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Are there lines games shouldn't cross?

Can a dev go too far with violence? What about moral responsibility? Laws aren't the answer, but what is? Rami Ismail, Warren Spector and more discuss

Video game violence has been in the spotlight for over two decades now. When Senator Joe Lieberman chaired a subcommittee in 1993 after seeing the violence in Mortal Kombat, the mainstream media started paying close attention. And just five months later, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) was born and assigned Mortal Kombat an "M" for Mature rating. This was undoubtedly a good thing. In the years following, the board continued to tweak its ratings and in combination with retail partners it's become one of the best systems for keeping inappropriate content from our youth (as ranked by the FTC).

However, in the last 5-10 years that I've attended E3 and other trade shows, I've seen wave after wave of intensely violent content. In previous roundtables with my GamesIndustry.biz staff, I've referred to it as the Michael Bay-ification of the games business. There's a lot of eye candy, lots of fighting and plenty of explosions; but as veteran designer Sid Meier pointed out, the industry doesn't need to push that sort of content anymore. "I think we got people's attention. We can make good games now," he said.

"Only the developers' conscience should define what type of game they want to make, and its level of cruelty, indecency and moral corruption"

Adrian Chmielarz

I'm not suggesting that the industry abandon this type of content, but I am wondering whether developers actively think about what lines are okay to cross. It's especially relevant considering that in the last week or so a trailer for a brutally violent game - effectively nothing more than a mass murder simulator imitating the worst shootings in America - made the rounds on the internet. Some of my peers on other publications unfortunately gave them exactly what they wanted: plenty of press in the form of critiques, trailer embedding and interviews. I won't give them that gratification, but I did speak with developers about how much violence is actually acceptable in today's games.

"I think that yes, there are lines that game developers should not cross," said The Astronauts' Adrian Chmielarz, former creative director at People Can Fly. "On the other hand, no, these lines should not be defined by law. In other words, only the developers' conscience should define what type of game they want to make, and its level of cruelty, indecency and moral corruption."

1

The infamous 'No Russian' scene in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2

Deus Ex and Epic Mickey creator Warren Spector is of the mind that even if he finds something completely objectionable he wouldn't attempt to tell other developers what lines they can or can't cross.

"I'd never want to mandate where the lines are but there are certainly lines for me. The fact is, I think of games as a form of communication - as an art form - with all the first amendment rights of any more traditional medium of expression. Any limitation is anathema. We just have to make sure people know what they're getting into before they pay for or begin playing a game," said Spector, who's now the Director of the Denius-Sams Gaming Academy at the University of Texas at Austin.

"That's where our solid ratings system comes in. Having said that, there are lines of good taste I WISH developers wouldn't cross, but personal opinion is never an excuse for setting any kind of public policy. I'll continue to call out developers who cross the line of good taste, but it'll just be the opinion of one man, not a proscription for an entire medium."

Vlambeer's Rami Ismail pointed out the power of games as a medium. If a developer can think of it, it most likely can be made - but just because something can be made doesn't mean it should be. "I think it's important to realize that there are no lines that developers can't cross as long as a project is feasible, and whether they should is obviously up for discussion," he said.

"If you're executing innocent civilians that are begging for their lives because that is your intended goal, without any lessons to be learned... then I feel that the creators failed to make anything noteworthy"

Rami Ismail

Indeed, that's the hard part to figure out. While it's technically possible to animate some brutally violent action in great detail, does it need to be included? Some would say yes, some would say no.

"It's justified if there is a strong thematic, narrative or mechanical reason to offer objectionable or offensive content, and if it's done in an appropriate and considerate way," noted Ismail. "There's a big difference between 'just throwing in Nazi's' or 'I guess some sort of sexual violence' and 'here's a terrible thing that fits this context in every conceivable way'.

