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Offensive subject or content in games?

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I’ve just finished playing Summit of the Wolf which I thought was a superb allegory for a real life ordeal. There is a warning in the description of this particular game before purchase & also before playing so I personally do not appreciate anyone complaining about content they don’t feel comfortable with after they were warned.

I really like games/films/books that don’t shy away from reflecting the reality of the political/religious/moral views & actions of human beings however terrible they are as long as there’s no overt gratuitousness.

Are there any games that you feel cross the line in their reflection of or treatment of any person or perhaps animal?   

     
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All the time. I love JRPGs and adventure games/visual novels, but they typically take place in a high school and are rated M for sexual material, violence and language. I’d be perfectly happy with these games taking place in college or even later actually.

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It’s hard for me to think of a specific game. But gratuitous violence is always a bit iffy for me. That would be true even if I was forewarned.

There is another situation that bothers me as well, and that’s when horrific actions have no consequence. There was a game that Karlok recommended that I played recently, Agent A: A Puzzle in Disguise. It’s a casual/adventure hybrid along the lines of ECC. About halfway through the game our protagonist is tasked with solving a series of puzzles that will allow her to deactivate a bomb set to blow up the Golden Gate Bridge and anyone who happens to be on it. The protagonist solves the puzzles and opens the briefcase to find the appropriately-named kill switch. She pushes the button. But instead of doing what she though she was going to do, she realizes she has been tricked and blows up the bridge, causing how many $Billions in damage as well as killing how many thousands of people. Consequence for her action? None. The game continues as if “The Disaster by the Bay” never happened. That kind of thing bothers me as much, if not more than gratuitous violence. (BTW, other than this, it;s a great game.)

     

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Isn’t there a really cruel scene involving a bird in (I think) the second Deponia game? I never finished it (for other reasons) so maybe the writers resurrect that poor thing in a weird Deponia logic way later in the game, but even if they do I think it was a bit much. Animal cruelty is never fun.

     

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While I encourage the kind of challenging content in Summit of the Wolf, which games should deal with a lot more - I abhor gore, violence and animal cruelty.

Veovis - 26 April 2020 05:28 AM

Isn’t there a really cruel scene involving a bird in (I think) the second Deponia game? I never finished it (for other reasons) so maybe the writers resurrect that poor thing in a weird Deponia logic way later in the game, but even if they do I think it was a bit much. Animal cruelty is never fun.

Yes - a bird is hammered to a post and flushed down a toilet, a platypus is frozen alive, and a cat’s hair is shaved.

(Yeah spoilers, but I don’t care much - it’s a terrible game)

     
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One puzzle solution in Nibiru involved using a rat as a suicide bomb, as I recall. But again, I already didn’t like the game much by that point.

     
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At least one scene depicting animal cruelty in Phantasmagoria.

     

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I remember being somewhat disturbed by the behavior of one of the ghosts encountered in Amber: Journeys Beyond, especially because my actions were from his point of view.  It resolved itself appropriately for me at the end of his section but was a bit unsettling at first.

I do remember having to make a puree of starlings in Starship Titanic, but it was more Pythonesque rather than wrenching.  During the credits at the end, the disclaimer regarding no harm done made me laugh out loud.

     

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You want to talk about a disturbing game? How about Phantasmagoria 2 ? Pretty much wrote the book on disturbing games. Luckily, this era of gaming didn’t last long thank goodness.

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I enjoy playing adventure games on handheld systems- PS VITA, Nintendo DS and ipad mini.

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So I thrive on these games!

I guess I’m just a messed up dark person maybe?  IDK.  All my life I remember being drawn the dark and macabre.  Fascinated with the world, even in it’s coldness.

I’m surprised that none of the games I immediately thought of have been mentioned yet.

A lot of games touch on themes of mental illness, such as Sanitarium, Fran Bow.  For me that’s particularly challenging media, but it helps me cope and understand my own mental problems.  But I also think that these games feel fantastical enough so that they aren’t soul crushing in their depressing scenes.

I don’t think all media is meant to inspire feelings of joy or glee or happiness.  Obviously in every art circle, there has been a movement to challenge what art should portray, and it should grapple with weighty personal themes or topics.

In this way, I think we find a solid “Yes” to the question are video games art?  But that’s for another thread.

Non-adventure games such as “This War of Mine”, “Papers, Please”, and basically every Ice Pick Lodge Game ever made, handle these dark themes really well.  The player is determined to use the systems available to them to overcome the worst things the world has to offer such as wars and bombings, disease, and fascist governments.  And the goal is usually somewhat noble, even if it’s just survive.

