: Editorial: How Violent Is Too Violent?

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Editorial: How Violent Is Too Violent?

For the record, I accept Naughty Dog's explanation for the brutal violence on display in their upcoming game, The Last Of Us.

That being said, I'm just wondering if any of us really know where to draw the line anymore. Within a nation of perhaps the most desensitized individuals since Roman times, most over the age of 12 don't even flinch at the absolute worst depictions of horrid, gut-wrenching violence, be it in movies or video games. Even if the parents are strict and meticulous about what a kid sees, the media is relentless and despite the sad little ratings on TV shows (that really only tell an underage individual to, "Yeah, watch this!"), violence is everywhere. It's inevitable and unavoidable.

And of course, with every step, with every extra push of the envelope, more becomes accepted and worse, ingrained. So while it certainly makes sense for The Last Of Us to contain a fair amount of violence given the concept and setting, there are ways of portraying violence that would still convey the appropriate message without being gratuitous. When I was a kid, cameras used to cut away on TV and in movies. Now, people are actually mad if the camera cuts away, which I find exceedingly disturbing. It's almost as if we've gone beyond tolerating and accepting...it kinda feels like we're starting to crave it as a society. More bad news, obviously.

On top of which, movies and television are passive. Gaming is interactive, which could theoretically be more damaging as although we're not actually holding a gun, we essentially made the murder happen. And considering that murder is a cornerstone of this entertainment medium - death has been ridiculously marginalized to the point where it means absolutely nothing in games - one has to wonder...where's the line? And isn't there a damn good chance that we've already passed it?

10/12/2012 Ben Dutka

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Comments (43 posts)

WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 10:37:01 PM
Reply

No such thing as too violent as far as I'm concerned. We've got a long way to go before it becomes torture porn (though I must say I never played the SAW games). I think Condemned 2 had some great environmental fatalities, and you can do some cool things in stealth games but there's nothing approaching the methodical and brutal senseless killing we had in Manhunt 2 (without the lame graphic interference).

I'm no good with real violence and never have gotten desensitized to it, but as long as it's pretend I'm down for the craziest stuff they could ever make.

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Kevin5
Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 11:12:08 PM

@WorldEndsWithMe,

"I'm no good with real violence and never have gotten desensitized to it, but as long as it's pretend I'm down for the craziest stuff they could ever make"

Pretty much this. Working in hospital/elderly care facilities I don't condone any kind of real life violence. If it's virtual i don't see much of a problem.

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Qubex
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 3:38:25 AM

Agreed... as long as one remains stable and realistic, then one would hope the mind is not lost and the individual tries to play out what he/she sees, plays and experiences.

For the most part the majority of humanity is balanced... if we were not, this world as a whole would much more violent than it is today, and today, the world in general is not in the best shape as it is... but it could really be much worse if it weren't for the sense and sensibilities of most people today...

Q!

"play.experience.enjoy"

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 7:49:00 AM

The only real life violence I endorse is that which is inflicted upon bronies.

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AcHiLLiA
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 11:27:58 AM

I won't even watch the saw movies anymore, saw 1-3 and that's it, to disturbing for me. Violence in games is different so it doesn't bother me.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 10/13/2012 11:30:19 AM

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Kevin5
Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 10:58:49 PM
Reply

I personally don't have a problem with games being too violent. I'm not going to avoid games because they're too violent put it that way.

I do believe it's how the violence is used though within the game & context. If a game is shite to begin with & is only shoehorning gore to gain sales then i won't have any interest in it. If however, the game is a quality game to begin with, with loads of violence be it justified or mindless, that doesn't bother me & i will still buy it.

It's a mixed bag for me really, i personally thought games like ThrillKill & Manhunt were utter turds but loved titles such as Left 4 Dead 2 & Dead Rising because the violence actually added to the entertainment of those games imo. I also believe the violence in Mortal Kombat makes it a better game, without the red stuff MK wouldn't be half as entertaining because it isn't as indepth as other fighters that actually focus on quality fighting.

It's like those wierd fetish MUGEN 2D fighters that you can only play in Japan or download from torrents that feature schoolgirls & pervy one-eyed tentacle monsters. Some of the throw animations in those games will make you gag & people only play the games not because they're good fighters (because they're not) but because it's extreme.

So to sum it up, i don't have a problem with violence in games as long as it doesn't affect the overall quality of the product, but i do believe there should be a line drawn when games go just too far like that Rapelay.

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SonyPuppy
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:18:42 AM

To be honest, I think so long as it is rated correctly, nothing should be off limits. To some, the ability to do these things in a virtual fantasy setting is a wonderful way to let off steam. The ability to come home and murder a few thousand digital characters prevented me from murdering the wall after a particularly bad day. I have no issue at all with virtualised violence, and the Aussie censors sure aren't gonna let any old junk through. But if it can clear the classification I say go for it.

