Where should, the line be drawn? Should one be drawn at all? I’ve been mulling over these two questions for quite some time now. I’ve seen other outlets out there talk about specific games and I’m sure you’ve all read something close to the subject but as with each previous entry…. here’s my two cents. Oh and my two cents may span a few entries over time, just giving you all fair warning. Well here we go!
Hatred has been a point of conversation in the gaming media recently so I’ll start with that. The game is clearly way over the top, excessive doesn’t really do it justice. The point of the game is to roam the streets and kill innocent people mercilessly. From what I gather there really is no point to the main characters acts of slaughter other than he
“hates humanity” and is looking to carry out a “genocide crusade.” Now this is pretty insane but if we gamers truly believe in our own recent arguments such as video games not actually making people violent, I really don’t see what it is we have to fear from it. Additionally there’s always the slippery slope effect, if we draw a line here saying this is too much then where does it stop? Once we start down that path, what else may become “off-limits”? So, while I don’t quite care for Hatred I do support the decision that was made to put the game back on steam after it was taken down for a time. I won’t linger on Hatred for too long since as I mentioned before, it’s been discussed in much detail lately. I don’t think it went so far as to merit its being taken off steam and clearly there were plenty of gamers out there who thought the same.
Now on the other hand there are games like This War of Mine and Elika’s Escape, which didn’t even turn out to be real but helped paint the picture I’m trying to make with this entry. Both titles were focused on non-combatants in war torn parts of the world. In This game
“This War of Mine” you play as a group of civilians surviving in a shelter with minimal resources and enemies all around you. This game was touted as a piece of art (as I feel all games should) meanwhile the fake game, Elika’s Escape was pitched with a similar theme but brought to an extreme level. In Elika’s Escape case, we were told that the player would be playing as a seven year old girl in Sudan whose mother dies of cholera, her older brother is beaten to death and even her young, baby brother is grazed by a bullet. Additionally, when you finally reach a refugee camp, you’re faced with disturbing
decisions like submitting to prostitution in exchange for supplies to take care of your family. Now again, this game ended up being a fake and was just used to expose gamers to something they seemed to be blind to. Some may feel that if games actually did go this far that they may be made to push an agenda or they may be too extreme but I do believe that games should be a viable outlet to send a message to people. It’s not as if gamers are made to buy certain titles so if you felt that a particular game was too much or just wasn’t for you, it’d be all too easy to avoid it but this shouldn’t discourage developers from making games that cover sensitive topics like how messed up the world really is in certain places.
In any case this is definitely a topic I’ll be touching on now and then since it’s something I have a firm opinion on. Like any other media, video games need to watch what they deem as okay and more importantly how they present certain topics but if we start forcing limitations on what developers can cover then it becomes all too easy to change what’s acceptable and what isn’t over time. It was only a few years ago that we had parents up in arms over sex scenes in games like Mass Effect 2 which were hardly as big a deal as some made it out to be.
Meanwhile media such as books and movies clearly explore such scenes with much greater detail and can be praised as alluring or intimate. Obviously we made it past that trivial “controversy” but to stay on point, video games should be allowed to explore any subject that you’d find in other media so as long as there’s a way to let the customers know what they’re getting themselves into. If any research is done, or you pay attention to the ESRB ratings of these games, you’ll already have a fair idea of what to expect in the game you’re about to play and so as long as that’s possible, I don’t see why we should be limiting what content gets put in our games!