Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Ross Iain McCaffrey Takes a Shot at Guns Guns Guns in Games

I’ve finally realised what my qualms are with games today.

Firstly, this isn’t going to be a rant about ‘the good old days’ of gaming. Games have always had their strengths and weaknesses, and I am merely going to point out what I see as the major problems that surround today’s gaming world. Sure, maybe I’ll include a bit of nostalgia, but it’s not the main point. The main point is that, intentionally or not and particularly in action games, developers have put far too much influence on guns.

 -->   I was going to write some sort of joke here, but this picture’s from a pretty brutal film where Charlize Theron kills loads of dickheads. Either way, guns DO come in pretty handy if you want to kill men that rape you.              

    Now I understand that games such as Call of Duty would be pretty redundant without guns, especially if the game has some sort of historical basis in which lots of guns were used. You can’t have a realistic WWII game without guns, unless of course the game was centred on a civilian protagonist living in London during the Blitz who has to make tough choices and sacrifices based on the internal conflict brought on by the horrors of war, but who would want to play that? Games like that unfortunately do. Not. Sell. And unfortunately we have to remember that games are a business. But with a business constantly swept up with mindless violence, explosions and general immashootyouintheface-ery, surely a developer somewhere has thought of taking an event shown thousands of times in different games and shown it from a different perspective? I know I’d get it, just to see what they’d done with it. But no doubt someone, somewhere would be firing a gun.
                          ‘Take that, Space baddies!’  <--

    Guns don’t solve everything. They just don’t. To be honest, they barely solve anything, unless your problem is ‘how can I shoot this person in the face?’ Even in war, a huge catalyst for games, guns don’t always solve things. Take the Somme; lots of shooting and bombing from the Brits and French, over 700,000 Brits or French wounded or killed. I don’t hear anyone talking about the Somme as ‘a victory for guns’, nor do I feel like taking a gun to the first person that says a sarcastic comment to me. So why is it that for games, many of which try to be as ‘real’ as possible within their concept, there is such a heavy importance places on guns? Is it laziness? Probably.

 An example; I saw an advert for the new Red Faction game that’s out. From the ones I’ve played (mainly ‘Guerrilla’), the Red Faction games are fun, a bit of mindless destruction, mainly with a hammer. They set a challenge within this simple usage of construction tools and as a primary weapon and it arguably makes you think about how you can go about the mission of destruction you have been set, because running in all guns blazing will get you killed. Plus it’s not nearly as fun as running round the back and slowly taking apart the building with a sledgehammer like you’re fucking Thor. 

All that seems to have changed when watching the trailer for ‘Armageddon’. Mars has been reclaimed from the evil Mars-company-folk, but shit’s gone down and they’ve had to go underground*. It does sound interesting. But, halfway through the trailer I saw, all the action previews happen. Now imagine my disappointment when all I see is different coloured ammunition spraying around. No handheld weaponry to make a challenge, just a shit ton of guns. Now, imagine my FURTHER disappointment when the GIANT HELLBEAST comes on the screen. Here I’m thinking ‘holy what!?’ and I wonder how they’re gonna show the challenge that you’ll have to face when you meet this lovely creature.

The answer was a lot simpler than I thought. Fire 3 seconds of machine gun rounds into it ("Shoot it til it dies!" - Ed). And that’s not even as if they’ve shown you a little clip of the game play. A hellbeast appears, a man pulls the trigger for 3 seconds, the hellbeast blows up.

    This is apparently how games should work now, which is incredibly disappointing. There is such a scope within games that is hard to recreate in any other medium that you’d think that we’d have abandoned the whole idea that mindless violence solves everything and therefore should be the forefront of every game that is created. Don’t get me wrong, I do love mindless violence in video games; I bought GTA 4 the other week with the sole intention of typing in all the cheats and shooting a rocket at every person that looked at me the wrong way. However I still think that those kinds of games should be few and far between, and games like Heavy Rain, LA Noire (which I haven’t played yet but respect the fact they’ve done something different), Arkham Asylum, Assassin’s Creed and even to an extent Red Dead Redemption, although all bestsellers, should not be at the sidelines of the gaming idea world, desperately dodging gunfire. 

To play you out, a little poem.

I mean, glorifying guns
Is one thing
But I’ve fired a rifle before,
It isn't as easy
As holding a trigger button (Jak Marshall, 2011)

* I will be accepting my award for ‘Game summer-upper of the year’ when they create one.

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