A History of Violence: So Where Do We Go From Here?

The absence of new business models and platforms is the least of E3's worries - the press conferences were a brutal and troubling experience

Does E3 still matter? By now, you no doubt have your own view on the subject, and we here at GamesIndustry International have made no secret of our own, but this year's expo moved me in ways I didn't anticipate.

A week before the madness started, we published an article questioning the relevance of a show like E3 to an industry that seemingly changes with each passing month, expanding rapidly in every conceivable direction. This question is more relevant now than ever before, but unless you have a very short memory you'll know that this isn't the first time it has been asked.

Each year the same discussion begins, and each year it develops along very similar lines. And for all the compelling arguments that E3 is little more than a lumbering relic from a bygone era, the most convincing response is always the same: exposure. E3 is the one moment that those with no vested interest in the games industry give it more than a cursory glance, and this, we are told, really matters.

"This year, more than any other in memory, the act of watching the E3 press conferences was a truly discomfiting experience"

Exploring whether that notion holds any water would require a column of its own, but for the purposes of this argument I'm taking it at face value. E3 - and specifically the E3 press conferences - are the mask that the industry's biggest companies wish to present to the world, yet this year, more than any other in memory, the act of watching those presentations was a truly discomfiting experience: hour upon hour of elaborately choreographed mayhem and violence, interspersed with infrequent moments of quiet that only served to amplify the gleefully gruesome spectacle.

Goons were impaled by arrows, engulfed in flames, savaged by tigers, strangled, bludgeoned, shot and stabbed, mostly in the neck - E3 2012 was either the year of the bow or the year of the neck-stab, depending on who you ask. The stifling majority of demos were defined by or culminated in acts of loud and glorified violence, often accompanied by enough "fucks" and "motherfuckers" to make Quentin Tarantino blush.

I don't much mind that the Far Cry 3 demo opened on a pair of painted breasts, or that Crystal Dynamics believes that the ugly threat of rape is necessary for its new take on Lara Croft - as always, I'll put my faith in the creators, and allow the work to justify their decisions. But taken as a whole, the texture of this year's press conferences struck me as deeply unpleasant, and far removed from the endlessly diverse, creative and fascinating industry I write about every day.

We're so preoccupied with justifying E3 as the one moment that everyone's attention is on video games that we haven't stopped to consider what those people are actually seeing, and the thoughts that must wander through their minds as they turn away for another year. Violence has been a selling-point in games for as long as I can remember. I'm not so naive that I expect that to change, and I accept that others may see things differently, but I can't recall a time when it felt so dominant, so unapologetically central to how these companies see their audience and judge the value of their products.

"We're so preoccupied with justifying E3 for grabbing everyone's attention that we don't stop to consider what those people are actually seeing"

This was never more clear than during the climactic demonstration of The Last of Us at the Sony conference. Naughty Dog's next project is as beautifully rendered, richly atmospheric and skilfully performed as we can rightly expect from the creators of Nathan Drake and Uncharted. It is also stark and unflinching in its brutality; violence so immediate and forceful it left me breathless. But the crowd responded differently: they applauded as one assailant's windpipe was crushed between a wall and the protagonist's muscled forearm; they whooped and cheered as, moments later, his face was pulverised against the edge of a wooden desk.

The demo ended abruptly, as a human head was vaporised by a point-blank shotgun blast. The lights came up, the focus returned to Sony's Jack Tretton for his closing remarks, and in the brief moment before his unflappable professionalism kicked in, I swear I saw a look of utter confusion in his eyes. He clapped, he smiled, he said something along the lines of, 'How about that, huh?', but there was a glimmer of recognition that, in the world of AAA games in 2012, this is how you leave them wanting more.

What did Naughty Dog think of its game being used so hopelessly out of context, as the climax to so much amped-up, slo-mo destruction? I'd very much like to know. It seems clear to me that the intention behind The Last Of Us is not to whip crowds into a state of frenzy, but to create a sense of unease, a creeping disquiet at the unvarnished, punishing reality of a punch to the ribs or a lead pipe to the head.

