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We need games like Hatred.

Ponderings on why the game culture need controversial games like Hatred

I'm 35 years old, I have played games for about 30 years and I belive we need more games like Hatred. The media and player reaction to Hatred trailer was no surprise, reactions to Postal, Postal 2 and Manhunt where similar. Despite the controversy I think Hatred will be a excellent addition to the game industry portfolio and I welcome it with open arms.

You should never judge a game by the trailer only. However the developers, Destructive Creations explained quite clearly the game premises. The main character is a cold blooded villain, who is full of hatred against humanity and goes out on a shooting spree. For some reason this shocked many players and journalists that have probably killed thousands fictional computer characters before.

So why is Hatred so shocking according to Internet? (loose quotes picked from various forums)

  • "War games are different, killing (even innocents) is ok because it's military operation."
  • "You only need to kill few persons to advance in game x, most can be skipped."
  • "Most missions/killingsprees/hit'n'runs in x sandbox-series are optional."
  • "Killing in game x is ok as it parodies violence."
  • "Postal 2 can be played through without killing anyone. Hatred is only about killing."
  • "Bad timing, gaming industry dosen't need another controversy."
  • "Hatred, appears to be geared solely around the idea of mass murder. There does not appear to be any other element to this game."

Surely the main character in Hatred would be classified as insane. The exceutions in the trailer are brutal and painful to watch. Are they different from me running over a innocent pedestrian or shooting them with a bazooka in a open sandbox game? That's open for debate. However I like the fact that the game trailer shows how horrific killing another person can be, not sugar-coating it by making the target any "enemy" or bad guy first. After watching the trailer many shocked players created a need to make this game look bad, because a shocking game I don't like must somehow be flawed and the developers crazy(?).

Here are some picked comments about the game:

  • "The graphics are bad, you can see clipping bugs".
  • "The game is trying too hard to make a controversy".
  • "The 90s goth character is over the top and sterotypical".

As if most games do not contain stereotypical characters. Sure the dialogue wasn't so great, but if a game is about mass-shootings and killing people, what else should you show in the trailer "without trying too hard" to stir up controversy? Finally I can just imagine the reaction if the main character would have been a "normal" college student, you can ask yourself would that be better or worse?

and the developer witch-hunt:

  • "The developers are islamicphobic, homophobic, neo-nazis."
    (because they like page x on Facebook).
  • "I'm surpised they found so many disturbed developers to work on this game".

So we base these accusations on facebook likes, eh? Is this really we the road we want to walk? Start scrutinizing developers Facebook pages and jumping to conclusions instead of, I don't know, interview them and really asking who they are? Thankfully the developers gave a response on their site about these false claims (News: The first storm resisted 21/10/2014).

The idea that a normal, sane person can not or do not want come up with a twisted "splatter" game is absurd. I have friends who are into explotation and B-splatter movies (both as creators and watchers), still these are some of the most caring and friendly, genuine persons I know. I'm a LARPer and a table-top RPG player, I can come up with twisted and utterly disgusting ideas with ease and I do consider myself sane even if I have no problems playing a chaotic-evil a sadist.

Finally to the point: why does the game industry/culture need this game?

I think any cultural medium should try to push boundaries of current status quo. Luckily we now have, thanks to internet and online distribution, a thriving indie-scene. Playing digital games is more popular than ever and we are truly living a golden age of game development. There is room for both big and small games, rainbow-cotton-candy-kitten-cute games and obsidian-black-violent-depressing-eating-you-from-inside ones. I would say that most games lean towards cute, but as in the movie industry, the more variation we get, the more options we as consumers have. Sure Hatred might not be your game, you can always choose to NOT buy it, but don't remove this option from people who want it. Just like movies, you can choose to watch it or not. I would dare to say (based on the trailer) splatter movies and even mainstream horror movies probably have more gruesome scenes than this game, and they are using real actors not polygon soup.

Some sites are claming shock-culture is dead and riding with the "trying-too-hard" argument. No, shocking cluture is not dead or there wouldn't be this controversy in the first place. I hope we get more games that cause controversy like Hatred (and it dosen't have to be about violence). I hope we get games that for better or worse push the boundaries. These games might not be multi-million franchises but atleast they are different and that's what pushes the gaming culture forward. These games remind us there are still areas to explore and stories to tell. I probably won't buy Hatred (at least not full price) but I hope they find their own crowd that will play and enjoy the game. For the sake of gamers, game culture and industry I hope someone will make "another Hatred" soon.

Tha author is a happy and mostly sane dad with long modding background and a recently released indie game called Balloon Gentleman for Android devices.

 

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