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Old 08-05-2004, 04:30 PM   #1
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Default "I kill you.": a rant on the matter of video game violence

Hey all, sorry to shamelessly pimp The Thumb over here, but I figure there are some AG forumers who might find this interesting. I've just published a rant concerning violent games partially inspired by the recent murder case that's being blamed on Rockstar's Manhunt. Check it out and let me know what you think (there's a link to a feedback thread at the end of the article).
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Old 08-06-2004, 12:27 AM   #2
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I think you're making a major mistake by saying that most, if not all, important video games of the last few years had violence as their main game mechanic and that we should take a look at the movie industry to improve ourselves.

As you stated, Beyond Good And Evil only relies on violence for about 30% of its gameplay. Knights Of The Old Republic relies on it for about 40%, in my opinion. Dialogue, for example, is just as important in KOTOR as combat. Other RPG's can almost be finished without any combat at all. KOTOR was considered by many (including me) to be by far the best video game of 2003.

Now let's take a loot at the blockbuster movies. Here's the top 10 grossing movies of 2003, according to IMDB:
377,019,252 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
339,714,367 Finding Nemo (2003)
305,388,685 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
281,492,479 The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
242,589,580 Bruce Almighty (2003)
214,948,780 X2 (2003)
173,381,405 Elf (2003)
150,350,192 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
139,259,759 The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
138,614,544 Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

Of these movies LOTR, Pirates, Matrix, X2 and Terminator are at least as violent as KOTOR. Finding Nemi is actually a children's movie and shouldn't really be compared to normal videogames but to children video games, which are usually non-violent too. The remaining 3 movies are comedies.

I'm saying all this just to point out that most movies are driven for a large part by violence, just like video games! Of course all movies stated above have a story and characters and they play a big role too, but the same goes for most games nowadays. The time that games relied SOLELY on violence has long gone. The sequel to Doom, which is a perfect example of a game that's 100% violence-based, actually has a good story and a lot of depth, simply because people don't buy games anymore without these elements. GTA has a splendid storyline too.

Movies never lost their violent side or weakened it. The only real exception to the rule I can think of are comedies, and I'm sure the next Larry game will come pretty close to what we expect from a comedy game and looks rather non-violent. Every other genre has at least one murder or some other form of violence/abuse in its story to get everything going. Your statement that games should become less violent to become mainstream is simply not true.
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Old 08-06-2004, 01:57 AM   #3
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There's violence in Finding Nemo too!

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Old 08-06-2004, 02:02 AM   #4
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Well yeah, and if you think about it, comedies usually aren't completely non-violent either.
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Old 08-06-2004, 04:26 AM   #5
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Well Remi, interesting article. I can't say i have seen anything like that.
I understand what you are going into and i agree to some degree but i believe you are making it look bigger than it looks like.
I mean, can you ask from platform games to not have enemies to jump onto? What can the char do, go and shake their hands? Or in rpg's, the whole point from the pen and paper times is to "kill and level up"...
We can't ask from some games to not include "violence", as their mechanisms are not around that thing but they surely have it in them.
Adventures on the other hand (as you said) can be totally unviolent.

Yes you are right but your ideas for most of the games cannot happen. But yes there can be "other" games with no violence and more interaction dialogues and "facade" like

Oh and something else, sometimes its not the violence but the form that it takes in the game and how realistic it is.
You know sometimes I felt like your article was balancing really dangerously towards censorship, not that you inclined it, but I just felt that
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Old 08-06-2004, 08:05 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by pleto4_ryan
Well Remi, interesting article.
Why thank you, it certainly was one of my better ones!
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Old 08-06-2004, 10:07 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pleto4_ryan
Well Remi, interesting article. I can't say i have seen anything like that.
I understand what you are going into and i agree to some degree but i believe you are making it look bigger than it looks like.
I mean, can you ask from platform games to not have enemies to jump onto? What can the char do, go and shake their hands? Or in rpg's, the whole point from the pen and paper times is to "kill and level up"...
We can't ask from some games to not include "violence", as their mechanisms are not around that thing but they surely have it in them.
Adventures on the other hand (as you said) can be totally unviolent.

