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Spec Ops Writer: Violent Games Don't Pose A Creative Challenge

Putting extreme violence in video games is the easy way out. It just doesn't take much effort from a creative standpoint, you know?

So says Spec Ops: The Line lead writer Walt Williams, who addressed the complex topic during a GDC panel. Basically, he believes that violence, especially the kind found in first-person shooters, is just becoming mundane. Said Williams:

"We're in an industry full of very intelligent, knowledgeable, and progressive people. It's getting harder and harder for us to play these games and to look at them critically and say, 'This is OK.' This makes sense, especially as we get older. I would like to see less violent games out there. Not because they're bad or wrong, but because I think creatively they're too easy."

In regards to his game, Williams called it an "experiment" and said he's actually surprised that it "ever made it to the shelves." We thought Spec Ops: The Line had a lot of unfulfilled promise, as the mechanics and implementation of great ideas came up a little short. As for the future of shooters, Williams wonders what writers can do to make them more intriguing from a literary standpoint.

"Where do you go after doing a game like this? How can you make another shooter…that leaves your characters arguably alive? I think we need to get to a point where we can move back to maybe trying to write characters…that are a bit more hopeful. I think that might be a good first step."

I'd agree with that assessment. Whatever happened to those hopeful characters, anyway? Did they just get buried beneath a depressing landslide of gritty, even disgusting realism?

Tags: violent games, violent video games, shooters, spec ops the line

3/26/2013 10:56:29 PM Ben Dutka

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Legacy Comment System (8 posts)

Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 11:09:00 PM

I love your opening paragraph Ben.

I don't need to see the brain matter afterall.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 11:37:36 PM

I'm surprised that crap got on shelves too, this man is a bad writer. I would suggest getting good writers and putting them in charge of creative control of the game's vision as well. You want a violent game that actually means something and has characters to shed a tear over? Cut me a check and I'll write one for ya no problem.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ 12:38:58 AM

I think that maybe you went into it with the wrong mindset. If you look at as a massive pisstake on the entire genre then it works a lot better. Not the best game I've ever played but it was interesting.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ 12:38:14 PM

yeah I made the mistake of thinking it was a serious endeavor.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013 @ 11:44:41 PM

I've gotten a bit weary of the whole MMS deal in general. The stories are the kind of thing that could be dashed off over a weekend and the realistic (but not too realistic) approach feels dull. If nothing else, Yager should be commended for pointing out the absurdities of the genre. Spec Ops: The Line may have been a bit rough around the edges, but they were trying to do something different and I'll take an ambitious game that falls short over another round of Call of Battlefield nonsense.

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Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ 7:54:14 AM

Violence *can* be included in brilliant work too, though. Ref pretty much every movie Quentin Tarantino has made. So even though it can be "simple" or "cheap" to just throw violence into a script, the difference between good and bad writers will show also in violent stories.
One could even argue the creative challenge is *bigger* in those kind of stories.

Last edited by Beamboom on 3/27/2013 7:55:00 AM

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Tim Speed24
Wednesday, March 27, 2013 @ 6:10:55 PM

Honestly I never meant to get Spec Ops the line, but when it came out free on PS Plus, I gave it a whirl.

It was better than I expected but I was expecting Mundane TPS with Wack-a-Mole type shootouts. Turns out the game played alot like Ghost Recon Future Soldier. Not Bad.

Again soo many games that play very much alike Spec Ops, Aliens, Army of Two, Tomb Raider, Uncharted, Ghost Recon future soldier and now Dead Space 3

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Thursday, March 28, 2013 @ 11:46:27 AM

Just finished Spec Ops myself (PSN Plus ftw!) Actually enjoyed the story just due to the fact all other shooters have the same story line over and over (gameplay on the other hand was very rough). I

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