For the sake of violence

There are two types of people: stupid people that do stupid things and the other people that uproar in disapproval, spawning endless debates (most of which really don’t result in anything positive). Destructive Creations, developers of the upcoming game, Hatred, belong to the first group.

The premise of the game is simple: you hate the world and you literally want to kill as many people as you can. The developers also went so far to tell they plan to deliver a pure gameplay experience.

Obviously, all sane people united in indignation.

I find the game repugnant and originally didn’t want to publicize it whatsoever, but I found in it a good topic for a post.

All over the internet, people are currently debating the artistic and moral validity of Hatred. Even more, there’s a sub-group that even when they find the game is disgusting, argue they have no way to criticize it because they like other violent games like Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, Carmageddon, etc. How can they criticize a game about killing innocents, when they play games that let you kill innocent pedestrians (maybe not directly, but at least give you the mechanics to)?

While participating on a small debate going on in a Facebook group of game developers, one of them raised an interesting question. Why is this game bad while other games (with similar mechanics) aren’t? Other people went quickly to answer: “because you kill the bad ones.” And it’s true, how many minions, foes, terrorists, vampires, zombies, aliens haven’t you as a player killed? And the reason why it was acceptable was because they are clearly the bad guys.

I live in Venezuela, a country famously known for its natural beauty, riches (petroleum), beaches and beautiful women… and social, medical, political, economical, you-name-it chaos. Laws are crayon-written and basically everyone does as pleases. Bikers, for example, are one of the common enemies of the daily citizen; they don’t respect traffic laws and many (although, not all) of them are armed with a gun, ready to steal and kill. As of the citizens respects, bikers are a plague. Fellow game developer, @chiguire, suffered a rob attempt a while ago, and his reaction was to create a game as a way of an intelectual revenge. The question now on the debate was whether a game such as that should be considered under the same terms as Hatred.

My position is that this whole deal depends on a key factor: context.

Topics such as this can never be really objective, they all boil down to who’s judging. We all have a set of rules and norms that we adopt while growing, be it through society, religion or any other source. And, sometimes, sources can have a priority over other sources. For example, taking someone’s life (sans self-defense) is prohibited both by society and religion; but, with events like the Crusades that acted “under the grace of God” and bringing the Lord’s will to all heretics, morality can change, overriding any objection by society standards. Another example are countries or states that carry death sentences.

In the case of Venezuela, bikers represent anti-values for the society and that makes them target of social opinion.

There’s no natural law that says that killing is inherently bad. After all, we are but a tiny blue pale dot in the Universe. For society to prevail it must have harmony and everyone is given the right to live, hence our moral compass (which may vary from culture to culture, but has about the same layout). There are many things we take for granted that really are artificial constructs.

When people say they are just killing bad guys, they are protecting themselves under a good-must-defeat-evil or any other patriotic flag.

The reason Hatred has caused such a fuzz is because it goes against all common morality that every sane citizen has.

Now, with that level of morality in mind: Hatred is a disgrace for the industry. While the developers have all the right in the world to create it, it’s an absolute irresponsibility. Games are currently undergoing a very important phase of debate and acceptance throughout the world and are the most popular target to blame for all the violence we see today.

There are many games that allow players to harm innocent people and not all of them are bad because of that. As an example, Specs Ops: The Line is a game whose core concept is a critic to modern violent games and that deals themes like Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

There’s no point in doing a full-fledged judgment of the game right now, as we only have a teaser trailer around. However, for what I can tell, Hatred will be violence for the sake of violence, with no real merit by its own right. I don’t expect anything from the game itself. The only thing Hatred is useful now is to spark debates that will force developers to think about certain preconceptions about the medium or their own morality.

Sadly, you need bad crap to appreciate the good things.

You need people like me. You need people like me so you can point your fuckin’ fingers and say, “That’s the bad guy.” So… what that make you? Good? You’re not good. You just know how to hide, how to lie. Me, I don’t have that problem. Me, I always tell the truth.

– Tony Montana (Scarface)

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