Experienced Points: Hatred and the Catharsis of Violence

By Shamus Posted Tuesday May 19, 2015

Filed under: Column 202 comments

This week I wrote a column about Hatred, the upcoming game where you go on a killing spree and try to slaughter as many innocent people as you can. I’ve been thinking about this game for months, and I actually had more to say about it than could fit in a single column. (And I didn’t think it warranted two columns in a row.) So go read the article, then come back here and read the rest of my thoughts on the game.

For context: I have my Playstation right next to my PC, so every time I took a break from writing the column I’d pick up the controller and play a little more GTA V, where I was trying to see how long Trevor could survive with a five-star wanted level. I killed dozens of civilians and hundreds of cops during the course of writing this column, and it was pretty fun. Then I watched a few segments of the Hatred trailer and got sick again.

Ain’t this dandy?
A degenerate, degenerate strategy: I’m always looking for spots where you can hold off the police for a long time. I think the Ammu-Nation in Pillbox Hill (the one with the shooting range) is the best you could possibly hope for. You’ve got cover, you’ve got protection from helicopters, you’ve got a single choke point for the AI to funnel through, and you’ve got a vending machine to refill your health. Once you master blind-fire headshots with a shotgun (lining guys up and headshotting them without using a cursor) you can hold them off forever.

Getting away is still pretty tricky, though.

In GTA, it’s not your goal to kill the police. (Although sometimes they are in the way of your goal.) More importantly, the police aren’t sympathetic public servants. They’re brutal, corrupt jackasses who will shoot you in the face for denting one of their cruisers and who scream stuff like, “Killing makes my dick hard!” in a firefight. In the Hatred trailer, we only see police officers as victims being sadistically murdered as they try to stop you from killing civilians. So even though both games have killing people as a gameplay element, the framing, tone, context, and focus are completely different.

It’s like nudity: One picture of bare breasts is obviously pornography and another is obviously fine art, and there’s a whole lot of grey area between the two. But the fact that the line is blurry doesn’t mean the two things are the same. Context is everything.

There’s one other thing about this game, which is that I’ve seen people claim that it’s “satire”. I’ve watched the trailer a couple of times now, and I haven’t detected even a whiff of satire. Satire is more than simply presenting a thing. If this was satire, it might sound like this:

Fade in on guns and knives being equipped.

Voice Over: The world has pushed me TOO FAR. No longer will I live in this world of LIES. I have a job not directly related to my COLLEGE MAJOR, and this means MY EARNING POTENTIAL IS LOWER THAN I WOULD PREFER. My parents bought me the SECOND-most popular videogame console. And my barrista is really shitty at FOAM ART.

At some point in the montage it becomes clear that the speaker is preparing more weapons than one person could reasonably carry.

VO: I will have REVENGE for the hellish TORMENT I’ve had to endure. I will have JUSTICE the only way I know how: By KILLING HUNDREDS OF PEOPLE WHO HAVE NEVER WRONGED ME.

Heavy metal music sting. The camera pulls back to reveal a shitty third-generation Rob Zombie knockoff. He’s dressed all in black, and his T-shirt has a frown-y face emoticon on it. He’s bristling with firearms and teetering under the load. He turns dramatically and heads for the door, but the guns on his back get caught on the doorframe. He loses his balance. We SLAM CUT to black, and an instant later we hear him clatter to the floor.

VO: (Grunting.) They will… all… pay.

Granted: The above would be tasteless, but it would at least qualify as satire. Hatred is not satire.

Okay, for the sake of argument, let’s pretend Hatred was supposed to be satire. And let’s also assume that we wanted to remove the satire and play it straight. What would we need to change?

It’s like:

Adam: Hey man, did you see the video I sent you?

Shamus: Uh. The video of you and Steve having hours of sweaty, grunting, red-faced, butt-slapping sex? I kind of fast forwarded through bits of it, but it made me pretty uncomfortable and I didn’t see the end.

Adam: Pretty awesome, right?

Shamus: I’ll be honest, it’s not really my thing. I had no idea you guys were gay.

Adam: (Offended.) What? No way! We hate gay people. We made that to make fun of them.

Shamus: You made gay porn to make fun of gay people?

Adam: SATIRICAL gay porn, you idiot. Couldn’t you see how exaggerated the gay sex was? It’s obviously satire!

Shamus: I guess I missed the joke.

Adam: Philistine.

Exaggerating something isn’t always satire. Sometimes it’s just that thing, only moreso.

I understand the desire to call it satire. You look at this and you think, “They can’t be playing this straight, can they? That would be crazy!” But I’m not seeing the satire in zooming in for a cinematic kill shot where a woman is begging for her life and you put a gun in her mouth and execute her. Someone made those models, animated those characters, scripted those blood splats, and positioned that camera. And the result is basically a virtual snuff film.

Having said all that, I want to make it clear that I’m not calling for the game to be banned. I’m not even protesting the game. And I’m not saying anyone is evil if they want to play it. Playing Hatred doesn’t necessarily mean you want to massacre people. Some people are freaked out by spiders, or heights, or cringe a body horror. In some cases those same people are also fascinated by those things and actively seek out media that will trigger those fears. People are strange, and we all have different ways of dealing with anger, anxiety, sadness, or other negative emotions.

Here is what Extra Credits had to say about it:

Link (YouTube)

I’m just hoping that while we discuss the game, we can recognize it for what it is. This thing is deliberately engineered to be nihilistic, shocking, horrifying, controversial, angry, and brutalAssuming, of course, that the trailer is indicative of the game itself.. It’s ugly and there’s no doubt most people will hate it.

But I don’t think this game could turn anyone into a killer. It doesn’t make mass murder seem glamorous or fun. Some people might play it purely out of curiosity, and others might enjoy it in some way I don’t understand, but it’s not an obvious danger to anyone.

Sure, you could build some hypothetical scenario where some already-deranged person might buy the game and it would push them into perpetrating the killing spree they’ve always dreamed of. But that’s all it would be: A hypothetical. I could make a hypothetical where a deranged person is planning a massacre, plays the game, and gets some kind of revelation or satisfaction that keeps them from going through with the real thing. Or maybe Bob buys the game, Bob’s friends find out about it, and they realize Bob’s “jokes” about killing everyone in the office probably aren’t jokes, and they intervene before he does something destructive. We can make hypothetical scenarios all day.

These events are incredibly rare compared to (say) people being struck by lightning, and we know very little about how disturbed individuals respond to stimuli and what sets them off. Particularly when we’re talking about cases that end in murder-suicide, because we can’t study them afterwards. And so I’m not eager to jump onto any sort of bandwagon. I don’t know why the developers are making this game, I don’t know why fans want to play it, and I don’t know how well it will sell. (My prediction: This is not going to be the next Minecraft.) These are all interesting and useful things to discuss as long as we can keep calm about it. This game isn’t a threat to anyone, and seeing how people react to it might teach us something.

Having said that, I don’t plan on playing it. I find the topic interesting, but I get ill just watching the trailer.



[1] Assuming, of course, that the trailer is indicative of the game itself.

From The Archives:

202 thoughts on “Experienced Points: Hatred and the Catharsis of Violence

  1. Infinitron says:

    Who are these people saying it’s satire? The devs themselves are pretty clear about what their game is about.

    1. Thomas says:

      Maybe they mean that trailer through line BS about how it’s a ‘satire’ of intellectualism in games. Ie game that are trying to be meaningful and artistic or w/e.

      Still I could believe some people are arguing it’s satire just because they can’t believe something so pointless and gross would be made. ‘It must be satire right?’

      1. MrGuy says:

        I’d find it more interesting to call the game dadaism as opposed to satire.

        It’s an “anti-game” where there’s no catharsis, no real obstacles to overcome, no glee, not even a victory. Only actions where you senselessly murder those less powerful than yourself, and then you lose (i.e. die).

        It’s a really interesting dadaist anti-game, if that’s what the developers intended. Though I guess a dadaist by definition never “intends” anything…

        1. Wide And Nerdy says:

          Thats . . .

          Wow. That might bring me back around. Probably won’t buy it but I’d be interested to see if anyone else feels like you do.

          That said, given the context in which Dadaism arose, I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t be comfortable with a gross display of violence even if it otherwise fits their method. But my knowledge is limited.

    2. Blake says:

      Check out the youtube comments of the Extra Credits video, lots of people calling it satire there.

    3. Humanoid says:

      I don’t even buy that GTA is satire, as people like to claim. So by extension I guess, neither is this.

      1. Tmacnt says:

        I believe GTA is most certainly satire. But unlike, say, South Park: Stick of Truth which is phenomenally good satire, it’s just really, really terrible and vapid satire that is very unfocused. Like Rockstar is really, really [i]trying[/i] to make it satire but doesn’t fully understand satire or what it is satirizing and it more comes off as just bitching, whining and moaning more than anything else. Due to this is comes off more as pessimistic, nihilistic vitriol directed at everyone. It has the effect of saying way too much, but not actually [i]saying[/i] anything at all. And it’s fine for a game to not say anything. I highly doubt Super Mario Bros has some deeper meaning and was trying to say something about the futility of saving a damsel in distress because they will always just return to being damsel in distress eventually ala fatalism. It doesn’t make any of the Super Mario Bros games worse. The problem comes when you are pretending to say something deep and philosophical when it’s really all a facade and you are desperate to be saying something, but don’t really have anything to say or aren’t willing to say it. Or you are saying something that really isn’t that deep, meaningful or philosophical but have the preconceived notion or facade that you are doing so. Y’know like the Matrix movies. God I hate the Matrix. The reason I can’t stand playing GTA 5 is [i]because[/i] Michael and Trevor are hands down the two most annoying, bitching, moaning, whining, unlikable characters in any game I’ve ever played. They have given me a new-found appreciation for Navi, Ashley Graham and Slippy the Toad.

        1. Michael says:

          Yeah. With the major caveat that I haven’t played GTA5 yet. Tmacnt’s mostly right. GTA is satire, it’s just poor satire.

          It’s not particularly interested in satirizing anything beyond saying, “you all are hypocrites and suck,” in the most puerile tone it can manage.

          For the open world; driving, shooting, car stealing genre, I honestly think the Saints Row series has managed to nail pop culture satire a lot more legitimately than GTA has. At least with GTA4 in contrast to Saints Row 3 on.

          1. Geebs says:

            I disagree. Saint’s Row is gonzo, and incredibly tame at that. At least GTA’s uniform misanthropy evokes some sort of reaction.

    4. Aitch says:

      I’m not qualified to label things satire or not. All I can say is that when I saw the trailer my first and only reaction was uncontrollable laughter. And not that weird sarcastic dark laughter or something either, like a genuine belly laugh. It’s so over the top of anything remotely rational or of this world, I feel like I’m watching people crowd around a video of a guy slipping on a banana peel, all of them frantically dialing 9 1 1 and asking the TV if it’s going to be ok.

      And a small segment of the people standing around the screen turn around somberly and go
      “Did you know that almost 6 people die every year from tripping or slipping on produce? And at least 3 times that are injured, and that’s not even counting the anguish of the family members.”

      Does the intention of the guy who slipped and fell matter? Or the guy who caught it on tape?
      What about the devs of the multitudes of people who submit terrible broken games onto Steam, do intentions really matter for those?

      And Shamus’s take on what would qualify it as satire was just too obvious and on the nose for me to feel the same way, because it’s an entirely different kind of humor. It’s sort of Rutskarnian, it could be read in his voice. Just an entirely different thing.

      In the actual trailer, the guy -does- load up on an absurd amount of weapons, and in an exaggerated overly deliberate way. His monologue -is- funny because he -is- a shitty knockoff saying trite hackneyed phrases. He looks like Nathan Explosion for godsakes.

      Is it that the intention was to be serious and grimdark? So we all have to take it seriously Or Else? That something comical happened in the middle of a drama movie or something like that? I’m baffled.

      People slipping on banana peels doesn’t make me laugh, but at one time or another it was seen as comedy. Or for a more modern example, the stunts that were on Jackass. Some people laughed themselves raw watching a guy who’s big bad fear was snakes get unexpectedly dropped into a pit of snakes. I was bored, and a little worried the guy would snap an ankle or trample one of the snakes.

      Just because you don’t laugh when you see it doesn’t mean it isn’t funny in one way or another to some people.

      And just to be clear, I’m not gonna be buying or playing Hatred. It looks horribly boring and dated and repetitive. Not to mention the reaction most people have to the thing is absurd, and it would be all over the back of my mind like a wet blanket the whole time. It’s entire sum value to me is the trailer, it could just as easily have been a hoax.

      If whoever did the trailer was going for humor, congrats cause they knocked it out of the park for a good 3 minutes. If they were trying to be serious then they’re just another unfortunate person getting caught slipping on a banana peel.

      But whatever, keep giving the chuckling ones looks of admonishment and explaining to the plebs the dangers of overripe fruit on the ground.

      1. AileTheAlien says:

        “In the actual trailer, the guy -does- load up on an absurd amount of weapons, and in an exaggerated overly deliberate way.”

        I’m going to disagree with you here. See, the amount of weapons is actually fairly realistic. Two spare clips? Soldiers carry at least that many. Two grenades? One knife? Can easily fit in his trench-coat. As for the ‘exaggerated, deliberate’ way he’s loading up? It honestly looks more like a poorly-done / under-budget animation, and not a deliberate exaggeration for satire or comedy.

        I don’t think the creators of this game were going for a Nathan Explosion kind of exaggerated cartoon character. It looks like they were honestly trying to make a cool, badass-looking character. Nathan speaks in a crude, almost pidgin-like way, with his voice actor adding a harsh edge like he just finished chain smoking for an hour. The character in this game speaks in a smooth, sexy*, well-articulated way. That’s not satire, that’s an honest portrayal of what the creators valued in a character.

        * If you like that type of voice.

        1. Aitch says:

          Granted, it could just be shoddy animation, and it’s all in the eye of the beholder. But really, grenades? A full auto AK-47? I’m only passingly familiar with my own state’s law on this, but I’m pretty sure grenades aren’t particularly available. The AK I might be able to stretch belief on, but the grenades did me in. It’s moved into the territory of low grade military hardware, in which case I’d think he’d be running around with something more respectable like an M4 or somesuch rifle. Maybe have his hair not getting in his eyes the whole time.

          But if they decided to take it in a more realistic more actually terrifying direction, then the character might not seem so absurd and impractical, and it starts looking more towards a snapped veteran which would have been even-too-extreme for this lame buttonpusher of a developer. Never mind that someone like Rambo is seen as a hero, but anyway, forgive the tangent.

          And again it’s totally subjective, but to me this guy looks like Nathan Explosion brought into a more realistic art style world by way of Glen Danzig. Yeah the voice isn’t Brendan Small, but the look of the guy, what he’s saying, the way he’s saying it, combined with the way he moved just struck me as cartoonish. The parallel seems blatant to me. I could very much see the trailer transcribed to Dethclok (sp?) animation, with one of their tunes for soundtrack.

          I’m not saying you’re wrong on any counts here, and it’s obvious I’m in the extreme minority with this viewpoint, just trying to express as well as possible what I see when I look at it. Pulled punches and lazy cliches, if as they claim they’re trying to offend people as much as possible.

