other hand, seems to have a completely childish way of approaching violence; while it might be argued that this is the point, I have found it to trivialize violence, rather than making it comedic. TF2, on the other hand, pulls this off far more eloquently.

I suppose I do support the notion of violence in videogames, because it's simply not fun to watch zombies die without a hint of blood, and then disappear before they hit the ground (L4D2 anyone?). However, I find violence to be far more suitable when it befits the overall theme of the game.

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#7
PlasmaDavid

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^ Hmm well I found what I saw of God of War III to be gory and violent enough to turn me completely off as it was so gratuitous. Not that Greek mythology is PG by any means, but I just find the idea of a hack'n'slash where the violence is portrayed in the extreme is horrible. I want to hack and slash the bad doods for sure, but don't need to see my protagonist spreading their livid guts around every five seconds.

TF2 is of course fantasicly over the top cartoony and perfectly in good taste, whereas in something like Counter Strike it's very reasonable that limbs don't go flying from grenades and such. Just like Any other medium the amount and depiction of violence is simply another stone in the wall that builds the overall experience and tone.

Edited by PlasmaDavid, 10 July 2012 - 11:21 PM.

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"You're like the James of road construction sites." - NinjaCatfish
"I can't pick which game to like less!" - NinjaCatfish
"It's like the pokemon rap for nerds." - NinjaCatfish

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"I never even said that last one!" - Ninja"StupidHead"Catfish


#8
popolopolous

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Violence is an interesting thing. I think something like Fallout 3 does a lot like what Deus Ex did - the violence isn't nice and there is a mild discomfort to it. The whole 'a man is a sack of meat' thing. It forces you to go through and explode heads but you never feel good about it, or like how it looks. You just sort of... deal with it. This sort of desensitisation is arguably not that great either - but it's better than a 'HEY LOOK AT BLOOD AND LIMBS EVERYWHERE OH MAN YOU'RE SO COOL FOR SHOOTING PEOPLE' of most FPSes today. Assassin's Creed is a violent game, but it's gone from that first style into the second. The first AC you assassinate nine people. Any other killing in the game is completely optional. It's the easy route, but the game encourages you to use planning, stealth, and cunning to avoid any unnecessary blood. A bit like the Hitman series. It also shows absolutely brutal actions on the part of your targets. AC2 has 'kill this guard' as minor objectives and you have to assassinate about four times as many people. You spend no time learning about them, and you're the one that comes off as unnecessarily brutal. It missed the creed it put so much effort into encouraging. Heavy Rain, though - the emotional impact that story carried made anything violent feel ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE. No other game has inspired me to go and pace around the room for ten minutes because I seriously regret what I just did.

Stylised violence is another thing. TF2 is so unrealistic that the gibbing feels almost at odds with the aesthetic but then that adds to the irony of the cartoony visuals in the war setting. I've never played Killer7 but that trailer looks absolutely AMAZING. I wouldn't say it looks violent though - the disintegration into blood particles isn't really violent as such, as it's completely opposite to a real-world situation. Portal, I think, hits the 'violence as humour' mark - there are lines about murder, torture, orphanage, burning, etc. The turrets spatter your blood on the wall behind you. But they apologise afterwards. And the spoken lines are all hilarious.

It's difficult in a videogame to have violence that isn't trivial. Only a few make it feel serious. And only a few make it stylish. And only a few make it funny. So, doing things well is rare. But that's to be expected, right?
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#9
PlasmaDavid

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Spec Ops The Line sounds very interesting, apparently what looks and starts out like any hurr durr USA USA cover shooter actually has a fair bit of violence-and-killing-and-shit-in-a-war-zone-isn't-fun type thing. Which is very cool. And by that I mean it's the sort of reality check gamers need.
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"You're like the James of road construction sites." - NinjaCatfish
"I can't pick which game to like less!" - NinjaCatfish
"It's like the pokemon rap for nerds." - NinjaCatfish

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"I never even said that last one!" - Ninja"StupidHead"Catfish


#10
Ninja Catfish

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That does seem to be becoming a trend as of late. Rather than focusing on HURR KILL EM ALL, there are a few games coming out that are making an effort to make any form of violence just that bit impactful, something you don't really want to do.
The Last OF Us appears to be another.
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#11
Medrad

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Ok, watched a few of those videos... some seem over the top. Some of the violence is pretty graphic, but then I guess that's where the marketing is. Sure, throw in the gore and the blood, but does it cover up the gameplay? I think so... where is the expertise in playing the game?

I may be a bit oldschool, but graphics alone don't make a game, and the violence shown in the videos above seem to just be expressing attempts at making games more "adult". Of all the realistic ones with x-ray vision, I think that's over the top. Sure, rip someone a new one, but showing how it does it in slow motion is a bit... not of my taste.

God of War seems to be the exception there. I haven't played it but have seen a few videos of the game series. It's hellishly violent, over and over again... but is that standard or is there some level of skill to get those sort of kills? Skills = rewards so it seems...

I don't like the ultraviolence. A kill is a kill in many of those games. Shoot someone, they die. It's what I expect, I don't care how it affects every organ etc. I work in the health industry, I've seen plenty of pretty gross things...
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#12
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It's all matter of how it is packaged in terms of the rest of the game really. As others have said, excessive violence in God of war is some what accepted but only because the entire game style is way over the top, this is why I alsO approved of the violence in things like Carmageddon and Postal because it basically became a joke in its excess.

It's when it's in the middle ground of just putting violence in for the sake of adding 'mature content' just to get some shock value is all a bit much. This is taking me back to the whole Airport scene on COD:MW2 it was great for impact but it also was a bit over the top as it just seemed to be to get that 'mature factor' and get the teen age kids all interested.
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#13
Supah Ted

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I disagree with most points. I let my girls watch most games. They call the bad guys or monsters poo poos and npc's friends. The only games I don't let them watch are games with lots of bad language. They are learning the difference between fake game violence(zombies, monsters, gangsters) and military violence(cod, crysis etc). Coming from someone who used to be in he infantry, I choose to teach them the real world compared to video game world but let them know the difference as well as I can at the age they are.
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#14
PlasmaDavid

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^ You're going to MESS THEM UP and GIVE THEM NIGHTMARES. Jurassic Park or OoT redeads was bad enough for me as a kid, let laone what's in games these days ;_;
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#15
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I demand 50cc's of Steven segal blood fests to set them straight! STAT!
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#16
benanen

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I'll try to repeat what has been said already, but there is a line, albeit somewhat blurred, between acceptable violence and unacceptable violence. Obviously anything remotely slapstick or cartoon-ified, from Disney to Team Fortress 2, seem prefectly reasonable.

I think powerful, realistic violence also has its place to, if it is woven into a story where the audience cares about a character. For adult audiences, I think the psychological mindset that sees characters commit acts of great violence is important, and for a greatly de-sensitised public, I think this is where the discomfort, revulsion and fear can and should stem from. Without that backbone, I think most people can take a bit of blood and guts, whether that makes it right or not.

For kids, I thinks it is different. They should not be exposed so much, and maybe the R18+ law will help. But videogames specifically aren't to blame for a violent generation of kids, if such a thing exists: I have a neighbour who is about 6, and he plays plenty of relatively innocent games like Mario titles, closely monitored by his parents. But he uses, seeming out of character, rather strong language about killing, dying, and crudely depicted someone with a blindfold being attacked.

Edited by benanen, 24 July 2012 - 05:28 PM.

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