Yes you are right but your ideas for most of the games cannot happen. But yes there can be "other" games with no violence and more interaction dialogues and "facade" like

Oh and something else, sometimes its not the violence but the form that it takes in the game and how realistic it is.
You know sometimes I felt like your article was balancing really dangerously towards censorship, not that you inclined it, but I just felt that
I guess I didn't make it clear enough that I also love the violent games and I'm just looking for other stuff in addition, not instead of.
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Old 08-06-2004, 10:14 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phantom
I think you're making a major mistake by saying that most, if not all, important video games of the last few years had violence as their main game mechanic and that we should take a look at the movie industry to improve ourselves.

As you stated, Beyond Good And Evil only relies on violence for about 30% of its gameplay. Knights Of The Old Republic relies on it for about 40%, in my opinion. Dialogue, for example, is just as important in KOTOR as combat. Other RPG's can almost be finished without any combat at all. KOTOR was considered by many (including me) to be by far the best video game of 2003.

Now let's take a loot at the blockbuster movies. Here's the top 10 grossing movies of 2003, according to IMDB:
377,019,252 The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)
339,714,367 Finding Nemo (2003)
305,388,685 Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003)
281,492,479 The Matrix Reloaded (2003)
242,589,580 Bruce Almighty (2003)
214,948,780 X2 (2003)
173,381,405 Elf (2003)
150,350,192 Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003)
139,259,759 The Matrix Revolutions (2003)
138,614,544 Cheaper by the Dozen (2003)

Of these movies LOTR, Pirates, Matrix, X2 and Terminator are at least as violent as KOTOR. Finding Nemi is actually a children's movie and shouldn't really be compared to normal videogames but to children video games, which are usually non-violent too. The remaining 3 movies are comedies.

I'm saying all this just to point out that most movies are driven for a large part by violence, just like video games! Of course all movies stated above have a story and characters and they play a big role too, but the same goes for most games nowadays. The time that games relied SOLELY on violence has long gone. The sequel to Doom, which is a perfect example of a game that's 100% violence-based, actually has a good story and a lot of depth, simply because people don't buy games anymore without these elements. GTA has a splendid storyline too.