To me violence is kind of a non-starter.  It’s probably the thing I’m most offended by, but also I don’t really put adventure games separate from action movies or shooting games or fighting games, where the gore and violence is played up and exaggerated. 

I agree with Mikekelly that the thing that makes me most uncomfortable when it comes to sexuality is usually the age or vulnerability of the characters in the narrative.  Sex on it’s own is not offensive to me.  And let’s be honest, as an openly gay guy, I’ve had to tolerate a million and one sex scenes, that I’d rather have not really seen. 

But it’s mostly games like Atelier Rorona/Meruru where the protagonist is clearly an exaggerated cute girl.  Other women in the games hit on these girls, and it just feels weird like some straight guy’s fantasy.  Which, funny enough the men tend to be really respectful towards them.  There is the occasional “A girl can’t do that.” quickly followed by the plucky adventurer girl proving them wrong.  While I’m not a big fan of this weird sexist stuff (and the atelier series is probably the best at writing it in so that it’s done with a wink, “I know you can do it!”), it’s certainly less offensive than the women hitting on these young girls..

I’m surprised by phantasmagoria coming up here.  I mean isn’t it basically an exploitation game?

I actually really like the second one.  I mean the game is MESSED UP, but I have a lot of sympathy for Curtis, especially when he tells his therapist that he wishes he could take Trevor and the girl friend (not therese, the other girl) to a place far away and protect them from the horrors of life (especially at wyntech).

EDIT: I forgot to summarize that, mostly I’ve found myself to be impressed at how games handle offensive, touchy subject matter.  I wish I had more like awful horror stories that I felt crossed the line.  Hell I even have an action RPG on ps3 about punching people and then tearing their clothes off, and that doesn’t rustle my jimmies.
I guess the closest I’ve been to offended is probably something like postal, GTA, or Hatred.

     

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Celebreon - 28 April 2020 04:50 AM

So I thrive on these games!

I guess I’m just a messed up dark person maybe?  IDK.  All my life I remember being drawn the dark and macabre.  Fascinated with the world, even in it’s coldness.

I’m surprised that none of the games I immediately thought of have been mentioned yet.

The thing is, I see ‘dark and macabre’ as very different from ‘offensive’. You can have blatantly sexist or racist topics in comedy games which has nothing to do with horror and gore and death.

I’m not sure what chrissie had in mind with this topic, but I have played Summit of the Wolf, which is an excellent but fantasy game with themes about sexual abuse. Apart from that theme, it’s not dark or scary at all.

     
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Celebreon: I pretty much agree with what you say there! It doesn’t bother me too much when something unpleasant (for want of a better word) happens that’s in keeping with the tone of the game - if it’s a horror game then bad things are likely to happen, and so on.
It does bother me when (as in Nibiru) the protagonist does something vile in a more neutral setting and we’re expected to think nothing of it, or (as in Deponia) we’re expected to find animal cruelty and racism funny.

     
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Vehelon - 28 April 2020 04:58 AM
Celebreon - 28 April 2020 04:50 AM

So I thrive on these games!

I guess I’m just a messed up dark person maybe?  IDK.  All my life I remember being drawn the dark and macabre.  Fascinated with the world, even in it’s coldness.

I’m surprised that none of the games I immediately thought of have been mentioned yet.

The thing is, I see ‘dark and macabre’ as very different from ‘offensive’. You can have blatantly sexist or racist topics in comedy games which has nothing to do with horror and gore and death.

I’m not sure what chrissie had in mind with this topic, but I have played Summit of the Wolf, which is an excellent but fantasy game with themes about sexual abuse. Apart from that theme, it’s not dark or scary at all.

I made a mistake I see. Mostly because the number one example I wanted to use, I completely forgot about!

I have no Mouth and I must scream.
Preface, I love Harlan Ellison’s writing, and he’s not always a pleasant guy.  He’s openly homophobic, racist, and sexist in his writing.  That shows up in this game for sure, and it even has a particularly awful rape scene.  And it makes your skin crawl during this scene, but I still love this game, and I can’t really knock it or say that I don’t recommend it simply because of that.

The depictions of nazis in the game was very controversial and offensive as well.  Between some of the images in the nazi scenes, rape scenes,  I guess my question to you all is:  Do you think I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream handles these scenes well or poorly, and why?

EDIT:  I’m really surprised about the Deponia thing.  I just started it, just to see what it was.  I thought it was like a comedy game.  I mean I guess all comedy has offensive parts, but I’ll have to see it for myself.  That developer studio typically does amazing work.

