Can We Stop Restricting Developers With This Morality Bullshit?
Destructive Creations recently introduced the wider gaming audience to their upcoming isometric shooter with a “disturbing atmosphere of mass killing”, Hatred. The surprising response from many critics and big-name media outlets saw utterly outrageous claims and accusations, with some even attempting to get the game banned. This is a complete contradiction to the very nature of video-game development and I for one am ashamed at the reception Hatred has received and the astonishing attitude on display at some of the “respected” gaming outlets.
For those not familiar with the controversy currently sweeping over Destructive Creations’ Hatred, a little introduction. On October 16th Polish based developers Destructive Creations sent word to all the big figures of the gaming world, introducing us wonderful “journalists” to the twisted vision of their latest creation, Hatred. I’ll spare you a paragraph of a poor attempt at describing the video and simply give you the choice to watch it. Because ya’ know, we all have a choice in life.
That’s it. That’s the trailer that has sparked massive levels of controversy in the online gaming space. Polygon said it was the “worst trailer of the year“, Metro (I know, I struggled to keep a straight face here as well) claimed that it would keep the worlds sickest serial killers entertained, while Inquisitor asked if Hatred is the most offensive video-game ever? Now either all of the journalists at these outlets drank the same mushroom tea or they’re all missing the point of developing games entirely.
How often do we as gamers yearn for something new? Something fresh, something that redefines what it means to be a video-game. How many reviews have you read where a game is criticized for its lack of innovation or new ideas? Yet when one comes along half the gaming world explodes, with some idiots even accusing the developers of “neo-Nazi, anti-Islamic affiliations“. Oh, and for the record. I totally agree with the response from Jaroslaw Zielinski, the CEO of Destructive Creations, when he was approached with the neo-Nazi accusations, he simply said they were “fucking ridiculous”.
I watched the trailer for Hatred, it looks alright. I won’t rush out to buy it and there’s a good chance I’ll miss it entirely, yet some individuals feel they’re suited and qualified to make that decision for me. Developing video-games is not all that dissimilar to other creative mediums in entertainment. An individual or team share a vision and work together to deliver that vision in the best way they can. Whether you’re talking video-games, movies, TV or music, it’s all very similar. There are elements of the process considered to be normal, and others that push the line of controversy or raise the line of quality. Yet somewhere along the line the reputation of developing video-games has been drowned in pints of utter piss drivel as certain outlets feel they can judge the tolerance and socially acceptable levels of controversy in video-games. Well to you I say this. Piss off.
I don’t consider myself an expert in all elements of the entertainment industry, unless you ask the other half and then I’m an expert in all movies that are worth my time, but let me share my experience of television, movies and music with you for a moment. I have seen Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of A Clockwork Orange and endured the infamous rape scenes, I was witness to the mental degradation and death of Gomer Pyle in Full Metal Jacket, I questioned my humanity while laughing at Mr. Blonde’s (Michael Madsen) torturous ways in Reservoir Dogs and I thoroughly enjoyed what many claimed was a direct insult to religion in the Life of Brian. Likewise I remember the first time I watched the pleasure-seeking drug and alcohol rampage in the music video for Prodigy’s Smack My Bitch Up. ANd I recall bobbing my young and rather empty teenage mind to lyrics that describe death, torture, rape and violence, in any number of Eminem songs. And I remember the vivid imaginary brought on by Body Count’s “Cop Killer”.
There’s one single element that all of those have in common – the creators and the passionate minds behind each and every one had the freedom to develop and deliver their vision. Do we throw Eminem to the wolves every time he releases a new track describing another colorful and creative way to dispatch of his ex-wife? Do we call for the head of a director when incredibly disturbing scenes are portrayed in a new movie (and this is actually real, not computer generation images)? Or do we mock the artist who’s paints a picture we’re all too scared to see?
Gaming and developers should not be treated any differently. Why do these journalists see a mindless genocidal rampage to be so disgusting it deserves banning, while they openly accept, promote and encourage us to play a game where X number of American bad-asses kill countless enemies of an unknown origin that clearly based on current events? In attempting to mimic life, death and reality in gaming, why should we justify the rights and wrongs of individual consequence?
To avoid boring you any further, I’ll end this on a simple note. Any individuals within the gaming niche that can give Grand Theft Auto V a 9.5/10, a game with torture, the brutal killing of innocents and prostitution, and then condemn another for doing the same, does not deserve the level of attention required to even read the article.
Don’t be a hypocrite. Boundaries are there to be pushed. Limits are there to be broken and creativity is there to impress, shock and disgust. That’s why it’s creative.