Indeed, part of me hopes that it will prove to be Naughty Dog's final farewell to violence as a cornerstone of its work, so it can devote more of its time and attention to all that character, dialogue and storytelling stuff for which it so justly praised. But it's the same part of me that believes SimCity was the stand-out game of the show, and regards David Cage as a shining beacon upon the rocks; the same part of me that wished Watch Dogs' many impressive tricks were at the service of something more interesting than making a clean and efficient kill; the same part of me that hopes this grim parade of violence is not necessarily what we want, only what we are given.

A few years ago, the talented, thoughtful programmer and designer Chris Hecker gave a talk in which he warned of the very real danger that games will end up in the same "pop cultural ghetto" as comics books. As that medium developed, the comic publishers became so fixated on regurgitating the same profitable superhero characters they effectively destroyed their own credibility. Even a Pulitzer Prize winning exploration of the Holocaust couldn't remove the negative stigma entirely, and only now is that veil beginning to lift.

"E3 is supposed to be the best we have to offer, but it felt like the same familiar meal served over and over and over again"

The worth of any form of entertainment, Hecker said, can be judged on four metrics: revenue, units sold, cultural impact, and diversity of content. This year, E3 spoke of an industry with a laser focus on the first, an over-inflated sense of its own success in the second, and barely a passing thought for the others. I won't pretend that I like every movie at the cinema or all of the songs in the charts, but even at their worst the film and music industries have rubbish for every taste, and that is what allows them to endure.

But E3 is supposed to be the best we have to offer - there's no denying the skill and craft on display - but it felt like the same familiar meal served over and over and over again. The next generation of technology that so many of us wanted to see will give us higher fidelity explosions, more realistic bullet wounds, and better particle effects on exploding heads, but I suspect the problem runs deeper. I've seen what Unreal Engine 4 is capable of and it won't save us from a lack of ideas.

I am now in my Thirties. I cannot remember a day when there wasn't a computer or console waiting on the desk or under the television. I expected the friends I played with as a child, a teenager, and a young adult to retain their interest in gaming, but with only a few exceptions they all willingly left it behind. They aren't prudes or snobs or prigs; just people for whom snackable mobile games hold no interest, who demand more substance than a game of motion-controlled bowling can provide, and have no stomach for endlessly shooting the same five guys until the credits roll. They love the look of Bioshock, they love the ideas, they love the world, they want those production values, but do we really have to kill all of those bad guys?

There are exceptions, of course. I am certain we already have the games to change their minds, but, like me, they look to E3 for a glimpse of the present and near future of gaming, and they are left with only this: a knife stabbing a human face, forever.

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Latest comments (37)

Nick Parker Consultant 10 years ago
We can only hope that games, like movies, may return to more intelligent story lines without Hollywood style pyrotechnics and violence which, thankfully, movie studios and many theatre goers moved away from in the last ten years. Unfortunately, console gamers, by the very nature of the top selling charts over the past two years, are seducing publishers into producing more shocking 'adult' content rather than coming up with more imaginary stories.
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Matthew Handrahan European Deputy Editor, GamesIndustry.biz10 years ago
I also hope for more intelligent storylines. However, I also believe that intelligence, maturity, or whatever else you might call the higher standard we're talking about, can be achieved purely through gameplay mechanics. Sadly, the focus on violence doesn't just influence the stories, characters and settings in games, it also stifles innovation in gameplay. Or, as with Watch Dogs, we just get ever more elaborate pre-amble to the business of killing.

I should mention that I am looking forward to some of the games in question, but at this point it's starting to feel a little like Stockholm Syndrome.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
Random Thoughts (very random, I'm afraid. :) ):

Part of the problem, I think, isn't that violence is so prevalent, but that it's nothing but violence. Films can be shockingly violent, but have a core of character and emotion - Battle Royale, or any Takeshi Kitano film - but to have emotion, empathy, characterisation, you need writing. And writing is the most overlooked part of games. As an example, everyone complains about how DA2 re-used environments, but there were less complaints about what a god-awful story it was, even if the central conceit was decent.

Another aspect - somewhat contentious, maybe? - is that the culture can define the promotional material. E3 is an American show, so compare it to Hollywood and the preponderence of cinematic violence makes sense. What of other shows? TGS, for example, could be seen as the Cannes Film Festival, perhaps? A mixture of glossy American films and art-house culture? I think there is definitely a place for E3, but just like there's Cannes, the Sundance Film Festival, the Venice Film festival, there needs to be more emphasis on other shows which feature less crazy-ass explosions, and more games along the lines of Dear Esther, the new Amnesia game, Company of Heroes 2.
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Joe Winkler trained retail salesman, Expert10 years ago
Great article! I thought the same seeing Tomb Raider morphing from a "survival-fun-to-explore-game" to a "killing-with-style-and-finishingmoves-action". The Last of us was even worse: The game that was announced as a horror/exploration/survival game only showed a glimpse of the mostly deserted world and a big focus on killing people.