"Games have a long tendency of justifying violence through ridiculous means. We happily accept that we're killing faceless 'bad people' when a nuke launches in the first part of the third act of a first person shooter. We feel justified for shooting at threats to the West, but we're outraged when you shoot at civilians. I think that difference is justified, because the ludo-narrative context of it changes. If you're executing innocent civilians that are begging for their lives because that is your intended goal, without any lessons to be learned beyond what execution animations exist, without offering a useful perspective to terrible events like these, then I feel that the creators failed to make anything noteworthy."

Devolver Digital's Graeme Struthers largely agrees: "In general, my view on content tends to come back toward the artist and what story they are seeking to tell. For example, If the project is holding a mirror up to society and challenging the audience, I think that can be a good thing. This War of Mine is such a strong and positive example of that. Good entertainment can tackle difficult and even controversial subject matter. 

"Seeking to be controversial for the sake of it should always be challenged and I figure that fans and games media are savvy enough to see those things when they come along."

While extreme violence may reflect poorly on the medium in the mainstream, Spector noted that no developer should ever feel that he or she has to censor a game's content to fit some pre-approved mold.

2

A scene from Rockstar's Manhunt 2

"There are obviously cases where satire comes into play and others where content that's objectionable to some is portrayed in the context of making a statement of some kind. Still, it seems patently obvious that a lot of game content does damage to the medium in the public eye - plenty of games confirm the biases of our most outspoken critics. But despite that, we have to defend ourselves by reminding people of our ratings system and by citing all the games that AREN'T objectionable or potentially offensive. Censoring ourselves isn't the answer," he said.

Perhaps the bigger question then is whether game developers have some moral responsibility to the players. There's no proof that violent games can lead directly to senseless acts in real life, but if a certain individual is already dealing with some pathological psychosis, it's easy to see how an extremely graphic video game could act as a trigger.

Developers seem to be torn on the question of morality in games, however. Ismail is in the camp that believes developers should own up to that responsibility.

"Wouldn't it be a sad medium if we didn't?" he questioned. "We claim that games are impactful, that they have meaning and purpose. We create worlds from bare code, from data and models and pixel and sound and music - worlds that adhere to our every whim, our every intent - and then we get to place players in there and allow and deny them certain interactions. We work in a medium in which our users don't talk about the characters, but identify to a point where they talk about what 'they' did, instead of what 'a character' did.

"This is the most personal and exciting medium in the world, and we have the ability to create things for which we are responsible and accountable - things that reflect ourselves and our views and interests. Making anything less feels like a waste of potential of this medium."

"Players will vote with their dollars, inevitably, and all we can hope for is that their sense of good taste and common sense comes into play as they make their purchasing decisions"

Warren Spector

Chmielarz agreed. "Yes, of course. We create things to affect people, so how could we not?" he said. "However, to be clear, I don't hold creators responsible for triggering psychotic behaviors. Psychopaths will always find a trigger - today it may be a video game, but a hundred years ago it was a poem, and five hundred years ago it was some other pretext. Video games (or other art forms) don't create psychopaths, video games may only reveal psychopaths."

Spector, on the other hand, said he didn't feel that developers should feel morally responsible, even though he has a strong aversion to extremely violent games.

"Again, there's so much personal taste involved in the creation of game content it'd be hard to say when a game crosses some line where moral responsibility comes into play. I can wish all day that developers would stop making games that 'go too far' but all I can do is express that wish loudly enough and publicly enough that game creators feel a little ashamed of themselves and maybe change the way they think about the medium," he remarked.

Ultimately, the content in the games of the future will be dictated by everyone in the gaming community, including players, press, and developers. As Ismail pointed out, "I think the press should criticize, the devs should discuss and the players should decide whether they're interested or not based on the press and devs."

Spector added, "I think the primary response from press and developers has to be adequate communication. People - players - have to know what they're getting into before they get into something. Players will vote with their dollars, inevitably, and all we can hope for is that their sense of good taste and common sense comes into play as they make their purchasing decisions."

Discussing what type of content makes it into our video games is a healthy thing for the medium as a whole. You'd be surprised, however, how many developers GamesIndustry.biz reached out to who simply declined to take part in the discussion. If video games are to continue to evolve and mature, then discussion is key.

