Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Reputation for Violence

I’ve never understood why people find the need to complain about violence in video games. Especially when other forms of media hardly shy away from the subject of physical conflict. That said I do get board with the lack of variety when it comes to the primary form of gameplay most big budget titles offer. Don’t get me wrong, if killing dudes and blowing stuff up pushes your buttons then power to you. The “fight or flight” instinct is one of the most basic and intense of human impulses after all….but it need not be the predominate experience in video games. This is why I’m glad to see triple “A” titles such as L.A. Noir showcasing detective work over gunplay. It’s nice to see an open world game that has missions that can’t be boiled down to kill “X” number of enemies at location “Y”.

I’m not calling for the pacification of vide games here so much as asking gamers to push developers to keep stretching their creativity out beyond the countless variations on destruction and slaughter already widely available. “But games without violence are boring!” you might say. “All that other stuff I can do in real life. It’s my insatiable bloodlust that can only be (lawfully) satisfied in video games” you might also say. Well, yes…but variety is the spice of life and the reason digital carnage is such a refined art in video games is because a lot of very talented people have been making violent video games for a very long time. Besides you can have your cake of death and eat other things too.

Speaking of death, Demon’s Souls has a great deal of it, particularly when it comes to the player’s on screen character, but rather than simply giving out more of the same the development team has opted to place more emphasis on exploration in their spiritual sequel. Another good place to look is Bioware games which contain lots of fantasy and sci-fi action while still making a concerted effort to spend time on conversation and character relationships. Granted lots of games have done this kind of thing in the past, the point I’m trying to stress is that the nonviolent stuff is often times what I enjoy most. So, why bother padding a game out with pointless, unnecessary and in some cases downright dull bloodletting?

Next time you walk into your local game store check out the variety of titles on the shelves. Yes, most of the big titles in gaming revolve around guns, swords and super powers, but why not try something a little different for a change? Whether it be wanderlust in Dark Souls or wenching in the Witcher 2 there’s a lot of impulses in that brain of yours that lie untapped in the world of video games.

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