After Brett's sober take on HATRED yesterday and after my original comment started to become too bulky for purpose, I decided to change it into a blog. Admittedly I was too passionate and irrational in my initial responses to this game, but now I recognise it for what it is. A product of market forces. There is a clear demand for this game, as evidenced by it's almost orgasmic praise in some quarters, and therefore it exists.
The creators should also be aware that this works both ways. Particularly in the language they use and the ideas they invoke. The CEO of Destructive Creations has said that this game is a reaction to the PC (politically correct) trend of gaming. A reaction to the world of colour, art, levity and common moral foundation. If recent events and attitudes hadn't been what they were and the timing of this reveal hadn't been what it was, I don't think these comments would warrent as much scrutiny. As such the idea that gaming is being somehow sterlised by opening it up to new ideas and audiences has been gaining popularity.
"In times where a lot of games are heading to be polite, colorful, politically correct and trying to be some kind of higher art, rather than just an entertainment, [we] wanted to create something against trends. Something different, something that could give the player a pure gaming pleasure. This is how the idea of Hatred - the team's first game, was born." Jarosław Zielińsk CEO Destructive Creations
It’s hard to say whether Jarosław Zielińsk is using the current climate of PC fear-mongering cynically, but it certainly feeds into some current ideas I see surfacing and splintering from recent controversies. However, the idea that a politically correct force is guiding gaming isn’t necessarily wrong in a wider sense. Though the terminology used, people involved and reasoning behind it are.
It is not Political Correctness that has driven gaming towards the point it stands at today. It's the market. Gamers want colourful and vibrant experiences. At least a good majority of them do. We can all attest to the constant moan about "dull grey corridor shooters" not so very long ago (a 'genre' which since has practically died out and mainly emerged due to technical limitations). Look at contemporary shooters; the rich and colourful, interplanetary-landscapes of Destiny and the lush vegetation of Crysis 3 to name a couple. As a gamer I personally want to be whisked away from dull and dreary bus-stops, grey shopping malls and urban murder. A major point of popularity for games like Assasin’s Creed Black Flag and the Uncharted series is that they are bursting with colourful and exotic locations, it’s virtual tourism and gamers love it. Would the exploration of a decaying America in the Last of Us have been half as delicious without such a beautiful realisation of colour? Would Nintendo still hold their universal undying appeal if they had sucumbed to the forces of grit?
Gaming comes from a heritage of rich colour and beautiful design. The indie scene has thrived on taking charge of the colourful and artistic. It thrives not because of some politically correct conspiracy guiding it, but because there is a hunger for those types of experiences. The experiences that take us beyond or exaggerates our everyday palette. That's not say there isn't a place for restricted colour. It's just that unless there's an artistic reasoning behind it, such as using it enhance another element of the design, it's dull. Think of the brilliant Limbo or Unfinished Swan.
Suggesting that gaming keeps heading into colourful and positive territories because of some PC trend is not only misguided, but completely misunderstands the medium, where it's come from and who we are as people.
As for the moral, I believe gamers want to be an agent of some kind of good in their games - for the most part. Yes there are games that relish in playing with morality such as GTA and we’re better off for them. Though for the most part they have a tale of redemption at their core or leave the player with some agency in how they behave.
This is all a market response, yes, but this is a ultimately a human response. A response in reflection to what we want and want to be. The Politically Correct conspiracy is a fallacy, a ruse, a construct used to incite anger. It’s hard to not view it cynically. It undermines the fact that the vast majority of people and gamers would rather not simulate modern attrocities. They would rather an escapism that, whilst projecting them into another world, shares some kind of common value. This doesn’t mean games are limited creatively or hindered by exploring certain pre-prescribed moralities. It means that they reflect who we are as people and what we aspire to be; whether that be fantasy, artistic expression or both. The possibilities are in truth endless. This is not a trend. This is who we are. Or at the very least what most of us want to be.
However, to except there is a market for the games we play now, I have to except there is a clear market for HATRED. The developers of HARTED are delivering something that is clearly wanted. The overwhelmingly positive response shows there is a market for this kind of game and if they didn’t make it, someone else sooner or later would have. It may be regressive, but there's been such progressive strides in the opposite direction over the past few years that it's not really surprising someone would try something like this. It’ s hard to say whether Jarosław Zielińsk is playing with all of this PC/trend fluff, or whether he genuinely believes there is a political as opposed to market force driving modern gaming. Perhaps he's discerning enough to realise the two are entagled? Either way it feels particularly distasteful in the present climate of very real world hatred.
It opens up more questions. If there is a market for a game like hatred what else is there a market for? Games based upon pedophilia? Ethnic clensing? If freedom of speech and expression are so vital that mass murder of innocent people is subject matter for entertainment then why not a game about spying on kids in a changing room? There's room for Nabokov but not for nastiness. Again the market will decide. But: we’re living in an age where smaller teams can produce more technically sophisticated games on smaller budgets. Something that will only expand. Could we see underground 'snuffesque' or exploitation gaming scenes emerge like in cinema? The distrubution channels are primed for it. Either way – if there is a market for something, Someone-somewhere will try to make it. It’s the nature of our contemporary society. Where is the line? Is there a line? Am I a tosser? Let me know.