          1. Abnaxis says:

            An important note about satire is that it doesn’t have to be funny. A dominant attitude seems to be that you can’t play something straight and still call it satire, there have to be these little winks at the audience to say “Yeah, we’re joking. You get that we’re joking right? Isn’t it funny how ridiculous this is?”

            I think most satirists use humor and little lampshades to make sure everyone knows it shouldn’t be taken seriously. That’s probably because there are enough batshit crazy people out there that someone who satirizes with a straight face is hard to pick from someone genuinely nuts. Also, it can be more fun to laugh as you criticize society.

            However, it’s possible to satirize something by paying it straight (think like A Modest Proposal)

            Given what I’ve read people saying on this site about what the devs have said (sorry, don’t care to research further than that) a Jonathan Swift sort of tone might be what they’re going for.

  2. Daemian Lucifer says:

    I think you need to make a correction to your article,because you are talking about “new” gta,aka the games from 3.Gta 1 and 2 were exactly what you are describing gta as not being:Gleeful mayhem of mowing down civilians for points.You were incentivized to kill civilians in gta 1 and 2,and they were not detailed pricks you saw later on,they were just your regular civilians running away from your violent antics and screaming in panic.That and the top down camera is why I see hatred as a proper sequel to gta 1 and 2,with a slightly better graphics.

    Some people hate it, some people love it

    Im not sure anyone actually loves it.The people that want hatred to come out mostly want it because of freedom of speech,and the people that want to play it,mostly desire so because of morbid curiosity.

    1. Peter says:

      I think there is a crucial difference between the two though. GTA1 and 2 are a lot more abstract, more arcade. Calling it cartoony might go too far, but there’s certainly no attempt to portray your victims as anything sympathetic. Hell, they’re hardly portrayed at all, they’re not people, they’re walking bonuses and/or penalties.

    2. kunedog says:

      Im not sure anyone actually loves it.The people that want hatred to come out mostly want it because of freedom of speech

      I couldn’t agree more with this. We wouldn’t even be talking about Hatred if there hadn’t been a (temporarily successful) censorship campaign against it. It’s probably the strongest streisand effect I’ve seen for at least eight or nine months.

      The trailer doesn’t make me sick, but it doesn’t appeal to me either (partly because it conveys nothing about the gameplay). I have no desire to play it (straight or ironically), but I will definitely defend its right to exist.

      1. krellen says:

        For another recently wildly successful Streisand Effect, see Protein World.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Bwahahahaha!That is amazing.

          But it also presents with a great contrast between this kind of a fluke and intentional bad advertisements that ea tried to pull off(and failed).

  3. Daemian Lucifer says:

    And now,in order to blur the line you were talking about even more,to give you something that is actually defended by “Its satire guys,come on!”,and to give you something even more hateful than hatred(pun intended),even more sickening than that trailer you mentioned….

    Well ok,Im not going to link the actual thing,mostly because I really dont care for hunting it down.Im going to link to you Jim Sterlings video of the game.Definitely NSFW:

    Video link

    Watch,and despair!

    1. RCN says:

      The worst part of watching that game was realizing how some congressmen in my country that literally froth at the mouth whenever they talk about games would take one look at this monstrosity and say “You know? Not all games are bad if they can make something that give the right message.”

      You know the Men’s Rights movement? In my country they have the “Straight Pride”… let that sink in for a moment.

  4. Daemian Lucifer says:

    That extra credits video is wrong.Hatred is about anger.The developers themselves say they are making it because they are “fed up with the political correctness in video games”.So it is anger,anger towards political correctness(whether the sentiment is justified or not is unimportant).If you want to see what actual sadism is,take a look at mkx,where you get the option to unlock,or even buy with money,hassle free fatalities.That is pure sadism.Fatality without the struggle of learning how to do the move is just sadism,nothing more.Especially if you buy it with money.

    1. Bropocalypse says:

      I wasn’t aware of political correctness being a supposedly-rampant thing in video games. In fact, I feel like a lot of mainstream games have a big problem of being unnecessarily grotesque(and not just in terms of violence). Are they seeing something I’m not?

      1. Cybron says:

        If your world is small enough, the slightest ripple can feel like a massive disruption. Everything is a matter of perspective, and some perspectives are decidedly skewed. People who live in echo chambers can build obscure issues up to a titanic struggle without ever realizing that your average joe is completely unaware of it (and wouldn’t care if they did know).

        1. That and there are a fair number of people who don’t seem to grasp subtlety and so anything short of “banned in Australia” is “sanitized” to them and anything short of “this game is impossible” is “dumbed-down” etc.

          It’s easier to slap a two-dimensional label on than to actually look at the thing in any depth.

      2. Bloodsquirrel says:

        Political correctness is moreso present in the games media than it is games themselves. Although most of it is part of the SJW crusade; general violence isn’t something that’s been pushed against for quite a while.

        It’s not really clear who this game is supposed to be rebelling against. Jack Thompson has been discredited for quite a while now.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Seeing when it was announced(last year,somewhere around september/october),I think its easy to figure out who it was rebelling against.

          1. AileTheAlien says:

            Would you mind stating it explicitly, please? I’m not familiar with USA politics, news, etc, since I live in a different country. The US is large enough for me to want to know about it, however. :)

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              The gamergate thing was starting at that time.

              1. Otters34 says:

                What he’s trying to say, is that this is all video game culture’s belated rebellion against the iron grip of the Methodists. Those bastards and their pets, the shipping unions of Thailand, have finally pushed Western gamers too far.

    2. Kyte says:

      Interestingly the very existence of this videogame puts in perspective the incredibly different attitudes the american (or perhaps western? american-tinged?) attitude to sexuality and violence. This game is basically the violence equivalent to porn, yet the treatments are significantly different. I’ve always found this disparity weird, just how much more willing they are to forgive something for being too violent relative to something having sexual content.

      1. A lot of Americans are absolutely horrified that their kids might get the idea that sex is, actually, you know, enjoyable or healthy or similar. If it portrays sex as being depraved, disgusting, filthy, tawdry, or harmful you can usually get away with it. Villains can have sex and sexy things. Heroes cannot unless they’re officially “in love” and even then one or both of them usually dies to save the other one.

        But violence is okay because bad guys deserve to die.

        1. ThirteenthLetter says:

          And of course (as long as we’re generalizing whole populations anyway) a lot of non-Americans are absolutely horrified at the idea that bad guys can’t be talked down and might have to be killed. Everyone has their cultural blind spots.

          1. Supahewok says:

            America has not seen the true horrors of war on the homefront since 1865. The World Wars were far away. The US wasn’t almost completely destroyed twice in 3 decades, like the rest of the developed world. We don’t have the same perspective on what horror that level of violence can bring about.

            At the same time, the US also didn’t go through the same level of disillusionment with religion as Europe did due to the wars. So Puritan ideals about sex and other issues still run strong through much of the population.

            Hunger is the prime motivator of life on Earth. Its easy to grow indolent when your population hasn’t truly suffered for over a century.

            1. Yet, weirdly, making up complaints about how many Americans are suffering from hunger and poverty is about the only major growth industry in this country. :P

              1. Felblood says:

                Due to some delays in processing my paperwork, I had to move out of my old home before I could move into my new apartment, by a couple of weeks.

                The state is cutting off my family’s food stamps, because apparently you’re not a state resident if you live in your car or spend the night in a friends guestroom across state lines.

                Yesterday, I ate the scrapings out of the bottom of a yogurt tub and a ham sandwich.

                I find myself sleeping or otherwise sitting still any time I am not at work.

                I except to be in my new place and receiving food benefits again soon, so I’m in no real danger.

                Still, this was a real eye opener for me. I can’t imagine having to live like this long-term, and it was a real shock to see just how close I’ve come to that edge. It was a long slow slide, and I guess I’ve never really thought of myself as a “real” poor person before.

                I still work full time. I have a car loan and a family and no problems with alcohol or illegal drugs. I guess I have some family health situations that prevent me from chasing a new job or pursuing promotions, but I’ve never thought of myself as a failure or unsuccessful person before.

                1. Been there myself. Actually, I’m currently still there–I live with a friend. Without help, I’d be a street person.

            2. ehlijen says:

              That sounds plausible, but then why are Canada and Australia closer to the European view than the US one?

              If you count their involvement in world wars as reason as to why they’ve experienced war, then Vietnam should count similarly for the US against your theory.

              Between Vietnam, Pearl Harbour and the WTC attack, I think the US as a cultural entity has experienced enough pain to understand it somewhat. I don’t know where the difference comes from, but your explanation doesn’t sound like it’s the full story.

              1. Supahewok says:

                Canada and Australia were both parts of the British Empire at the time of WW2 (Australia gained partial independence in 1942, whereas Canada gained its independence in the ’60’s.) Both had much stronger ties in the history and culture of Europe, (for a very significant time after the American Revolution, most Americans shunned European art and culture, unlike other European colonies) and Australia especially saw significant immigration after both World Wars.

                Furthermore, being part of the British Empire, they witnessed firsthand the Empire’s decline in relevance and the majority of its deterioration. Whereas the US emerged from WW2 with the mighty military-industrial complex, on fire with a zeal to guide the world the truth of the American Way as the world’s eventually dominant superpower. Small misteps and stumbles along the way do not overshadow the final victory of the USSR’s dissolution, which was America’s ultimate triumph.

                There are two main events from which all cultural differences between the US and Europe stem from: the American Revolution, and the World Wars. The former set the US on a different path culturally, while the latter reaffirmed that path while blunting and diverting the development of Europe and its colonies.

                Anybody who has taken any class in European history can tell you that war was simply a part of life in Europe, up to the modern era. In the Medieval and Renaissance, wars were simply a matter of course. They weren’t remarkable; almost everybody was at war with somebody else at any given point in time. Violence was not vilified then.

                After the 7 Year’s war, Britain became the world’s effective superpower. Wars decreased in intensity, moving mainly to the colonies that all of Europe were trying to hold on to. Then Napoleon caused a massive war, but that didn’t put conflict to rest. Their were still proxy wars in colonies all over the world as the main powers in Europe consolidated. Violence wasn’t vilified then.

                Then we have the World Wars. Afterwards, peace reigns in Europe. The colonies gain independence, for the most part. Armed conflict virtually ceases in the mainland. And now, finally, violence is vilified.

                Vietnam had little effect on the material lives of Americans at home. There was the draft, sure, but what else? In France in WW2, families hid in closets as armies fought outside, praying and crying and hoping that an artillery shell wouldn’t hit their home and blow them all to bits. Then they had to live under martial law, where undesirable segments of the population could be taken at any moment and murdered. Then they had to live through the battles again when the Allies came. Afterward, there was no economy, their homes were likely destroyed or looted, and the scars of battle littered the landscape. The US had to pump billions into Europe to rebuild it, and the process took decades.

                No, America has not had to suffer that since the practical destruction of the South in the Civil War, wherein only half of the land area suffered. (can’t even say half of the population because I’m pretty sure the North had the majority at the time) Vietnam and 9/11 don’t even compare. Terrorists attacks are just enough to remind us of what that kind of violence is really like. Whereupon we proceed to overcompensate in our security in a fit of hysteria for a few years before calming down.

                1. ehlijen says:

                  I grew up in Europe. I’m not nearly old enough to remember any wars there first hand, and neither were my parents. I can barely even remember a divided Germany. The same is likely true of the majority of modern media consumers.

                  Yes, Europe and the US have a different history, but the most recent century, the one most likely to affect the modern media discussion, has seen the US as the most prominent warfaring nation on the globe.

                  But it’s not a lack of national pride or a fear of the horrors holding France or the UK back, either. It was simply that they didn’t have the budget to fight in the big league on a global scale. They were in almost every major war the US was in, after all. The UK even started the Falkland wars.

                  While your theory is certainly not without merits, I must reiterate that I find it unlikely to be the whole story behind this divide in cultures today.

                  1. Rymdsmurfen says:

                    “The UK even started the Falkland wars.”

                    No, they did not!

                    1. Richard says:

                      No, we were invaded by a foreign power and chose to defend ourselves, as any nation would wish to do.

                      The fact we had to ship and fly the armed forces halfway around the globe is simply because the local sheep weren’t an effective defence force.

                      We’ve rectified that since of course. The sheep are now exceedingly dangerous!

                2. Joe Informatico says:

                  Canada and Australia were both parts of the British Empire at the time of WW2 (Australia gained partial independence in 1942, whereas Canada gained its independence in the '60's.)

                  Canada was granted significant autonomy, most notably the right to carry out independent foreign policy, by the 1931 Statute of Westminster (the same statute Australia ratified in 1942). Hence, unlike the situation in World War I, when Canada was at war with the Central Powers the moment Britain was, in World War II Canada made the decision independently, waiting a few days after Britain to make the point (though most Canadians were still ethnically and culturally British so Canada did join the war).

                  The Canadian Constitution was repatriated in 1982, granting full sovereignty from the United Kingdom. I’m not sure what you’re referring to regarding Canadian independence in the 1960s, unless it was the adoption of the current Canadian flag in 1965 (which had nothing to do with political sovereignty).

              2. Joe Informatico says:

                Basically? Because the USA are the former colonies that fought for their freedom from Britain, while Canada and Australia negotiated for theirs. The national mythologies of those countries tend to be informed by that history.

                American culture often mythologizes the lone vigilante as an extension of the American revolutionary willing to fight against an unjust status quo. Canadian culture mythologizes compromise and tolerance, the way the English and French settlers of this country came together to form our nation. Both myths are gross simplification and full of self-deception, but they still inform the mass culture.

                Although in Canada, when it comes to popular entertainment, and especially the provincial film ratings boards, Quebec is much like Western Europe, in that they’re much more permissive about sexual content but harsh on purposeful violence, the prairies and east coast are generally okay with violence but more uptight about sexual content, and here in Ontario, we’re pretty okay with both but watch that illegal drug use.

                1. Deadpool says:

                  This seems to make more sense. I was about to point out Brazil as an example of a country that didn’t go through any wars more or less ever and is far more religious than the US and has considerably more lax attitudes towards sex… AND violence…

            3. ThirteenthLetter says:

              “America has not seen the true horrors of war on the homefront since 1865. The World Wars were far away. The US wasn't almost completely destroyed twice in 3 decades, like the rest of the developed world. We don't have the same perspective on what horror that level of violence can bring about.”

              And perhaps because Europe experienced the horrors of war too closely, they are dangerously reluctant to fight a war, even when that would prevent a far greater calamity.

              Again, everyone has their blind spots. The only real sin is in assuming one’s own blind spots must physically exist in the world.

    3. Retsam says:

      The motivation for creating the game might be anger at political correctness… but that doesn’t mean that’s what the game is about. A game is “about” what it conveys to the player, not what the developer was feeling, so I think “this game seems to be about sadism” is a perfectly reasonable interpretation of the game (based on its promotional material), regardless of what the developers have said about it.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        But sadism is based on love/lust for inflicting pain.There is no love in the voice of the narrator in those trailers,only anger and disgust.This game is about hatred.Its a simple premise really.What you see is what you get,nothing deeper.