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Dukemz_UK
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 5:07:06 AM

Totally agree about getting the ratings right. More important is the application of these ratings to protect young and impressionable minds. Too often I see parents going to game shops with their kids and buying said kid a game rated for mature adults. Many parents want to censor sexual content in their homes, but turn a blind eye to exposing their kids to violence. Proof: all the kids playing CoD online.
My point is as adult gamers we all have a responsibility to prevent children we are responsible for from getting access to inappropriate media for their age, and this includes violence.

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AcHiLLiA
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 11:20:40 AM

I blame parents, their not trying hard enough but look at it is today it's tough, I just think the best thing u can do is give them a time limit.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 10/13/2012 11:21:20 AM

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Advent Child
Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 11:00:02 PM
Reply

That's actually pretty interesting I knew that I almost had to turn off the Gamescom trailer for the Last of Us. I have never had problems with voiplence in games before bit I think with what we have now its that the violence is SO real. I don't even think brutal is the correct word to describe what was in the trailer.

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firesoul453
Friday, October 12, 2012 @ 11:40:42 PM
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I dont mind violence in games, but I don't enjoy games where gore is the only point.

Violence can add to games, but isnt fun ( too me atleast) just by itself

Last edited by firesoul453 on 10/12/2012 11:41:36 PM

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Temjin001
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 1:05:10 AM
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The question ranks up there with "how do they cram all that graham into Golden Grahams and still leave room for the crunch?"

But I dunno, I think maybe we've gone to far if say in GranTurismo 6 there's slow mo replays of race drivers being ejected from their cockpit during wrecks and their brains splat on walls and then flies into a spectators mouth. We've got big problems at that point, I'd say =p


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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 7:38:59 AM

Yeah even I would say that might be too far, but if it were a crazy Japanese game with the point being to create the most brain pasting gore by setting up impossible wreck scenarios then I might let it go.

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Temjin001
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 1:24:05 PM

Sony should fund a Move game that has body organs falling from the sky and you have to try and shoot them all before they hit the ground. The ground with spikes and acid and sharks =p

Oh and make it "free" for PSN Plus as well ;)

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Temjin001
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 1:38:31 PM

Ha this reminds of a childhood story actually. Back in the third grade my friend and I thought we were too cool for Valentines Day and love hearts were for sissys. Well we had to draw a Valentines Day card in class with hearts and stuff so I thought I'd be a rebel and I drew a battle scene with tanks shooting human hearts at each other and they were laying all over the picture pulsatig blood. The teacher was so appalled they mailed it to my parents.
=p
I'm sure if something like that happened today I'd be branded as a psychopath and kept in a straight jacket. Crazy thing is, there was no such thing as Mortal Kombat or M rated anything back then. I also couldn't watch rated R movies. I know I know it was ALL Indiana Jones and the Temple Of Dooms fault!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:02:39 PM

I used to draw fatality scenes from Mortal Kombat :)

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Temjin001
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:40:02 PM

What i find most interesting is how incredibley different my friend and I turned out after high school. We were born a day apart. Grew up in same living area, same sized families, similar strict fathers, both love to draw and drew with our left hands, same schools, same church, and I mean SAME as in same classrooms and meeting times etc. we both listened to lots of heavy metal and watched similar stuff, hung out all the time with similar defiant attitudes, yet he went down a drastically different path than myself. He's had much trouble with the law, drug abuse, cant hold a steady job, and children from different mothers. I on the other hand went down an opposite path. Functional family and children from one mother. I hold down jobs just fine. Have a crime free record. I'm a voter. I observe and keep the Sabbath day holy. Etc.
I'm sure our lives would've made a great nature vs nurture argument. Being a product of our environment simply wouldn't make sense in this regard.


Last edited by Temjin001 on 10/13/2012 2:43:37 PM

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Lawless SXE
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 1:07:16 AM
Reply

I haven't yet that found that line that I'm forced to turn away from watching. As much as I detest violence, there is something compelling in the viewing of it, or the use of it as a sport, as in the case of UFC/MMA. When it becomes titillating entertainment, as in torture porn movies, then yeah, I'll have a problem but the only thing I can do is to not watch it. As long as it is created, it will find an audience. Sad, but true.

Actually, on second thought, I know where A line is: sexual violence. As soon as realistic portrayals of rape and similar crimes start cropping up devoid of context and unfitting in the outline of the game, that's where my interest ends.

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Draguss
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 1:20:18 AM
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I don't know if there's a line, and to be entirely honest, I'm not exactly... morally inclined enough to care. But if there is one, it certainly doesn't seem to matter to books and movies. I doubt it'll ever be important to the video game industry either. Maybe we seem to crave it because, on some level, we miss throwing pointing sticks at tonight's dinner?