     

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Vehelon - 28 April 2020 04:58 AM


I’m not sure what chrissie had in mind with this topic, but I have played Summit of the Wolf, which is an excellent but fantasy game with themes about sexual abuse. Apart from that theme, it’s not dark or scary at all.

No, I quite agree it’s an excellent game. The topic was not really about the game & more sounding out what content generally upsets players but prompted by a poster on another forum enquiring about the content of Summit of the Wolf. They went ahead & played it regardless & then ‘complained’ curiously (& disturbingly) not about the actual sexual abuse but about the other “dark and violent stuff”.
I also remember from way back someone somewhere ‘warning’ about the homosexual reference in Gone Home.

rtrooney - 27 April 2020 11:30 AM

At least one scene depicting animal cruelty in Phantasmagoria.

Phlebas - 28 April 2020 05:04 AM

........It doesn’t bother me too much when something unpleasant (for want of a better word) happens that’s in keeping with the tone of the game…....
It does bother me when (as in Nibiru) the protagonist does something vile in a more neutral setting and we’re expected to think nothing of it, or (as in Deponia) we’re expected to find animal cruelty and racism funny.

I think anything goes - human beings have throughout history done vile things - provided it is in context to a relevant story - but agreed, it doesn’t in my mind include bizarre puzzle solutions as the one in Nibiru, or using animal cruelty, racism or any other kind of discrimination as a means to be ‘funny’.     

Celebreon - 28 April 2020 05:08 AM


...........I have no Mouth and I must scream.
Preface, I love Harlan Ellison’s writing, and he’s not always a pleasant guy.  He’s openly homophobic, racist, and sexist in his writing.  That shows up in this game for sure, and it even has a particularly awful rape scene.  And it makes your skin crawl during this scene, but I still love this game, and I can’t really knock it or say that I don’t recommend it simply because of that.

The depictions of nazis in the game was very controversial and offensive as well.  Between some of the images in the nazi scenes, rape scenes,  I guess my question to you all is:  Do you think I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream handles these scenes well or poorly, and why?

This is amongst the nastiest (& most brilliant) games I’ve ever played & I don’t think that any prejudices that Harlan Ellison has personally are relevant as the game reflects the worst of human nature & prejudice as it is. So yes I think the scenes were handled well.
I don’t know why you might find the depiction of Nazis in the game controversial & offensive? But I’ve forgotten a lot of the content.

Mikekelly - 25 April 2020 05:33 PM

All the time. I love JRPGs and adventure games/visual novels, but they typically take place in a high school and are rated M for sexual material, violence and language. I’d be perfectly happ y with these games taking place in college or even later actually.
Heart

Yes, I find the content of many of them offensive as judging by screenshots they are quite explicit & feature seemingly young teenagers i.e. children. It’s also very disturbing that these games are actually tolerated.

Lady Kestrel - 27 April 2020 07:46 PM

I do remember having to make a puree of starlings in Starship Titanic, but it was more Pythonesque rather than wrenching.  During the credits at the end, the disclaimer regarding no harm done made me laugh out loud.

I’ve just played the Procession to Cavalry which depicts & animates aspects of actual paintings of very cruel scenes & employs a Pythonesque sense of humour which does cross the line but…. what do you think?

     
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chrissie - 28 April 2020 07:37 AM
rtrooney - 27 April 2020 11:30 AM

At least one scene depicting animal cruelty in Phantasmagoria.

Phlebas - 28 April 2020 05:04 AM

........It doesn’t bother me too much when something unpleasant (for want of a better word) happens that’s in keeping with the tone of the game…....
It does bother me when (as in Nibiru) the protagonist does something vile in a more neutral setting and we’re expected to think nothing of it, or (as in Deponia) we’re expected to find animal cruelty and racism funny.

I think anything goes - human beings have throughout history done vile things - provided it is in context to a relevant story - but agreed, it doesn’t in my mind include bizarre puzzle solutions as the one in Nibiru, or using animal cruelty, racism or any other kind of discrimination as a means to be ‘funny’.

In the case of Phantasmagoria, I think there were alternative ways to show our antagonist was whacko. Finding psychiatric files that confirm he had abused animals as a child, and that behavior escalated as he grew to adulthood would have been one way. Showing the pond full of mutilated pets was, to me, there for shock value. Nothing else. It didn’t explain anything.

     

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LSL1; the sex scene with a hooker upstairs was censored with blackened bed size screen moving up n down with Larry’s sexual activities and movements, that was very very offensive, they should ve deleted the whole scene and paid respect for the players surely grasping what the obvious implication of what that screen is representing unless they ere taking use for fools which is far way offense if you ask me.

     

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