But isn't it the same with movies at the moment? Why is Saw 35 one of the best box office movies? A movie that started as a idea of two students, greatly visualized with an open ending but nothing left to say- now reduced to it's violence just for the violence itself. People didn't get it, that's it.

Good thing is: There are still good and fun things coming like "Wreck it, Ralph". The E3 showed mostly the brutal face of the industry and not the games behind it. It's something everyone understands and just like with the Saw series- if people don't get the plot, let us speak to a bigger mass of people who at least understand the violence in it.

This E3 showed again, that the industry still fears to become more serious. As a consumer I still feel treated like a child when it comes to video games.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Joe Winkler on 12th June 2012 10:14am

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Robin Clarke Producer, AppyNation Ltd10 years ago
I think there's a clear link between the content of the presentations described above and the fact we're in the twilight of an unusually long console cycle.

There's no way to top the technical showcases of the last couple of years (BF3, Rage, Uncharted 3, etc.) with current console hardware, and most developers will be focusing resources on next-gen games which they can't show yet. So one of the most cost effective ways to differentiate yourself is through shock value. (Unless, as it turns out, everyone else has the same idea.)

I don't think most of the games that were trailed with compilations of their most brutal bits are going to be as relentlessly violent as Manhunt or God of War anyway.
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Thomas Luecking10 years ago
Totally agree with Joe here. Also think that the article is great since I felt kind of along the same line when watching the press conferences... even a former stealth game like Splinter Cell turns into an "art of killing" almost like "quick time event game". Stabbing enemies in the throat seems to be the new headshot. Not without the small extra drill with the knife inside the victims body... or the multiplayer demo of the New God of War... opening the chin of the giant and stabbing his eye afterwards with 500 Liters of virtual blood without any implication for the gameplay.... along with the lack of new gameplay ideas this E3 was the absolute negative high when you understand this industry being a source of innovativeness and creativity.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
There's no way to top the technical showcases of the last couple of years (BF3, Rage, Uncharted 3, etc.) with current console hardware
Bah. Bah, I say.
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Matthew Handrahan European Deputy Editor, GamesIndustry.biz10 years ago
@Robin. You're definitely right. There's a lot of downtime and engaging non-violent gameplay in Assassin's Creed, for example, but at a show like E3 the focus is generally on the combat mechanics.

I also heard from a friend who saw the behind-closed-doors demo of Quantic Dream's Beyond that David Cage was constantly reminding everyone that the majority of the game wasn't as explosion-filled as the vertical slice being shown.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Matthew Handrahan on 12th June 2012 11:07am

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Huw Beynon Global Brand Manager, Deep Silver10 years ago
Interesting article.

I honestly believe that both Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light represent clear examples of the more adult, mature, intelligent story-telling so glaringly absent from most Western titles and also deal with violence and acts of killing in a relatively sober way. In both Metro 2033 and Last Light, the player is frequently given the option to avoid conflict with other humans altogether. Entire levels can pass without a shot being fired. As a disclaimer, I have the privilege of working on both titles.

Since working on Metro, I have found it very difficult to engage with or enjoy most 'AAA' single player campaigns because they feel.... so utterly ridiculous and distasteful by comparison. Outside of 'work', most of my gaming is now devoted to XBLA / iOS titles that are purely gameplay rather than narrative driven.

I'm not pretending Metro is a faultless paragon of pacifism, but anyone wondering whether a AAA production can deal with violence and death without ever glorifying the player's power should give it a try, because I have a feeling it answers some of the questions being asked here...
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Matthew Handrahan European Deputy Editor, GamesIndustry.biz10 years ago
I'm a big fan of Metro 2033, actually, and I hope the edges haven't been smoothed away completely for the sequel. A really interesting take on a drastically over-populated genre.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters10 years ago
Some of my favourite games, such as Deus Ex and the last Hitman game, have actively rewarded the player for *not* killing people. I have no problem with violence, but as Morville hit the nail on the head earlier, I don't like it when violence is the only way to win. It's not the violence itself that concerns me, just the narrow mindedness of game designs and lack of choice. I thought the whole point of video games was that they were interactive, where I get to choose what I do, not simply play out a script someone else planned out.
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James Prendergast Process Specialist 10 years ago
I think you might be able to draw a comparison with 80s action films. Looking back at that period in time (and maybe my memory is cherry-picking here!) but it seems like they were (on average) dumber, louder and more violent and explosion-filled without the more interesting story and dialogue taking place underneath.