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tes37
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:12:03 AM
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I believe there is a line that shouldn't be crossed in games, but where that line starts, varies for different people. I think it depends on the individual playing and how a developer chooses to make the player participate in the game.

So far, I've only played one demo of a game that made me decide that it just wasn't for me. I felt awful and there's no way I'm paying you to make me feel that way. I'm quite aware of what the line is for me, so I'm good.

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tes37
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:36:05 AM

Post mortem edit:

So far, I've only played one demo of a game that THE VIOLENCE made me decide that it just wasn't for me

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SmokeyPSD
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:41:40 AM
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Nothing is wrong with violence, too violent is the wrong question. It's violence without context that is a problem. A David Lynch film is different, with emotion and thought in it. To a exploitation film from the 70's, with truly horrible acts in it for no other reason than "just cause" and the newly popular genre "torture porn". Thankfully games are no where near emulating them yet for the most part.

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BikerSaint
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:46:13 AM
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My motto is "censor censorship".

So I have no problems with games of gore, but I'll definitely draw the line on any rape or kiddie porn kind of sh!te.

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booze925
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:56:18 AM
Reply

There's no such thing.
Look at the real world. It's an ever-present reality there, so why not in games?

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Zeronoz
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 7:27:42 AM
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Im game for violence in games but too much violence sorta makes me feel sick. I especially hate games that focuses on violence rather than gameplay/story (with the exception of Manhunt of course!)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 7:42:28 AM
Reply

If they brought back gladiator fights to the death the pay per view ratings would be sky high. At least our violence is pretend.

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Rogueagent01
Sunday, October 14, 2012 @ 5:16:23 PM

You better believe it would be sky high!

I get sick and tired of hearing people say we are desensitized, as we live in one of if not the most peaceful era of mankind ever! Just start looking back in history and see what desenitized really is. Go back to when it was normal to kill a person just because you crossed paths or you liked their boots. Go back to when marrying or having relations with kids was considered normal. Go back to when slavery was considred a sign of high status, or when battling to the death was also an everyday thing. We live in a violent world, no doubt about it, but we have grown quite a bit and I refuse to accept that we as a society are desensitized, because if we really were then the crimes commited today would be much worse then they actually are.

I don't think there should be a line for it within games. This also doesn't mean I would buy anything that came out. I believe games should be held in the same regards as books, movies,TV, and music and in all of those forms of media there is pretty much no line, so there shouldn't be one with games either. They just need to rate them properly and parents need to do their part in using the parental controls that are within every current gen system out there. You have books that have crossed imaginary lines for centuries and the difference I like to point out there is that you have no parental controls on that book, but you do with video games, making the games more responsible when it comes to society.

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Ergi
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 7:53:55 AM
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I think it's not only about the degree of violence, but more about morals and the amount of violence you condone even if it's virtual. Mind you i'm trying to analyze it from the critics view, I'm with everybody else. I don't think there's a line for how violent a game can be.

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Godslim
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 10:09:52 AM
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dont think any things been to violent tbh after all the violent onces get adult ratings anyway

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Underdog15
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 10:11:03 AM
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For me too violent would be participating in brutal acts with a dark mood... Like violence against innocent people. That airport scene in mw2 is pretty close, but I'm glad they didn't include children into that scene...

If games ever force you to brutally kill innocent children our perform violent sexual acts, that would be the line I could never accept. The sake if the story be damned. A narrative explaining what happens, fine. But if game makers decide I have to do it, well screw that.

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frostface
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 10:13:04 AM
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Chopping off heads in Dishonored is quite fun.

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homura
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 11:30:47 AM
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For me, it depends on the people. I for one had watched and read violent movies, anime and manga, like Gunslinger Girl, Berserk, Cannibal Holocaust, etc. I even question my morality when I've watched those, and I can handle it. I mean if you can't handle violence like that, don't watch it or play it. And as for there is a line for being too much violent, I believe that there is no such thing as a line. For me if there is a really sick person who will make a game about raping children and slitting their throat, it can be release to the public if those who have authorities allowed it or good people who don't want those kind of game never act about it. So I'm up for everything as long as I can take it. By the way for those who blames violent games for doing a crime, It's always the individual's fault not the game, cause he's the one who makes the choice.

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 11:43:53 AM
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I have to admit, it has become a bit much at times this gen, it seems like all the AAA titles this gen contain strong elements of violence, but that is because FPS have risen as the dominant genre this gen (Like it or not...). So other genre's like RPG's or platformers have become nearly exstinct! All the platformers I have seen this gen rely on guns or got poor ratings.

