Well, what is there to say about me? I'm kinda like your average gamer: I like to play games, I like to talk about games, and I hope to work in the video game industry one day.
I do tend to enjoy videogames more than the average gamer would though: videogames have been my life for as long as I remember (hell, the earliest memory that I can recall personally is me waking up and hopping on my SNES to play that X-men and Spider-man crossover game) so it's as much a part of me as my personality.
Although I LOVE to play videogames, having been doing so my whole life, I am not as skilled in videogames as others so I usually play on easier difficulties. Don't get me wrong, I do find it a bit dull when a game's too easy, and I do respect games that are hard for the players who want it (Dark Souls is deliciously hard and I wouldn't want it any other way) but I'd still like it if developers catering to gamers like me who simply aren't as skilled as others.
I have a wide variety of taste when it comes to games as I try to keep an open mind about everything that comes out: just because I play mainstream games Halo and Call of Duty doesn't mean I can't enjoy the underrated ones like Anarchy Reigns, Fire Emblem, and the like.
You were a worthy opponent, my friend. I admit, if I didn't nail that Perfect Active Reload and got that extra damage boost on my Lancer, you would've gotten me with that Hammerburst you were holding.
So now that you're limping on the ground, bleeding out from being riddled with enough bullets to start a small revolution, how should I finish you off? Maybe I should just curbstomp your head into the pavement and be done with it so I can move on to the next person I see since I see them coming to revive you. Or maybe I should pick up your body and use it as a human shield from the incoming horde? Or maybe, better yet, I could pick up your body, tag it with a fragmentation grenade, and toss you towards your teammates, exploding them into a million pieces...
But wait a minute... speaking of your teammates, if I off you and them like that, I wouldn't be able to have this moment again with my other victims... And I sure as hell wouldn't want that! I also sure as hell wouldn't want you to bleed out while I'm rambling on and on about the many different ways to kill you so, you know what? I'm just going to rev up my Lancer, inadvertently glee from being unable to contain my excitement, and slash my chainsaw bayonetta down your body like my favorite PlatinumGames character Jack Cayman. As the chainsaw runs through your gooey torso like a serrated blade to a log of meat, I can't help but smile from the thrill of a kill.
I earned it, after all.
Cutting into the Heart of the Matter
A kill in a videogame should be more than just points in a scoreboard or a story plot device: it should be a reward for taking down an opponent of worth, AI or otherwise. While I do indulge in the occassional Black Ops 2 deathmatch, getting kills in that game doesn't really feel satisfying at all: the enemy just limps over dead from being shot at from what feels to be a peashooter. Sure, when death comes quick in a game where a couple of bullets is all that's really needed to take someone down, the thrill of the moment comes from running to battle and NOT getting shot up. However, staying alive isn't the goal of the game: killing is, and that should be the most enjoyable aspect of it.
Taking the Gears of War example I mentioned in the prologue, killing should feel like a reward: the prize at the end of every empty clip. In Gears the characters feels a bit like a bullet sponge, so, unless you're using an insta-gib gun like the Gnasher or Sawed-Off, it gonna take more than a couple of rounds to down them. And, considering that the nature of the game is all about taking cover, as well as covering your teammates and reviving them if need be, it can be a feat to take down a single opponent, especially when they're all moving together. Still, as difficult as killing someone may be, the awesome ways you can execute the opposing player is well worth it: it's a good feeling to be able to punch someone's head into a bloody pulp after they've given you much trouble.
Then again, Gears of War usually makes killing itself feel oh so satisfying; just by downing an opposing player makes you feel like you put the hurt on them with the way they crawl on the ground, desperate for a revive. Hell, you could even cancel their "revive me!" phase by rendering their bodies unusable, such as completely removing their heads by pulling off a nicely aimed shot with the Longshot sniper rifle or, even better, a Boltok pistol. Unforunately, the newest iteration Gears of War: Judgment almost completely does away with the "down but not out" phase in multiplayer (I guess the missing "e" in Judgment stood for "executions"), which makes the form of killing less satisfying and, as a result, less fun: like Black Ops 2, seeing the enemy just limp over dead isn't really that exciting for me no matter how many points they throw at me.
"It ain't the tools, compadre; it's how you fuck people up with it!"
Now, shooters aren't the only games I like to play when I need my killing fix: after all, why restrict the art of killing to using shooting bullets at a distance when you can get all up-close-and-personal and let your fists do the talking? Using the recently favorited, though highly underrated, Anarchy Reigns as another example (a videogame beat-them-up where you go around punching enemies and players alike), this game has the unique honor of being the only beat-them-up to feature a 16-player free-for-all all out brawl known as "Battle Royale." That's right, you can shove over a dozen players in an arena and ask them to kill everyone in sight. And when I say everyone, I mean everyone: everyone is fair game and no one is exempt from your hit-list.
