Spec Ops Writer Wants Less Violence In Games
Spec Ops: The Line was arguably one of the best narrative experiences of 2012 with a more realistic take on war, the effects of it on a person and the toll that death takes on your conscience/mind. There were also some themes about the dark side of humanity, Heart of Darkness and such things if you’re into that sort of thing. As such, I was quite intrigued when the game’s writer said we need less violence in games.
Spec Ops writer, Walter Williams spoke at GDC saying that violent games are “creatively too easy” and hinder the construction of diverse stories.
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“We’re in an industry full of very intelligent, knowledgeable, and progressive people. It’s getting harder and harder for us to play these games and to look at them critically and say, ‘This is OK, this makes sense,’ especially as we get older,” he said, as reported by Gamespot.
“I would like to see less violent games out there. Not because they’re bad or wrong, but because I think creatively they’re too easy.”
Non-violence in a shooter is effectively the same as going to war firing blanks but Williams acknowledges this difficulty and suggests there are ways narratives can differentiate themselves regardless.
“How can you make another shooter that leaves your characters arguably alive? I think we need to get to a point where we can move back to maybe trying to write characters that are a bit more hopeful. I think that might be a good first step,” he said.
Williams also spoke about the surprise of Spec Ops’ success.
“Honestly, the game was very much an experiment. One that, to this point, I’m kind of really surprised that it ever made it to the shelves,” he said.
While Williams is advocating for less violent games, his little success story of Spec Ops was not perhaps on a God of War-esque level of gratuitous violence but it was quite gruesome at times and certainly far from non-violent.
I do think he’s onto something where toning down violence makes way for more meaningful dialogue and then when there are violent moments , they have far greater impact.