"Do not avoid the subject," said Chmielarz. "We make video games, and one branch of video games is slowly evolving into holodeck experiences. In a few years we will have virtual reality sims that will give an uncanny illusion of real life experiences. Avoiding difficult subjects that help us get ready for that would be a mistake."

Latest comments (30)

Darren Adams Managing Director, ChaosTrend4 years ago
I don't know, video games like any other form of entertainment are an extension of the human mind. Its content is reflected in the minds of its creators and the minds of those who consume the end result. Just like the arenas of the Romans, people seem to like to watch violence and relish in human jeopardy. It is apparently bad but I would argue otherwise.

Do we as developers have a responsibility?? Of course, we will be defined why what we create and the message it contains. Are you a bad human being if you make an ultra violent game? I would say no and I wouldn't automatically jump to the conclusion that those who play said game are horrible people, voyeurs of the macabre.

There is a lot in the ancient wiring of humans that mean we have to seek out simulated pain, discomfort and horror (of ourselves or others) to prepare ourselves for potential threats. So I would say violent video games (like movies, books etc) are necessary for the development of the human mind.

The only thing I would say is that we should remember that our content will affect people on some kind of level. Sure, have violence in a game, but also have a message to go along with that violence if you can. Violence for violence sake is weak, violence with a strong message can be profound.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Darren Adams on 27th October 2014 10:16am

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Alex Lemco Writer 4 years ago
Like everyone in the group, I think of games as an art form and as such it should be free of censorship. South Park: The Stick of Truth is an interesting example we could look at in that respect, especially because it was censored in a number of countries, including the UK.

Crude humour aside, South Park deconstructs debate in American politics centred around drugs, abortion, religion, animal rights, the economy and a host of other issues including celebrity culture satire. It's blunt and uncompromising and distasteful in just about every way (I reckon even then Parker and Stone could think of some new ones). In the game, South Park: The Stick of Truth characters made jokes out of gaming culture and various tropes, in addition to all of the above. It was a no-holds-barred cultural critique dressed up in humour so dark and sticky it made a lot of us uncomfortable.

There was nothing in The Stick of Truth that wouldn't be found in an average episode of the TV series. Yet the TV series is allowed to be regarded as cultural critique, while the game has to confine itself to the mystical 'good taste' parameters set out on a nation-by-nation basis. Games are inherently perceived as inferior mediums compared to film and television and books, there's a sense of 'otherness' about them from not only the people who don't play them but the people who do.

Games have a great deal to add to cultural discussion. They can invest players in unique scenarios that make them reflect on the real world around them, even if the catalysts for those reflections aren't immediately obvious. And yes, they can also just be 'fun' distractions. This is why cultural critique of games should be encouraged rather than passed off as a side issue or - worse - demonised.

People need to get past the fact that games have violent and/or sexual and/or disgusting content, and start looking at the real issues: how do they affect us? How do they change our perspectives? Perhaps all of us - gamers included - are afraid of what we might learn about ourselves. Maybe that's why debates like this aren't as commonplace as they should be. And maybe that's why the biggest academic critique of games so far (Tropes Vs. Women) is mired in controversy.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex Lemco on 27th October 2014 1:24pm

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Nelsun Rivera Mixed Media 4 years ago
There will always be lines to be crossed. One person may find something more acceptable than others. It would be wise to follow along the lines of the Music and Movie industry which has blurred lines of course but there are things in place to control sensitive content. Just know... If and when some lines are crossed the world is watching and such crossing of certain lines may translate to lower sales or profit. Or it may create an absolute windfall. You will never know until you get to that point. I guess it all depends on Morals, Ethics and how much you actually care about those things.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Nelsun Rivera on 27th October 2014 5:20pm

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Show all comments (30)
Jordan Lund Columnist 4 years ago
I find it interesting that this debate applies to games, but nobody would consider a similar limitation on film, music or literature.

