Written by Andy Stinton @DeathWishRyo (ಠ▂ಠ,)
In reply to The Wright Stuff shown on Channel 5 in the UK, dated 4.12.2017.
This article concerns their on-air discussion regarding David Cage’s new game, Detroit Become Human, for the PlayStation 4. I happen to regularly enjoy the show, but was very irritated at the unbalanced discussion on video gaming that took place. And unbalanced discussion is a regular theme in the media, as far as video games are concerned.
In Detroit Become Human, there is a horrific scene involving a child beating and death that takes place. And unsurprisingly, it has garnered lots of negative publicity.
I have to say the thing that annoys me the most in discussions like this, is how video games and gamers are patronised. Like their hobby and they themselves are childish and unsophisticated. Like they are somehow unable to grasp the same concepts that many movie goers would.
Just because many moronic parents let their extremely young children, play ultra violent games, does not mean it is the game or the game developers fault. Just because there are some bad role models or childish people, doesn’t mean you can label the entirety. Age limits and censorship are there for a reason.
As many know, a censorship ratings system (ESRB) started originally after the Sub-Zero spine rip fatality in the game, Mortal Kombat. This by today’s standards can be considered tame, but it is where at least a degree of moderation started.
For more games in the past that have fell foul of the media and censors, see Manhunt and Thrill Kill, as two great examples.
Gamers like movie goers are many different types of people, but it seems, thanks to stereotyping, all gamers are put into one crowd. The shoot everything, kill everything crowd. The sheer lack of open mindedness is astounding, when you recognise that video gaming is now even higher grossing than film media and so commands respect.
This same mindset applies, when yet another high school shooting massacre happens and yet again gaming and gamers are blamed.
Video games have massively grown up and this is a major thing many adults from the older generation, perhaps haven’t picked up on. Games like Shenmue and Grand Theft Auto were the start in a major shift towards hyper realism and true immersion.
Shenmue coined the term FREE (Fully Reactive Eyes Entertainment), Open World Game and broke ground in story development and scale. Whereas Grand Theft Auto opened the doors to ultra violence, cartoonish abandon of self responsibility and a leaning towards anarchy. Itself being a major player in Open World gaming and the bad boy of the gaming scene.
The latter many observers would point the finger towards when regarding real world violence. While Shenmue with it’s more moral, story led experience was free from criticism. Context of the violence and how it is portrayed, plays a part in any controversy.
In eventuality the video game trend towards hyper realism, will inevitably lead to virtual reality, as is slowly becoming the case. Video games are not just about points gathering as was naively suggested. They are now more than ever, immersive experiences, rather than just games in the traditional sense.
It is also very wrong to label gamers or movie goers, as everyone will take different things from a gaming or movie experience. Video games now are trying and achieving things that film media could only dream of.
Within film you are only a bystander, watching but unable to affect events. Whereas in gaming, you are actively taking part and are involved within the action, able to affect the outcome.
Video games, have in many cases, almost merged with film, to create a higher form of interactive experience. David Cage’s game, Detroit Become Human, carries on in this tradition of games with making choices. Indeed Shenmue was considered groundbreaking similarly for it’s time, in having a pathway system, via decisions you would make.
So there is in some games like these, a right and wrong scenario, where you see the consequences of the actions you take.
The fact David Cage’s game touches on a very delicate subject matter, should not be confused with making light of it. The scene shown is part of the story and narrative, rather than “enertaining gameplay”. There is no “entertainment” via this scene, rather it is there to enforce the connection to the characters, in the same way a film would.
How many films have touched on the same topic of domestic violence and not been scolded? It is because in the main, games are not seen as adult past times, just as childish pursuits. It is actually a very brave and perhaps groundbreaking move, that is being unfairly targeted, thanks to common stereotypes on gaming and video gamers.
It seems very simply, to be a case of, some adults cannot except that video games have outgrown them. Video games are not just childish, they are now experimenting with new subject matters and are breaking new ground on a constant basis. Either narratively or graphically.
Do not blame the video games, blame the parents who ignore age limits. Blame the media who will build up games and praise some, but yet criticise as soon as they touch ground occupied by film.
But don’t blame a format for simply striving to achieve greater things.
We never criticise films and other media to the very same extent and the truth is, this is because some have a very distorted view on what video games actually are. On what they can be, what they can mean and of who actually plays them.
The question is not so much, is the scene wrong, rather is it wrong for people to ignore the restrictions that are in place for games such as this. Games are growing up, perhaps some need to grow along with them.
Written by Andy Stinton @DeathWishRyo (ಠ▂ಠ,)