        1. Retsam says:

          Yes, sadism is “love/lust for inflicting pain”, that’s pretty much how they defined it in the Extra Credits video, and they’re saying that that’s what they see in the trailer. You don’t have to agree, but that doesn’t make their interpretation of it “wrong”.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            It does if the love isnt present,not in the trailer,not in the screenshots.Sure,you can be a sadist and enjoy this game,but the game itself isnt meant to be that.You dont have the camera zoom in on the entrails of your opponent as they are being dragged out out of him,like in mkx.You dont have the guy hold for a second to prolong the screams of his victims before finally ending their lives.He is fast,merciless and brutal in what he is doing,which is pure anger fueled lashing out at anyone in his sight.Thats just your basest rage.

            1. Retsam says:

              Whether or not you think the trailer portrays love for inflicting violence or not is subjective. You keep saying “it’s not in the trailer”; but obviously the opinion of the Extra Credits video (and presumably Shamus) is that it is. I just don’t get the refusal to recognize that alternative interpretations of the trailer other than your own exist. Video game trailer interpretation isn’t an objective science.

  5. Dreadjaws says:

    I don’t think banning this game (or any other, for that matter) is a solution, but what I want to say is this: as a gamer, I find this game insulting.

    There are games, like Mortal Kombat, that just wanted to do some cool stuff without care for the controversy. This game, though, is patently obvious that it was created to stir controversy. This is not a game that was created thinking of gameplay or story first and then deciding it’d be cool to add some over-the-top violence to it. No, they obviously thought of the “killing innocents” concept first and worked their way down from there.

    What does this say about the developers? That they care more about their 15-minutes of fame than about releasing an enjoyable product, obviously. But also, it says they think people will purchase it precisely because of the content. These guys think that gamers are shallow, mindless drones that will buy anything that rises some eyebrows, and while I’m sure some specific individuals are so, they’re certainly not the majority, or even a sizable chunk.

    This is the kind of mentality some AAA developers have: “people will buy whatever crap we throw at them as long at it contains [specific thing that’s never ‘fun gameplay’ or ‘interesting storyline’]”, and I find it insulting when I’m thrown into this imaginary group of people because game creators/publishers can’t think of me as a real person.

    Sorry, I went on a rant there. TL;DR version: I’m not buying this game, I’m not pirating it (it doesn’t deserve to be played in any way) and I’ll do all I can so no one I know gets their hands on it.

    1. Daemian Lucifer says:

      Um,mortal kombat wanted to do kool violence.They didnt kare about the story at all,they pretty klearly wanted to show off blood and guts.And they did it because they thought blood and guts are kool,not because they thought everyone is shallow and will be easily duped.

      As for hatred,the developers already said why they are making this game.They are not doing it in order to dupe you,not because they think most gamers are mindless sheeple.They are doing it because they are “fed up with political correctness in video games”.

      Which is why I find your comment pretty ironic,considering how it mirrors their misguided comment.You are familiar with their motives just as much as they are with the reality of video games political correctness,and are just as offended as they are.

      1. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

        The idea that gaming suffers from any form of political correctness is absurd. This is a profession that allows for mass murder, prostitution, organized crime, brutality on a scope that was not previously possible and nearly every other reprehensible behavior known to man. In fact, I’m pretty sure that thanks to the gaming industry there are 3-4 NEW types of horrific behavior that didn’t even exist 20 years ago. The idea that the gaming industry somehow suffers from political correctness is akin to suggesting the folks at Brazzers or Bang Bros. are suffering from chastity or puritanical morality.

        I mean, seriously, whats next? Should we make a video game about 3rd world human trafficking to protest ESRB ratings?

        I can guarantee that whomever made those statements has never had to work anywhere other than a gaming company. I don’t know if they are saying that just as an excuse or if they actually believe that non-sense. I don’t suppose it really matters, but whatever it is they believe, they could not be more wrong.

        1. “The idea that the gaming industry somehow suffers from political correctness is akin to suggesting the folks at Brazzers or Bang Bros. are suffering from chastity or puritanical morality.”

          Except that this is a perfectly valid statement to make. Would places that treat women like sex toys even *exist* if it weren’t for the nauseating “ideals” of chastity or puritanical morality? From what I’ve read, the answer is no–countries with LEGAL prostitution tend to have, say, LOWER levels of sexual violence.

          Ditto for video games. Would this tawdry culture of “cool violence” even exist without the anti-violence crowd? Would Hatred be able to get ANY notice AT ALL as anything other than a shitty, boring game with nothing to say if it weren’t for all the people screaming about the “corruption of youth”? No, it wouldn’t.

          Political correctness IS a problem in the games industry–a huge one. But the developers of Hatred aren’t “fighting” it–they’re just *reacting* to it. I will say, however, that there’s a certain amount of bravery to doing this OPENLY without ANY attempt to dress it up as something other than violence for the sake of violence. They might actually succeed in pointing out the stupidity of thinking that violence is somehow “edgy” or “cool” by making this game and receiving a rousing “meh”. One way to put the brakes on a toxic culture of stupid “topping” is to create something that really can’t be topped.

          1. Otters34 says:

            Ditto for video games. Would this tawdry culture of “cool violence” even exist without the anti-violence crowd? Would Hatred be able to get ANY notice AT ALL as anything other than a shitty, boring game with nothing to say if it weren't for all the people screaming about the “corruption of youth”? No, it wouldn't.

            I’m not so sure that’s the case. From what I’ve observed the ideal of being really tough and being able to kill anyone and get your way is a fantasy that’s existed since long before anyone wised up to how loathsome it is. If anything, the opposing voice is the reaction, and a recent one at that.

            1. My fantasy has always been to be really tough and able to get my way and then not do it because I choose not to be a shithead even though I really could be. :P

              I wish games would put more effort into having bigger consequences for stealing/killing or just general jackassery. And better consequences for NOT doing so. That’s actually one thing I really liked about Pillars of Eternity–the personality options for conversations. I got super-invested into being a Nice Person (Benevolent) as well as Honest and Rational and later in the game people would just take my word for things or stop mid hysterical rampage because “oh, you have a reputation for being nice, I’ll trust you when you say you aren’t going to kill me”.

              That was seriously cool. Of course, in many situations it kind of left the question of “how did they KNOW about my reputation” but, well, baby steps.

              Anyway, back to Hatred–I really do think that the best result is simply “wow, we just made ourselves completely culturally irrelevant”.

          2. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

            Well, not to change the topic of conversation into something less palatable to this thread…BUT…many countries have a lower rate of sexual violence because their standards of what constitutes as sexual violence are much lower. On just about every continent except Europe and North America the laws and dedicated resources for domestic and sexual violence are archaic. In Africa and South America they are practically non-existent. Prostitution is legal not because of a state of higher cultural evolution, but because they think that’s all women are really good for. And I know that’s broad strokes for 2 continents and 3 billion people, but you get the idea. Again, I’m not really trying to get into that discussion. I hijack many threads on this site, but mostly to poke the author with a long stick, not for solving the worlds problems using games as a vehicle of change.

            I don’t know if the authors are making hatred because they are trying to make a name for themselves, get 15 minutes of fame, make a few bucks on an outdated engine, just being a bunch of juvenile frat boys or really trying to make a statement about some perceived moral imbalance in the gaming industry. This smacks of a bunch of anti-gamer gate (or would it be pro-gamergate? I have no idea. the whole thing became so silly i forgot which side was trying to “win” the “argument”.) pissants that want to throw a fit at the checkout aisle because their mom won’t buy them some candy bars. What a waste of talent.

            1. ehlijen says:

              I believe the statement was in regards to European countries with legal prostitution, which do have effective laws against sexual violence but still report lower crime rates in that area.

              The theory involved can be directly observed in US history, too: The prohibition achieved little but providing organised crime with another revenue stream. Alcohol was rarely as ‘cool’ as when it was outlawed.

              1. Bryan says:

                On the other hand, actual murder — outside of games — is definitely cooler now that it’s illegal.

                …Wait a minute…

                Logic that applies in some cases doesn’t apply in all, I don’t think.

                1. Mephane says:

                  The difference is that killing another person is a terrible thing that most people could never commit to in any but the most desperate situations. Soldiers are trained to overcome that sort of inhibitation against killing other people. And most people couldn’t bring themselves to kill an animal despite having no moral qualms about eating meat in principle. The very act of killing is gruesome and terrible not just for the victim, but also for the perpetrator.

                  Now contrast this with drugs. Drugs are substances that people consume in order to make themselves feel good because the substance has some sort of physiological effect. (I say in order to, I don’t say it generally works. Often it doesn’t, or only for a short time.) Consuming substances to feel better is a natural and healthy thing built into all living beings; when you are hungry, eating a slice of bread makes you feel good. The very concept of consuming matter to enhance one’s well-being is a natural part of life.

                  That’s why the two things, drugs and killing, are not comparable at all, and why there exists no memetic concept of “murder prohibition”.

                2. Something doesn’t have to be *illegal* to be disapproved of in the culture at large to a degree that actually promotes it among the un-originally rebellious. Like, say, tattoos. Or piercings. Or even smoking, nowadays.

                  It may not even BE culturally disapproved-of, what matters is that there is a PERCEPTION that it is. If you want a good example, read up about the redneck fashion for rigging up your car to intentionally burn oil and blow huge clouds of black smoke as a “statement” against those “effeminate Prius-owners”.

                  1. Syal says:

                    Are you sure that’s a fashion and not just people making excuses for not knowing how to fix their cars?

                    1. Mephane says:

                      Yes, there are people who intentionally modify their cars to waste lots of fuel produce immense amounts of smoke.

                  2. Chris Robertson says:

                    It’s diesels (also known as oil burners), and extra unburnt fuel that make the clouds of black smoke (see rolling coal). A petrol car burning oil will emit clouds of blueish white smoke.

        2. Decius says:

          It’s clear to me that at least one goal is to make lots of money by selling to people who buy it only because other people want to ban it. The correct way to counter that is to provide press coverage over how bad it is as a game, not how devoid of value it is as a work of art.

      2. Cybron says:

        Just because someone says they want to do something for a specific reason does not make it true. If you wanted to achieve fifteen minutes of fame (and monetize it) by putting out a controversial game, would you tell people that’s why you were making the game? Or would you front a principled stance? Which is more likely to attract the media’s attention, provoke impassioned defenses, or attract curious consumers?

        The actions of Hatred’s developers are indistinguishable from the behaviors of a people seeking to cash in on controversy. This does not mean they are, but likewise it does not mean they aren’t.

      3. Dreadjaws says:

        “Um,mortal kombat wanted to do kool violence… And they did it because they thought blood and guts are kool,not because they thought everyone is shallow and will be easily duped.”

        That’s… exactly what I said. That, unlike these guys, the MK developers weren’t after controversy and weren’t thinking less of their potential customers.

        And that thing the Hatred devs are saying? Oh, well, if they say it, it must be true, then, right? Come on, you can’t possibly be this naive. You have to use your brain to realize what’s going on, don’t let your ears do all the work.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          Yes,yes,and the moon landing was filmed in hollywood,usa bombed the wtc and there are actual extra terrestrials in area 51.

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            Wow, and to think for a moment I was going to be able to have an intelligent discussion with you. Now I know just to ignore you.

    2. MrGuy says:

      I don’t agree with your statement about the developers (as Daemian Lucifer pointed out, neither do the developers, though of course you don’t have to take their word for it.

      Mortal Kombat had a lot of violence, and lacked for story. But it wasn’t pure spectacle. The game was about competition – mastery of twitch timing and challenging combinations. It was made for the arcade “quarters up” crowd, which later morphed nicely into the side-by-side at home crowd. It had more than a dash of gratuitous violence attached. But arguing that the fact that it lacks a plot means it’s ONLY a spectacle ignores a wide variety of potentially fun games that aren’t story driven. Fighting games, bulletstorm games, Wii sports, there’s a whole world of “fun things” that aren’t story driven. You don’t have to be DnD to be a game.

      Hatred IS pure spectacle of violence – there’s no other mechanic that it presents. There’s not another form of challenge there.

      I don’t for a minute think these developers are thinking of people as “mindless sheep that will buy anything.” Nor do I think they’re thinking “wow, if we pack as much violence in this game as we can, it will sell really well.” This is a game that’s deliberately designed to NOT appeal to a very wide range of the gaming public. This isn’t the game you make to break sales records. Will they get a ton of press out of it? Absolutely. Will that translate into dollars? Doubt it, and doubt the devs expect that.

      If they wanted gratuitous violence against innocent civilians to be part of a game that made a ton of money, they’d have started with a fun game and then layered the violence in thick on top of it.

      1. Dreadjaws says:

        “Mortal Kombat had a lot of violence, and lacked for story.”

        Are you serious? That’s the game that popularized storytelling in fighting games.

        In any case, this:

        “If they wanted gratuitous violence against innocent civilians to be part of a game that made a ton of money, they'd have started with a fun game and then layered the violence in thick on top of it.”

        makes no sense. Again, it’s the kind of thing AAA publishers pull off all the time. They think that people will buy a game based on a very specific thing and won’t care about making the game fun first. They banked on Duke Nukem Forever selling because of the name/nostalgia. They banked on Dead Island selling because of the trailer. They banked on Dead or Alive Xtreme 2 selling because of girls in skimpy clothing. Etc, etc.

        No, this game is clearly designed with controversy in mind, and nothing else.

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:

          So you are a telepath?

          1. Dreadjaws says:

            Please stop replying to me. I like to talk to intelligent people. Hell, compared to you, I am a telepath. At least I try to use my brain to think.

            1. Daemian Lucifer says:

              By ignoring evidence in favor of conspiracy theories?Yup,thats thinking all right.

              1. Dreadjaws says:

                Conspiracy theories? Evidence? Might wanna check the dictionary, because those words clearly don’t mean what you think.

            2. Anonymous says:

              Are we allowed to just call each other idiots now? Or is it just people with avatars? How do I get an avatar, I want to be a snarky shit and just call people idiots instead of not replying or doing anything else with my time.

              1. Shamus says:

                Yeah. Due to the overwhelming Supergirl thread I kinda started skimming comments and didn’t give this the attention it deserved. Dreadjaws should have just started ignoring DL if the conversation had stopped being fun. You don’t owe anyone an answer.

                If you want an avatar you set up a gravatar account:


                It’s based off your email. So when my site wants to show your comment, it goes to gravatar.com and says, “Allright, what’s the icon to use for [email protected]?”. That’s the only reason this site even asks for an email. (I’ve never emailed anyone unsolicited.)

                Avatars are not required and I don’t give anyone preference based on them.

  6. Otters34 says:

    Some people are freaked out by spiders…

    And that wouldn’t be such a problem if every single damned time they showed up in games, the devs didn’t try and make them even more alien and off-putting than they really are!

