zaterdag 24 oktober 2009

games should have proper violence

I'll be writing in english, so that internet people can understand what I'm saying.

I'm going to make a design statement here, using books or articles as sources.

Thinking about what I've learned from books on game design, I realised that I read something smart in A Theory of Fun by Raph Koster.
The book might have bad drawings with Comic Sans on every other page, but the text in it is clear and good.

What he said was:
The problem with games is not so much sex and violence, it is shallow sex and violence.

That means he instantly assumes that games have a problem. Let's see a radical view on that:

Craig A. Anderson on violence in games

What he does is countering any arguments that counter arguments that claim games cause violence. What?! Yeah.

He explains why certain types of research on games and violence are not irrelevant, and does a pretty good job at that. But on the other hand, he doesn't seem to know a lot about games and he is talking about researches not done by him.
Facts: Some studies have yielded nonsignificant video game effects, just as some smoking studies failed to find a significant link to lung cancer.
This is simply not an argument. He could also have said: "Because some people believe the world was flat, video games cause violence."

He also mainly refers to something that seems to be GTA, but calls it recent video games. GTA is a game that got a lot of media attention, because of it's violence. But when you research games and violence, you require certain examples. There are simply too many and too different video games to refer to something as video games. The following example is just rather silly:

Recent video games reward players for killing innocent bystanders, police, and prostitutes, using a wide range of weapons including guns, knives, flame throwers, swords, baseball bats, cars, hands, and feet. Some include cut scenes (i.e., brief movie clips supposedly designed to move the story forward) of strippers. In some, the player assumes the role of hero, whereas in others the player is a criminal.

Still, this is all true, and shows he thinks that strippers are bad.
Games have a clear age rating, so that should be fine, right? Kids do not get to play violent games with strippers in them, let's just assume that for now.
But then, according to Mr. Anderson, games still cause violence.

Since he probably thinks that violence is not good, he would want games to contain as little violence as possible.

This is different than what Mr. Koster says. According to him, I agree, games are rather immature when it comes to violence. There are usually not a lot of reasons for the violence, other then "these guys are bad these are good go go go".

Clearly there are not many examples of games that use violence in a proper way. A rather good one is the upcoming heavy rain. A game by the creators of Fahrenheit. Also a game showing more emotion then usual. There are also adventure games showing good storytelling, and the usual action game. Most of the games out there however, only have a story because they are expected to. And most of them contain action.

An example used very often is comic books. People used to think comics were for kids, and that adults should not read them. Nowadays however, there are lot of examples of mature comics, with serious and realistic sex and violence.

The internet likes to talk about this, according to google.

this blog writes about the discussion

First of all, it states video games are immature. Is this true?
If we look only at games not aimed at kids, we see a lot of them do not show maturity. As said before, games usually don't give much reason for violence, while the main goal is usually something violent.
Interesting is how that blog compares captain america to the master chief, and leaves out the "smart comics". Does this add a lot to the discussion? The blog doesn't give any argumentation. But it does show that most internet sources are purely opinions, and nothing else. So I won't use those in the future.

What do I think?

Since games are in essence about gameplay, story is not required to make a game good. It is a nice extra, and can make games which are low on gameplay (monkey island is a good example) still very enjoyable.
Most people do not really seem care about intelligent content in movies or games, and this is probably also why most people don't read books nowadays.
It might not be smart to focus less on graphics, but I think it has to be done. And don't focus on accesability, like the wii did, no, give us some games with meaningful violence.
Gameplay innovation is cool right now, looking at the great deal of indie games that take some basic game and add a weird "refreshing" mechanic. That's good, but it's not new anymore.

Sex and violence might not ruin games, but could be used more effictively.
If you want to be hip, start making games with proper storytelling right now, before someone else does it.

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