Now, I'm not saying there aren't still action films like that being made today... but it feels like there are fewer. You could even compare within a franchise between the two periods: e.g. Batman, Superman, James Bond. The more recent updates of those franchises have had completely different tones and, arguably, more 'intelligent' scripts than their 80s counterparts.
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Colin McBride Studying MA in 3D Design for Virtual Worlds, Glasgow Caledonian University10 years ago
Good article. It does seem that the maturity that the industry had been cultivating (and I think needs in order to keep growing) has stalled of late and has found itself stuck in sniggering adolescent mode.

Here's hoping that some intelligent writing and game design kickstarts the process again sooner rather than later...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Colin McBride on 12th June 2012 1:53pm

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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 10 years ago
I think games now a days are so dead set on shocking people to death just to gain sales, that they forget other aspects of games that also make them great. They rely on Violence to gain peoples attention and they start lacking any creativity. hitman Absolution took the cake this year though with the slutty nuns with bazookas trailer. They just want huge explosions and as much blood gushing as possible just to see if they can make call of duty sales.

Im personally Excited about Ni No Kuni and Zone of the Enders HD. Both very Japanese in nature.

But I think its not E3, I think the gaming industry is at fault because Violence is the current trend in hardcore games. I mean I think no matter what event, the result would have been the same. This is why im eagerly looking foward to this years TGS.

I liked games like Beyond: Two Souls, WatchDogs, Sleeping Dogs, Tomb Raider, Darksiders 2, Assasins Creed 3, Rayman Legends, SuperMario bros U, HAlo4 and dead or alive 5. I was also excited about the Wii U.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 12th June 2012 2:20pm

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How about games that reward non violent game play with additional storyline, content and different outcomes and if the players chooses to resort to aggresion, this might lead to a different resolution/outcome which limits the rich potential of hidden treasure. player interaction/ and game end.

In fact, make it hard for people to obtain projectile weapons or particle beam objects, limiting most agression to melee in the initial instance

This thus leads to a different level of game mechanics rewarding for different gaming styles
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Rodrigo Contreras General Manager, Gamaga10 years ago
When I saw far cry's and Last of Us' video, I din't think about violence at that moment. But I must say, now that I think of what I felt... it was emptiness and sickness. I totally agree with you Matthew. The future can't be just "Who is the most violent", can it?
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Rick Lopez Illustrator, Graphic Designer 10 years ago
I kinda liked it when metal gear would reward you for passing the game using stealth... and ammunition and rations was very limited. You couldnt pass the game guns blazing or you would get killed.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rick Lopez on 12th June 2012 4:40pm

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Maybe thats the secret to guns and bullets - limit their ammo. excessively

in the real life you dont find ammo lying about conveniently. You have to raid a gun store or police station
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Christopher Chambers Games Research Analyst, Electronic Arts10 years ago
Please don't blame me, as a console gamer, for the industry's lack of innovation.
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Leo Wakelin Community & Support Manager, Fatshark10 years ago
Great article, thanks Matthew.

Since my employers aren't one for attending E3, I don't ever get to see it first hand, but it's always great to see what's coming out of there.

This years was... well. Let's just say I won't be handing over much money in the near future for any new titles, unless some neat indie releases come our way that offer unique gameplay styles.
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 10 years ago
@ Christopher

*looks at your employer*

Can we blame EA? :p

(Sorry, couldn't resist. :) )
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Joshua Rose Executive Producer / Lead Designer, Storm Eagle Studios10 years ago
I'm kind of on the edge here about this subject and always have been.

Let me start out by saying this past E3 was my second one ever. The simple fact that last year was my first one makes it nearly impossible to top. That being said, I won't say I was unsatisfied by the stuff in the show, but it was certainly missing that 'something totally new' aspect of the first one.