    Anyway, that game is pretty blatantly bait trying to provoke smug defence (“It’s free speech!”) and angry offence (“This is crass and evil!”). Even if the behavior of the team behind it didn’t give any clues to that, the running joke about how games like Grand Theft Auto are ‘murder simulators’ in the public imagination makes the appearance of an actual mass-murder simulator pretty significant. It’s like a more expensive form of pranking, only actually invested in outsiders’ reactions.

    I’m surprised to hear there’s actual skill needed in the gunplay of Grand Theft Auto V. Most of the time the combat in open-world games is perfunctory at best, with only the emergent chaos to make it interesting or worthwhile.

    This began a tradition that whenever I saw him wandering around with his gun, I’d taunt him until he ran me down and pelted me with bullets. Good times.
    You’re a good dad, Mr. Young.

    1. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

      He’s a good father but a shitty brother. I chased him down and pelted him with D Batteries once and he never said that was a good time. Fascist.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Thats because you shouldve used aaa batteries.Shamoose has often professed his love for aaa in this blog.Just do a search for aaa up there and youll get a plethora of results.

    2. The Rocketeer says:

      I always thought monstrous spiders in games sort of missed the point, in how they roar (somehow?) and spit acid and crash around the place. Games always try to make spiders scary by exaggerating their appearance rather than their behavior, which isn’t what makes them frightening.

      Spiders are frightening not for unbound aggression, but for precisely controlled aggression. They hunt with stealth, camouflage, traps, and patience. Spiders are silent and can hide in plain sight, perfectly still, for hours or days before the perfect prey arrives in the perfect spot, and then they explode into a whirlwhind of fangs and legs.

      In games, a spider’s plan is leaving a dungeon full of webs to tip off the player, then lowering from the ceiling, roaring (I don’t know how arthropods roar, really), and fighting an all but straight-up battle where it spits acid and webbing, circle strafes, and crawls on the wall and ceiling until you can knock it down and attack its belly.

      Show me a game with a truck-sized spider that embraces this sort of stalking, silent horror rather than the above, that lures players around blind corners or into darkness, hiding with clutter or camouflage, silently, still as a rock, defeating the player with planning and patience before the battle is fought, and then taking them unawares at the perfect moment in a lightning-fast ambush that they can’t react to, because the time to react was when you had the choice to enter its lair or not. And if the player spots them, outwits them, or simply gets the better of them? Retreat. Hide. Hunt. Pre-empt. Stalk.

      If you want to end up on every “Greatest Boss Battles” list for the next twenty years, make a good spider boss.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Which is why I dont mind fighting spiders in video games,yet the 4 legged poisonous headcrabs of half life 2 trigger my arachnophobia every single time.

        1. swenson says:

          Gah, those things. I know they can’t kill me. I know this perfectly well. Yet I still can’t stop myself from wasting an entire clip of ammo on them when they leap out with their horrible little cries toward my face. (and, of course, missing every shot because I’m frantically backpedaling)

          I’m not even scared of spiders, and the poison headcrabs still manage to push every “run away you stupid monkey” button I have…

          1. Trix2000 says:

            Doubt you’re alone on that. I know I spent most of Ravenholm crawling along peeking into every corner, going rambo every time I saw movement.

        1. Lachlan the Mad says:

          If you’re talking about Gohma? Yeah, no. Gohma stays in her lair at the bottom of the tree for the entire game, jumps down and screeches at you (better than a roar but not by much), you smack her big glowing eyeball a couple of times, and then she goes to hide up on the ceiling, where you shoot her down and the cycle repeats. That isn’t anything like the hunting behaviour of a regular spider.

          1. Cinebeast says:

            Actually, I think Sacae was referring to the common Skulltulas, who hide on the ceiling and drop down on Link whenever he passes underneath them. Those things were my greatest enemy when I was a kid — next to the Redeads, anyway — because even after playing and replaying the game a dozen times, I usually forgot where each Skulltula was hiding.

            Clever girls.

            Even then, though, the Skulltulas aren’t quite what the Rocketeer was talking about. I’d be very interested in a game that features truly spider-like monster spiders.

          2. Viktor says:

            Nah, what about the Wallmasters? The shadow-hand things that drop from the ceiling? If Navi hasn’t ruined the mood those things would be terrifying.

      2. Trix2000 says:

        I have to both completely agree with this… and also direct my hatred (no pun intended) towards you in the event someone DOES manage to do this.

        Sure, I’d probably praise the developer for making an incredible spider boss… but I’d also hatehatehate them so much because SPIDERSPIDERSPIDEROHGODWHY.

        Oddly enough, I so rarely have problems with spiders (or spider-like things) in games, much for this reason. I think the biggest issue I have is usually size – when they’re big, they stand out a lot easier and it’s much harder to lose track of them.

        But of course, there are some cases which DO get to me (thinking of you Metro:LL… every time I saw one of those webbed up areas, I cried a little inside).

  7. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

    There was an argument in the early stages of porn in which people argued publications like Playboy had no artistic or societal value. The people at Playboy argued to the contrary, and to their credit each issue was actually much more than just large-breasted Sophmores trying to earn a buck. Essentially, the articles were actually pretty good and the porn wasn’t that pornographic. Playboy was cheeky and fun. It was juvenile in a benign and mostly harmless way.

    Then Larry Flynt happened. Then the internet happened. Soon we had Goatse, two girls/one cup and hoards of other primates, all willing to do unspeakable things to each other for the sake of gaining a few extra page hits, imbeds and/or ‘likes’.

    Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. It is also the most tragic.

    1. Geebs says:

      The “early stages” happened about 35,000 years prior to the founding of Playboy. I’m not sure I buy the “everything’s getting worse all the time” argument at all.

      1. MichaelGC says:

        I wish I could find it online, but in a book I once read there was this great long quotation of a huge rant all about how everything is getting worse all the time; complaints about the youth of today; etc. etc. – and it was of course written about 2,500 years ago by some Roman in a toga.

  8. Daemian Lucifer says:

    So Ive just watched that second trailer for hatred and….well,it certainly got me thinking.The trailer starts with “Human scum!”,so naturally it should appeal to a misanthrope.Well Im a misanthrope,and have often fantasized about how the earth would be better if no humans(that includes me) were on it.In fact,one of the most satisfying things I did in civilization call to power was flooding the world with eco rangers,reverting the world to greenery.

    And yet,hatred doesnt appeal to me at all.I dont find the graphics appealing,I dont think the gameplay will be anything special,I dont think shotting civilians is rewarding in itself.

    1. Otters34 says:

      I really wish actual misanthropy wasn’t just the hallmark of the evil and insane in fiction. Even if it is best-known to the real world through the actions of dumb idiots. It’d be great if at the end of one of those Halos the player was confronted with the question of “Why are you defending humanity, if there’s a real chance they’ll someday do exactly what the Flood/Covenant/Those Asshole Forerunners are trying to do? Why do you trust future generations? Why do you trust yourself?” They could even keep the self-indulgent philosophizing to their spin-off series, those Gearswar Halos.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Well,it depends on what you consider as being evil and insane.Anger is a natural thing,and one can argue that because wanting to lash out at people is natural its not really evil.But being sterile and emotionless about it?Wanting to wipe out humanity without actually making anyone suffer just because you think they are a mistake and a waste of resources?That is pretty unnatural and can come of as extremely evil.There is a reason why so many villains and evil places are portrayed as cold,emotionless machines(for example,the borg).

      2. Bloodsquirrel says:

        That would be painfully trite.

        “Because humanity is literally everything I know and love? “

        1. Otters34 says:

          Only because you’re used to it, though. Some of the aliens eventually warm up to and find a common purpose with humans, so it’s not like things can’t change. Is what they’re doing actually good, or are you just following along because it’s convenient?

          1. bloodsquirrel says:

            You mean when they realized that their bosses were going to kill everything in the galaxy? And then stopped trying to wipe out humanity? Yeah, the kind of have to completely abandon their religion and previous goals before they find any common ground with humanity.

            Humanity’s options in Halo really were down to “fight the Covenant” or “be completely wiped out”. “Would it really be bad if humanity were wiped out?” is a fine philosophical question if you’re sitting around with friends drinking beer, but when it comes down to it people will fight to survive and nobody in the situation humanity is in during Halo is actually going to stop and say “Oh! Hey! Did we ever think of just not fighting back and just letting our entire species be killed? We should try that!”

            1. Otters34 says:

              But that’s kind of the point. Humanity apparently needs to keep existing because people are viscerally afraid to die or feel unwanted pain. That’s not really a ringing endorsement of the species or its culture. In the games the implicit answer was that since humans are heirs of the Forerunners, they’re uniquely precious to the universe for the wonders they could bring into it. Obviously it doesn’t need to be said outright, but then it’s too easy to miss under the same old “kill those things that don’t have our faces” routine.

              It’d even have been thematically appropriate if, when asked that, John just replied “Humans learn”, since that’s something they do a lot of in the series! They actually figure out how to properly work the ancient starships and such, they learn to work alongside other races and even figure out the evil plan that Spawn himself never clued into.

              It’s a real loss to just assume stuff like that in alien invasion sci-fi stories.

              1. Syal says:

                Definitely not the right setting for that question, as it’s easily refuted by “why don’t you give up and die?”

              2. Veylon says:

                The “uniquely precious” argument is one that can gradually shift from being an excuse (as if we needed one) to fight off genocide to committing ourselves. Imagine a whole next generation of people in the Haloverse having had humanity’s unique greatness shoved down their throats growing up. If this goes on long enough, the humans seamlessly become the very thing they hate.

  9. Daemian Lucifer says:

    By the way,hatred got a curation on steam.From waifu hunter.Its pretty hilarious:

    “A man, fed up with people mocking his dakimakura, decides to destroy the normies once and for all. On the way he learns a thing or two about friendship.”

    Check the rest of curations from waifu hunter(human revolution is especially amazing).

    1. Cybron says:

      I’ve always liked his review of Higurashi.

      “A classic finally makes its way to Steam. While many visual novels often contain a lot of adult content, this is something the entire family can enjoy.”

    2. Supahewok says:

      Virtual Pool 4 [the billiard sport]: “I expected skimpy swimsuits and instead i just got a bunch of people smacking balls. NOT a realistic pool experience, and possibly false advertising.”

      10/10 Review of the Year

    3. Dragmire says:

      Thanks for that, I can’t stop reading these amazing reviews!

      Wait a minute….

      “Killer is Dead” looks pretty cool. I may have stumbled onto my next purchase.

    4. guy says:

      Hyperdimension Neptunia Re;Birth1
      “What if instead of being ABOUT animes with big boobs, your video games WERE animes with big boobs? A Kafka-esque tale of games with big software assets.”

      This guy is great and I am sad I have not read his reviews previously.

  10. Daimbert says:

    Well, something that I think that both the article and the Extra Credits video kinda missed is this: ONE of the purposes of violence, either in games or in Nerf guns, is catharsis. But there are a number of other reasons to play or engage in simulated violence.

    Just taking Nerf guns, you might want catharsis … or you might want to simulate some real life even (like war). Or a simulated event, like a movie. Or you might want to play a game with others that tests your skill, like paintball, or even your skills with the Nerf guns that you’ve been using for target practice. And so on and so forth. As long as no one really gets hurt, there are a number of reasons why you might want to engage in simulated violence that have nothing to do with dealing with rage or with catharsis.

    This is even more true for video games. I might want to play a violent video game for catharsis — in university, when I got really angry I tossed AC/DC into the cassette player and played my Amiga demo of Mortal Kombat until I felt better — but I might want to do it for other reasons as well. Like wanting to laugh at the over-the-top violence of some games. Or because it gave a real way to test skill. Or because the combat makes sense for the world, and I want to experience the story. Or, most relevantly here, because I want to take on a role of someone who is logically someone who would act violently. For these cases, it’s playing as a Dark Sider in the KotOR games, or as a Renegade in Mass Effect (where I played as an ex-pat of Helena Cain from nBSG). There is some merit or some fun in playing as a certain type of person, or certain type of character, who is, in fact, NOTHING like you. That, it seems to me, is what roleplaying is all about. Just a PnP roleplayers can play an evil character that is not them, you can play as an evil or violent character who is not you.

    This, then, reflects why someone might decide to play as a sadist in a video game: the interest of playing someone who is not you and is nothing like you, and is not like you in a very specific way. It won’t work, of course, if the actions you take are so out of bounds for you that it makes you sick, because you just won’t enjoy playing the game at all, even in character. But it’s no more odd to play as a sadist than as an evil Sith, or the evil Dungeon Keeper.

    That being said, I don’t think Hatred, from what little I’ve heard about it, is going to be a good game for this. Since it is purely sadistic, there’s nothing like what you’d get in KotOR where you play as a good character and then as a bad one and get the extra enjoyment of seeing what’s different. The sadism looks to be excessively over the top, which means that even in the role most people won’t be able to stomach it, and the ones who do will get sick of it soon enough. The plot seems to be excessively simple — just go out and kill innocents — with the main character not particularly interesting or deep, making it so that even playing the role isn’t going to be all that interesting. And I’m not sure that it will require any real deep skill to complete either. It seems to me — and I admit that I don’t follow the game that much and so don’t really know — that the game is trying to bank on letting people kill innocents … and I don’t think that there’s a big market for that, specifically, but the game seems to have little if anything else to draw interest.

    But there are reasons to play as someone evil or sadistic, as you yourself see in the GTA series. I just don’t think Hatred is a game that will, in fact, appeal to any of those reasons.

    1. Abnaxis says:

      This. So very much this.

      I don’t understand why so many people approach games with the default assumption that they exist for empowerment fantasy and catharsis. It’s like saying all movies are supposed to be edge-of-your-seat action thrillers.

      Some of the greatest moments I’ve had playing games came from a deep understanding of the character I was playing, delivered via the mechanics. Like Crusader Kings, which made me really get in the head of an asshole monarch who was willing to cuckold his own son to preserve the bloodline. Or all those games about depression and identity that I remember Chris going over in Errant signal a year or two ago, but dont remember their names. Or Jade Empire, which Shamus seemed to enjoy in a similar manner

      I’m personally intrigued by Hatred, because it systemizes the thought process of a mass murderer. Your goal is to make your name live on in infamy, to kill as many innocent people as possible before you die in a blaze of murder. You are supposed to be deaf to you victims’ cries of mercy because they mean nothing to you. From the looks of it, the game works at making you think like a sociopath, which I find fascinating.

      1. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

        I think both of you over-estimate your audience, and your fellow man. Most people don’t know what catharsis evens means. I bet if you asked a hundred people 15-20 would say something similar to:

        “Is that, like, you know, like the thing you shove in your dick when you can’t, like, take a piss?”

        Some people just want to watch the world burn. Some people make video games. Maybe there’s more overlap between those two than we would like to think.

        Meh..what do I know. Used to be when I got angry I didn’t play a video game or listen to AC/DC, I’d go down to the rink and make sure i got thrown out of the game for needlessly elbowing a guy in the mouth.

        1. MichaelGC says:

          Aye, right: but you don’t need to know what catharsis is in order to experience it; there aren’t many babies who could lay out a working definition of ‘separation anxiety’…

          I don’t know if much hangs on this point, really, but there certainly can be other factors: I’m not interested in power, and have a very non-stressful life, but can still enjoy getting a “GOURANGA!!”

