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Why making a violent game may make sense

by Sergio Rosa on 08/27/12 05:17:00 pm

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The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutraís community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.


This post was originally posted on my blog, here.

Those who know me (or have been reading this blog for some time, or follow me on Twitter) know that I’m all about storytelling. Even if I’m into game development, my programming skills are not exactly the best in the world so I figured I could make games that have simple systems but offer a cool experience (ok, I’ll stop being funny now).

This means that, even if I find the idea of making story-driven games, I want to make games that could actually be considered games, because they offer a level of interaction other than QT prompts on the screen and name it a game , or holding a key for 2 or 3 hours to make a game about walking.

After this rather long introduction, I’ll start with the actual subject of this (somewhat short) post. You may or may not know I was interviewed by Eric Caoili from Gamasutra a couple of weeks ago. Someone on the comments asked why not make a non-violent game instead, and I thought that was an interesting question so here I’m trying to answer that.

As I just said, I’m all about storytelling and I believe everyone has a story to tell, and that’s pretty much one of the main ideas behind Enola. As you’ve read on the article, there are plenty of “stories of violence” in the country, but you can’t simply label people and actions as “evil” because all evil people have a reason to do what they do.

This doesn’t mean I’m saying “they are right” to do what they do. That purely means whatever they do is not a random action, but caused by some real motivation. Not everyone is The Joker who’s only interested on watching the world burn.

That doesn’t mean you have to agree with them either, because their “reasons” make sense to them, but surely don’t make sense to you (“I ran away from home and joined a gang because I wanted to find a place where I could belong” may be enough reason for some, but certainly is not enough for me, and surely not for you either).

So, what I’m saying is that, most likely, whatever evil deeds a violent person does, are related in one way to another to that person’s past, and thus that’s why I say “everyone has a story to tell.”

Enola is a game about a very sick serial killer. While I don’t plan the game to portray graphic violence (like slicing someone in half on camera just to get the amazing blood dynamics), it’s a story about violence, and a story about a violent person. When working on the basic storyline, I thought it would be cool to explore the killer’s backstory in different ways, because this would give you a better understanding of that killer and its motives. I also think this could yield some pretty interesting results, as some people who play the game may even “sympathize” with the killer, while others may simply say “ok, but that doesn’t mean you’re a sick bastard.”

I don’t plan to sell the idea of “look, this person suffered a lot so it was ok for him to kill people,” because, as I already said, knowing the reason doesn’t mean they are right or that we should “condone” those actions. It simply puts a different perspective, showing that sometimes those monsters are not natural born monsters, but monsters created by our own society. This means that, sometimes, even our “innocent deeds” may cause a new monster to be born.

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