In the end, the audience will decide what is appropriate and what is not. Developers are free to produce whatever they would like, but if it's not profitable then certain genres will go away.
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Reinhold Hoffmann Community Management 4 years ago
As a gamer since 20 years who saw games like Mortal Kombat and Doom and many years later Postal 2 and even Grand Theft Auto and of course Manhunt spawning similar discussions than Hatred today,I believe that brutal, violent games like those are needed sometimes.
Especially if they result in discussions on gaming sites like I saw them on Destructoid when the trailer was revealed and the site's editor didn't find the game okay.

People mostly disagreed and wrote what some of you here wrote as well with games being an art form and the violence in Hatred is something we saw in many other games before in other forms where the violent acts are against zombies as example or the thousands of faceless soldiers in Call of Duty, Killzone etc we shoot without thinking about it.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Reinhold Hoffmann on 27th October 2014 5:37pm

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Emily Rose Freelance Artist 4 years ago
As I think games are an art form on the same level as any other form of expression, I don't think there is a line. Either way people will vote with their wallets, so it's a sort of "soft line" as to what level of expression is still profitable.
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Sergio Rosa4 years ago
It is somewhat ironic that I was writing about this on my blog last week, and I got a couple of comments about how it is completely valid to shoot someone on the face as long as you're the good guy. I think the problem with this is not just ask if it is ok to blow up someone's face with a shotgun because you're the good guy, but that devs more often than not write the videogame plots in ways that serve as excuses to blow up someone's face. Almost all big releases rely on the "give the player a gun and something to kill" mechanic, and plots are usually used to support that scenario.

To me, new latest Tomb Raider was a perfect example, because they turned a platforming game into a third person shooter with some platforming here and there, so they completely changed the game formula to give players the ability to kill a gazillion dudes, thus making the game more violent than any other Tomb Raider game ever made. Some people have countered my argument with the "but it's about survival" referencing the "a survivor is born" tagline, but Lara could have been made into a survivor by dropping her on a deserted something where she has to learn to survive so she doesn't die of starvation while she tries to get out, but maybe that is not "actiony" enough.
And this year they show the next Tomb Raider game, with even less tomb raiding and Lara piercing some dude's head by shooting at him with an arrow while they try to sell us the idea that the events of the old game were "traumatic" in some way.

My other problem is devs looking for the more realistic kills. Enemies don't just die now, they must have all that blood splattering all over the place and shattered bones flying around because GPU particles are cool. I admit I've been a long time Mortal Kombat fan, and I even found fatalities funny because they were so over the top, but when they showed Mortal Kombat X it was all so gruesomely realistic that I felt I was watching a snuff film instead. That worries me because maybe 5 years from now we'll not only still have games that find excuses to give the players a gun and enemies to shoot, AND deaths so photorealistic that could make some sort of "videogame snuff film anthology."

EDIT: So, there are some games I would not touch but I don't think we can just police all devs to determine what can make it to a game and what cannot. I'm just saying some devs can't speak about how wrong or "way too violent" some games might be while they might make similarly violent games with the excuse of "b-but you're the good guy here so it's ok to blow up someone's face!!!"

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Sergio Rosa on 27th October 2014 6:12pm

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John Kauderer Associate Creative Director, Atari4 years ago
I'm surprised there's no mention of the game Hatred in this article.

That was a truly disturbing and shocking game trailer. I know it's going to cause a media firestorm for the industry, it's just a matter of time. I believe in freedom of expression but wow! If you haven't seen the trailer.... oh man is it over the top.
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I am against censorship from outside authorities, I think we all need to be understanding and have empathy for others, but as artist we must also not be afraid to tell truth to power, or to touch upon "touchy" and taboo areas, but we must be sure to do it intelligently, thoughtfully, and with good reason.

