I warned you in the title, this is going to be a long post that I don’t expect many of you to get through, for various reasons, but it is my way of letting off steam without side tracking other topics that have every right to be discussed here.
I want to also preface this post with the fact that I am not taking a stance on violence in video games. In fact, I think violence has a very prominent place in games, as it does with any source of entertainment.
###Since when did shooting become the norm? Worse yet, since when did we accept that?
I’m not going to try to trace the lineage of shooters, or even pull any sales numbers or online popularity, we all know that shooters rule the AAA space, and have for some time. My question is, since when is this all we come to expect from a major title? This might feel like a personal attack to anyone who buys these games, or enjoys these games, but I don’t intend for that. I was, and in all reality, probably still am, that person. I am more just hoping to take a step back, and have an intelligent discussion as to why this is something we gladly line up for and accept as video game consumers?
I know one of the first arguments you can make is that this outlook is very reductive, and there is a lot more to do in these games than shoot things, but I want to ask the question - Is there really? With games like Destiny and The Division, it’s easy to say there is a lot of social interaction and world events that you can partake in, but at the end of the day, what does it boil down to? You shoot them, or they group up with you to shoot others, right? And of course there is resource management and character progression in many of these games, but once again, it all boils down to allowing you to shoot people better.
I just want you to think about it. In all of the possible ways we interact with the world and with people in our everyday lives, how in the hell is it still acceptable that the vast majority of AAA titles being released today are reduced to us shooting people in the face? When I take a step back and look at that, it boggles my mind that this has been acceptable, and worst yet, highly lucrative, for so long. Can’t you agree that something is terribly out of whack there? Each game just iterating on better ways to shoot people/things/aliens.
The worst part is, as soon as you take a stance such as that, you immediately get labeled as someone who likes “weird, artsy, indie games”. It happened to me just today as I was discussing this with my friend since I was 5 years old. The part that kills me, is that he is absolutely right and that’s exactly how the world still views it. If you don’t like shooters because of the act of shooting, it is not the norm, and it is weird. That is just deeply disheartening to me, when there is so much more that games can offer, but major developers and publishers will not stop using shooting as a lazy crutch to sell games as long as we keep eating it up.
I am hopeful that VR could potentially make a slight pivot towards more intimate and interactive experiences, but I do worry that the laziest VR port is a first-person shooter, so we all know they will not be in short supply.
I know I am not the only one to take this stance, nor will I be the last, but I was probably like most of you who didn’t get to the point of reading the bottom of this post, and I usually dismissed those people as being crabby old hags that were on their soap box complaining about violence in video games and that they should go back to their “weird, artsy, indie games”. Who knows, maybe I should, I just hope that we don’t always have to draw that line in the sand, and that we can see what publishers have been feeding us all this time, and maybe expect more.