          (That said, I’m not entirely sure why I enjoy it … so I guess it’s possible that my subconscious is secretly a Greek tragedarian with overweening delusions of grandeur…)

        2. Abnaxis says:

          Just because 90% of movies are formulaic spectacle-porn, and just because 99.9% of revenues in film come from that same dreck, doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for more expression in film as a medium.

          It’s the same thing here. Yeah, the vast majority of dollars spent on gaming is for the likes GTA, Battlefield, and Call Of Duty. Most people see gaming as a chance to blow virtual shit up without thinking too hard so they can release stress. However, there’s room for games to do more than that, and in my own personal experience, the best games are the ones that manage to do so.

        3. Daimbert says:

          I’m, uh, not really sure how that relates to what I said, since I stated that while one thing you can get out of violent video games is catharsis, that’s not the only thing you can get out of them, and that was my main point.

          You can get emotional release out of playing a game. You can get an empowerment fantasy. You can reconcile your id and superego. You can also get plain, simple fun. You can also get some simple escapism. You can also satisfy a challenge. You can play a role of someone who is not like you. And probably some others. My objection is that people assume too much that games must ONLY be about the emotional release things and not the just plain fun things, and that the analysis of both Shamus and Extra Credits leans on that a little too much.

          1. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

            Oh, I know what you mean. Myst and Tetris are successful games, but for completely different reasons than, say, Leisure Suit Larry or Saints Row.

            I was suggesting that most people who play Hatred aren’t doing so for anything as complicated as catharsis or emotional release. Only that (again, most) are looking for something far less…noble.

      2. Trix2000 says:

        Thing is (and don’t quote me on this because the game isn’t out) Hatred doesn’t seem to even go THAT far, based on the trailer. We get very little about the actual guy we’re supposed to be playing as and there’s not a ton of focus on the WHY so much as the WHAT we’re doing here. All there seems to be is that one word – hatred.

        Perhaps it could surprise us with that sort of thing in the final game… but there’s not really any evidence to suggest there will be.

        1. Abnaxis says:

          That’s why I used the example of Crusader Kings (well, CK2 actually, I’ve never played the original). In that game, all characters–whether they’re NPCs or the PC–have extremely little characterization. Every once in a while you have a text pop-up for little mini text-adventures you can have your character do. Also, there’s a trait system for personalities, which affects who likes who–i.e. my character is chaste and NPC X is lustful, so they have -10 to how much they like me. There’s no voice acting, no cuts scenes, only mechanics to tell you what a person is like.

          Nonetheless, the game can really make you feel like a medieval asshole. For example, I was trying to breed a genius pool of rulers, by marrying my son to a genius woman. After a few years of no friggin children I got the opportunity, in a random event, for the character I was controlling to have an illicit affair with the genius daughter-in-law. “Hey,” says I, “twice as many chances to have genius children!”

          Now, my character must have been the most inept dupe when it comes to keeping secrets, because everybody found out about the affair. In a month, the wife came to him and asked him to stop. Another two months later, his cuckolded son came to him and asked him to stop.

          Another month later, the daughter-in-law had a child. My first reaction was “FINALLY”. Then I stopped, did the math, felt REALLY skeevy, and turned the game off for a while.

          Through mechanics, CK2 helped me understand the thinking of people who don’t care how much it hurts others, as long as a superior family line is maintained. You don’t need to characterize the player character to create an emphatic connection to them, properly designed mechanics can also make the connection, and in some cases can do a much better job.

        2. Daimbert says:

          That’s kinda my complaint about it, from what I’ve heard: it isn’t deep enough to give us anything other THAN that. It was more a comment on the commentaries that, yes, in GENERAL you can have more than that, even if this game won’t provide it.

    2. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

      I’m not sure KotoR or Mortal Kombat are really comparable to Hatred. Those games were obviously fantasy. There’s a very real break between a ninja shooting freeze magic and a man in a trench coat shooting an unarmed woman in the mouth.

      Put it this way, in terms of pure violence and brutality, I could make the argument that the most violent TV show in history was The Simpsons. Itchy and Scratchy specifically. There’s a difference between a cat being disemboweled with a chainsaw on a cartoon that has yellow skinned people living in a pink house, and a TV show that has a real person disemboweling a real cat.

      The intent of Hatred is obvious. It is designed to appeal and be played by a very specific demographic, who want a very specific experience. They aren’t interested in anything cathartic. In fact they are probably looking for the opposite.

      1. Daimbert says:

        Brutality aside, in terms of intent there’s not much difference between being evil enough to get them to jump off the ramp than to just out and out kill them. In both cases, you’re being evil. What you’re referring to is, I think, the “gaming” motive that I talked about, where with more cartoonish violence and evil it’s easier for you to play it as a game that includes it and not be immersed in it as much. But for the roleplayer, that’s not an option … but that doesn’t make it bad either.

  11. Dormin111 says:

    How should we view video games about this subject matter differently from movies. The movies “Rampage” and “Elephant” are both focused on pedestrian rampages. Does controlling the shooter make the portrayal more brutal, less introspective, or different somehow? Does it detach one from the violence as a player naturally focuses on the game over the context, or does it push the audience closer to the violence because the audience is directly causing it?

    1. Daimbert says:

      There is a difference between a movie and a game in the sense that in the movie you don’t have to actually identify with the protagonist but in the game, well, the protagonist IS you. In a movie, you can think that the protagonist is evil and has no reason to do what they do and still enjoy it AS a movie where the protagonist is evil and, hopefully, gets their comeuppance at the end. In a game, the game has to convince YOU to do those things and keep going, and so they have to justify it not only to the character, but to the player. I think the issue with Hatred is that while it might be able to pull off explaining why the CHARACTER wants to do all that, it’s going to have a VERY hard time explaining why the PLAYER should want to do that.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        Not true for every game.Some games,like spec ops the line,are meant to actually distance you from the protagonist.You get control of his body,but his mind is decidedly detached from yours.

        1. The Rocketeer says:

          That’s literally the opposite of what Spec-Ops did, and was about. I don’t even know how you could have picked a worse example for the choice you were trying to make.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            Its not.First,it was put in third person instead of first person,despite the most popular mode for these games being first person.Second,as walker goes farther and farther from reality,the two teammates he has go farther and farther from him,increasing the distance between reality and insanity.Thirdly,you get to choose a thing or two here and there,but for the crucial bits,you have to follow walkers orders,just like lugo and adams.You are the fourth member of this team.You,lugo and adams do the shooting,and walker gives you orders.Walker is the main guy of this story,not you the player.You are there just to follow him down the path to madness,just like all the rest he is dragging with him.

            1. The Rocketeer says:

              1: Third person games can’t relate things to the player? What?
              2: Lugo and Adams are irrelevant to the matter.
              3: The player’s few choices are the greatest signifiers of Walker’s identity.
              4: Walker’s inflexibility and delusion is symbolic of your own. See below.

              1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                1)They can,but its harder to put yourself in the mind on someone you can see as a separate entity.Thats why people usually say stuff like “my shepard”.This is especially true for characters that are established in other ways(like lara croft,and in this case walker)
                2)They are not.They are in the game for a reason.A reason other than just another pair of guns to help you fight.Their conversations matter.
                3)No,they arent.They give walker nuance,but his core remains the same no matter what you choose.
                4)No its not.The other characters constantly call out walker on his bullshit,but he keeps pressing on,deluding himself,despite having the choice to turn back at any point.You on the other hand are railroaded into pressing on(lets not go into the whole “but you can always stop playing” thing,because its pointless).

        2. Daimbert says:

          That’s actually consistent with what I’m saying, as in order to get you to do something the game has to justify it both to the character and to the player. I never said that it had to do that with the same reasons, and in fact pointed out that the issue with Hatred is going to be justifying that to the player, who is going to have a different purpose/mind than that character will.

          One of the issues with Spec Ops that makes some people really hate it might be that it generates a specific purpose for the player to continue with the game and then pulls the rug out from under them by claiming that they did it for a different purpose than the one they were actually using. Then again, I’ve never played that game, so I could be wrong about that.

          1. The Rocketeer says:

            Unmarked spoilers for Spec-Ops: The Line follow.

            Spec-Ops inducts the desire to be lauded as a hero onto Walker and the audience, which is, indeed, a bit simplistic for all the things that Walker is railroaded into doing.

            But what the game really does is to present Walker’s philosophical delusions and his real, hallucinatory delusions to the player as reality, and forcing them to make decisions within the confines of those realities that appear necessary, before revealing later that Walker was wrong, and that in taking his illusory reality for granted, the player was complicit in his decisions and the misery resulting from them.

            What a player might protest is that, due to the game’s deception and its linear narrative, that doing otherwise was impossible, and that the games’ criticisms therefore can’t apply to their actions or presume to judge their intentions. This is fair, in so far as the game is a “magic trick,” like Telltate’s The Walking Dead or the plot of Final Fantasy X; it’s designed to work once, as it is playing out the first time, and doesn’t work when criticized with the benefit of hindsight, or for people who never accepted the assumptions they were presented with in the first place.

            But the specific instances of the game’s narrative aside, the game’s larger point, and the point of it so constantly striving to fuse Walker’s mindset and the player’s mindset, and the point of pinning its thematic intents on that effort, is not to say that Walker (and through him, the player) chose to do abominable things for the sake of being regarded as a hero through his accomplishments. Rather, it’s the nature of Walker’s assumptions that are indicted.

            Walker begins the game by killing armed civilians in clear self-defence, and disregarding his orders for the sake of rescuing his fellow soldiers from an apparent catastrophe. Even at this point, there are hypothetical arguments against his choices (e.g., he could have retreated rather than engaged, and he was wrong to disregard his orders regardless of apparent urgency), but at this point things still appear very reasonable, especially in the context of an action game and the sort of plots we anticipate from them.

            This continues apace until the turning point of the game: the notorious White Phosphorus incident. Walker justifies the use of white phosphorous mortar shells on a mass of troops, rationalizing that it was justified because they themselves had used the weapons, apparently on desperate civilians. When Walker discovers that what had appeared to be a mass of soldiers toward the enemy’s rear were, in fact, terrified refugees that the soldiers had been aiding- and which he had just horrifically incinerated- he suffers a mental break.

            From this point on, Walker begins hallucinating certain scenarios, including infrequent communiques from General Konrad, leader of the enemy forces. There are a a few very obvious hallucinations, that are quickly realized for what they are, but it is not until the end of the game that their full extent is revealed, including that Konrad had been dead for several days already and that much of the premise for Walker’s actions, which the player is intended to take for granted, has been imagined, regardless of Walker’s or the player’s quibbling over decisions made upon those premises.

            The game’s thrust was never something so shallow as the desire for heroism leading people to do terrible things- though that is a large part of it. What the game portrays as most dangerous and insidious is the the nature of Walker’s self-justifications and delusions. The core is not merely that Walker wishes to be a hero, but that he cannot perceive the world in a way that does not paint him as a hero, or at least leave open the possibility of becoming one. Walker is always making choices that seem unavoidable at the time, yet which were made on unsound premises, whether or not these premises were manufactured by his own mind.

            What the game gains from presenting Walker’s hallucinations as the player’s reality (and why I utterly disagree with Daemian’s read of the game) is that it deconstructs these assumptions and self-deceptions. Walker constantly reasserts that there is no real choice to be made in the situations in which he finds himself, when he is always imagining the parameters that limit his capacity for choice. Walker’s faults weren’t merely such that he viewed himself as a hero, but that his understanding of the world around him was predicated upon the nature of his person being necessarily heroic.

            Through Walker, the game does not indict the player merely for a sense of bravado or self-assurance- which they may always argue against in hindsight- but instead demonizes this sort of self-justifying censorship of our own realities, of which no person can truly claim innocence. It presents Walker’s hallucinations as reality, rather than setting the player apart and without, because it wants to leverage the shock of revelation: people do not necessarily deceive themselves deliberately in this fashion; they simply live within these delusions in complete oblivion of them. In duping the player to live according to the necessities of an imagined, justifying reality, the insidious ease and stealth with which these assumptions deform people’s thinking is emphasized.

            What the game demonstrates is that people can lead themselves into acts which we, in hindsight or with the benefit of a true and complete context may easily condemn as monstrous or insane, yet which, within the confines of these delusions, always seem, if not right, then at least necessary or justified. And, having done this, it suggests to us that we, and everyone in the world, can find ourselves immersed in these self-justifying delusions, and these assumptions of the nature of the world as we prefer it, and the necessary sequence of events and actions following from these unquestioned and unrealized assumptions.

            The game asks, gloatingly and mockingly, if you ‘feel like a hero yet’ after falling to the lowest depths of depravity and misery a human can endure, but it does not ask this question to determine if we believe that gunning down scores and scores of people is right or wrong. It asks of the nature of our own world, if we live with an inherent trust in the goodness and worth of our own natures. It asks if we have anything in the unquestioned fundament of our lives that is too precious, too necessary, to our sensation of our selves to mistrust, because it knows that there is.

            The game is, in this respect, fatalistic. It begins with a portent of the helicopter ride through the city, gunning down pursuers, as Walker asks himself in a daze, “Haven’t we done this before?” The events of Walker’s journey through the city were foregone. Whether or not his decisions were correct was never at issue, and is a facile question. That Walker ever had anything to decide was belied by the falsehood of his own world. Walker’s faults were in the belief that he was, by necessity of the nature of his existence, heroic. That he was a good soldier. That he was a good person. Walker claims that he never really had a choice, and the people around him try to chide him about his. But the horror of the game is that, in a big way, he was right.

            Walker couldn’t consciously control what he saw. Walker didn’t deliberately will his delusions of Dubai and Konrad into being. They were just the products of what he thought he knew, what he had always lived by. Walker was undone not through his choices, or his lack of choices, but merely by entering a world that he had no way to understand. The narrative is a story of Walker and the city repeatedly attempting to assert themselves on one another, and the city- the true nature of the world- wins every time. In the end, the world refused to conform to his expectations of it, rejecting and dispelling his convenient imaginations. Dubai as he found it was too horrific and savage for him to have ever understood, and all the ways in which it defied the preconceptions that he had lived with his entire life were ultimately all so natural, so logical, and so rational.

            Spec-Ops: The Line, in the character of Konrad and in its thematic character, heavily homages Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. A different game, Far Cry 2, also rather unsubtly referenced it. In it, an arms dealer tries to explain to a journalist the brutality that he can’t understand, saying, “You think you’re a good person, but you’re not. You’ve just been lucky enough.” What Spec-Ops urges the player to consider is that they, like Walker, are not a good person, and that no one is. Most of us have just been lucky enough. If we allow ourselves to believe it, we become deluded, like Walker was. The Congo, and Leboa Sako, and Dubai, are icons of the savagery and horror of the world, not because that savagery lives only in these places, but because it exists everywhere, and in everyone, and when everything else collapsed, only the horror remained.

