Violent games are “creatively too easy”

1 min read


If you haven’t played Yager’s Spec Ops: The Line, you really should. Though it has some grinding, mundane shooting mechanics (by design, I’m convinced), it tells an incredible story – and forces you to think about the very real horrors of war, and its intrinsic violence. It’s writer, Walt Williams told an audience at GDC that violent games are “creatively too easy” and that the industry needs to start thinking of better, more diverse ways of telling stories through videogames.

“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 (via 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.”

Spec Ops: The Line did thing differently, by actually deconstructing the shooter genre and adding context to the violence – instead of it being violence for violence’s sake; but how else can developers and designers make such games without all that violence and despair?

"Where do you go after doing a game like this? 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.

I have to wonder how people are still making tired, generic military shooters after the genre’s been so thoroughly deconstructed by Spec Ops: The Line and shown wanting. I’d love to see more games that really make the player understand why they’re so violent, instead of just being military manshoots.

Last Updated: March 28, 2013

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

  • Sir Rants-a-Lot Llew

    I could definitely do with more developers thinking like this

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Yeah, Spec Ops was an incredible ride. Definitely one of my favourite games…

      By the way, you know what was awesome about it? It was subtle. It didn’t force-feed you its message. You could easily have blissfully wondered off without understand the context, enjoyed it as a third person shooter, and never be the wiser. Those of us, who took the time, sat back and let the game wash over us, actually came out of it, all teary-eyed.

      But the game didn’t attempt to be deep, it went the subtle route. You either got it, or you didn’t. And if you didn’t, it didn’t make you feel bad about it either.

      • Deon Steyn

        I tried lots of times to not use the White phosphorus in Spec Ops. The Horror.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          Same here, and every time I used it, I actually felt bad about killing all those people…

          • Admiral Chief Erwin

            Janee, bliksem, that was bad.

            There is NO way to avoid that, which is kinda crap, but still, you have to realize what the after effects were.

            (still need to complete on Fubar mode, but not yet in the mood)

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            Yeah, that game needs to be replayed, but only once you’ve mentally recovered lol!

      • Admiral Chief Erwin

        Subtle drop into insanity.

        That game moved me. Very good

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

          See… every once in a while, the banana is on the mark.

          • Admiral Chief Erwin

            But now we have to wait again for that time to arise… 🙁

          • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

            🙁 Sad Banana Face

  • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

    But without violent video games, we’d all just be emasculated hippies, who play house in Sims 3, wear organic hemp clothing or feel their manhood being stretched to breaking point by Angry Birds…. 🙁

    Instead of the fearsome manly creatures we could be.

    Violent games allow us to exercise our lizard brains, and fulfil our genetic predisposition to being (a) Viking Warriors (b) Zulu Impis or (c) Samurai motherfucking warriors.

    The Banana brought you this nugget of pseudo-science!

    • Deon Steyn

      Right you are.I still prefer slaying soldiers and monsters in Dark Souls over shooting somebody in Spec Ops though. Gotta work for that kill.

    • Ultimo_Cleric_N7

      Thank you Banana, your scientific fact prove that man are made to be men.
      Final proof – There hasnt been a World War since the invention of video games……coincidence….I think not.
      Aah, but hear you say that North Korea are about to got to war with the South. But are they REALLY?…..Would you feel safe attacking a country that good at Starcraft? I wouldnt. Imagine, an entire country who excels at strategy games. Every soldier is potentially a master strategist.
      Good luck Kim Jong Un, you are going to need it. You are going up againt the country that invented the Zerg Rush.

      • Sir Captain Rincethis

        Hahahahaha! WINNER! 10000 strategy points.

        • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)


          • Admiral Chief Erwin


          • Sir Captain Rincethis

            I use my RABBIT +10 protection skill! (card can be challenged on use of a ‘Consume +11 Earth Elemental)…

      • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

        One has no desire to invade other countries if one is allowed to teabag another – in a game.

        If Napoleon had a Xbox, he would have had no desire to be emperor. France would have been spared his bloodthirst, Europe would have had spaceships by now, and Napoleon would have grown up to be a decent, well-adjusted oke with a sizeable stamp or rock collection.

        • Ultimo_Cleric_N7

          Can totally see Hitler being a troll on some Jewish website grumbling to himself in his mom’s basement. Instead of a dictator/mass murderer.

      • mornelithe

        Well…technically North Korea is still at war with the South. A truce was never declared, just an armistice agreement, which I believe North Korea just pulled away from.

  • Deon Steyn

    You can’t make 10 year old’s understand why shooters are so violent. They just want to poon noobs in Cod while insulting your mom.

    • Sir Captain Rincethis

      Ya, it’s the parents of the hick kids that need to actually monitor R games, they are R for a reason, and not because there are always fucking pirates in! Am RRRRRRRRRRRR ight?!

    • Jim Lenoir (Banana Jim)

      Truth can be a vicious mistress…

  • Admiral Chief Erwin


  • OVG

    ON THE COUNT OF [email protected]!

  • Best header image, ever!!! even beats all those scantily clad ladies (and gents)

  • matthurstrsa

    Definitely agree. They’re the ones that tend to push the hardware limits though, so they can fulfil that role while the rest of us folk enjoy the creative games that are out there.

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