A lot of them were rehashes of the original IP or the previous title in the serie. Yes, a lot of them were violent (most of them pretty much). I will be completely honest, I've always loved the violent video games. It's a means of stress relief. It's either that or shoot about 200 rounds of ammo through my AR-15... both that and a video game cost about the same amount, but one lasts longer than five minutes.

The industry focuses on what it can make money on, the last couple years this has been violence. When people stop buying the games, Publishers will stop making them. But for right now, as a publisher, you're much better off going with a violent game because THAT'S WHAT SELLS. With todays AAA production costs being upwards of a hundred million or more, you're not exactly going to make something all new, and non-violent, and expect to break even... Unless you have an IP that does just that. With today's economy, a publisher is MUCH LESS WILLING to make a gamble with a couple hundred million, only to have the sales fall way short of the goal and lose money in the long run.

Don't get me wrong... some of my alltime favorite games are like Assassin's Creed and Hitman, which usually have a very in depth storyline that justfies the killing of 'the bad guy'. These games reward you for killing the minimal number of people. Then you have games like Knights of the Old Republic (the original game and KOTOR 2) which were absolutely amazing, and had a perfect balance of combat and role playing so that it wasn't all killing, all the time. Even in those situations, you still had the option to kill somebody or find a peaceful solution.

Nowdays we have a game like Skyrim, which also has a pretty good bit of Role Playing, but it also has it's share of slashing a guy's throat from behind and laying him out before he can say anything. Then we have the new Assassin's Creed, and all the old ones. These games have always been filled with history, detailed and in depth storylines, and rewards for killing the minimum number of people. BUT, it also has it's fair share of violence as well. I dont think it's fair to say that the industry is almost nothing but violence nowdays, because it's not like every game is a linear shooter where you kill wave upon wave of bad guys until you get from point A to point B.

Humans are a violent race, and have been since the dawn of man. Conflict forces evolution, perfection, and a competetive nature that is constantly pushing us to be the best. To say that there is too much violence in video games and that people dont want violence in video games is essentially denying what makes us human. Conflict will always be a driving factor in not only today's society, but also the forseeable (and unforseeable) future.

There are plenty of violent video games, there are plenty of non violent video games (not many of which are good by the way). The options are there. If you dont want a shoot em up wave after wave of badguy game, get a role playing game. Still too much violence? Play a zelda game or a mario game. Still too much? At that point you're left with Nintendogs and Cooking Mama. There are plenty of choices, but until the mainstream hardcore gamers stop buying violent games in the millions, the top tier publishers will continue to put them out. Give the consumer what they want, that's how the market works. Plain and simple.
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Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game10 years ago
It will be interesting to see how the Fullbright company game pans out.
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Leo Wakelin Community & Support Manager, Fatshark10 years ago
Not enough developers in this age make games they want to make and play.

Look at the ever growing indie marketplaces. All of the most creative, interesting and original releases are there and nowhere else. Those ideas, with some larger cash injections, have the potential to bring back creative gaming over the relentless headshot-expeditions that plague the shelves.
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Hamish Millar Producer, Hothead Games10 years ago
Well said Matthew! Our core games are getting darker while the expanding market just wants to feel happy.
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Benjamin Crause Supervisor Central Support, Nintendo of Europe10 years ago
Very good topic.

I believe with violence you can do only so much and if you limit yourself to violence you limit your game and the players experience.
Violence can play its vital part used in the right way. It can make a scene more realistic, increase the threat to the player or make him feel uncomfortable to encourage him to prevent this kind of situation in further gameplay.

If the sole purpose is to show off blood like never before then you should back it up by something else that levels the experience.
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Games are following a trend that begun in movies, every action or horror film seeks to make something "shocking" to grab headlines, the first time you see it, it is shocking, then everyone will include it as a matter of course and try something else, looking at what counted as adult rated 30 years ago or more vs today is an amusing experience there are modern 12a's with more bite then some r's of yesteryear, as each tries to shock its audience so the level of gratuitous violence in the next will rise, its been steadily rising for many years, alas when it comes to making headlines shock sells, so games themselves have focused ever more on violence as oppose to gameplay on publisher's behest.

