“My name is not important, what is important is what i’m going to do. I just fucking hate this world and the human worm feasting on it’s carcass. My whole life is just cold, bitter hatred and I always wanted to die violently.
This is the time for vengeance and no life is worth saving and I will put in the grave as many as i can. It’s time for me to kill and it’s time for me to die.
My genocide crusade begins…here”
The minds at Destructive Creations knew that their trailer would bring with it a media shit-storm and they seem only too willing to embrace all the publicity that comes their way as a result of the trailer.
As strange and disturbing a tone this undoubtedly is for a game to adopt; is the furore surrounding this game warranted? After all violence plays a key role in almost every game.
Is it right that we pick out games like ‘Hatred’ and hold them up as an example of everything that is wrong with gaming? What places ‘Call of Duty’ and other “murder-simulators” (http://variety.com/2013/voices/opinion/grossman-2640/) above games like ‘Hatred’?
Before we fully explore this contentious topic I feel it is appropriate to embed the trailer; so you can see the thing in full, a word of warning though, if you are easily offended or upset, please do NOT watch as it is not easy watching.
It is certainly a violent title that is shocking to see play out in front of your eyes; this is not due to the graphics being photo-realistic (even though Epic have distanced themselves from the game and requested that all unreal symbols be removed). No; it’s merely the fact that people are begging for their lives only to be greeted by death. This is genuinely something we; as gamer’s, have only seen once before (the infamous ‘No Russian’ COD:MW2 level)…we’re not used to this level of violence…
…or are we?
Ultra-violence in games.
I can think of several other games who use ultra violence as a game play mechanic some of which but not all have courted controversy; let’s take a look at those that have:
‘Manhunt’ was released in 2003 and put the player into the shoes of convicted serial killer who has been forced to participate in a series of snuff movies. The level of graphic violence that this game portrayed was unprecedented in video games; many of the kills were stealth-melee and included weapons such as the humble plastic bag. Although politicians and activist groups attempted to ban it, it was well-received by critics and gamers some even praised it for it’s dark and nihilistic tone.
‘Grand Theft Auto III’ was the daddy of ultra-violent controversy in 2003 Take Two and Rockstar found themselves on the wrong end of a $246,000,000 lawsuit when two teen were shot by Aaron Hamel and Kimberley Bede who accredited the title as the inspiration behind their act of violence. this game was called a “thug simulator” and was lambasted for the freedom to run riot and murder prostitutes and other innocent bystanders and Australia banned this title on the grounds of it being completely unsuitable for minors. I could continue but you get the point. Won several ‘game of the year’ awards.
‘Mortal Kombat’ is the granddaddy of video-game controversies. It was this one game that led to all video games being certificated and given age restrictions…all down to it’s extreme violence and blood shed. Again won several ‘game of the year’ awards.
While all these games were lambasted at release; they went on to sell in huge numbers and that was all because of one thing, they had the backing of the gamer’s who would/did play them.
‘Hatred’ doesn’t seem to have this mainstream gamer support although there are a small pocket of vocal supporters of the game; gamer’s seem to be against the content of the title on the basis of it being “too much”, “too far” or “disgusting”.
As a gamer I feel this attitude is rich when I look back through the games I have enjoyed it’s got me thinking at what point does violence stop being a narrative device/gameplay mechanic and becomes “too much”?
Ultra-violence is not new in games; certainly not in indie titles. One of last years breakaway hits was ‘Hotline Miami’ a game that cast the player as a hitman; well that’s what we assume he is. This character would receive a phone call (from an unknown boss) and murder the targets without question. Further into the game the player character changes and it becomes clear your employers are not what they seem, you can kill them of course. Here we have a game that employs ultra-violence throughout – there is never any deviation from the formula of ‘phone call, murder, pay’ and yet not one word is spoken about this…even though I can crack a guys skull with a bat – it is acceptable.
Why? Maybe it’s the graphics – they are pixelated ‘8-bit’ style. Does this make it acceptable? Because it looks ‘video gamey’?
What about ‘Gears of War’? I can chainsaw a dude in half – that’s O.K. because i’m doing it to aliens.
‘Crimsonland’? ‘The Dishwasher’? ‘I’m OK: A Murder Simulator’? ‘Happy Wheels’? ‘Torture Game 3’?
All the above are examples of “appropriate violence” yet they are arguably more visceral than what we have seen from ‘Hatred’. It’s a strange circumstance we find ourselves in. Our purchasing (i’m including myself here) has led to a point where the developers are pushing the envelope of violence. We’ve accepted everything in the past, is it too hypocritical of us now – as a population to say “that’s enough now?” when we all have done worse. Anyone whose every played a GTA game has created havoc and killed innocents (i remember PSM putting “can’t run civilians over” as a down point to ‘Driver’). This is thematically no different from ‘Hatred’. Sure there is an over-arcing narrative and perhaps it wasn’t Rockstar’s intention for the player to do this, but they supplied the tools for us. When we’ve all done this, who are we to say that enough is enough?
Why are we questioning this?
Why the debate?
Ken Levine is why!
Famously ‘Bioshock’ gave gamer’s a commentary on why we act as we do in video games; the ‘would you kindly’ speech. Gamer’s are given parameters in which they can act and given objectives to complete, the motivation we are given is always flimsy – he’s the bad guy and this is the bad guys army, kill them. Games rarely go into the reasons behind what makes these people “bad” usually these days they are of Middle-Eastern origin and are cartoon villains so evil it’s laughable.
‘Bioshock’ understood that we do what we are told unquestionably and asked us to question the things we do in games.
This is exactly what Ken Levine wanted, us to take responsibitlity for our actions and be held accountable for them. He was suggesting that ignorance is no excuse for actions and we are being trained into idly obeying orders. Levine wants us to make a fully informed choices; not take the little information we are presented with and taking it for gospel.
So research the titles you play. If you are O.K. with the content that this game is offering then you should have the freedom to play it.
After all you’ll just be killing in most of the games released this holiday season, but at least ‘Hatred’ is open and honest about it’s intentions.
Have you saw the footage of ‘Hatred’?
Did it desturb you?
Disagree with anything I have said?
Leave a comment guys; i’d love to hear from you on this topic as it is sure to be explosive.