My big concern is that with it being so hard to be heard, found, seen these days among the thousands of games being released, "going to far" may prove to be marketing gimmick used by some. It will be over the top, disgusting, cheap, irresponsible, but it may get attention, and as it was nothing more than a marketing ploy to begin with, in the end everyone loses except possibly the idiots who release crap, cause controversy,and profit from it. That's what concerns me with regards to this topic

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Todd Weidner on 27th October 2014 6:15pm

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James Brightman Editor, North America, GamesIndustry.biz4 years ago
@John Kauderer - In case you missed it, I alluded to the game in the third paragraph, but I deliberately chose not to name the game or the developer because I don't want GamesIndustry.biz to be one of the sites that gave them any press. Even negative press that slams them gives them exposure, which is exactly what they want.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada4 years ago
James, thank you for that, by the way. I kept seeing articles popping up, and kept facepalming because it's exactly what they wanted.

If your game is legal, make it. Follow your dream, even if it's some weird twisted thing I'm going to find objectionable (like aforementioned game). If enough people agree it's valid and buy it, great, you've got a market, and that's really all the validation you need. I don't believe the industry should self-censor - we all make games, so we all get a voice through the games we choose (and are able) to make.
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Reinhold Hoffmann Community Management 4 years ago
I wish more people in the gaming media would have that attitude. The articles I saw where indirectly promoting the game and made ithe trailer something seen by over 100k people now while the most of the articles critizised the brutality but the writers knew they would get their hits obviously.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Reinhold Hoffmann on 27th October 2014 6:51pm

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David Canela Game & Audio Designer 4 years ago
while I don't think censorship is a good idea (except in the sense of excluding certain age groups from certain content), I'd like to disagree with the popular argument of people voting with their wallets. to me it sounds like a cop-out, we face difficult questions and we go: oh well, let the markets decide. there's some things markets are good at. making ethical decisions isn't one of them.
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Andrew Jakobs Lead Programmer 4 years ago
Personally I think there is no line to cross when it comes to videogames (or movies), because what might be objectional to you might not to someoneelse.. As long as the package is clear on what the contents is, and as long as no one is physically hurt during the process of making it (these days a lot is motion capped)..
But then again, I know the difference between reality and fantasy.. To me there really is no difference in people trying to kill each other in a deathmatch or if you kill everybody in town in a single player game...
Ethics is in the eye of the beholder, and there are a lof of hypocrites around when it comes to ethics...
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Al Nelson Producer, Tripwire Interactive4 years ago
I don't want laws to define the lines of allowable taste for video games or web sites like this one, that write about them. All of us making creative content need the freedom to make people feel. Sometimes that means terrible feelings.

I work on, among other things, a very accurate, brutal, multi-player FPS, set in WWII. Characters die, cruelly,messily and often. One of my favorite reviews pointed out that the game illuminates the depressing reality of war, the horror, the waste of human life and material resources, the chaos and the weight of choosing to kill. Bingo. It is a terrible truth and a game can put you in that moment, in a way a book or film never can. The center of the demographic is now early 30's. It is time for our literature to grow up.
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James Berg Games User Researcher, EA Canada4 years ago
@David and @Eric - Regarding ethical decisions - what would you feel would be a better way of deciding what can/should be made, other than market forces? Assuming laws and ratings boards are followed, obviously.
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Tim Carter Designer - Writer - Producer 4 years ago
The answer to this issue is simple...

Recognition of games as art.

(....which necessitates...)

Recognition of authorship by the individual people who make games.
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Paul Jace Merchandiser 4 years ago
Are there lines that games shouldn't cross? In a word "no". If movies, television and books can cross every line known to man(and some that were unknown at the time) than video games should be afforded that very same freedom. As already mentioned it's all up to the creator and what type of story they want to tell. The only reason this is even being discussed is because the older generation still thinks that only young kids play video games and thus they shouldn't be subjected to any adult themes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Jace on 28th October 2014 2:03am

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I disagree with the idea that games which are made primarily to generate profit for the creators don't count as 'art'. If that's the definition of not-art, then many of the beautiful paintings and sculptures we see in galleries and museums, created on commission for wealthy patrons, aren't art either. Artists have been making a living off of our creations for hundreds of years, and making a piece for the express purpose of selling it and making some cash is hardly a new idea nor anathema to the creative process.