The only way out perhaps might be with the spread of ever easier indie development tools and opportunities may bring more new styles of games and genre's into the market and demonstrate such concepts have a saleable market so that mainstream publishers will consider developing for them, for the days of publisher's creating truly innovative triple a titles beyond the bounds of minor innovations to existing selling formula's seems to have passed, though I don't see a way back on the violence front for traditional genre's, it's become the norm.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alexander McConnell on 12th June 2012 9:27pm

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Kayleigh McDougall Studying BA(Hons) Game Design and Production Management, University of Abertay Dundee10 years ago
Well said Leo! Although it can be a dangerous territory to walk I still think that it would be a good thing for developers to try new things. Why don't they have a little team working on something new and exciting and if there gets a lot of interest for it then get everyone else on board. Otherwise I can just see shooter after shooter, which gets boring after a while.
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Boris Van De Ven Managing Director, Blammo Media10 years ago
I like this article. However, all this violence is nothing more than a lack in AI innovation. Violence is, in it's core, the most primitive form of communication and even though videogames have matured and look much prettier than 20 years ago, we are basically still shooting pixels at pixels. At least that is the mindset of most developers when they try to figure out a way for the player to communicate with NPC's.

I agree with the author of this article that the lack of balance between the innovation of graphics, animation and AI is starting to become embarrassing. When it comes to the latter we are still in the dark ages and it makes you wonder why this subject is so utterly overlooked and ignored by developers and publishers.
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Dave Herod Senior Programmer, Codemasters10 years ago
But for right now, as a publisher, you're much better off going with a violent game because THAT'S WHAT SELLS.
That's the thing though, it's starting to not sell any more. People are actually starting to be turned off by it and sales are dropping, not because people are offended, but because they're so desensitised to it. Just being violent isn't enough any more. It's not that I want to see a game full of hippies skipping around giving each other flowers, I just want to see games that are a little less one-dimensional and it's usually their other features that make them stand out from the crowd. Like I mentioned the previous Hitman game. Go on a bloody massacre if you want, that option's still there, but the game's far more rewarding to achieve a silent assassin rating, where barely anyone other than the target even knows you were there, or at worst wake up later with a headache.

I'd like something I can talk about with friends. Like: "Oh I did that level last night too, but I completed it by doing X instead". With something like CoD it's: "Yeah! I totally shot that guy who came out of the building on the left too, then I shot the guy on the bridge too, and then I shot a guy round the corner too, and stabbed the one in the doorway too! Just like you!"
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Bruce Everiss Marketing Consultant 10 years ago
Console games are massively expensive to make. So publishers play safe. Too safe. This means sequels and me-too plagiarism. Everyone wants to have their own Call of Duty, their own Grand Theft Auto.
Currently the fashion is violence. Not so long ago it was dancing and music games. Sometimes it is sports games and sometimes motor racing games.

This violence is aimed at pubescent boys with top much testosterone and too little education. A pretty narrow demographic. The marketing reality is that there are far bigger markets to tap. Just look at Hollywood and how the really violent films are just a small niche. So commercial realities will see the move away from violence in games. Nintendo have repeatedly proven that there is more profit elsewhere.
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Rick Cody PBnGames-Board Member 10 years ago
It's developing a wholly new, equally weird (to the geek status) stigma it's just overcoming. I have no interest in applying to a AAA company for this single reason. I'm sick of violence like this, the response The Last of Us drew during executions was odd.

I don't care to have involvement in this type of industry. Period. Hence why I'm such a believer in Android, iOS and web games.
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Nicholas Pantazis Senior Editor, VGChartz Ltd10 years ago
@ Richard The reaction to The Last of Us was pretty crappy, yes, but that's not what the game was about at all. It wasn't a glorification of violence. I went to Sony's breakout for that game. If anything takes violence and killing seriously as a survival measure instead of a light piece of pulp entertainment (like Call of Duty or Uncharted) it's The Last of Us.

I think people really sell the industry short on a lot of these experiences. No one complains about the amount of blockbuster movies full of guns, gore, and disposable lives, but throw in a dozen violent games at E3 and it warrants an entire article claiming they all are? Are we ignoring all the award-winning non-violent games from the show like Rayman Legends, Pikmin 3, Scribblenauts Unlimited, Unfinished Swan, Epic Mickey 2, Forza Horizon, Papo & Yo, Luigi's Mansion 2, New Super Mario Bros U and 2, Super Paper Mario, Sly 4, Wonderbook, SimCity, Need for Speed, Playstation All-Stars, Kingdom Hearts 3D, Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, Sonic & Sega All Stars Racing, Wii Fit U, Just Dance 4, Dance Central 3, Skylanders: Giants, Nintendoland, LittleBigPlanet Karting, Rabbids Land, Beyond: Two Souls, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, New Little King's Story, Pid, Sound Shapes, Quantum Conundrum, Ni no Kuni....

