There is a conversation in America about violence in videogames. While the cool-headed and rational among us don’t believe this medium signals the end times, the debate—or blame—rages on. And the points of either side rarely change. Yet the treatment of violence in games can be a constructive thing. It can emulate the sense of chaos and horror and confusion the average person would experience in a real life firefight, as Kane & Lynch 2 does.
The particulars or gravity of the situation may shift, but violence is also an inevitable part of any survival scenario. How far would you go to stay alive in, say, Fallout 3’s post-apocalyptic wasteland? Would you let your moral compass guide you? Or murder a stranger just because you want his cool hat?
Perhaps, as is so often the case, you’re the archetypal hero. One minute you’re riddling enemies with bullets— one cannon fodder target after the next in endless ways—then the story turns in on itself, forcing you, the player, to question who exactly you really are and what the consequences of your actions might be. Games like Spec Ops: The Line, Shadow of the Colossus, Far Cry 2 and The Walking Dead make it impossible to separate violence from narrative, either forcing you along an unsure path or to shaping your experience, however unwillingly, into a personal psychological profile.
Let’s talk about violence. All of it.