The caveat here is that, like Gears it may actually take a while to kill someone: unlike Call of Duty, everyone here gets a generously sized health bar that can even be increased if they level up! That means that it's going to take a while to knock down all that health, and in a game where winner-takes-all in this free-for-all, you're going to want to kill them quick and move on to the next person. So how do you win in a situation like this? Well, this game not only rewards kill-stealing, but it even outright encourages it: in one of the trailers, the game advises going behind distracted opponents who are too focused on their opponents and hitting them with the heaviest attack possible. Now, the game becomes all about timing: wait too long and your prey may be eaten up, but rush in too soon with a charged heavy attack and you may have just weakened him up for the other guy to KS!
Either way, when you kill someone in this game, whether you put in work or just took it right from someone else's fight, the characters detonate into a flashy explosion of blood that, to me, is so mesmerizing that I almost get a bloodlust for it. In fact, when I was playing this game on the regular, I used to always lurk around in the back, watching people go at it until I see that someone's in the "red health." That's my cue for me to come charging in, swinging my revved up chainsaw in wild abandon, just to see that splash of blood once more: I can see why Leatherface would find this addicting. The terrible thing is, although you can impale enemies with stop signs and slash off mutants' heads in this game, there's no gore or gib in killing player characters: they may explode in a spectacle of blood, but you aren't going to see any limbs flying off whether you hacked them with a chainsaw or launched a barrage of missiles.
Getting "ahead" of ourselves?
Of course, when you mention "gore" and "videogames," the one franchise that comes to mind is Mortal Kombat. Yes, there are plenty of games with over-the-top brutality in them like Splatterhouse and Postal, but you got to give it up to the videogame that used violence in a way that allows you to rub victory in your opponent's face after a long, hard match. Since Mortal Kombat is a fighting game and not a FPS, it's going to take a lot more than a few punches to win a match: even attacks that are clearly lethal to the human body will take about a fraction of their health bar, and not even a big fraction at that. At least, unlike the aforementioned Anarchy Reigns' Battle Royale, you don't have to worry about someone else butting it: it's just you and your opponent in a glorious fight to the death.
And "glorious" "death" is right: all Mortal Kombat games, from its original, groundbreaking Arcade appearance to the lackluster games such as the one on the Gameboy (and yes, even Mortal Kombat vs DC Universe), features what is called "fatalities." Fatalities are essentially a short animation when, upon inputting a secret combination of buttons after winning a match, you can "finish" your opponent with a special kill that ranges from ripping off your mask to breathe a breath of fire or ripping off the loser's head with his spinal cord attached. Though I do actually play fighting games for the fight itself, I'd be lying if I said that I wasn't looking forward to seeing a Fatality at the end of the match: even when I'm gritting my teeth in defeat, I still always hope to see my opponent rip off MY spine to bring a smile to my face.
And I knew that I wasn't the only one: I recall seeing a lot of people (children my age, mostly) going crazy upon seeing the bloody spectacle that is a fatality. And, to ensure that it never gets boring, each new iteration of the series always adds in new ways to kill people such as launching them into a pit of spikes or dropping an arcade machine on them. Sure, the game was groundbreaking for its digitized graphics (like Donkey Kong Country) and actual depiction of blood during a match, but no one can say that it didn't made its name for its ultra-violent killing of the opponent: hell, Sub-Zero's fatality is supposefully what caused the ESRB to be created! What other game can tout something that big (the only other example that comes to mind is Grand Theft Ato: San Andreas which got changed from an M-rated game to "A for Adults" following the Hot Coffee incident)?
No Guts, No Glory!
So, as you can see, violence used in context of a narrative (such as emphasizing Bioshock Infinite's Booker DeWitt's dark past) is okay and all, but sometimes violence in videogames can just be there for no other reason than to just have it to look forward to: a bulletpoint on the back of the box, if you will. Now, I'm not advocating for violence to be shoehorned into every videogame (I wouldn't be able to imagine violence in a game like Tetris...) but I don't think violence shouldn't be outright shunned just because it's not proper. Take, for example, the God of War series: Kratos is an angry man, and if it doesn't show in his violence, then how else is he supposed to express it? Writing poems?
Not only that, but in that game, violence, again, feels like an reward: using God of War once more, the brutal way Kratos executes his enemies is not only done in context of the narrative, but from a gameplay perspective, it also makes you feel like you really did your enemy in: seeing the guts dribble out of a centaur's (or minotaur's?) body tells me that I killed that thing dead, and the red orbs that float away from his dead carcass is my reward for the spectacular spill of blood! Sure, the red orbs are going to drop no matter if you execute them or not, but it's nice to be able to actually feel the satisfaction of killing an enemy by slicing their bodies open rather than just watching them slump over in agony.
And, let's be honest, a lot of us like to use videogame violence as a way to let off some steam.
Because, you know, you can't do that in real life...