If you read a recent piece on video game violence, there's a good chance that somewhere in that article, included is a screenshot of a Dishonored neck stab. Last year was the year of the neck stab, after all. Rock, Paper, Shotgun spoke with the developer that coded that move in-game—Joe Houston—and he had Opinions On Game Violence.
For those that haven't played it, Dishonored is a stealthy game in which you are free to choose how to approach a problem. This poses unique questions about video game violence and what a player chooses to do, versus what a game developer gives as an option. Who holds responsibility, the person choosing or the person that gave the option in the first place?
Delving into the issue a bit in relation to actual-life violence, Houston said the following:
So does that mean that linear violent games are better for society than those like Dishonored, those that touch only superficially on violent acts versus those that allow the player to make extreme choices? I argue that linear games that have a lack of personal ownership in game violence actually do so at the disadvantage of society.
I don't believe that game violence causes real world violence, but I do believe that it does little to prevent it. And games with meaningful (and potentially distasteful) choice just might do better because they stand a chance of making the player think about what they're doing on screen.
Linear versus choice-driven games and what they offer/do when it comes to violence is arguable; there's probably no right answer. But the idea of whether or not games even have a responsibility to prevent violence is a curious one.
By nature of how ubiquitous the medium is, it's probably irresponsible to not even think about it, at least. Certainly we've had games that aim to educate or make the world better. So it wouldn't be impossible to make a game that tries to prevent violence.
Food for thought between our neckstabs.
Dishonored Dev Joe Houston On Violence In Games [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]
Just before Christmas, Nathan wrote a piece asking for a conversation about the role gaming violence plays in our lives. And as so many have when discussing the topic, he featured an image from Dishonored at the top – a man getting stabbed through the neck. For Joe Houston, the former Arkane developer who created that stabbing scene, this was the prompt he needed to give his own perspective on the subject. >
Whenever I’m clicking my way through game industry opinion articles, I tend to get hung up on pieces about video game violence. This is mostly because the image plastered across the top of the post is a screen grab from Dishonored. You know, the one where a member of the city watch gets his jugular opened in a first-person blast of arterial spray. But it’s not the shock of that image that stops me. No, I pause because I’m the guy that wrote the code to make the player do that in the first place.
They did. They absolutely, utterly, completely modded a new world into Skyrim that’s based on Super Mario. Super Skyrim Bros. adds a new instance into Skyrim, so you at least won’t be converting all of Bethesda’s chilly wastes to the blocky nightmare you see here. Just a corner of it. A nightmare of question mark blocks, coins, Goombas, Koopas, secrets, and even Bowser. Want to see it in action? You’ll need sunglasses and a quiet room to lie down in after. I’m about to hit my sofa and hide under some cushions. (more…)
Aussie writer Daniel Hindes, who for a while has run a niche site called Sneaky Bastards, wants to take the idea of discussing stealth games to a more tangible format. Hence, Sneaky Bastards, the magazine.
Promising that the magazine will feature 100% new content (as in, nothing that's been on the site before), the first issue also has a stunning front cover courtesy of British artist AJ Hately, who we've featured here before.
It's hoped that the print run can be a way of "producing more of a substantial, long-form, long-lasting analysis and exploration of stealth gaming in a format that this kind of material is designed to be read and consumed in."
You can check out more, and contribute, below. Which you should. The internet is a wonderful place to read about cats and fake trailers, but this kind of in-depth discussion about such a dedicated topic is perfect for dead trees between your fingers.
Sneaky Bastards [Kickstarter]
I don’t know who the head of Bethesda is. I’ll assume it’s John Bethesda Softworks. Hello, Mr Bethesda Softworks! Mind if I call you John? Nope. Grand. I have an idea for you: crowd-source the content for next Elder Scrolls. Calm down, John. Stop throwing things and hear me out. I know your games are lorey love letters to the world you created with Adrian Elder Scrolls, but things are moving on. Fans of games don’t need developers, just tools and assets to make their own game. You could spend all your time churning out huts and swords, and leave it to the people to make something from it. I have proof: this Skyrim mod Interesting NPCs adds over 100 new NPCS to the game, with over 90 of them voiced by actors. (more…)