In an industry that pays its bills with increasingly realistic displays of guts, gristle, and gore, do developers have a responsibility to avoid glamorising violence? Star Wars 1313 creative director Dominic Robilliard thinks so.
“It was interesting seeing all of the ultra-violence at this year’s E3,” Robilliard told OXM UK. “I feel that responsibility escalates with the [game’s visual] fidelity. When you can render characters that look like the ones in our game – and other games – you get to this realism level where you really don’t want to encourage that kind of thing. Seeing that kind of reaction from gamers… It may well be human nature, but you don’t want to put content out there that pushes those buttons.”
The controversy about game violence and gamers, and how these things may or may not work on each other is ongoing and – as yet – mostly inconclusive, but it’s probably better to be safe than sorry. Besides, just because a game is marketed for mature audiences doesn’t mean that has to include enormous quantities of the red stuff slopped everywhere.
“We had a lot of questions from people saying: mature Star Wars?” Robilliard added. “Does that mean we’re going to see blood and guts all over the place? That’s not it at all – it’s not what we’re shooting for. I don’t think that would ever fit in Star Wars, really.”
“It’s for adults, not for psychopaths,” said VFX supervisor Kim Libreri.
It’s kind of a shame that there’s been so little in the way of real, constructive debate on the subject because I do think that the extraordinary level of violence in video games today and its impact on players is probably something everybody should give serious thought to, including gamers. As comedian Eddie Izzard said – “Guns don’t kill people, people kill people. But I think the gun helps.”
A game isn’t a weapon, of course, but it’s an interactive, immersive medium that has the power to move players emotionally. Let’s stop pretending that has absolutely no consequences, ever, for real life.