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Graphic Novelist Calls For Better Game Violence 465

eldavojohn writes "Landry Walker (alternative comics creator of X-Ray Studios) has a brief opinion piece at Elder Geek asserting that all he wants for Christmas is more realistic game violence. While he acknowledges the world probably isn't ready for it, he wishes that getting shot in a video game was a bit more like getting shot in real life. From his piece: '... that's my problem with video game violence. Bullets are something we shrug off. Point blank fire with a machine gun is something that a tiny bit of flexible body armor and 20 seconds sitting on a magic invisibility inducing gargoyle can cure. Time and time again, I've heard people claim that they want to see a greater degree of realism in video games. But that's a lie. We don't want realism. We want fantasy. We want unlimited ammo and we want rapid respawns. We want to jump out of second story windows without a scratch. We want to dodge bullets and shake off mortal wounds without pause.' What say you, reader? Would this bring a new level of impossibility to video games or would there be a way to balance this out?"
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Graphic Novelist Calls For Better Game Violence

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  • He is correct. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by B5_geek ( 638928 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:05AM (#30580424)

    Reality isn't fun. If it was we wouldn't play games.

  • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:09AM (#30580440)

    A n00b gets shot at the beginning of the game. That means he would be out for the remainder of the game. Would you play a game where the playtime is about 1 minute for every 30 or so? I know I wouldn't.

    And also it would be boring as hell. Very rarely do you have situations where you are shooting all the time.

  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:14AM (#30580458)

    This reminds me of the old discussions about realism in pen&paper RPGs.

    We got a medievalist on our group, let him prepare a short demonstration game and quickly confirmed that it was, essentially, annoying.

    He wants more real violence? There's no need to create a game for that, mod L4D2 or MW2 to multiply damage by a hundred.

    It's one of those arguments that end as soon as someone actually does the little effort of trying the argued point.

  • Americas Army (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LaLLi ( 844692 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:19AM (#30580476)
    Americas Army has always focused on realism. You can't run too fast, you can't jump too high or continously. If you fall too far you'll break a leg and bleed to death. And yes you usually die after the first hit from AK47. It's possible to have a medic bind your wounds, but you won't get to 100% health..you stay slow and weak. I used to play it a lot and loved it. Too bad they stopped making linux ports.
  • Re:Simple solution (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sparton ( 1358159 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:23AM (#30580490)

    They exist. [tngames.com]

    That said, they're not wide spread because, like most gaming peripherals, they're not a standard and don't actually add to your ability to succeed.

    That and I guess that most people that play games aren't into the whole "learn through pain of failure" thing (or at least literally).

  • Re:FP (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LordofEntropy ( 250334 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:36AM (#30580534)

    Wow, couldn't pass up the opportunity to contribute nothing before someone else did? Be proud!

    Simulating combat realistically makes for a short playing experience. Catch one bullet in the leg and then what happens? Do you have to start over? Do you bleed out if you don't immediately get medical attention? If you get medical attention then do you "play" recovering in the hospital and dealing with the police reports? Let's have a physical therapy "mini-game" as well; spend a few months doing some exercises and walking around with a crutch.

    Having the screen go red and having to find cover until I recover so I continue mowing down the opposition with joyful glee sounds much more appealing to me.

  • Right (Score:5, Insightful)

    by GF678 ( 1453005 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @06:40AM (#30580552)

    So why are games like Operation Flashpoint, ArmA, the Rainbow Six series and so on available? They're there because people DO want realism, they want one-shot kills where stupid rambo behavior action will get you killed. Sure they're not for everyone, but for people who want a challenge, they exist.

    This novelist asks for something that already exist.

  • Realism (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pehrs ( 690959 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:09AM (#30580684)

    I have yet to see any computer-game outside some adventure game that even loosely reflects what violence is like. And the war-games are probably the worst of the bunch. If a military simulator resembled what a soldier has to do in a real war it would play like this.

