The iconic “with great power comes great responsibility” from the Spider-Man comic series is a fitting moniker for the story of the superhero who has greatness thrust upon him, but it is also appropriate for video games as well. As the industry continues to grow, and more specifically as the machines that deliver singular game experiences increase in power, it is the responsibility of the developers to be more mindful of certain elements, namely violence.
Or that’s just what has been making the rounds in recent days, with developers decrying that as games get closer and closer to photorealism that the consideration for thoughtless violence increase exponentially. Instead, however, we end up with overly violent, and extremely realistic-looking titles like God of War: Ascension, pushing the limits of what is possible as far as violence goes.
Among those who feel that the need for a stronger critical eye is of the utmost importance is Star Wars 1313 Creative Director Dominic Robilliard, whose own game purports to be a more mature take on Lucas’ Star Wars universe. Robilliard found the “ultra-violence at this year’s E3” to be a bit disconcerting.
“I feel that responsibility escalates with the fidelity. When you can render characters that look like the ones in our game – and other games – you get to this realism level where you really don’t want to encourage that kind of thing. Seeing that kind of reaction from gamers… It may well be human nature, but you don’t want to put content out there that pushes those buttons.”
Robilliard wants to stress that Star Wars 1313, while mature, is a game made for “adults not psychopaths.” The inherent violence associated with a laser blast versus a shotgun — something featured heavily in many of E3’s standout titles — is subdued, but what we saw in June was only ostensibly test footage, and could be toned down or ramped up.
E3 2012 wasn’t all about glorifying violence, there were a few titles like Naughty Dog’s The Last of Us that put violence in a light unseen in games, but on the whole it could be argued that as game’s graphical fidelity increases so should the care placed on keeping tasteless elements out. It’s only one perspective of looking at it, and there is a lot to consider, but E3 2013 will be the place where we see whether developers are interested in creating new and better looking experiences, or just making the violence look more realistic.
How do you feel about developers’ portrayal of violence as console’s graphical capabilities increase? What is an example of a game that handles violence well?