Hatred: How all games look from the outside
One step forward, a thousand steps back. That’s often how it feels to be someone who wants games to become a mainstream and cultural art form. A wonderful game such as Journey comes out and it’s something you can show your friends and family and call it beautiful, but then the medium soils itself and throws a temper tantrum and it’s back to the naughty step with those violent video games. It’s been happening a lot recently, with the whole Gamergate fiasco (I’m trying not to write about GG because fuck that) then to follow it up we get the trailer for Hatred
For those of you who don’t know what Hatred is, it’s a top down isometric shooter where the player enacts a massacre upon the general public and law enforcement. It’s a hyper violent power fantasy based around a very dark phenomenon in our culture (particularly american culture) that of mass shootings.
It’s a game that if you asked a Fox news anchor to imagine a video game, this is what they’d imagine. It’s an out dated concept that would have had people in the 90s shitting a brick and decrying the state of the youth today. Based around shock value to get people talking about it (and it worked didn’t it). It’s also going to feed into the narrative that games cause school shootings and the like. Every time there has been a mass shooting, the media have in some way vilified games, from Doom to Call of Duty: Modern warfare 2
In GTAV there was a cut scene where Micheal is talking to his gamer son whose playing a rather violent pig murdering game, to the outside viewer the game makes no sense and seems to be only about the bloodshed
Thats what Hatred looks like to everyone, not just the outside viewer.
There is no beauty in Hatred, no wit, no charm, just violence. Of course this is all from the trailer, but what else is the game going to offer? A rich redemption tale, of a man disaffected with the world but who realizes through tidal waves of blood shed that he is the true monster, before seeking redemption as best he can? Unlikely.
Hatred is adult in the same way 90’s comic books tried to be, over serious, straight faced with no room for irony or fun. Just look characters such as Venom, Spawn of the Punisher, dull because they don’t realize how absurd they can be (we should all be thankful for Lobo and Deadpool right now). The thing is adults aren’t super serious all the time, they have fun, they do dumb things for their own amusement all the time. It’s only the adolescent mind that thinks that being adult means your not a child anymore.
Games have far more to offer witless slaughter. This isn’t a cry against violent games, I love violent games, Shadow of Mordor is my favorite game of the year and it’s very violent, with a beheading every other second and a higher body count than most natural disasters.
I’m not going to call for a ban of Hatred or that it should change in any way. Game development is an art form in itself and just like any artistic medium it shouldn’t be censored by the outside. This is more of a look at Hatred, what can we learn from it and what can be taken away from it.
The very idea of game set in a mass shooting doesn’t even offend me too much, but how about where you play as the survivor, the victim? Not the misanthrope behind the rifle (don’t we have enough of those). I do truly believe that games can tell stories that other mediums either can’t or have shied away from. It’s why I think Depression Quest ( As needlessly controversial as it’s developer is), is still a important work in gaming’s history. It’s dealing with real adult themes, violence and sex are childish when compared to depression or post traumatic stress.
If your going to make a hype violent power fantasy, do it well, do it with intelligence, do it with charm.