Games about mass-murderers

07 Feb 2012

Over the weekend I finished Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune. It’s a very
well constructed game, ensuring I never got stuck for too long while
gently prodding me in the next direction. I liked the Indiana Jones-ish
vibe I got from the well acted and written cutscenes, and especially
the subtle mutterings Nathan would make to himself through the game.
I always loved it when he’d say something like ‘Aw, not again’ when
encountering an ambush of enemies just as I thought the same.

Speaking of ambushes of enemies… there are a lot of these in the game.
Not in comparison to other shooters, but as an Indiana Jones style game,
well… you shoot an awful lot of people. And I don’t want to sound like
a video game-ignorant mother or politician, but does it seem odd to
anyone else that Nathan Drake shot about a hundred people in the face
on his island exploration adventure? And then didn’t even blink in the
cutscenes in between?

Here’s how I think it went down: Go back many decades to the dawn of
video games, and put two entities on the screen. What is the most basic
possible interaction possible? Make one of these entities disappear. Now
assume the entities are players, and you’ve got yourself an extremely
simplistic simulation of combat. Thus, an early common form of player
interaction is born.

It’s easier to recreate than create, so add layers to this combat sim,
like different weapons or powerups. Innumerable iterations later and you
have gaming today: an industry really good at making games that involve
a lot of combat, and gamers that expect this in every game. And more
importantly perhaps, no recognition of how weird it is that in just about
every single story-driven game we play as someone that kills an enormous
amount of people.

I admit this makes sense for Battlefield, but for Uncharted or GTA4 or
Mass Effect, in the context of a treasure hunter/gangster/space cop
it seems kind of ridiculous. Each of these roles may involve killing at
some point, but nowhere near the scale that we actually involve
ourselves in.

All in all, I want to see games that explore different ways of interaction
between entities other than just shrinking their health bar.

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