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GameCritics.com Podcast Episode 75: E3 2012 and Violence in Video Games

Dylan Collins's picture

It's our E3 spectacular! We talk about the conferences, we talk about the games and we talk about the Wii U! Plus, with all of the recent controversy over violence in video games, as the industry finally gone too far? With Chi Kong Lui, Brad Gallaway, Mike Bracken, Richard Naik and Dylan "I still haven't got the hang of this ending thing" Collins.

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Platform(s): Xbox 360   Wii   PS3   3DS   Vita   Wii U  
Articles: Podcasts  
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Can't download it for some

Can't download it for some reason.

I'll have to back Richard

I'll have to back Richard and say that David Cage is a terrible hack writer. I consider myself lucky that I found the Heavy Rain demo so aggravating to play control-wise that I didn't bother to get the game and watched a Let's Play instead. As it turned out, the story was even worse.

And I agree that it's more interesting or whatever than your average videogame story only in the sense that it's really great to make fun of, but to me that's not worth paying for.

So, about his new brainchild, Beyond: Two Souls... all I can say is, I hate that Ellen Page is in this, because I really really like her and she doesn't deserve to be wasted on a David Cage script.

Violence

I think you got a bit sidetracked with the Tomb Raider thing in the end, because that was hardly the worst offender that provoked Warren Spectors comments. And while I also was a bit wary of his motivation to speak out against violence while promoting for Disney, I do think he had a point. I feel that the whole stupid "Do videogames hurt our children" debate from the last few years made us avoid a serious discussion about violence. And if a room full of people gives deafening applause after watching a close-up of an exploding head, I think that there is a problem.

And this has nothing to do with art. Yes, good art can use violence for a variety of reasons, but videogames usually use violence for sole masturbatory reasons. It is supposed to be "awesome" and sell games. There is no meaning behind it, and if videogames want to become art, the designers have to be aware of why they use violence, what it says and what purpose it fulfills. Not always of course, I don't mind a few torture-porn games. But right now, the wide majority of games uses violence for it's own sake and that is problematic.

Outstanding episode as usual

Outstanding episode as usual, good job to each of you. However, I was slightly disappointed there was such little time devoted to the violence section. But that's just me not being that interested in the E3 conferences.

I disagree with Chi that the way Lara is portrayed is some kind of fetichism, at least from what I saw from the videos. I think they were just going for a frailer, unexperienced, more human version of her. Even though I'm not sure they totally succeed at this, this is what I perceived from the demos.

At last, I'm so happy Brad mentioned Dishonored because I've been waiting for this game for ages. The developers behind it also made Dark Messiah (currently 10 euro on Steam), which is worth trying for its freedom and cool ways to kill.

aHei wrote: I disagree with

aHei wrote:

I disagree with Chi that the way Lara is portrayed is some kind of fetichism, at least from what I saw from the videos. I think they were just going for a frailer, unexperienced, more human version of her. Even though I'm not sure they totally succeed at this, this is what I perceived from the demos.

For 2 E3s, I've seen variations of the trailer a bunch of times and content-wise it feels like over 50% of those trailers is Lara falling around while wailing and grunting the *whole* time. While I get that the actual gameplay demo won't seem so excessive, in the context of viewing a trailer multiple times, I do think its a tad odd and distracting to the point absuridty and fetishism. I mean if the developers were truly going for some form of gritty reality, Lara would have been dead if not severly crippled from some of the falls she endures in the trailers. With Nathan Drake, its pretty clear that his falls are not meant to be taken seriously given his God-like recovery skills. If Crystal Dyanmics is trying to make Lara more human, then they need to be more aware of the narrative Uncanny/Preposterous Valley that Brandon Bales mentions in his review of Max Payne 3. Otherwise, their attempts in making a more "real" Lara will come across disingenuous.

I found Richard and Brad's

I found Richard and Brad's distaste for having real people modeled in video games interesting. Does that also apply to the growing trend in movies as well, where that's been done? I'm thinking Tintin, Polar Express, Scanner Darkly, Waking Life.. even Shark Tale kinda, although that was obviously done for comical effect.

aHei wrote: At last, I'm so

aHei wrote:

At last, I'm so happy Brad mentioned Dishonored because I've been waiting for this game for ages. The developers behind it also made Dark Messiah (currently 10 euro on Steam), which is worth trying for its freedom and cool ways to kill.

Agreed. Brad, I didn't even notice that you mentioned Dishonored. It was my favorite game of E3, and I'm excited that it's scheduled to release this October. I've heard and seen really good things about this game, and at this point I'm more excited about it than Bioshock Infinite.

I think you are all too quick to dismiss SmartGlass. You underestimate the popularity of tablets and smartphones, and how people use technology these days. I use my tablet every day at work, and frequently use it while watching TV and movies. I often use it to check Wikipedia or IMDB or other relevant apps. And I know I'm not the only one. It makes perfect sense for future games to provide added functionality for tablets and smartphones. I think it will be an important selling point for future games.

Yay

The happiness at a new podcast is only countered by the realisation that it's the E3 episode...bleugh! Great job of making it entertaining, as usual, folks! I particularly enjoyed Richard's sheer unrepentantness in the face of the Jaws/Robocop criticism.

I don't agree that Cage is a hack writer - the plot of Heavy Rain was bobbins after a certain point, but I don't remember the writing being bad.

In the absence of Thumbs Up Thumbs Down, I have a couple of Thumbs Ups - first to GCGOTY Dead Island, which I finally tried out after having my doubts, and it really is a fun game. Secondly to Dragon's Dogma, another GC recommendation; love what Demon's Souls, Journey and now this have done for online gaming for people who hate online gaming.