There are so many more. More than I could possibly fit in an article. You think because the press conferences had some high-violence moments that's representative of this industry? Bullshit. They are a narrow selection of an industry that's more broad than ever. All those games above were at E3. I played most of them. How could you possibly go to E3 this year and think that it was one-note, and focused on violence? How could someone who writes for a gaming site possibly write an article this misinformed?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nicholas Pantazis on 13th June 2012 11:23pm

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Gregory Hommel writer 10 years ago
What a well written, whiny and self absorbed article. I suppose you also wish the world could be more like you. Jack Tretton wasn't stunned at the realization that he was pushing violence, nor was Naughty Dog disgusted at their game being exploited as violent. Jack Tretton was appreciating an excellent visual, IN A ZOMBIE SURVIVAL SHOOTER. Do you have any idea how long Naughty Dog spent making that trailer? Everyone wants to kill people. Whether you envision yourself as the heroic do-gooder or the evil psychopath, it's a fantasy that resonates with almost every one of us. It's something that can only be explored in interactive media and it will dominate gaming until the end, as it has since the beginning. I love original ideas in gaming. I love new experiences that change and challenge what I am used to. Although, for me, those are just distractions to bide the time between AAA action/shooters.

So if you are tired of shooters, there are a plethora of artsy abstract titles already on shelves and headed there soon. I don't complain that those titles dilute the pool of quality games on the market or that they rarely take advantage of the technological advances that have been made this generation. So don't publish articles claiming that the labors of so many developers and the hobbies of so many gamers are some kind of tragedy in your overly sensitive world. As long as we live in a world where men are manly, this will be the state of gaming. So you cook like a mama and just dance all you want. You play your tablet while you're getting a manicure. WE, I say WE, will be anxiously awaiting the next big, loud, action packed, neck stabbing, arrow penetrating, mother-fucker laden piece of technology this wonderful industry gives US.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gregory Hommel on 14th June 2012 2:42am

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The one element I'd like to bring to these discussions is contextual aggression.
With regards to the Last of Us, one thing to appreciate is it is trying to present a fairly realistic portrayal of what humanity would do, to survive should a massive calamity occur tomorrow, whereby our perceived notions of fairness, fiat economy, refrigerated foods and drinks, connected public transport are taken somewhat for granted.

If anything, the game will probably portray that within a zombie apocalpyse, humanity is its own worst enemy. Forget the zombies, forget the hazardous conditions - being able to live day to day, scrounge for extremely limited resources, where monetary currency has no value and all producing it in a tasteful beautiful way contrasted with the sometimes unfortunate but NECESSARY violence to SURVIVE!

Lets say, over the next few months - the Euro crashes, the Deutschmark returns, civil war erupts (in the establishment of the United states of Europe), the middle east descends into crazy WW3 conditions - meanwhile the Sun wakes up and fries the Earth with multiple CMEs. The Elites hide in their bunkers and FEMA camps established across the US to contain the masses whilst false flag wars/fear/situations erupts controlled by the media. Worldwide blackouts occur, and food/water/fuel are scarce.

What would you do?

That last cold cola is a distant past. Food goes rotten, and those with supplies get overridden by the hungry masses who rather pillage, loot, and even kill to brain what others have. Neighbours turn on one another and its a case of survivors retaining a sense of humanity, without descending into the level of crassness and privileged pontification of graphic violence in games.

I think, overall Naughty Dog brought together a whole swathe of people to create something incredibly important, because maybe art is imitating real life that may/may not happen tomorrow. It might be even useful to know what to do to survive.

Being prepared is potentially useful!
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Huw Beynon Global Brand Manager, Deep Silver10 years ago
To the person who asked 'what if a game rewarded non-violent play'... This article Just appeared on the Sydney Morning Herald of all places, and looks at Metro's almost invisible 'morality' system. I think you'd find it inetresting...
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