That’s What I Call Progress! This Game Rewarded Me For Using Violence To Solve My Problems, But It Also Told Me I Should Feel Kinda Bad About It
Video games have a special power that other mediums simply can’t replicate. They have the ability to touch us, to move us emotionally, and you can pre-order them to unlock extra guns. Paintings simply can’t do this, and to the best of my knowledge sculpture can’t either.
But not all games are special in this way. Some games waste this power, squandering it on cheap thrills or mindless shooting. These games tell us nothing about the human condition, and barely merit a review – let alone a strategy guide, two thinkpieces, a roundtable podcast and a Game of the Year nomination.
However, every once in a while, a game comes along that really pushes the envelope – a game which proves that our beloved medium is ready to finally be accepted into mainstream culture. A game that shows we are ready, at last, to be taken seriously as an art form.
A game that marries the best that interactive entertainment has to offer – unending and extremely rewarding violence – with the best that traditional entertainment has to offer – being told to feel sad.
Smell that? That’s the smell of art, motherfucker.
There’s something special about a truly progressive game that manages to perfectly capture the essential duality of man: resorting to extremely cool violence in order to solve all of your problems, and then thinking about it really hard afterwards and going “hmm”.
And naturally, when I was playing this game for myself, killing hundreds and hundreds of enemies, with increasingly powerful attacks that caused devastating injuries, and racking up those combo points and unlocking new, even more awesome skills – did I feel like a badass? You’re damn right I did.
I was feeling cool, strong and empowered – and totally unprepared for this game to come out of left field and tell me to feel maybe a bit melancholy instead. Wham! Talk about a punch to the gut. Guess who just got their mind opened to new possibilities? Me, that’s who.
Before I could recover, it was onto the next fight scene, and this time it was more badass and epic than ever. In the back of my mind though, I couldn’t help hearing the beautifully-rendered characters speaking their professionally recorded voice lines… “hmm, violence”. Wow.
It really made me think about that kind of thing, and have the appropriate feelings, like “what if this is what it was like to play Citizen Kane?” Really makes you think.
Speaking as a gamer, it’s one thing to kill a lot of people and get extremely rewarded for it – but it’s another altogether to reflect on it afterwards and think “wow, gosh, violence”. It’s in that magic space between those two places where true art is born, and I can only hope that more developers follow this example and really embrace the opportunities this great medium provides.