Movies never lost their violent side or weakened it. The only real exception to the rule I can think of are comedies, and I'm sure the next Larry game will come pretty close to what we expect from a comedy game and looks rather non-violent. Every other genre has at least one murder or some other form of violence/abuse in its story to get everything going. Your statement that games should become less violent to become mainstream is simply not true.
There are plenty of violent movies, but if you think there would be the slightest bit of trouble to go to a video rental store and easily find a nonviolent film you're clearly out of touch. My mom hates violent movies and cringes when she sees violence on screen, but she's never had any problem finding the nonviolent ones (dramas, comedies, whatever) and she hasn't even come close to exhausting the amount of nonviolent films you can find. Saying something like "every other genre [besides comedy] has at least one murder of some other form of violence/abuse in its story to get everything going" is not only incorrect, it's missing the point. Even if a movie has "a murder" somewhere in it, you can't draw a parallel to violent games. If a game only had one murder in it, and that murder was a pivotal point in the story, it would have to be in a cutscene or a scripted scene or at a point in the game that forces you to commit it. If that's all there was, I don't even know if I'd consider it a violent game, at least by the standards I've outlined in my article. Violence in that case wouldn't be the gameplay mechanic, and that's what I've been discussing.
And as far as movies and games both relying on characters, story, and violence, yes this is true in some cases (clearly not all), but when have you seen a game that can compare with a good movie in terms of storytelling? I can think of maybe half a dozen examples in gaming and none of them truly come close to the best examples of storytelling I've seen in movies, with maybe one exception. Violence or no, we've got a long way to go before video games catch up with movies in almost any respect except immersiveness. Once (if) we reach that point, then using violence or not using violence will merely be a content choice rather than being a lynchpin of design.
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Old 08-06-2004, 11:43 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remixor
There are plenty of violent movies, but if you think there would be the slightest bit of trouble to go to a video rental store and easily find a nonviolent film you're clearly out of touch. My mom hates violent movies and cringes when she sees violence on screen, but she's never had any problem finding the nonviolent ones (dramas, comedies, whatever) and she hasn't even come close to exhausting the amount of nonviolent films you can find. Saying something like "every other genre [besides comedy] has at least one murder of some other form of violence/abuse in its story to get everything going" is not only incorrect, it's missing the point. Even if a movie has "a murder" somewhere in it, you can't draw a parallel to violent games. If a game only had one murder in it, and that murder was a pivotal point in the story, it would have to be in a cutscene or a scripted scene or at a point in the game that forces you to commit it. If that's all there was, I don't even know if I'd consider it a violent game, at least by the standards I've outlined in my article. Violence in that case wouldn't be the gameplay mechanic, and that's what I've been discussing.
And as far as movies and games both relying on characters, story, and violence, yes this is true in some cases (clearly not all), but when have you seen a game that can compare with a good movie in terms of storytelling? I can think of maybe half a dozen examples in gaming and none of them truly come close to the best examples of storytelling I've seen in movies, with maybe one exception. Violence or no, we've got a long way to go before video games catch up with movies in almost any respect except immersiveness. Once (if) we reach that point, then using violence or not using violence will merely be a content choice rather than being a lynchpin of design.
you know what, if you think about it, classic films, the films from the 60 and 50 were all open to be seen by anyone, children and adults (or well mostly all the movies) even when there were murderess and violence...
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Old 08-06-2004, 12:11 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by remixor
Hey all, sorry to shamelessly pimp The Thumb over here, but I figure there are some AG forumers who might find this interesting. I've just published a rant concerning violent games partially inspired by the recent murder case that's being blamed on Rockstar's Manhunt. Check it out and let me know what you think (there's a link to a feedback thread at the end of the article).
Hey Remi I really liked your article It made me think a lot about the subject of violence and games. Reading what you guys had to say and the comparisons you drew with the movie industry, here is why I believe most games are violent whereas you can find dramas, love stories and romantic comedies in the movie industry. The reason is a 4 letter word... GIRLS (well 5 letters in plural)... Yup That's Right!! The reason why games are more violent is because there are very few girls playing them. You guys mentioned Sims. I don't know any girl who plays games who hasn't loved or bought that game. You even mentioned yourself "My mom hates violent movies and cringes when she sees violence on screen". What is your mom? a girl. How many guys you think were dragged to the movie theatre to watch something like Shakespeare in love or Love Actually. Unless girls get into the mainstream video game business, Games are gonna be violent. What does a 10 year old child get for a birthday present? a girl gets a barbie. A guy??? G I Joe. It is all over our culture... and it doesn't make sense for companies to make these kinds of games unless there are more girls playing them. That is why you had a little of fighting in any game out there. Even lucas arts games like full throttle had a fighting scene on a bike. Let's admit it, Most guys don't wanna go to watch a cheesy romantic comedy. It's not a guy thing. They wanna watch XXX or fast and the furious. Same applies to games. Get the girls interested in video games and you'll see some of those games you are asking for. Until then, expect a doom 8 and a GTA 9.
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Old 08-06-2004, 01:05 PM   #11
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Well, as long as it's not free violence, and it's fully motivated by the (good) story, I don't see what's wrong with it.
How would there be any more FPS games without it? Some of these games (Deus Ex) are story-driven, and even though violence is there, it helps create a real environment.
There is a non-violent FPS where you shoot paint, but it's hardly a milestone in gaming history.
Great games such as Max Payne wouldn't be possible without (moderate) violence.
I think that gams do follow the example set by movies, but in a good way, by simulating a real world, and the real world is full of violence (wars, crime).
Would you rather watch a cheesy romantic comedy than a good movie with some violence, I know I wouldn't. There are good violent movies and good non-violent movies, but they will always have to make both these kinds of movies.
I think in this new millennium the movies haven't improved much. I noticed that the tendency is for superhero movies(Spiderman, X-men, Hulk,etc.) movies I personally find to be worthless. The movies of the nineties were better.
I think that games are going in the good direction, constantly improving, some games have storylines better than today's movies, and that there will always be good violent games, as long as the violence isn't free.