I think the deliberate divorcing of 'real art' from 'making money' is naive at best, outright classist at worst. But, I think I'm coming at this conversation with a very different definition of art than Eric has.
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Wow, relax Eric! I wasn't trying to attack or condescend to you, and I'm sorry I upset you. I was just taking issue with the argument I saw presented. Maybe I misunderstand you or you me, but it's nothing personal.
What is said is that SOME games (we can argue about the proportion - or even the term "game" - later on) are STRICTLY MADE to generate profit. Dare you to tell me this does not exist Jessica?
I didn't disagree with this, at all. As I said, there is a fine history of traditional artists who create works strictly to generate profit. I would still call their works 'art', but maybe you would not. I think the difference is your definition of 'art' versus 'craft' is different to mine, is all. I won't speak to what your definitions are, but I personally I think 'art' is an entirely nebulous term that can certainly apply to any and all games, novels, paintings, films, drawings, sculptures, music, architecture, etc. Any human work that is raised above mere function but is intended to entertain, please the eye or the soul or provoke thought is, to me, 'art'. Your definition seems to be different. That's fine, but neither of us can claim to have the one true definition of 'art'.
What I said is more about making thing for the sole purpose of making money opposed to making things because that is what you wanna do and express and then if it makes money so be it! At no point I did suggest "art" and "business" (or "making money") were mutually exclusive.
I'm just taking issue with this idea that some games are apparently made solely to make money as opposed to being the expressions of artists. For one thing, how do you know this? I don't know of any studios who put out press releases to that effect. You may find a particular game seems to lack soul or originality, or that F2P mechanics are overly intrusive(and I think this is true of many games myself!) but that doesn't mean that the developers were not doing 'what they wanna do and express' - maybe what they wanted to do, was make money ;3

Secondly, I think very vanishingly few people get into the business of developing games just to make money. There are far more lucrative, stable jobs out there for all of us. We are here, almost all of us, because we want to be making games. I don't think it's necessary to draw lines between certain games being considered 'art' and others not. But again, this is my opinion. I'm not sure how often I need to repeat that?
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Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic 4 years ago
@ Jordan
I find it interesting that this debate applies to games, but nobody would consider a similar limitation on film, music or literature.
It's not that nobody would consider it, I think it's more that the discussion is different, and has occured for so long it's matured. Quentin Tarantino got flak for the Reservoir Dogs scene (initially censored in the UK) where an ear is cut-off, but that scene (in the 90s) moved the debate about "what violence can mean" forward. Similarly, Lady Chatterley's Lover occured, what... 50 years ago? And moved the discussion of sex in literature forward. Much more recently, the Adams opera The Death of Klinghoffer played at the Met in New York over the past week, and continues to provoke talk about what should be allowed in art/entertainment.

All these discussions happen, but they happen (generally) in a more mature fashion than in gaming - perhaps because gaming is still stuck in the "how much violence is too much?" cycle?

All told, the part of the article I find most intriguing is near the end:
You'd be surprised, however, how many developers GamesIndustry.biz reached out to who simply declined to take part in the discussion.
No doubt there's legitimate reasons for this - deadlines, people unwilling to speak out without anonymity, perhaps distrust in having words misinterpreted - but I wonder how many are just hoping the discussion just goes away.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 28th October 2014 12:49pm

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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games4 years ago
Secondly, I think very vanishingly few people get into the business of developing games just to make money.
I am respectfully going to have to disagree with that statement. Once micro-transactions became available and people saw that Farmville was generating money, a whole slew of people who have no sense of game development got into the act. They realized that all you needed to start a "game" company was a person with an advanced degree in computer science, another one with a MBA and a marketing person. They would then just buy (or steal/copy) a game design then figure out ways to nickle and dime the user to death. This gave birth to the "Skinner Studio". They really have only one game, but with multiple different themes.