    1: Get up, brush teeth, polish equipment.
    2: Drive 10 km on a congested road looking out for bombs.
    4: Walk to the observation post
    5: Spend 8 hours looking out over a field with peasants, trying to figure out if any of them is a resistance fighter.
    6: Walk back to the truck
    7: Catch your buddy when the sniper shoots him in the hip
    8: Spend 3 hours trying to keep pressure on the wound and wait for medivac
    9: Listen to your buddy beg for his life while he is medivaced
    10: Fire blindly at a few bushes where the sniper might still be
    11: Get tinitus when they bomb the bushes and the nearby houses
    12: Spend 4 hours sorting out the remains of the families in the houses, trying to figure out if any of them was the sniper
    13: Go to truck again, looking out for snipers this time.
    14: Drive home, looking out for road bombs.
    15: Wash blood from cloths, eat dinner, go to bed.
    16: Repeat...

    War is not fun. War does not make a good game. Any "realistic" game still removes 99.95% of what it means to be in a war-zone. You don't get bored, watching a field for hours. You don't police bodies. You don't dig through bloody cloths looking for clues if the guy you just shoot was a resistance fighter or a civilian. You don't have to stop everything and arrange a medivac if anybody in your group is hit. You don't have to write letters home to the family, explaining what happened. You rarely have any rules of engagement. It's clear who is an enemy and who is not...

    I wonder when we will see a game where the punishment for sticking your head out at the wrong time is 60 years in a wheelchair with no control over your body... If you are lucky.

  • by mcvos ( 645701 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:11AM (#30580690)

    Say you shoot someone in the general torso area, you obviously miss the spine since he doesn't ragdoll and you take cover as he returns fire. When you pop out of cover the target is nowhere to be seen. When you find him he's on the ground aspirating blood and generally bleeding out. Or when you finish a firefight there is not silence but lots of poor fuckers screaming from their pain as they bleed out. If nothing else that might make you want to take the more stealthy route or make sure you aim better.

    This would be awesome. It might almost get me to try a FPS for once.

  • Re:FP (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ElectricTurtle ( 1171201 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:17AM (#30580716)
    What CS did was encourage everybody to camp. It just didn't make sense to move anywhere because you'd be one hit killed by some AWP-wielding camping lamer who would win by being the guy that moved the least.

    If you're going to have realistic combat effects, you need to balance that by also simulating how hard it is to actually aim weapons with any precision even standing still, let alone while moving. America's Army did that sort of where you have to hold your breath to get your sight to stop wandering. You know what that is? Tedious and annoying. The GP got it right, what's next? Reports and physical therapy simulation? 'Realistic' games are for a special breed of lamer. If you want that much realism, go to a recruiting center and enlist, or enroll in a police academy, or at least get off your damn couch, go to a shooting range and put some real munitions down range. Games are for fun, if you want realism, the door to life is over there.
  • by aaaaaaargh! ( 1150173 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:33AM (#30580776)

    I'm a big fan of (pseudo-) "realistic" FPS like OFP, ArmA, OFP2, and Arma2. Many people claim they want realism, but for most gamers these simulations are too boring or too hard. Personally, I'm missing real realism as opposed to the fake realism of ArmA 2. I might be mistaken but as far as I know in a real war wounded soldiers sometimes scream like crazy without stopping, and I've also read accounts of WW2 where soldiers were walking around with their guts (literally) in their hands. For real realism my "special forces" team mates should occasionally go nuts (if they aren't already). There should also be trigger-happy soldiers that mess up missions, accidentally shoot pregnant women and kids at checkpoints, etc. Very rarely, a civilian could be raped by your fellow teammates and it would be up to you whether you want to participate or inform your CO. In both cases, you'd have to face the consequences. And, of course, don't forget friendly fire and jobs like cleaning the latrines.

