On the topic of Hatred: When are Games Too Violent

imagesI have in my many years as a gamer killer hundreds if not thousands of digital people. When playing a stealth game my modus operandi is along the lines of “if there is no one left alive then no one can sound the alarm”. I’ve used knifes, guns, spells, swords and even my own to hands to brutalize man and beast alike. And i’ve never thought twice about it. But with “Hatred” coming out next week and the controversy surrounding it’s violent content I thought I’d take the time to put in my two cents.
Personally, I don’t think “Hatred” is too violent. Sure, I’m right there with every one who refuses to play the game due to it’s content, but the content I have an issue with isn’t the violence. Strangling people in “The Last of Us”, one of my favorite games, was just as brutal as anything i’ve seen from Hatred and i’ve killed more than a few civilians in games like “GTA5” and “Watchdogs”. And even though I hate the “Call of Duty” games for what they stand for, put me in front of the game and i’ll still try for as many head shots as I can get. So whats the difference between all those games and Hatred?
Easy. Most other games use violence as a means to an end, Hatred uses it as both means and ends.
Joel wanted to protect Ellie, Aiden Pearce wanted vengeance for the murder of his Niece, Booker wanted to whip away his debt, and Kratos wanted revenge for being tricked into killing his family. Hell, even in the old “Manhunt” games, the player character isn’t killing because they want too (at lest as far as the game proper was concerned) but because an outside force commanded it. What does the player character from Hatred want? To Kill. To cause Pain. That, and nothing more. None of these other games sell themselves on the fantasy of murder and nihilism.
Now, lets go back to 1992 and the release of Mortal Kombat. At the time it was garnering just as much contravention as Hatred but now a days no one in the gaming community blinks an eye at it. Even with the release of Mortal Kombat X, where the fatalities are more detailed and more gruesome than ever, most gamer either don’t care, or simply decided that it’s not their thing and leave it alone. Why? Again, Mortal Kombat doesn’t sell itself on the violence. I know, sounds weird right, but really think about it. Do you really think Mortal Kombat would have been around this long if it was just a gore fest? If the mechanics weren’t as tight, if it took no skill to learn and master the game, if Mortal Kombat was just a crappy fighting game where at the end you could make your opponent explode into gooey chunks, do you really think we’d still be playing it today? I don’t. Mortal Kombat might use gore as a spectral, but the reason most people play it is the thrill of mastering the game, then using their mastery to one up other players.
I am all for cathartic and over the top violence. I mean, one of my favorite film directors is Quentin Tarantino, I literally can not say I think violence in media, at any level, is too much. But Hatred isn’t just about the violence, the joy is supposed to come from the pain that violence causes. Killing pedestrians in GTA and Watchdogs and a scene of absurdism too it. In “Postal 2” you are constantly aware that you aren’t meant to be taking the game seriously. “Hatred” doesn’t have that. It tells you up front: you are meant to enjoy playing as a man who would walk into a school and shoot everyone he sees. I could get behind this if there was a point to be made. If this was like “Spec Ops: The Line” where you are meant to analyse the character too gain a new understanding of violence and violent people, then I don’t think any one would care.


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