Thursday, 15 November 2012

The Future of Video Game Violence...

Video games are a form of entertainment. They can be fun, educational, exciting, and a great way to make new friends. Yet there is also a quality that is often brought up in the news; many video games are violent.

There is no denying that an increasing number of video games feature violence, some mildly, others with lashings of blood. Whether it be Dynasty Warriors 6, or Gears of War 3, it seems violence has come to be expected. Even some racing games have an aggressive nature, like Burnout Paradise, where you are rewarding for crashing into fellow racers. Now don't get me wrong, I am not against video-game violence. It can help to create realism, or can provide satisfaction for our natural human desires without us having to attack our neighbors. What I am against, is the use of violence as a substitute for a decent plot, or an original idea.

Lets take Dead Rising for instance. The game's story was poor, its mechanics were flawed and its time limit was a constant nuisance for gamers. Why then, did it sell over 1,000,000 copies? Because it gave the player a staggering amount of ways to kill a zombie. It seems that the developers chose to focus on killing rather than making the game an overall enjoyable experience. Was this the right thing to do? I say it wasn't. I would much rather have a game with a good story, a game that works, and compromise on violence, than play through a blood-fest that angers me and bores me. Why can't developers see that violence isn't everything. I know that sometimes we don't want a game where we have to concentrate; we just want to have some fun. But Dead Rising couldn't even do that.

A game that always does this right is Grand Theft Auto. A good story is there, if you wish to see it. But that's not really why I play GTA. Nor is it, I think, why many people play it. The big draw of the game is the freedom to do what you want. You can fly a plane, jump out, land in a town and kill its inhabitants, if you so wish. It is violent yes, but it does not sacrifice a single thing to achieve that. There is so much more to do and see than kill. This is what I believe to be a good use of violence. There is always a good story, always a high attention to detail, and the game hardly ever frustrates. The designers haven't focused on violence, they've focused on freedom.

This leads me on to the controversy of video-game violence. Someone, somewhere, at this very point of time, will be trying to link video-game violence with aggression. Violent games constantly come under fire, with some claiming that there is a tendency to copy what you see in a game. I'm not going to go into what I think on this topic. What I do want to do is to warn developers. A new generation of consoles are due to release in the next few years. With them comes improved graphics. Using these graphics to improve the realism of on-screen violence is not a good idea. By doing so, you are going to create controversy for your game, and by doing that, you are creating controversy for the video-game industry. With that will come tighter rules and designers will not be given as much freedom when creating their game.

 Listen to me if you will, or ignore me. Just take into account what I have said; good plots, mechanics and overall enjoyment should always precede violence.

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