Finally, a massive two thumbs up for Out of the Park Baseball 13, a game which has consumed every free hour for the last couple of weeks. It's hugely customisable, has a simple and friendly user interface, and explains clearly the more obscure rules of baseball. There are even some great video tutorials available for anyone that is still intimidated (http://vimeo.com/40291755). I have not come across a more addictive game. If you have *any* interest in baseball, or even light sim/management/strategy games, check it out.

Pedro wrote: I don't agree

Pedro wrote:

I don't agree that Cage is a hack writer - the plot of Heavy Rain was bobbins after a certain point, but I don't remember the writing being bad.

If by "after a certain point" you mean "after about 15 minutes", then I wholeheartedly agree.

It is bad writing if characters behave at subhuman levels of retardedness at almost every opportunity because the plot wouldn't move forward otherwise. It would be quite painful to watch actually if it wasn't so hilarious.

But to be fair, I have not seen anything by Cage besides Heavy Rain - so maybe he can do better. I'm just not optimistic about that.

Dishonored, Laura, Same old e3

1. Totally with Brad on Dishonored. This past year I finally went back to play Arx Fatalis and really enjoyed the otherworldlyness of it and its comfort out of the box. These devs are clearly committed to ideas, not simply flash.

2. After watching the Laura Crossroads trailer, I have a hard time understanding what the problem is. Tomb Raider is easily my surprise game of 2012. The violence has a realism and impact rarely seen (from what i can see so far), kind of reminding me of the shift film made in the 70's towards 'real' depictions of violence. Here it gives weight, of course especially with a strong female protagonist - but 'rape scene'?? please! Nothing anyone would bat an eye at on the big-screen, and here totally appropriate, as if the devs are actually committed to seeing the character through. More of this is what we need, not less. PS - I think what Richard mistakes for sexual sounds from Laura is simply called 'breathing': that thing that indicates heart beat, stress, tension, excitement - useful for singing, talking, living, and definitely expression. Thank god someone remembered that Laura can breathe.

3. great show, boring e3. I don't even bother watching the presentations anymore. In fact, i think the only show i continue to watch is IGF... I'd love an IGF show next year (though it's probably asking a lot). Keep up the great work guys.

Listener Q&A Segment

We're doing a listener Q&A segement for episode 76. So post any questions and comments you'd like us to discuss here or email them to podcast at gamecritics dot com.

Q and A

I'd love to have the opinion on the cast on "what's left of survival horror", especially in RE6's demo's wake.

True

Great episode again. I think you guys are absolutely right about the Wii U. A tablet as a controller is the worst idea ever. Tablets and smartphones are succeeding DESPITE the touchscreen being lousy for gaming, not because of it. The success is in the ease of access, the price, and the huge and great non-gaming content.
And the whole second screen pseudo-fad is just retarded. It. Will. Flop. How is moving your eyes/head and refocusing on a separate screen somehow better than just having a HUD on your main screen? This is so obviously a worse experience, as anyone with a second monitor on their PC knows, and that's even when they're right next to each other at the same focal distance. Try it - put the same movie on your TV and your tablet and swap back and forth. It's pure ass.

I think there's only one explanation for the Wii U, and here it is:

Everyone everywhere: Wii 2 cannot succeed! Casual gamers have moved to tablets, smartphones, PSN, xbox arcade, etc! There's no room in the market for the Wii approach anymore! We must innovate!

Management: True! Someone do something!

Smart nintendo engineers: Let's make a gaming-centric ipad. With real controllers, cause the touchscreen-only interface excludes a huge chunk of gaming. It only works for specific types of games. Let's price it at something like 199-249, games being 4.99-29.99, downloadable anywhere, with just a click. And, when you come home there's a wireless dock that allows you to move the game to your TV and to normal controllers at will.
Let it be to the ipad what the DS is to the iphone. Everyone loves the ease of tablets and smartphones but the games suffer from the touch-screen only interface and it's totally dominated by casual games that you buy, play, get bored of and uninstall in less than an evening. Think about it - who wouldn't love an ipad, but half the price, with real controllers, with real games like mario and zelda! And it can also still server as the cheapo home fitness/sports/whatever novelty casual thingamabob. This could work!!

Everyone who has a clue: you know, that might work!

Management: Ok let's do it. EXCEPT, let's focus more on the tablet being just the CONTROLLER, cause you know this tablet idea smells risky, let's not go all-in on that, let's see how it pans out. And let's not build too much on this downloadable gaming ecosystem, that's costly and risky. So let's take your good idea and strip away all that made it good.

End result: Another Wii, but with a lousy controller.

The best thing Cage ever did

The best thing Cage ever did was the demo to Fahrenheit (Indigo Prophecy). The one where he appears "on set" and tells us what's going to happen, Hitchcock style.
That demo made me think we were about to see something really unique. God, it was promising like no demo ever before.

He didn't deliver with that or Heavy Rain, but both contained enough great ideas, good moments, and a sincere attempt to focus on connecting emotionally with players, that I enjoyed them greatly, and am eager to see what he does next. Despite the obvious and significant flaws.
He also made omikron: the nomad soul, by the way. Which was an awesome but failed experiment.

I think he would have more success trying to make "short games" - like short films/stories. This would make it much easier to experiment and try and figure out HOW to achieve this very noble and great thing that it is he wants to achieve, before tackling a mega-project.

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