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When Does Gore Get In the Way of Gameplay? 141

Wired is running a story inspired by the level of gore in the recent Wolverine game that wonders: how much is too much? It mentions a study we discussed in February which indicated that violence tended to interest gamers less than other characteristics. "... the longer you play a 'twitch' action game, the less you notice the cultural content — the gushing blood, the shrieks of agony. You're too busy focusing on the gameplay. I noticed this with Wolverine. For the first hour, I found the deranged bloodshed both shocking and exciting; it made me feel like I 'was' Logan, the grunting, killing-machine character from Marvel Comics' X-Men universe. But as I became more expert, the cultural shell of the game boiled away. In a sort of staring-into-the-cascading-numbers-of-the-Matrix way, I found myself looking past the visible aspects of the game and savoring the underlying, invisible mechanics of play. ... The game became pure physics and algorithms: Vectors, speed and collision detection. The gore had become mostly irrelevant."
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When Does Gore Get In the Way of Gameplay?

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  • Exactly (Score:5, Insightful)

    by somersault ( 912633 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:18AM (#28051409) Homepage Journal

    If you're properly focused on a game you don't really notice the extras. For example when playing guitar hero my friends occasionally point out something that's happening with the band in the background (even when they're playing), but I don't notice anything but the notes (even when I'm not playing). Those that focus on stuff like blood flying around probably aren't actually focused on beating the game. Still, it's better to have some gore than none at all otherwise how will you know that you've scored a hit? Likewise for realistic graphics, it does add to the immersion to have realistic lighting even if you're not paying much attention to it, and sometimes it is nice just to kick back and admire the scenery (the sunrise and sunsets in GTA IV were pretty awesome).

  • When (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SirLurksAlot ( 1169039 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:20AM (#28051415)

    the developers decide to write a "screenwiper" package that wipes the blood and guts off of the user's screen so they can see well enough to shoot?

  • by EWAdams ( 953502 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:20AM (#28051417) Homepage

    You eat vindaloo, you know it's going to be hot. You expect it, you get used to it.

    If you really want to shock somebody, put a scotch bonnet in their chocolate cake.

    Hitchcock knew this perfectly well. A whole movie of rising tension, and then suddenly, WHAM, a shocker image.

    Same for gore in video games.

  • Re:Silent Hill 2 (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Walzmyn ( 913748 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:32AM (#28051487)
    I don't think this phenomenon of the gore melting out of mind has anything to do with the gore. It's a natural function of playing a game. You can play a "pretty game" (The one that comes to mind is that flat mario brothers game). After an hour even the prettiness melts away and you are just focused on the gameplay.
  • Re:Silent Hill 2 (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Opportunist ( 166417 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @07:48AM (#28051593)

    It's the "Psycho" effect. No horror you can see can be worse than the horror your mind makes up itself. Suspense is often much more terrifying than a shocking display.

  • Gore is Necessary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Psyborgue ( 699890 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:01AM (#28051685) Homepage Journal
    Without it, a game comes off as a cartoon. I don't notice it so much when it's there and have never found it a bother, but when it's not there, it's noticeable. If you shoot somebody in the head with a shotgun and they just fall down without a drop of blood, something is wrong. It's just plain not realistic.
  • That reminds me... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Hitman_Frost ( 798840 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:01AM (#28051687)

    "The game became pure physics and algorithms: Vectors, speed and collision detection."

    This is just how I feel about Hunt The Wumpus!

    Or perhaps "Rogue" would have been a better example?

  • by IWantMoreSpamPlease ( 571972 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:01AM (#28051703) Homepage Journal

    that is used in food. Enough to accentuate the flavour, but too much and you overwhelm what you are trying to improve.

    All of which overshadows the basic premise: If your game sucks, then no amount of T&A, or gore, will help improve that.

  • Re:Silent Hill 2 (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:16AM (#28051793)

    However, /my/ argument is the opposite. When I shoot someone in the forehead, I expect some blood (at least). I'm sorry, but when a game model simply falls down after a headshot it makes the gameplay cartoonish.

    I guess the question how much blood and gore would happen in real life from these things. I mean some of these games it would seem to me that you don't need to shoot them as they would die from hyper tension in a few minutes. As the human body isn't really design to explode when it suffers an injury even a big one. Even if you get shot in an artery you will have a little stream of blood squirting up a few feet. Not a splatter of blood that consists of gallons of blood.

  • sigh (Score:3, Insightful)

    by taniwha ( 70410 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @08:37AM (#28051973) Homepage Journal
    that's the thing about inconvenient truths, they're inconvenient, you can't turn them off, even of you ignore them they don't go away ....
  • by hairyfeet ( 841228 ) <bassbeast1968 AT gmail DOT com> on Friday May 22, 2009 @09:56AM (#28053137) Journal

    I don't know about COD5 but I would say that SoF:Payback [] probably topped it. Sadly I can't really find any good screens to convey how over the top it was. It was actually SO over the top I thought it was funny. I mean you expected a fountain of blood if somebody stubbed their toe in this game. I thought SoF 1&2 had some rough stuff going on, but when I picked this up for a whole $7.99 along with Quake Wars I was amazed that someone spent that much time going overboard on the gore level. You can literally blow someone's hand off at the wrist to disarm them and a "Kill Bill" sized fountain of blood will go blasting out of them. Blow off limbs, when you do a head shot you REALLY do a head shot, as in the head is over here and the rest is over there, just crazy with the gore.

    But for those that didn't want the gore there was a simple "no gore" button right there at the front of the game, if you don't want it, switch it off. But I as an adult should be able to play a splatterfest if I want to. I am so tired of somebody picking up a GTA style game for their kid and then being shocked at the gore and sex. Well duh! It is not FOR kids! Git your kid Mario and shut up already! I don't want every damned game to be kid friendly just because some parents refuse to do their job and actually take an interest in their kids lives. I am so damned tired if all these nanny state types that want to kid proof the world because some lazy ass parents refuse to take responsibility for their kids. Blame the parents for being failures and quit trying to child proof the planet.

    Yes SoF:Payback was lame with the AI, but the gore added a level of Bruce Campbell over the top cheese that it made it fun for me. Sometimes when done to extreme overkill you can reach that Evil Dead level of campy BS fun. And sorry if I got a little ranty, but I'm getting tired of the "we know what is best for you" nanny state types. If a bunch of parents refuse to do their jobs raising their kids that is not the game designers fault, it is nobodies fault but the parents. Don't take away my right to cheesy gorey fun because some parents refuse to read a warning label or ESRB rating.

  • by MikeBabcock ( 65886 ) <> on Friday May 22, 2009 @11:11AM (#28054177) Homepage Journal

    The best feature of Soldier of Fortune was the gore. You aim for the shoulder and blow the guy's arm off and he can't shoot you anymore, voila. You can tell, just by looking, whether you hit the guy critically or not. If his neck is spurting blood, you know you don't need to put another bullet in him.

    The game's big selling feature was accurate weapons and dismemberment, so if you don't like those things, play something else.

  • by Gizzmonic ( 412910 ) on Friday May 22, 2009 @05:42PM (#28059663) Homepage Journal

    What on earth for? Why should we all live under a pretensive purple sky, when it is perfectly fine for us all to agree that the sky is in fact blue?

    Please, elaborate.

    The idea that some forms of art are "more serious" than others is closely tied to culture. Certain cultures can have "serious" comic books or puppet shows, whereas here in the West these things are generally considered kiddie fare. Conversely, these foreign cultures may be amused by the West getting so worked up about football, and consider it a frivolous child's game.

If I have seen farther than others, it is because I was standing on the shoulders of giants. -- Isaac Newton