It also comes down to the modern obession of realism in the media. Gaming's visuals have grown so much over the last few decades, the graphics are depicting very realistic visuals. So when you shoot someone, to only see a splodge of paint representing blood is not enough and becomes childish, people want to see similar detail shots like Fallout's VAT headshots and see the organs and what not.

I personally am not opposed to it though, if you are shooting someone you should depict it realistically, to the point where it does make the player feel sick. I think most people playing CoD online play it for the thrill of sport and not really thinking about what is being replicated infront of them.

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Solid Fantasy
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 11:47:44 AM
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Going over the top for attention purposes is a bit of a turn off I guess.
However I'm against censorship in most any form and more often than not, taking a step back from the violent, blood and gore to me, is an expression of censorship and even restricted art. Games have ratings on them for a reason. If you don't like that rating then the game is not for you. Enforcing that policy can override any amount of violence in VGs.

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Dukemz_UK
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 1:59:36 PM

"Going over the top for attention purposes"
With that massive avatar... Lol

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Vivi_Gamer
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:20:29 PM

Yes, this is becoming annoying, same with that use on a horse... I hope they're actually typing while on a horse otherwise it is all for nothing.

But on a serious note, why has this suddenly become to happen...?

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telly
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:04:08 PM
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I've thought about this question a lot over the years. For starters, it's important to remember that we aren't really talking about watching violence in video games or movies -- we're talking about watch the representation of violence. Not trying to be a semantics jerk, it's just an important distinction. At no point does a sane person playing, say, Grand Theft Auto think the representation of the violence is real. It's a completely different experience from watching actual violence, and I really don't think enjoying representations of violence in video games, movies, whatever, has a correlation with enjoyment of REAL violence. I mean, I've played tons of crazy violent video games in my day and enjoyed most of them a great deal. I like horror and action movies. And in real life I'm a total pacifist, I've never so much as been in a fist fight, and I actually feel sick when I see real violence (living in a big city, you can't help it sometimes.) Am I the exception, or am I the rule? I think I'm the rule.

Having said all that, I do wonder if there are less obvious forms of desensitizing happening. Is our society better off when god knows how many people hear the words "modern warfare," they think of a game, not the brutal hell that is the reality of wars happening in the world as I type this? Are we better off when we think the idea of killing hookers is funny, when real life is littered with true stories of Johns brutally murdering prostitutes? And so on and so on. That can be upsetting to think about.

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Solid Fantasy
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 2:48:28 PM
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? What's wrong with my avatar and what do you mean by "horse"? It's the same size as everyone's else right?

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tes37
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 3:14:47 PM

His spelling is a little off, but it's fairly easy to tell what Ultimadream is talking about. Unless you're a braille user, and it's obvious you're not, you can see that your avatar is way beyond the recommended size.

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Solid Fantasy
Saturday, October 13, 2012 @ 3:30:29 PM
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Not on my browser. Strange? Sorry guys. I've seen this happen to others. It looks normal for me. I'll see what I can do.

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Neo_Aeon666
Sunday, October 14, 2012 @ 12:52:24 AM
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Humans are animals and we just found a way for them to push their destructive instincts on a virtual thing. Let them do it.

You know my Dad used to tell me so many stories of all the crap he and his friends used to do when they were young.

While I played video games hitting on virtual pixels *My Dad* used to tie people on a railroad track or play with a bb gun and get into gang fights... If anything I think games are helping.

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tes37
Sunday, October 14, 2012 @ 12:25:25 PM

I happen to be unique in respect to animals. Everything that moves on this planet is a creature. Those creatures are birds, fish, animals and humans.

If you teach your children that they are animals, you shouldn't be surprised if they act like one.

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ProfPlayStation
Monday, October 15, 2012 @ 12:07:47 PM
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I've been saying for a while that we crossed the line of good taste a long time ago. Every time this subject comes up, people inevitably talk about "handling" violence, but I don't find that to be the issue. I can *handle* extreme depictions of violence, but I do not choose to make them an every day, bread-and-butter part of my lifestyle. Frankly, I now stop considering a game for purchase the instant that I see it using an explosive gore shot, or something similar, as a featured advertisement image ("Play the game to experience this!"). I've become completely sick of having every big production drenched in filth, with the next one down the line looking to sink even further.

This article is not about censorship; it's about industry self-moderation. The driving forces in the industry have lost sight of what made games great in the first place. I don't reward bad behavior, and this obsession with violence and gore that has become dominant during the current generation is extremely bad behavior.

Over a year ago I disposed of many games which were communally labeled "must plays," and filled with every sort of repugnant nonsense, and I'm a more fulfilled gamer for it. I'm playing lots of stuff from before the shift, and current ones who don't follow the trend, and they're all awesome. They have to be entertaining without relying on the crutch--which is exactly what it is--of sensationalistic violence. They are more inventive, more original, more fun, because they have to be.

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