            Over the course of Spec-Ops, Walker repeatedly transgresses the boundaries of what any given observers might rationalize. He loses himself further and further to depravity through these decisions. But there are only two points during which Walker (and with him, the player) actually has a choice, both in game terms and in a thematic sense. There are only two choices, because they are the only two times in which Walker is unconstrained by his delusions.

            The first is when he is surrounded by a mob of enraged civilians, who have just lynched on of your squadmates and are preparing to descend on you and your remaining ally. After everything that he had suffered and all of the horrific atrocities he had committed, even his delusions of a fundamentally good nature within himself and within his world could not have led him to think that gunning down civilians, even for the sake of his own survival, could be portrayed, like so many other decisions, as “necessary.” Even with all that had happened, Walker could not deceive himself into thinking that the outright slaughter of civilians could be rationalized. At this time, alone of all other moments, Walker’s own character is truly revealed by his decision to either spare them, granting them mercy despite the risk to himself and their killing of his squadmate, Lugo, or giving in to the savagery and horror by abandoning, unambiguously, even the illusion of any virtue and turning the remainder of his campaign against Konrad’s phantom into an act of pure vengeance and animal violence.

            The second is after his epiphany atop the Burj Khalifa: the decision of what to do with his own life. This can go several ways, and Walker himself may live or die. He may leave Dubai, or he may willingly kill his rescuers and remain there presumably until his death or capture. But what is significant about these choices is that, in all of them, he has accepted the horror. In none of the possible exceptions, regardless of what he decides regarding his own fate, does he persist in his old delusions. He may live with the horror, he may killed by the horror, and he may embrace the horror, but he may no longer deny the horror.

            Most instructive of these possibilities, perhaps, is one in which he remembers something General Konrad told him in Afghanistan: “Home? We can’t go home. There’s a line men like us have to cross. If we’re lucky, we do what’s necessary, and then we die. No… all I really want, Captain, is peace.” Konrad accepted the horror, but he did not embrace it. Even set free from his delusions of heroism and goodness in himself and in the world, he maintained a semblance of virtue. Ultimately, it was his failure to live up to these virtues, despite his earnest efforts, that led him to take his own life, as Walker himself might choose to do.

            But these choices are rare. They are rare because the clarity necessary to choose is rare. What the game begs of its audience is awareness of the delusion, and rejection of inherent, self-justifying rationalizations of a good and heroic nature, and to accept the world, brutal and savage though it is, and of ourselves, brutal and savage though we may be. And, despite the horror of the truth, not to cross the line when we find ourselves at it.

            1. Geebs says:

              Problem is: you can’t demonstrate something by making it up. This is what the developers imagine might happen in the mind of somebody in this position, but all of the tropes are derived from other media. That’d be like writing a treatise on the human body’s ability to withstand being blown up based entirely on the works of Micheal Bay

              1. Abnaxis says:

                The only way you can communicate or deconstruct philosophy or ethics is through abstraction. The allegory of the cave isn’t meant to literally instruct you on the manner in which people who live in caves all their lives would react to stimuli, it’s meant to make you question how you interpret the world around you through metaphor.

                The point Rocketeer was making is that like the cave allegory, Spec Ops isn’t meant to literally take you into the mind of a killer who struggles to rationalize his actions, it’s meant to deconstruct the rationalization itself. Because no matter who you are, many such rationalizations are an intrinsic part of your ego even if they haven’t led you to commit heinous acts.

                1. Daimbert says:

                  But that only works if, indeed, the PLAYER is rationalizing the actions, or if the PLAYER is put in situations where they would rationalize it. The problem here is that the Spec Ops universe is so extreme — perhaps deliberately so — that it is easy for the player to think that in those extreme circumstances it might occur, and also since it is so abstract it is quite possible that the player isn’t rationalizing it at all, but is instead actually indeed playing as that character, with no relation to themselves. It is the issue of presuming the player purpose and then chiding them for a purpose that they didn’t, in fact, have.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    The universe of spec ops is so extreme because its a response to other modern military shooters.Its not scolding the player for justifying his actions(which they may or may not be doing)its scolding other shooters for putting the players in the shoes of a “hero” who indiscriminately and brutally slaughters whoever is in their path.

                    1. Daimbert says:

                      But which shooters actually do that? Most of the ones where the killing is indiscriminate don’t seem to make you a clear-cut hero, and the ones that want you to think of yourself as a hero don’t let you slaughter people indiscriminately. Admittedly, I don’t play shooters and so might be misinformed about them, but it also seems to me that part of the problem with Hatred is that it doesn’t even make you a gray hero, someone ruthless, but instead simply makes you evil.

                    2. Daemian Lucifer says:

                      Basically all of the modern call of duty and battlefield have you be “one of the good guys”,while using highly advanced tech to kill dozens of soldiers who are no match for you,often with very dubious justification(oh look,the russians suddenly invaded all of the usa).Then there is crysis,which is even worse,putting you in nigh impenetrable armor and sends you to fight people who could be basically wielding pointed sticks,and homefront which is just idiotic in its premise.And Chris already discussed the brutality of stealth takedowns in those games,which is also critiqued by walkers increasingly brutal melee takedowns once he starts going insane.

            2. Wolf says:

              Thank you for that treatise on Spec Ops: The Line.
              Every time Spec Ops was brought up on twentysided I had this nagging feeling that something still needed to be said to clarify my reading of the game, but I just could not put it into better words than “Somehow your reading does not agree with mine”.
              Now I am finally at ease since I can henceforth just steal your analysis of it, which is better than mine and covers all my intended points nicely.

              1. Abnaxis says:

                I emphatically second this statement. Your treatise puts clear words on the ideas I always struggle to get across when I talk to other people about Spec Ops.

            3. Daimbert says:

              This was a very good and detailed analysis, but I think it actually reflects the issue that I raised here: issues over character and player motivation.

              The game, as you describe it, tries to give Walker a motive and then also give us motives, and tries to deceive the player through putting ourselves into his view and giving us a view of the world from his deluded perspective. Walker thinks of and wants to think of himself as a hero, and interprets the world to see himself in that light, and so the information we get is filtered that way, at first subtly, and then finally in obvious ways. All of these are, in fact, good character notes, and lead to a number of interesting player takes on the issue. But when, later, the game thumbs its nose — as I’ve seen it described, anyway — for THEIR motives in the game, it can often fail because the player need not have had those motives. The player need not have associated THEMSELVES with Walker at all. They could have played it like a standard FPS where the choices lead only to the next set of enemies to be killed. They could also have treated themselves the way Damien did, as a fourth squad member who can influence but not dictate the way things turn out. Even if thinking about Walker directly, they could have played him as someone who tried to be the hero he wanted to be, but failed and broke down because that sort of world doesn’t support heroes. Or they could have played him as a monumental jerk-ass, or the stoic soldier doing whatever was necessary to get the job done. Given the wide range of options here, from “this is just a game” to “I’m a hero” to “This is the story of how a hero was broken”, attempting to get the player to see it as a reflection of what THEY are capable of is problematic because they might not see any of the choices or any of the action as what THEY, themselves, would ever actually do. This goes doubly for any choices that the game makes for the player and doesn’t allow the player to make (the fatalistic parts). There is no link to the views of the player if the game “But thou musts!” you into doing them.

              So, that’s the think that they missed about a game versus a movie. In a movie, following the character around can indeed make you think about what you might do in that circumstance, what it would take to get you there, and what things you have that might relate to the same sorts of things that bring about the downfall of the main character. In a game, you in a sense ARE doing it, for reasons, and so trying to call — especially explicitly — to those reasons fall flat and sounds preachy and annoying if you weren’t doing it for those reasons at all, or if you are called out for acting on information that the game presented as correct and told that you should have challenged the assumptions that the game really, really tried hard to PROVE were the case. If you are only given the MCs viewpoint and have no way of figuring out that it is flawed and delusional, then it seems odd to suggest that you shouldn’t have assumed that that viewpoint was the one to accept. If you can’t actually choose otherwise, it seems odd to suggest that you should have done so. And with players who either accept the MC as the viewpoint character OR separate themselves from it, there doesn’t seem to be any real way to link what the MC does to anything about the player; either they are choosing as they think the MC would choose, not as they would, or else they are choosing as a player of the game, not as a character in it. Only the player who makes the MC themselves can in any way feel a link to the choices made … and that player will likely rail at being lied to and at about being limited to a fatalistic, determined path and then being chided for following it.

              To tie this back to Hatred, it is possible for someone to either take on the role of that kind of killer, or to play it as a game where the objective happens to be to kill people in that way. It just doesn’t seem like Hatred will be strong enough in those areas to make that interesting to most players, and in a game, again, you have to make the player want to do things, not just the character.

              1. Abnaxis says:

                Isn’t there something ironic, about players being upset that Walker’s motives don’t line up with theirs, when the thematic message of the game basically boils down to “the world does not always align with how you want it to be”? I feel like the real problem, is that people approach games with differing attitudes on what games are “supposed” to be, and in this case how you approach it makes a difference.

                The game is telling Walker’s story, not the head canon you want to make for Walker. If you or anyone else went into it with aspirations of creating your own version of Walker, you were trying to do something with the game that it wasn’t designed to do and indeed it never promised it would do.

                I can understand not wanting to be “chided” for something you had no choice in, but I think that’s where the difference in paradigm comes in–people who wanted to take Walker and make him their own saw this as an indictment of themselves personally, when it isn’t. It’s an indictment of Walker, and and the nature of the mistakes he made that lead him to the final scene.

                1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                  Indeed.Its hilarious how a game says “Dont be this guy,this guy is a bad person,look at how his story ends”,and then people got angry because “From the start I couldnt sympathize with that guy!This game is stupid!”.

                  1. Daimbert says:

                    I think this, again, highlights my point: the complaint is that the game didn’t give ME any reason to care about Walker’s story, and in a game _I_ actually have to be along for the ride. Think of Shamus’ comments about Travis in Silent Hill: Homecoming and you can see why having to play as an unsympathetic character might be a problem for players.

                2. Daimbert says:

                  Isn't there something ironic, about players being upset that Walker's motives don't line up with theirs, when the thematic message of the game basically boils down to “the world does not always align with how you want it to be”?

                  That’s not what I’m saying, though. I’m saying that the game, as described, wants to get the PLAYERS to think something about THEMSELVES, but does so by appealing to motives they presume the PLAYER has, and can only do so by trying to associate motives that come from WALKER as if they were the motives the PLAYER had. If the player has motives that are different than Walker’s, and the game’s message is aimed at them at least having related motives, anything it does to drive home that message AS IF the player actually had those sorts of motives will very much seem like the game is chiding people for having motives that they don’t actually have.

                  The game is telling Walker's story, not the head canon you want to make for Walker. If you or anyone else went into it with aspirations of creating your own version of Walker, you were trying to do something with the game that it wasn't designed to do and indeed it never promised it would do.

                  Sure. But if it’s telling Walker’s story, then you can’t say anything about the player for what happens in Walker’s story, because it’s not THEIR story. It’s yours (ie the developers’). That’s the disconnect I’m talking about: if you don’t try to talk to the player, you’re okay if you just make it Walker’s story and don’t care about the motivations of the player, but if you try to talk to the player then you had better get the thoughts and motivations of the player right, especially if the big thrust or message of your game depends on that message.

                  Now, you can say that the game doesn’t try to say anything about the player … but the long comment above and other comments I’ve seen suggest otherwise.

                  1. Daemian Lucifer says:

                    I'm saying that the game, as described, wants to get the PLAYERS to think something about THEMSELVES

                    Not quite.The game wants you to think about the hero de jour of modern military shooters.If you identify with such characters,then yes,spec ops wants you to think about yourself,and why you are identifying with these horrible people.But if you already have a problem with how these guys are portrayed,spec ops finally gives you justification for why you have a problem with them.

                  2. Abnaxis says:

                    That’s the thing: I really do think the game isn’t trying to say anything about the player in the specific. From the long comment above:

                    What the game begs of its audience is awareness of the delusion, and rejection of inherent, self-justifying rationalizations of a good and heroic nature, and to accept the world, brutal and savage though it is, and of ourselves, brutal and savage though we may be. And, despite the horror of the truth, not to cross the line when we find ourselves at it.

                    I agree with this, and I think there is an important distinction between begging awareness, and asserting ignorance. That’s why the base perspective you bring with you when you play makes a big difference.

                    If you see yourself as controlling Walker, making all his decisions for him, then when the game accuses him off screwing up it is by extension calling you stupid for wreaking so much havok. However, if you see yourself as only experiencing events as Walker did, you are no longer slighted, even though the message doesn’t change.

                    Normally, this distinction doesn’t matter, because the vast majority of games shoot for empowerment fantasy, and either player is going to feel empowered no matter their individual paradigm. I think that’s why few people even realize the distinction is there

            4. Mukk says:

              In order to enjoy a work of media you often have to suspend your disbelief. You accept the limitations. You accept the plot holes and the invisible walls. If a game turns around and holds your suspension of disbelief against you that’s dirty pool. This is a criticism that I accepted the main character’s shaky motivation enough to play through? Well I have a criticism for you. I’m not going to buy your games until you can perfectly simulate realistic dialogue and behavior for all NPCs. You have to let me crawl around all the entire game world in any order I choose doing anything I could in the real world.

              What? You can’t do that because computer game technology is not that advanced? You want me to suspend my disbelief? Well too bad. You misbehaved when I gave you that privilege.

    2. Zukhramm says:

      “Does controlling the shooter make the portrayal … different somehow?”

      Absolutely. Obviously controlling the character makes it different, else we would not bother making video games with stories and just stick to movies instead.

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        Or, rather, choosing the player’s role in a situation naturally says very different things about that situation by exploring very different things about the player’s agency within it.

        For example, Dormin’s assumption that making a game about mass shooting would cast the player as the shooter necessarily envisions a very different game with a very different agency and possibility space than a game in which the player controlled literally anyone else.

        I suggest that the latter interpretation might much more closely aligned with the films, in which the audience does not naturally identify with the killer, but agree with Zukhramm that, because this is so, a game in which you may only play as the killer forces exploration of ground that film can’t reasonably reach.

        If that makes any sense.

  12. The Schwarz says:

    “Killing people: it’s like nudity”
    — Shamus Young

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      The shower is the proper place for both…
      Wait, what?

      1. Ivan says:

        Something about kittens, or going blind… I can never remember.

  13. MrGuy says:

    Note: Shamus, if you think this goes over the “no politics!” line, feel free to delete it with my apologies. But I think it’s an important thing to think about.

    I agree with your overall point about why violence can be cathartic without meaning you’re a bad or violent person. And that, to some degree, the cartoon video game people you kill in games are just blank avatars for things to annoy you.

    That said, I take a bit of issue with this statement:

    These guys in turbans probably don’t represent actual men from the Middle East in the minds of the player, but instead are the embodiment of terrorism itself, giving you a way to punch back at one of the great fears and frustrations of modern times. (Personally I find this kind of over-simplification sort of off-putting, but if you’re able to enjoy it, then that’s fine. We all deal with stress and anger in different ways.)

    Even without the INTENT to say “everyone who looks like this is a terrorist,” I think this is a harmless thing that’s at worst annoying. Because people’s brains are weird and don’t always work in a logical way.

