The Game Boy: Violence Is the (Wrong) Answer

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jedisamurai

Excellent article. Aside from the obvious psychological implications of reducing the violence intake of your entertainment diet, all the violence gets just plain boring after a while doesn't it? I hate First-Person-Shooters and it bugs me to no end that they continue to get the biggest budget.

On the other hand there ARE good non-violent games (I keep screaming at editors to feature the AMAZING game Iji, which has the most brilliant pacifist option I've ever seen in a game). You gotta love the non-violent 3D shooters Sky Gunner and Child of Eden, or the option to not fight your arch-enemy in Chrono Trigger and instead have him join your party.

Mostly though, I weep for what might have been in so many games. I dream about making a game called "Pacifism" where the hero is in the middle of a war and must stop it at all costs...and never kills anyone. So often in games there is no consequence to death. That needs to change. And for proof that non-violence works in movies as well watch the excellent Clear and Present Danger (Jack Ryan never kills anyone).

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h e x e n

As a gamer, I would much rather PLAY Deadspace 2 than Amnesia. I lost interest in Amnesia pretty quickly, mostly because it's the same drawn out process over and over. Solve puzzle, run and hide, solve puzzle, run and hide, solve puzzle, something cinematic happens, which usually involves running and hiding.

Yeah, DS2 follows a similar formula, but it's MUCH more dynamic because of the combat. Both games have you running all over the place, but with Amnesia, that's ALL you do. The very thing you do in 85% of the game, is what you also do in that 15% of monster encounters. It's charm wears thin pretty quickly. Run, run, run, run, run, hide, run, run, hide, run. ENEMY! Run, run, run, run, hide.

With Amnesia, I don't feel like I'm PLAYING the game so much as I feel like I'm just walking around and clicking on objects. There's no strategy, no dynamic interaction... it's simply the same repeated process over and over with only the environment switched around.

I can appreciate what Amnesia tried to do, but I found it to be so incredibly boring that I never finished it. I suppose it's just not my type of game. I want to play a badass, a hero... an intricate figure of some grand unfolding plot or story. Not some pussy who has to run around and hide from everything he see's.

In my opinion, a nice mix would have been awesome. You can fashion weapons and encounter enemies head on, but it drains a huge amount of your energy, so much so that there's no way you could use violence to solve every encounter.

Balance is everything. Finding that balance is hard to do, so you end up with lots of games that are either on one extreme or the other.

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bloodgain

I agree. That's the point, isn't it? You're "average Joe" in a bad situation, but it turns out you're more of a badass than you thought. It's fantasy.

If you wanted to make it more realistic, I agree with you on balance. With a found weapon or gun, I could defend myself from some pretty big nasties. I could only do it for so long before I needed a rest, though. Expending my energy fighting instead of hiding would get me killed if I did it every time. Really, I'd be better to make sure I see my enemy before he sees me, and save my energy for the times he sees me anyway.

In a game, though, resting is boring. The next best thing is forcing you to think your way out of most situations rather than fight your way out. Then again, if violence isn't done right in a game, that gets boring pretty quickly, too.

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h e x e n

Absolutely, but if I had to take one extreme over the other, I'm sorry to say, it would have to be the one soaked in violence rather than pacifism. It's just more visceral and visually interesting.

Totally agree with you though. It would have been awesome if you could fashion shivs or small spears out of objects. Here's how I would have it:

-You have to fashion your own weapons

-All encounters would be CQC, no projectiles.

-You are allotted 1-3 kill sequences per level/checkpoint. If you use them all, you're done.

-Kill sequences are not an "I win" button and would initiate fight animations where you struggle against the NPC until one of you dies. (Sort of like how DS2 does it when a monster latches onto you.) Certain monsters may also be too big or strong to kill, forcing you to evade.

-You are encouraged to traverse the level without killing, as it drains an inordinate amount of your health/stamina/energy, and or, increases your fear or paranoia. It's basically a last resort tactic.

There are so many directions they could have taken the game by introducing this one mechanic. If you choose to fight monsters, do you begin to see more of them if they are truly hallucinations? By killing them, are you feeding your minds psychosis and delusions?

See how much more dynamic the game could have been? You're still retaining that same fear concept but there's now another level that really opens up some options, in both the story and in gameplay.

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SeverianSilk

I'm not sure. As an avid RPG player, I love strategy, cream over puzzles, enjoy turned-based battle systems, and sometimes shit my pants when I play Mass Effect. But still, the omniviolent, nothing-but-shooting-hell-spawned-demons theme is something I must give tribute to. It's where 3D gaming all started with games like Doom. It has its place. It still makes me shit my pants and long for a good book, but the nostalgic value makes me want to keep it around. I do agree, however, that games need to focus more in strategy, complexity, and story line than most do today. But, goddamnit, we still like our demon-slaying bloodfests.

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West996

Great Article. Now if only actual game developers read this...

BF3 is just around the corner.. many of us are anticipating Diablo 3 some time in the next 1000 years...both 100% violence fueled games... 

 

Recently though I picked up Terraria from Steam. It was on sale, less then $10 bucks and I've sunk hour and hours into this game. There is some violence though it is far from a focus in this sand box game where I can build my own world. 

I'd love to see more titles that tested my imagination, and my inginuity rather then how fast and how often I could click my left mouse button.

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Scootiep

"And no, smartasses in the audience, it's not “always.” Always isn't even a place."

No, however it is a "time" and the corresponding place would be "everywhere"!

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Danthrax66

This article is: FAIL

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US_Ranger

Why?

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Danthrax66

Well first off because in Deus Ex HR you can avoid almost every boss. Not every game is violent or overly violent just most AAA/fps games that the industry portrays as AAA. Then there are sports games and racing games. It isn't like there aren't games without violence as a focul point it's just that they aren't the money makers because people enjoy competition and without action/violence there can't be much competition. And if you look at sales statistics and the industry in general violence is the correct answer in gaming it is what draws people and money in. Because in a capitalist system the buyers decide and buy what they want and it isn't Elmo's adventure time, it's CoD, BF, Madden, Deus Ex, Batman, etc. 

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IIAbeII

I loved playing the Thief games for the exact reasons you talk about. Killing people actually made the game harder to play. They would scream a death scream, alerting nearby guards. When you killed people they would leave a bloody patch that if found by other patroliing guard would be alerted by. Sneaking up on people felt like a challenge, and when you where catch resulted in great "OHSHITOHSHITTHEYFOUNDME" rush of adrenaline.

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ONaE

I don't know about "Thief" games, since I've never played them, but I think I understand the feeling. The Metal Gear Solid series is among my favorites, and while fighting is always an option, nine times of ten it's not the BEST option. The tension of a good stealth game far outweights the excitement of a gun fight. (Needless to say, MGS has had it fair share of gunfights, but even then they have a carefully crafted sense of strategy to them, as well as a significant backstory.) I agree wholeheartly with this article, but at the same time feel the need to remind everyone that there are more genres in gaming than just "action/shooter".

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Scootiep

If you haven't played the Thief games, do yourself a favor and do it ASAP. Especially the first two. As far as first person stealthers go, it puts the Metal Gear Solid series to shame with mechanics. And the story lines are very original and top notch. If you really want to enjoy it, make sure you have a halfway decent 5.1 surround system hooked up in the proper places and turn the lights off. Made me jump higher than the first Resident Evil for the PS1 when I was 17. It's seriously worth the minimal cash and time investment required to play it now.

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Techrocket9

Just an FYI, in Deus Ex: HR for every boss except the first there is a way to avoid drawn out combat; a hidden "win button" if you will. You have the choice of fighting the boss or finding the cleaver work-around.

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