The good thing about these "games" is that they are pretty bland when it comes to violence. The bad thing about these "games" is that they usually come with a chat/bulletin board feature that can lead to threats and taunting by the players.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gary LaRochelle on 28th October 2014 1:32pm

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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
Freedom is a two-edged sword. Freedom to express means the freedom to express poorly.

The game James alluded to is the latter. They should be free to make their terrible game. But I'm personally interested in what the result will be. In short, this is going to be an interesting sociological experiment.

Pass the popcorn, I guess?
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@Eric
My email address is in my profile if you needed to contact me privately. Sorry I apologised for upsetting you then, I misinterpreted the italicised part of your response as indignation.
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Tanya Rei Myoko Programmer 4 years ago
No. Cause the line is variable depending on the person.

I for example couldn't play god of war after the part where you had to burn a man alive as he begged for mercy. Many people didn't like the no Russian scene. I don't like bayonetta for how sexy it is

Anita sarkeesian for example is fine with killing hordes of men to get to a part where you have the option of killing two women and flips out. She's upset than women are treated as equals in a game where you're a mass murderer.

Should any game we disapprove of not exist? No.
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Xander "Fluke" Dent Games Journalism, Technical Support and Cat-Herding. 4 years ago
@Jessica

I take no issue with genuinely good games making money, especially if this enables the making of more good games.

I take issue with the games and game mechanics that are designed to milk the customer for as much as possible in a similar manner to casinos and other such establishments. They have no interest in making games, they purely and simply have an interest in making as much money as possible for the smallest possible outlay, ie. pure business. Calling that art is little more than a crass devaluation of every game that tries to tell a story, share an emotion or entertain for it's own sake. It's not art to clone someone else's idea, cram it full of monetisation "features" and simply market it with a higher budget. We already have a word to describe people with such intentions, charlatans.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Xander "Fluke" Dent on 28th October 2014 8:58pm

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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games4 years ago
Sorry for going off topic. A statement was made about what is a pet peeve for me concerning the game industry. I couldn't let is stand without throwing in my two cents.

As for censorship in games; I feel that video games are another form of artwork that are just like films and books and should not be subjected censorship. Everyone has their own lines when it comes to what they think is acceptable or not. I personally would never play a game that involved rape, torture or harming children.

Recently, someone on the Indie Game Developers Group on LinkedIn mentioned that he was working on a game that centered on rape. He was promptly raked over the coals by the community and his posting was deleted. Should the moderator have deleted his post? Yes. It's the moderator's forum and he has the final word on what can get posted on his forum. Should the guy have the right to make a game about rape? Yes. But he will have to put up with the general public's response to what he has produced. Which could be very negative comments about him and his game.

On a personal note about censorship; I once worked on a World War 2 flight sim where the higher ups would not let us use swastikas on the German planes. They felt that the swastikas would offend some people and their use was forbidden. We ended up using a black X instead.
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Rafa Ferrer Localisation Manager, Red Comet Media4 years ago
@Gary
a World War 2 flight sim where the higher ups would not let us use swastikas on the German planes. They felt that the swastikas would offend some people and their use was forbidden.
I can't believe that actually happened. Not only it makes no sense at all, but it cripples the game's historical accuracy in a very noticeable way.
It certainly is a good example of what can happen when you do think there is a line and your threshold is just plain paranoid.

Just for the record, was there any player backlash? Did they end up regretting their decision?
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Christopher Bowen Editor in Chief, Gaming Bus4 years ago
"Anita sarkeesian for example is fine with killing hordes of men to get to a part where you have the option of killing two women and flips out. She's upset than women are treated as equals in a game where you're a mass murderer."

There better be some proof of her saying this, or you're talking out your ass.
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Gary LaRochelle Digital Artist / UI/UX Designer / Game Designer, Flea Ranch Games4 years ago
@Rafa
The game made it to beta testing but became vaporware before it went live to the general public.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Gary LaRochelle on 29th October 2014 4:26pm

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