    Stereotypes and prejudice are rarely purely rational, and part of how they come to be is by conditioning. If you hear something paired with something else enough times, you make the association subconsciously in your brain. A great proof that this happens comes from Implicit Association Tests (Malcolm Gladwell wrote nicely about these in Blink). Even though I have some black friends I highly respect, I don’t do terribly well at this test, because it’s hard to get the image of “how people in violent street gangs look” out of your subconscious when you’re thinking about positive traits.

    I have a friend who is Sikh. Sikhs are neither Arab, Muslim, nor from the Middle East – they have their own religion, and come from the northern Indian subcontinent. But as part of their religion and heritage, Sikh men wear turbans. My friend has to constantly deal with prejudice, fear, and misunderstanding. He’s been called a terrorist on the street multiple times, and told to go back to Afghanistan or Iraq.

    Not that the fact that he’s Sikh should even matter – it’s not any more OK for people to go around assuming people who ARE Arab Muslims are all terrorists.

    But the problem is that it’s easy and lazy to associate physical characteristics with “this is how you recognize who’s a terrorist,” and every repetition matters in making up how people see the world. Even if you “don’t mean it,” it’s not harmless.

    1. krellen says:

      I accept deletion too, but wanted to reply:

      I do very well on Implicit Association Tests, and know basically no black people at all (because I live in a state with a very low black population), so my experiences of “black people” are all media depictions. Either I am immune to cultural conditioning, or it’s more complicated than that.

      1. Erik says:

        When it comes to the human brain, it’s always more complicated than that. If there’s one true fact I’ve learned about human intelligence, that would be it.

        But it is very interesting that you do well on the Implicit Association Tests if your primary exposure to “other” is via media. You apparently either watch a more balanced input of shows than I thought possible, or your rejection of media tropes is unusually high. (Or one of thirty-eleven other possibilities that I haven’t thought of off-hand. :) )

        1. krellen says:

          I live in a minority-majority city in a soon-to-be minority-majority state. And not “minority-majority” in the sense that “all minorities together are the majority”, but in the sense that “most people here belong to this one specific minority”. So I don’t get exposed to much black in real life, but I swim in a sea of brown.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            That…sounds dirty.Im not sure if you wanted it to sound dirty.

  14. Bloodsquirrel says:

    I think an important part of having violence feel cathartic in a game is making it feel subversive. It should feel like you’re doing something you aren’t supposed to be doing (no matter how much the mechanics of the game were designed around letting you do it). Having the game tell you to kill a bunch of innocent people takes your agency from it. Running around killing everyone in town in Fable II was fun because it felt like you were stomping on a sand castle the game had built. Abusing villagers in Minecraft is even more hilarious because you’re plausibly twisting the game into something the developers hadn’t intended.

    Hatred takes that element of subversion away and just leaves you with the violence.

    1. Lisa says:

      Now I wonder if there’s a way of playing Hatred to subvert it and be nice to people …

  15. Smejki says:

    I wonder if design of this game is ready for the scenario where you never start the killing spree but instead go to the park to watch some ducks clamly swimimng in the pond. You’d still carry your AR 15 but who doesn’t walk his favourite gun from time to time, rite?

    1. Lachlan the Mad says:

      Maybe he lives in an open carry state?

  16. Christopher says:

    They sure look like they’re succeeding at being “politically incorrect” or whatever, if Shamus finds the trailer nauseating. This is the first time I actually watched it, and going by the description I thought it would be some sort of torture porn or school massacre affair. What it actually seems to be is a black and white top-down shooter in which the camera zooms in for effect during melee/finishers, which don’t splatter anyone’s guts about, they just release black blood and in some cases their head vanish.

    Like, this seems way less disgusting to me than the fatalities in the new Mortal Kombat. I suppose the context in Hatred, that the NPCs cry for mercy and you are this crazed killer, makes it quite dark. I probably wouldn’t have found the fatality where some guy cuts the opponent’s arms off, shoves them up her chest and cuts half her head off to put his cigarette out on her tongue quite so icky and messed up if she wasn’t also his daughter. But the ultimate context of the examples given in the article is that they are all video games. Contrary to what Extra Credits think, I don’t believe you have to be a sadist at all, or that the only reason to play violent games are to relieve anger and stress. You just have to not care that much about the well-being of imaginary computer people with zero personality except self-preservation and what you project onto them. I don’t think Hatred is as controversial as it is because of the level of violence or even the NPCs behavior, it’s because people are reminded of real-world massacres and think it’s in bad taste. It probably hits people who think about the narratives of video games for a living and the people who don’t know what video games are hardest of all.

    I have no desire to play it, but at this point I’m not upset by it either.

    1. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

      Honestly I more upset that its actually getting press. But thanks to an over abundance of manufactured “scandals” in the games industry lately shit like this can actually get press.

      I’m also upset this is getting compared to Postal. Postal was nothing like this. Postal was a joke. It actually WAS satire. Like Shamus said, context is everything.

      Mostly I’m angry at such wasted talent. The people involved with making this game obviously have talent, and this is what they do with it? I look at shit like this and my reaction isn’t shock or horror. It makes me roll my eyes and think:

      “Jesus Christ….grow the fuck up….”

      Only in America is such talent wasted in such a spectacularly selfish and juvenile manner.

      1. Daemian Lucifer says:

        I'm also upset this is getting compared to Postal. Postal was nothing like this. Postal was a joke. It actually WAS satire. Like Shamus said, context is everything.

        Postal 2 was an obvious joke.Postal was just your basic run around and shoot people because why not.So the comparison is apt.

        Only in America is such talent wasted in such a spectacularly selfish and juvenile manner.

        They are from poland actually.

        1. Christopher says:

          Yep. I went to google to check out the history of mass murders in Poland, because I thought the perspective would be somewhat different. Instead, one of the first results I got was an interview with several Polish developers, including the developers of Hatred and their former employers. They pretty much say a variety of the same things everyone’s saying in this comment section, but hey, it’s a good idea to actually talk to them instead of about them. Appreciated the “If you think that games are shitty then make a good game” comment, myself.

          1. Patrick the Satirical Nihilist says:

            Ah, Polish developers, eh? Well, that’s what I get for being lazy and not reading more about it, I suppose.

            Nationality aside, the utter waste of talent is still depressing. I can understand the “If you think games suck…make a good one” comment, but that’s little more than an excuse meant to terminate an argument in an loop. It’s like answering the age old question of: “If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is around…”

            With some smarmy, snarky voiced “Well why don’t you go cut one down and find out!?” It doesn’t answer the question and merely serves to end the discussion in arrogant way. The question isn’t why I don’t go off and make a “good game”. I can’t make a good game</I, that’s the point. I don’t have the talent, they do. And this is what they do with it. It’s like watching the world’s greatest baseball player waste his talent swinging an axe as a lumberjack rather than a baseball bat. Or having Stephen King writing Star Trek fan fiction. This is Stephen Hawking wasting his life counting cards in a casino.

            Making video games is a talent like any other. And Hatred is a waste of that talent.

  17. Disc says:

    I don’t really even see the need for having dehumanized enemies per se, though I agree, it is cathartic. Sometimes it’s just about the carnage, mayhem and destruction (and the resulting rush), where everyone and everything is reduced to a part of the equation. You have a goal and employing violence is just the means to an end. They’re the thing that you must eliminate to get to whatever your set goal is, be it zombies, terrorists, cops or stupid cardboard stand-in civvies. It’s a sphere where questions of humanity become irrelevant and where you’re just an actor with a goal in opposition to other actors and their own goals. It’s video game violence in its purest form and there’s a terrible sort of beauty to the simplicity of it. Any possible victimhood and damage is only really applicable through the context it’s related to.

    With this game, I can’t really determine what the point really is. I can definitely respect wanting to stand against the loud, obnoxious and politically-motivated voices out there and they’re definitely hitting all the right nerves, hence all the discussion, but it’s hard to see a game I could actually enjoy.

  18. Joe Informatico says:

    The problem I have with Hatred is that it doesn’t offer us anything like this. Instead of making your victims irritating and unlikable, it does everything it can to build empathy for them. They don’t look like cruel stupid people. They have families and homes and they beg for mercy.

    Not on the same level, but for myself, this was the biggest disconnect between Assassin’s Creed 1 and 2. In AC1, to Altair the guards in most of the cities are foreign invaders, and openly wearing the Templar cross. And even the local guards are working for rulers seeking to eliminate the Assassins. Killing guards in AC1 felt like a righteous act, striking a blow against the oppressors of your people. Moreover, until the endgame when you’re forced to kill a few dozen of them in quick succession, guards aren’t pushovers in AC1–you usually don’t want to go out of your way to kill them if you don’t have to.

    In AC2, the Assassins aren’t known to any one who isn’t an Assassin or Templar. Even though the game says the guards are Templars, it’s hard to accept that they’re all in the know. And their chatter during combat has them express sentiments of camaraderie and past history, (“Guys, let’s work together like that time at that place!”). Every time I killed a guard in the Ezio games, I felt like I was killing a guy who was just trying to collect a paycheque. And it was really easy to kill them too.

  19. MadTinkerer says:

    Game content aside, I really think there must be more to Hatred than the devs are letting on. There must be.

    In real life, murder, especially mass murder, is horrific and never desired by sane people. (in this particular case, I’m drawing a distinction between unprovoked mass murder and terrorism because terrorism is done for a reason. An evil reason, of course, but I’m specifically talking about purposeless violence.) In games, it can be hilarious, especially when done to characters who have temporary existences and killing them ultimately doesn’t have any permanent in-game consequences. But even, say: murdering shopkeepers in roguelikes where there is permanent death for NPCs can be a legitimate strategy.

    But making a game where murdering innocents isn’t a subversion of the system or presented as slapstick or an alternate tactic or actually an optional challenge (because those “innocents” are tougher than regular monsters in some games), but instead is the point of the game, is boring. Every time it’s ever been done straight, it’s been boring. Even the Super Colombine RPG actually turned it into something clever because the boring part (the real-life murders) was actually a lead-in to a mid-game twist.

    There’s no substance to a game about killing innocents. You can test this right now. Go to Minecraft, load up someone else’s town map. Go into Creative mode and get a bunch of eggs of every kind, and stock up on whatever kinds of weapons you have modded in (or just vanilla swords and bows). Then go into Peaceful mode, don’t touch any blocks, just spawn farm animals and kill them and see how long you go before you get bored and spawn something that can fight back.

    Hatred looks like a boring game. The devs must be aware of how boring mass murder is: they’re making it right now! I really think there’s more than meets the eye to Hatred. I don’t know what they have in mind, though my first guess is that the supposed protagonist is actually the villain. A one-villain game is far too short of a premise to sustain a commercial release, but it’s much more interesting than the game presented in the trailer.

    Space Invaders shoot back. Ghosts try to eat Pacman. Donkey Kong throws barrels. Elves make passive-aggressive demands on your growing fortress. Even in casual games you fight time or your previous score or the environment obfuscating the things to click on. Murdering innocents is a boring chore, not a game.

    In real life, if you try to kill a bunch of innocent people, your life is over. To a player, there are no consequences for doing the same to NPCs (other than wasting their own time). I don’t see how the Hatred devs can possibly be as dumb and tasteless as they are pretending they are and also competent to ship a commercial game. There must be something actually clever underneath the nonsense.

    Or maybe they really are just counting on controversy and hype to sell their terrible (quality) game. In which case, what’s taking them so long to finish it?

  20. Chris says:

    I was struck by how much the trailer reminded me of that part in Fallout when your character had to play the role of a serial killer inside that Vault simulation. Its very similar in how you feel like a character is placing a constraint on you to end the lives of innocents who have no way to anticipate or escape you. Seems like the creators of Hatred looked at that part of Fallout and decided it needed to be modern, alot longer, and involve a badass-emo main character with a jacket-of-holding.

    Frankly it looks boring and cringe-inducing. Seems like something that is going after the market of people who buy games based on what will piss off the authority figures in their lives the most. Its likely that the only ones who’ll be talking about this game in a few months following the game’s release will be idiots on the news trying to blame it for the ills of society.

  21. Zaxares says:

    The bit in the article about how there’s a bit where you put a gun in a woman’s mouth while she’s pleading for her life and pull the trigger reminds me of the tutorial mission from Hitman: Absolution. 47’s sent in to kill this amusement park owner named Joseph Clarence who, via hiring some very expensive lawyers, was found not guilty of negligence when a ferris wheel in his park broke loose and killed several dozen people. Initially I was also thinking, “OK, yeah, this guy’s a scumbag who used his money to escape justice.”

    But as you played through the mission, you learn that Joseph’s legal bills basically bankrupted him. He resorted to allowing a cocaine dealer to set up shop in the abandoned park in order to get by, as a result of which his wife ends up divorcing him. Furthermore, when Joseph tries to kick the dealer out, the dealer makes it very, very clear that he has no intention of leaving, and Joseph really has no power to make him leave. Nor can Joseph go to the cops because they’d just arrest him too. He’s just a broke, powerless man who’s lost everything.

    And despite all that, when 47 breaks into his office, Joseph STILL begs for his life. Even though he’s got nothing left to live for, he still doesn’t want to die. It was such a powerful, HUMAN moment, that I honestly found it really, REALLY hard to pull the trigger. (But you have to, otherwise you can’t finish the mission.) It was the first time in the entire Hitman series that I actually questioned 47’s career, because in the past he’s always been sent after drug dealers, crime bosses, dirty politicians and other ne’er-do-wells. Joseph was the first ever target who made me realise that 47’s targets are PEOPLE.

    So yeah, context is everything.

    I also agree that, while I find the idea of Hatred to be pretty tasteless and don’t intend on playing it, I think banning the game goes too far. Everybody has different limits and standards, and I think that as long as real people don’t get hurt, we shouldn’t put restrictions on what people can and can’t say or make. Otherwise, we’re in a similar situation to things like Charlie Hebdo; to most of us, making fun of religious or political figures is no big thing. But to others, it can be a huge insult. Do we really have a right to insist that Muslims or Christians should just sit there and take it while we lampoon their most venerated figures, while also insisting we have the right to ban stuff we find objectionable?

    1. I think your Hitman example was used as a tool for character development and framing. You have to do it, because you need to to finish the mission. Agent 47 is more than likely experiencing this same dilemma. He doesn’t want to do it, but he has to to finish the mission.

      In hatred that part is gone. You as a player are doing it because you have to to finish the level, while the character is doing it not because he has to, but because he want’s to see the people suffer and die.

  22. Neil W says:

    So that conversation between Adam and Shamus about some satire that doesn’t land, mostly because it’s very poorly thought out, and (possibly) due to Shamus not being familiar with the genre so he didn’t notice any exaggerated elements and instead saw it simply as a standard example of gay porn…

    …was that satirical or just funny?

    1. MichaelGC says:

      Well, Shamus is potentially satirising pseudo-satire, so whether or not it is itself satire depends on the status of the pseudo-satire: if such ersatz satire exists, Shamus’ satire is certainly satire, whereas if no sham satire exists, then Shamus’ assumed satire can only be a (amusing!) simulation of satire. And, the word ‘satire’ has now lost all meaning. Satire satire satire sat ire sad tyre.

