American Psycho, GoodFellas, Die Hard, Fight Club; all of these movies contain many incredulous portrayals of visually repellent, often intense graphical images, whether through literature of their respective novelisation’s that some were originally adapted from or the cinematic equivalent. They feature content that embellishes the visceral devastation of pain, torture and suffering all for the purposes of entertaining audiences. But despite the acute intent to influence audiences to collectively grimace in revulsion at the many violent movies/novels that have been berated for their excessive use of violent images, though none of these narratives are defined by them. Underneath the intense exteriors are highly provocative, emotionally responsive stories, told with competency and intelligence (well perhaps not Die Hard specifically, but it was still obnoxious fun!). The site of blood, mutilations and rules that we can’t talk about seems to irate certain factions and stir aberrant intolerance inside their undernourished perceptions of fiction. Sometimes symmetrical narratives need brutal physicality of human emotion that manifests in a variety physical antagonism to allow stories to naturally progress, and a certain affirmation for violence is commendable in the context of the situation or the exaggerated portrayal of human psychosis. My elongated procrastinations aside, the point I’m attempting to convey is that coercion when appropriately inserted is a powerful mechanism for narratives, but isn’t necessarily conducive to entertainment, and games do little to dispel this.
A games fundamental purpose is to entertain, at times utilising detonations which subsequently cause severed cartilage to travel vertically like a propelled elevator, but few if any are capable of adapting a poignant or even relevant story to allow such vile instances to seem like genuinely plausible circumstances. I know what your thinking, “Who cares about plausibility in a world inhabited by dragons, warlocks and various incantations of mysticism?” OK, so a games most predominate concern should be to entertain, to allow gamers to suspend disbelief, but its hard to accept such a generic preface of “go there, kill him/her/it, return safely for fresh pepperoni pizza” (well the latter part is somewhat conspicuous but you get the general idea). It’s no wonder that games are so often vilified for their gratuitous content when it all seems so unnecessary. Such instances should be a plauditory collaboration with an engaging and constantly enveloping narrative, that allows actions that are perceived as commendable to transcend into an applicable retaliation. Perhaps I’m demanding too much from a game, but if the content is mature then why do the stories that afflict these scenarios reflect the depravity of the actions? Of course it would be rather contradictory as well as hugely condescending to demonize its inclusion, particularly considering what an emotionally destructive vehemence anger is, and how it manifests in the construction of a story.
Imagine playing as Max Payne and corresponding with an adversary with defiant, though modest tone proclaiming your intentions for their treacherous antagonism towards your family. “Darn your cretinous conduct, you will regret your venomous folly!” Now in that circumstance, whereby Max’s espionage skills allowed him to infiltrate the mob to identify the individual responsible for the death of his wife and unborn daughter, its likely that you would respond and retaliate with a little less constricted verbalization, and alternately retort with more pronounced hostility. Sometimes the only true way to realistically articulate and convey a characters detached emotions, is through the brutal physicality of confrontation. Conveying the acrid intensity that has been allowed to flourish, isn’t going to be alleviated with tremulous vocalisation of disdain, but condensed into concentrated ferocity, and focused by indurated determination. As important as the story has to be to accommodate the intense dynamics, violence needs an advocate. But conversely, is embellishing violent tenacity and reducing mortality to a more superfluous finality that can be so readily extinguished stretching the fabric of simulated mortality? Of course not, it’s simulated entertainment, and one you don’t necessarily need to play.
Are games becoming too violent? And do we necessarily require a competent story to accommodate violence? Let me know what you guys think. Cheers.