Last night, as I watched a cartoon, I began to wonder; why do I, along with many others, enjoy such mindless activity? The truth is, I feel cartoons are a bit of an escape from the everyday world, including the everyday games.
Perhaps it’s because I have only recently played many of the mainstream console games in my collection, but I had never really noticed much of the degenerate nature of games these days. I remember playing games such as Age Of The Empires where I could learn about all sorts of fun historical facts, command armies, learn about all the types of units I would have and their historical relevance. I could even learn about a country’s rise to power (or, in Sparta’s case, their rise to absolute destruction while using the same combat system that allowed them to become a regional power until the rise of Alexander The Great). The point being, that a game would allow you to learn things if you were so inclined. Recently, however, I played a game called Dead Island. I was rather excited since I’d been told that it was generally a mixture of Left For Dead and Fallout (though more often it was compared to Fallout New Vegas as a shot at its functionality). While I generally agree with this comparison I can’t help but be a bit thrown (for lack of better vocabulary) at the game’s intro. To save on details that hardly deserve anything other than a scoff, the beginning can safely be called trash. The game is about killing zombies, saving survivors, and that sort of deal. So I’m lost as to how the preview or ad for the game was so completely different than the 2 minute intro where not a single zombie or relevant plot piece was revealed. I can only assume that if there was a reason for this (though more likely there was no reason at all), it was to intentionally try and tell the followers of our culture that this sort of trash is typical.
People could try and argue the tried-and-true “Its just a game” arguement, but I feel that if the gaming portion of our culture would like to earn any respect, it must also be subject to the the same scrutiny as the rest of the world. When you are creating a game with a story, which these days is practically impossible to not do, there generally has to be a moral system. Acceptable, then, that there would be the games with less morals, too. This is understandable. What I find unacceptable, though, is that games are being produced with stories more and more often that do not have moral systems, but exist purely on the trash side of that coin. Further, I’m worried that these sort of actions are being glorified. I am a gamer and I enjoy playing games a great deal. I’ve always enjoyed a good story, finding games that have stories and are also playable is always fun. But I’m growing tired of the 70% factor in these games being sexual innuendo, alcohol, and corruption. Once again, I feel that game cultures should be under the same scrutiny as our own, so to be fair, perhaps developers could not convey the same story if their games were devoid of all these things. But why are all of these amoral things made into such standard occurrences rather than problems on which the other characters frown? Or perhaps problems for the main character (ie you, the player) to remedy? With games, there will always be problems. There will always be things needing to be solved. Such is the nature of a game. There is always an opposition of some sort.
BUT THE OPPOSITION MUST REFLECT SOMETHING.
The lack of balance these days is evident in that more and more often the “good” characters are slim to none. Perhaps some designer has a complex where they feel the world has gone to hell, perhaps this is a reflection of reality. Games are made for entertainment, they are made for playing. They are not smut, they are not some sort of trashy thing that gamers should be embarrassed to own or say they have played. We used to pit Good v Evil to create a greater Good. Why, now, do we pit Evil against Evil in a fight to create “Okay”? What happened to saving the world? What happened to fixing things? For that matter, what happened to a little yellow man eating all of the white dots as colorful blobs chased him?
In order for games to become what they all wish to be these days, there has to be a story. There has to be a Good v Evil. Or a Last Hope v Evil. There has to be a Something V Evil. When your character is fighting for trashy crap, where the hell is the motivation to save anyone?
Games can be great if only they would stop catering themselves to the less desired creatures of our culture. The lowest common denominator. If you cannot sell your game based on its own merits, or if the only dialogue you include is a long stream of profanity, then you’re not selling your game. You’re selling crap to children. Nothing more. (For the record, I don’t care if you’re 7 or 37; if it hasn’t phased you in the slightest that actual dialogue between characters is plummeting, or that the skin to clothing ratio continues to become less and less, then perhaps you should take a look at what DOES phase you.) Slowly but surely, everything these days is becoming more and more inappropriate, but at an appropriate level. Frankly, I think it’s disgusting. Admittedly, I am an atypically moral person. I am extremely moral. I imagine that, commonly, these issues are less frowned upon than I would frown upon them. But as any person who has ever played games is aware, that M rating you see on all your games doesn’t, hasn’t, and won’t ever stop the youngin-gamers from playing them. The littles of the world are playing these games that show that it’s okay for everyone to be drunk all the time, that it’s cool to be as rude and vicious as possible, that it’s cool to be a degenerate that takes advantage of someone else’s hospitality. It is teaching our children and susceptible teens and young adults that, if there is light in the world, you must do your best to smother it lest it become a beacon.
I love to play games. I love stories. I love being able to play these games and fix the problems they present. I love righting the wrongs that these games provide. Problems can be fixed only so long as they are recognized to be problems. When problems cease to be problems and problems become “right”, well… I don’t know about you, I don’t know what you hope for our future to be, but I know that I do not want the scum of the earth to become our beacon of morality, which is the path I fear we are on now.