Hypothetical question here; what what you do if I punched you right now? (Don’t look behind you!) Would you retaliate? Call the police? Cry? Anticipate such an assault and deliver a swift kick to my crotch?! Whatever you’re preferred response the act itself is very affecting, and not just in a physical way. Violence in any form attracts attention. It’s impartial, visceral and overall shocking. Have you ever wondered why games are so generously lavished with violence, profanities and more combustible inanimate environments than Jon Woos cheese induced wet dream? Because it’s awesome for one, but mainly because explosions are accessible and easily promoted. Violence is a resource utilised to advance the story, communicate to its audience the severity of the situation your involved with and demonstrate just how evil the villain is. Without the lead antagonist shooting one of his subordinates in the face with a kitten powered bazooka, how on earth would you understand just how fiendish you’re adversary is? Just as you couldn’t grasp just how heroic the protagonist is if you didn’t witness him/her killing identical goons indiscriminately that look as though they’ve been released from a cloning facility? Why is that heroic? Because you made some witty comment after throwing a guy off a building like “He never did have a head for heights.” There’s also an admirable consistency to violence.
If things are beginning to become meticulous, just introduce a new highly volatile bazooka that fires projectile piranhas, shooting laser beams out of their eyes! Such churlish behaviour is a valuable commodity, commended as an invaluable substitute for character development or even story. Explosions, grenades, guns, violence of any sort will always be as sought after as shawarma at the Avengers dinner party. It’s easy to market, there’s no real necessity to explain the use of augmented weaponry and developers love it. “Exposition? Puh! We’ve got more female nudity and breast exploitation than Michael Bay’s next directorial gang rape. Narrative fluency? Bah, we’ve got incendiaries strapped to the testicles of an albino T-Rex, practising calligraphy with a flame-thrower”. In fairness that does evoke some very compelling imagery? Explosions? Guha! We’ve got Satan’s detachable ballsacks that emit a seizure inducing explosion! Boom! Bang! Pop! Feeling fatigued now? Well tough, this is just the first stage so you’ll need to inflate those puny bean bags you call testicles if you want to proceed, wuss!” I can just hear the production team going “Uh oh, the audience is reacting to the plot point, they’re trying to figure out the narrative! Quick, blow up that shoe as a distraction before they figure out that the story makes no coherent sense!” Gamers don’t want “romantic liaison officers”, we want prostitutes with alluring assets the size of Turkey, armed to the teeth with enough fire-power to blow up an actual Nuclear explosion!
Compliance with a reputable story or the integrity of the characters portrayed becomes an adequate accessory. When it all comes down to it it’s about appealing to our most primitive behaviour. To facilitate the acquisition of childish whimsy, to engage players without the restraint of morality. Games have never been constrained by the ideologies of reality, and that’s the beauty. It’s a great excuse to go all Lindsey Lohan for a couple of hours without having to attend court at the end of it, presumably to sue RockStar for defamation of character. Let’s not concern ourselves with moralistic repercussions of our actions, but revel in the irreverence of shooting unnamed assailants in the ball sacs. Explosions will always out-gun story, always. It doesn’t matter how it’s represented, violence is violent. Just ask Tarantino? He utilises gratuitous scenes with explicit poise, introducing surreal scenes of unhinged derangement that almost appear sophisticated. Yet one of my favourite moments comes courtesy of “Inglorious Basterds”. Not my favourite Tarantino movie, however it does a great job of building tension gradually. It doesn’t need dramatic music or intimidating stares that linger too long, it’s just a intimidating discussion between a dairy farmer and a high ranking officer in the SS that precipitously descends into an intense interrogation. Waltz is so disarming in his approach, coming across a deceptively charming and courteous integrator with a discernible graciousness to his enquires. But his demeanour is one of quite deception, like a benign volcano. I loved how alluringly gripping that scene was even though fundamentally it was two guys having a conversation, interjected with brief glimpses of the concealed fugitives. And you can’t apply the same logic to a game. You just can’t. Because that’s not the way games are designed. They have to be pervasive, purposeful and blindingly apparent. They have to be as obvious as the comparative symbolism between Superman and Jesus! And above all else, fun. You couldn’t be this violent in real life, nor would any vaguely sane human being want to. So go nuts! Have fun, because simulated violence is far less damaging than anything you’ll see on the news at 10.