      1. Sad tyre? I think you’ll find it in the living room; Chris has been looking for it…

        1. MichaelGC says:

          *high five*

          Aye, right – must be just about the saddest tyre in videogame history! :D

          1. Certainly made the SW crew sick and tyred! XD

  23. Sall Manser says:

    In GTA you play as a career criminal and it’s a-ok. Someone has once called this series “a ticket to prison” and with good reason. You shoot and kill police officers and you say it’s ok because they are in fact bad people and not at all better than the character you play. Really? Is it not exactly the same kind of thinking that real criminals employ routinely? Shooting virtual people with virtual guns is one thing, but mis-justifying it in a manner that can be verbatim carried and applied in the real world is something quite another. “I kicked him and beat him unconscious but he’s a real jerk and has had it coming you know, and besides he was eyeballing me, so I taught him a lesson. Serves him right. Besides it was fun.” The problem is that this kind of thinking is encoured by GTA and it it is not virtual at all – it can be carried all too easily to the real world.

    1. MichaelGC says:

      For me it’s more like: “OK, game, you’ve asked me to accept these polygons as people, and I’m now doing that on some level. And now you also want me to shoot them? Err… OK, could you throw me a bone, here? Doesn’t have to be much – just a nudge in the right … well, wrong, direction. I can do the rest of the pretending myself, but now you’ve got me seeing these blobs as people, my ethics are sorta kicking in a little, and I need some sort of wafer-thin justification to get past that and get back to pretending. Doesn’t have to be a real justification – just something.”

      So, with Hatred: it sounds like that’s not going to work for me, because the whole point of the justification in that game is that there is no justification.*

      With real life, for me there’d be no equivalence at all – extreme scenarios aside, it doesn’t matter what kind of justification is used, because I’m not going to be trying to pretend it’s sufficient.

      *Or rather, if there is a justification it is in the mind of the protagonist, and is much less a property of the polygon-blob-folk.

  24. poiumty says:

    See, the thing I like about art (generally speaking) is that it can make you feel a whole range of different emotions.

    Some of these emotions are overused. But that’s okay because these emotions (joy, happiness, awe, catharsis) are what we WANT to experience in our daily lives. But some are pretty stale and mouldy by now. And some of these are things you never want to feel.

    But that’s okay, because, just like horror in horror games, they’re feelings you don’t want IRL, but can understand when you experience them in a controlled enviroment. It’s the rush of experiencing something new, something that tells things about who you are, something that makes you understand yourself better.

    Horror games do this. But art, in general, can do more than just horror. Art can do repulsion, disgust, discomfort. All of these feelings are things i enjoy experiencing in a controlled enviroment, just like horror. And were it not for art, I would not know that.

    Specifically, were it not for Saya no Uta, a lovely little japanese visual novel that conveys disgust and discomfort like no other thing I’ve experienced, yet manages to make you think about important, deep things, like love and happiness and beauty and humanity. Saya is nothing like Hatred in its subject matter, but it’s everything like Hatred in that neither of these would exist in an overly PC, western culture (and they don’t, either – Saya is Japanese, while Hatred is Polish afaik – both slightly different cultures to the outrage-prone puritanism of the west).

    I want more Sayas to exist. Therefore, I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t also want more Hatreds to exist as well. Because it’s not about this one game in itself – but the potential that art can reach if the west learns to accept the idea of art creating discomfort as a means to entertain. Hatred may end up being a really bad, shallow game. But the sequel, or next game of its type might teach us important things about ourselves, and about the less-acknowledged facets of humankind. Or Hatred might actually be good – in the end, there’s really nothing to *lose* in wanting it to exist, and a whole lot of potential to gain.

    I’m really excited for Hatred, not for its concept, but for what it represents. If you really want games to be art, you WILL take the “good” with the “bad” – especially if we’re talking morally good and bad. I don’t play bad guys in video games when I can choose so – last time I did, I played a Sith Lord in KoToR 2 and had quite a shitty time. I’m willing to do it again for Hatred though, just in case there’s a sliver of something that it can show me. Whether I have fun with it or not is of no consequence, the important thing is I will have learned something new about myself.

    Also, Shamus, your idea of satire sounds more like parody to me. Satire should be more subtle imo.
    And don’t think I don’t know whose name is Adam. We’re on to you, Rutskarn.

    1. I agree, and personally loved the tone of Saya no Uta (Song of Saya in english), and how well it conveyed the “Fucked up”-ness of the main characters actions, while at the same time reversing and showing us his comfort in his actions due to his complete loss of connection from the world, and his actions being the only thing that can make him comfortable in this new version of the world.

      Maybe Hatred will do something similar, hopefully not like Meet the Pyro style, but more like Song of Saya style. That could be really interesting.

  25. “Instead of making your victims irritating and unlikable, it does everything it can to build empathy for them. They don’t look like cruel stupid people. They have families and homes and they beg for mercy. In fact, the trailer focused heavily on executing people that were weeping for their lives as if this was a major selling point of the game. This isn’t gleeful, like the Joker running amok. It’s not playfully evil like Dungeon keeper. It’s ugly and cruel, like a real public rampage shooter. There’s nothing to make us care about the protagonist and everything to encourage us to have empathy for his victims.”

    This…completely reversed my position on this game. Now, not only am I glad it exists, not only do I think it’s exceptionally responsible…I kinda feel its necessary.

    Hear me out:

    It’s 2015. Vid’jagames as we know ’em have been round over thirty years and in that time, we’ve been shooting ourselves up a lot of digital people. I mean, a loooooooooooooooot of them. And always we have an excuse. They’re armed. They’re the ‘bad guys’. They’re assholes. I can’t complete the game otherwise. They’re not ‘real people’.

    That last one in particular. That’s not just talking fidelity, but of tone and framing. Look at that quote, particularly that last sentence. “encourages you to have empathy for his victims”. Except you’re playing the ‘him’…so the game is encouraging you to have empathy for your victims. Not just Spec Op navel gazing cutscene empathy…but in actual real-time gameplay and it suddenly occured to me when I read that part of the article, that no other game has tried to frame such a well-worn trope in that light before. What I’m saying is this is the first I’ve seen a game that’s portrayed killing people as bad. Like Shamus says, it removes the excuses. It takes away our ability to ignore the inhumanity of these actions that we’ve been doing for so long the mechanics of this game are considered fucking ‘retro’.

    Honestly, isn’t kiiiiiiinda fucked up?

    I mean, yeah you can argue developer intent or game design (but not really unless you know something I don’t cause I haven’t heard ‘r seen anything about what how the game incentivizes the mass mayhem), but that’s beside the point. That trailer and what it showed will still be there and will still frame these actions in this manner and…yeah, I’m glad there’s a videogame out there (or at least a trailer for one) that shows killing a bunch of people as a not good thing to do.

    1. poiumty says:

      “Honestly, isn't kiiiiiiinda fucked up?”

      You ever play Cops and Robbers when you were a kid?

      Just sayin’.

      I mean we could draw arbitrary lines in the sand all we want on where play stops and seriousness begins, but I draw mine at hurting actual people. Game doesn’t hurt any actual people. Carry on.

      That said, I agree with your conclusion – that the game should exist. I just think it should present its content without comment, and let people form their own opinion. That’s the healthiest kind of art.

      1. Actually no and more to the point, I don’t know anyone else who did…or has since for that matter. That game – and it’s originator cowboy v injuns – is itself antiquated precisely because of how fucked up it is. The DieCrew talked about and had a Spoiler Warning special devoted to how dissonant applying those mechanics to a game about actual Cops v Robbers is.

        That’s the point. Regardless of whether the game glorifies or incentivizes what you do, the trailer for the game portrays what you do as an absolute negative for all those reasons in that Shamus quote and I think that’s something to lauded and praised to hell ‘n back.

        Yes games are not real and will not cause yada yada yada. That’s not what I’m talking about. What this game does for me now that I saw that quote is put in stark contrast just how desperate this industry has been to avoid a discussion about what it means to kill…even if it’s not real, because I do believe there is an argument to be made for personal responsibility and growing the hell up as a medium.

        What I’m saying is that the fact that it’s taken so long for a game – any game – to even acknowledge this aspect of this very very old form of interactive play is…unfortunate.

        1. poiumty says:

          Well that’s your problem, then – you never played Cops and Robbers. Clearly you need to rectify this gross lack of cultural experiences.

          Plus, it’s pretty fun too. I didn’t play it very much myself. The block’s favorite was this one game where you counted to 10 or however much next to a pillar with your eyes closed and leaning on it while everyone would hide, and then you’d go find them. And when you did you’d run back to it faster than them and spit on the pillar to score them out. If you lost one, you had to go again… I was never a fast runner.

          So that was boring. But cops and robbers? Cops and robbers was fun.

          And I agree with your last paragraphs and stuff.

    2. Muspel says:

      You can actually argue designer intent quite a bit. The development team are members/supporters of a smorgasboard of hate groups, including quite a few white supremacist movements.

      Even if this were a game that needed to be made– and I strongly disagree that that is the case– they are not the people that should be making it.

      1. poiumty says:

        Wasn’t it debunked that they’re neo-nazis?

        And no, you can’t argue designer intent. Not while the game isn’t even out yet and there’s no actual designer commentary that is evident from the trailer alone.

        Hell, if they WERE neo-nazis I’d want to support this game even more. I’m not afraid of what the minds of people with different opinions from mine can create. On the contrary, really.

        1. Muspel says:

          I didn’t say that they were neo-nazis (as far I know, they aren’t), I said that they support several hate groups.

          (Note that neo-nazis are a subset of hate groups, not the other way around. All neo-nazis are members of hate groups, but the opposite is not true.)

      2. Daemian Lucifer says:

        The development team are members/supporters of a smorgasboard of hate groups, including quite a few white supremacist movements.

        Please,dont be that guy.Dont believe blindly that someone is a neonazi or whatever simply because someone says they are.Check it if its true(and in this case it is not),before spreading such rumors around.

        1. Muspel says:

          I have checked into it. And while it’s true that they aren’t neo-nazis, they have expressed support for various hate groups and racist movements.

          See my comment above.

          1. Daemian Lucifer says:

            A couple of guys from the team giving facebook likes to some hate groups is not the same as the whole team “The development team are members/supporters of a smorgasboard of hate groups”.Not even close.

            1. Muspel says:

              Sympathizers, then.

      3. RandomInternetCommenter says:

        “Isn’t the way video games encourage us to dehumanize human beings worth thinking about?”

        “Who cares, these developers are the wrong kind of human beings.”

        1. Daemian Lucifer says:


        2. Muspel says:

          The problem here is that buying their game supports them, and means that they’ll continue to make hateful, bigotry-filled games.

          This isn’t like Spec Ops: The Line, where they’re subverting a common storytelling trope in order to show how fucked up it is. Instead, they’re reveling in it by having players murder people that they actually think are terrible (and, depending on the exact nature and extremity of their beliefs, they may or may not actually want this kind of thing to happen).

          That goes far, far beyond the point of raising awareness or provoking discussion.

  26. Starker says:

    At this point, even something like Bombshell looks better than Hatred: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W8A7rDu405g

    Quite a surprise after that first awful, incredibly awkward trailer.

  27. Chris says:

    I kinda want the game to have a point where you are half-way thru the first level when the protagonist is killed by a family member of one of the victims. Then the rest of the game is just a black screen with text saying “..and you spent money on this game, huh? That emotion you’re feeling, what could it be?” Roll credits, but with everyone’s names blacked out.
    It would lead to more interesting games-as-art discussions..

    1. only problem is the people who bought it just to see what it was about would be EXTREMELY pissed that they didn’t get any gameplay out of it for their money

  28. I could have seen this game being developed differently if the developers had different intentions, and it actually working out really well.

    -Create a trailer like the one they have, where it shows a sadistic killer that is just fucked in the head. This gets a LOT of attention from your game, and gets everyone looking at it, and a few people who buy it just to see what it’s all about.

    -first levelof the game plays like you would expect. You load up your guns, and kill 100s of innocent people in the most horrible way possible, just like the trailer shows.

    -second level is when things start to diverge. You load up as a detective investigating the scene you just created L.A. Noire style.

    This could create a really interesting dynamic where you as a person feel extremely disconnected from Mr. Shooter sort of like he is from reality, and then bounce back and get to solve it from the point of view of Mr. Detective.

  29. Mukk says:

    I laughed when I watched the trailer. I don’t know if it was satire or not, but I found it pretty goofy. Arguing intent is hard, but I just laughed at the killer. He was such a joke. Was he intended to be a joke, or did the developers think he was cool? I don’t know, and that doesn’t matter so much. He was a joke in the, ‘I’m laughing at you’ sense.

    Actually I really liked the aesthetic of the game. The black and white, the art style, and the color only coming from police lights and neon signs.

    I feel like I need to finish up by saying how terrible this thing is but I’m not going to bother. I will treat this as a joke because it makes me laugh and I won’t dignify it by saying its anything more than that.

  30. Kdansky says:

    Hatred isn’t satire, it’s basically the PETA of gaming. They wanted publicity to sell a game, so they made a game that’s designed to get bad press. Ignoring it is the best thing to do, because at the end of the day, it will be a tiny bit like GTA, except much worse in all regards, and GTA is hardly brilliant to begin with. Hatred is basically a troll-post in game-form.

    I have no time for bad games, and certainly no money to buy them.

    People need to chill and care less about tasteless games.

    1. arron says:

      When it was reinstated on Steam, I watched the trailer. I clicked the “Not Interested” button and forgot about it. I didn’t see a need to rage against it or insist it was banned. The marketplace would decide whether it was popular and the best way to condemn a game is quiet consumer obscurity. The more noise, the more free marketing.

      It might have had an interesting aversion therapy aspect to make the player realize they’re gunning down innocents begging to live. It might have had some kind of social experiment behind it to see how people played. But I wasn’t interested in it. I’d rather spend my money on something else.

      It’s interesting how this clip of Charlie Brooker inverts the killing the faceless enemy Nazi hordes by imagining a backstory for each one. Before dying in the most pointless way possible.


      Might have posted this before, but it’s an interesting idea. Would you gun down enemies without any defined character if you had a device that showed how the many dependents would suffer and die as a result of your actions and perhaps instead try for maximum non-lethal combat instead?

  31. arron says:

    Shamus and Adam in the ‘gay skit’. I can just imagine you and Rutskarn reading aloud on a podcast for a laugh. I am trying desperately to avoid thinking of Rutskarn actually having done it. Please god, pass me the mind bleach.

    In the same way that Jeremy in the UK Peep Show series engages in gay sex acts in one episode because he finds it pays a bonus from his cool gay boss and works to his advantage – all despite being the most irresponsible feck-less over-sexed hetro-sexual character in the show.

  32. MikhailG says:

    I just wanted to chime in that I dreaded that you were covering this game but after reading your column I have to say: the column was the sanest most down to earth talk about the game. Thank you, at least not everyone on the internet has gone completely bonkers.

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