By the way, you used violence (verbal - the f word) in your (good) article.
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Old 08-06-2004, 01:49 PM   #12
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Clearly, I'm going to have to keep repeating myself. Like I said in the article, I love violent games. I just also want to see different things. I never called for nonviolent FPS games. Yes, violence is a part of life. However, many parts of life have nothing to do with violence.
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Old 08-06-2004, 03:28 PM   #13
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There's a link to the site about Facade you provided, http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4038606/ , Bringing Emotions to Video Games. Warren Spector, the creator of Deus Ex says "If I can get away with not putting a virtual gun — commercially speaking — in a game I would do it in a heartbeat.".
On another note, concerning this article, I think games that bring up emotions have already been made: Syberia, Grim Fandango and even Max Payne. But there has been no real freedom in a game so far, so it works out like a movie, emotionally speaking. Sure, I'd love to see a game where you can do everithing you want, make all the choices you want, good or bad, and an AI that can adapt to your will, but that game would have to include violence (what if your will is to shoot people ?).
The article also states that games aren't that emotionally challenging because the game designers aren't good writers. Well, nowadays, every story-driven game has a real writer. Anachronox, for example, although a game whose idea was thought by Tom Hall while he was in the bathroom, was very well written, because Hall hired a real Hollywood writer, and a real director to expand his idea (the writer&director previously did a movie that got good reviews, Dean Quixote). Although the story is funny, if you read it to the end, there's also a lot of drama in it, and the way it's written and acted in the cutscenes (with facial animation - in 2001!!) suggests a very skilled crew, and a step forward in gaming.
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Old 08-07-2004, 03:46 AM   #14
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Wow, it seems like everyone and their grandma misunderstood the point Chris was putting forth.

On a related note: The DS is getting a surgery game where you cut open patients to get rid of parasites. Sure, it may qualify as violence, but considering you don't expose of the parasites in a manner of shooting them, rather you just surgically remove them. Via the stylus.

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Actions such as cutting the patient or getting rid of an unidentified parasite are done with the stylus. In addition, while operating, the player must cheer on the patient using the device's voice recognition.
The mic finally gets a game!

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Old 08-07-2004, 10:34 AM   #15
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:eek:
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Old 08-07-2004, 02:01 PM   #16
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I think i might be alone here, but does anyone else find when playing Deus Ex, that they choose to use the non lethal weapons (the stun prod and tranq darts) out of choice rather than necessity.

For example there are sequences when you have to fight UNATCO troops who were your best buddies earlier on in the game, now for some reason i find i'm uncomfortable killing them (even though they're just a load of polygons) so i just stun them or avoid them. Whether this is down to Warren Spector's skillfull writing or having the option between lethal and non lethal or mean being a big softy, i'm not sure.

Though it would be interesting to see more games with the option of not killing people.


Also wonders what a Silent Hill game would be like, without the combat and a greater emphasis on story and characters.
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Old 08-07-2004, 02:21 PM   #17
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Yeah, second time I played Deus Ex, I tried not to kill the Unatco and the NSF troops. Did enjoy capping the MIB though. And there was something about Jojo that made me crowbar kill him, when I could just stun him.
Deus Ex is the only FPS I played where you don't have to kill anyone. I'm sure Warren Spector meant for it to be this way, giving the player a choice, and raising the standards for a FPS.
Unfortunately, Far Cry, DOOM 3 and HL2 will only make progress in the graphics, physics and sound, but the non-linear gameplay (and a story to match it) of Deus Ex won't be matched.
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Old 08-07-2004, 03:19 PM   #18
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Though it would be interesting to see more games with the option of not killing people.
Oh, by all means it's possible. Adventure games have been doing it for years. But, since we bring up non-lethal options as a means, adventure games pretty much get boring in that respect because they will always revert to the typcial approach - puzzles ( ). As for games in other genres, there is definitely more flexibility, especially with technological advances in areas like physics and A.I.

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Also wonders what a Silent Hill game would be like, without the combat and a greater emphasis on story and characters.
Me too, absolutely! But tell that to Konami. They are brilliant in what they do, but the day they grow up is the day when they'll finally include options like stealth, non-violent options, and reliance on the player's wit and ingenuity to progress. But as it is, the Silent Hill games are sadly trapped and constrained within the weary conventions of survival horror. So far their only contributions to the arena of innvovation are the extreme emotional and psychological density of the stories in the games. No adventure game, I argue, can touch it, I have yet to play one adventure game that even comes close to affecting me such the way Silent Hill and Silent Hill 2 did.
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Old 08-07-2004, 03:23 PM   #19
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"I kill you." is now Ron Gilbert approved!
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Old 08-07-2004, 06:33 PM   #20
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Hey, cool. Nice of him not to mention how much you hate violence in games.
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