    If you think I'm being sarcastic, you misunderstand me. I really want this kind of realism in my FPS. But I guess this will never happen, because people would fear that depicting real violence might disturb the emotional balance of some American kids and lead to a lawsuit against the game company. For a start, I'd already be fine if they'd come up with a good story instead of the usual black and white "good vs. evil" bullshit.

  • by Gaygirlie ( 1657131 ) <[moc.liamtoh] [ta] [eilrigyag]> on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @07:34AM (#30580786) Homepage
    "We want fantasy. We want unlimited ammo and we want rapid respawns. We want to jump out of second story windows without a scratch. We want to dodge bullets and shake off mortal wounds without pause.'" Disagreed strongly. He may want such, you may want such, THEY may want such...but I don't. If I wanted that I'd be playing with God mode on or I'd go for My Little Pony Online. I want challenge. I want realism. I want to have to use some skill and smarts to get the job done, not just mindlessly run around shooting anything that moves.
  • by smitty777 ( 1612557 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:07AM (#30580934) Journal

    When the ancient Aztecs played basketball, the rules were simple - the first team that made a shot through the basket got to live. The other team was...well...beheaded. Now, if you want to make video games that are realistic, why not go all the way? Have some sort of controller that provides an electric shock or poison if you really die. That will make you think twice about going into that room full of zombies.
    The bottom line is that video games are for fun and "practice". You go to a new level of realism and it just gets boring. I love flight simulators, but the ones that are completely realistic are the most boring. Who wants to spend 4 hours in combat air patrol with a 1 in 1000 chance of actually getting to splash a bogie?

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by jonadab ( 583620 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:23AM (#30581026) Homepage Journal
    Am I the only one who liked the cartooney graphics in Commander Keen?
  • by Thanshin ( 1188877 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @08:33AM (#30581062)

    That's nothing. When I was younger we played Poker. It was a strange game where, if you lost, you could lose real money.

    Losing often enough could end with you losing your wife, kids and house; leaving you on a homeless shelter for the rest of your life. After that, all other games seemed too unrealistic, so I stopped playing.

    They say there's a funnier game community going on in certain countries of Africa. In those, when your character gets hit by a bullet, you receive a bullet wound yourself. I might consider playing those games if all the system is as realistic as that.

  • by Renraku ( 518261 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:14AM (#30581236) Homepage

    At first, he speaks of we as gamers. Then he speaks of he, the gamer. You, the gamer. They, the gamers. He separates himself from the gamers by saying he doesn't want the fantasy. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to realize that plenty of shooters are hard when played as they were meant to be played. The Call of Duty games are very challenging on the hardest modes. So are many games. Many shooters.

    But many games are hard for the wrong reasons. Modern Warfare 2, for example, features enemies that kill you in two shots from a pistol from 500 meters away when they have no direct line of sight to you (due to shrubs/trees/debris/etc). This is hard for the wrong reason. Hard for the right reason would be that you have no idea he's there, and he thinks you might be in the general area. He sprays lead, giving away his position and possibly hitting you. The two shots probably will kill you, but unlikely at 500m, if you have body armor on. Also, he's probably scared. Nervous. Trembling. That affects accuracy.

    That helicopter, for example, knows exactly where you are, down to the centimeter. In real life, you're a brown speck on the ground and unless you're viewing infrared or using some kind of visual aid, there's no way you're going to distinguish brown speck on the ground from beige rectangle that is the Corolla you're hiding behind. The helicopter would lay down suppressing fire, maybe shoot a few rockets in the general area if they were lucky enough to have someone use a laser target designator or are talking to a forward observer. In which case you could kill the forward observer or whoever is wielding the designator.

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:16AM (#30581258)

    I don't think a realistic shooter would necessarily be boring. The problem is immersion, not game design. We've become pretty good at visual simulation, but we're still controlling the game with a mouse and a keyboard (or worse, with a game pad). A realistic shooter would also need a much improved input concept. Designers of virtual reality controllers have made some progress in this area, but movement is still largely handled indirectly, by pointing and linear movement controllers. Some things you can do with current controllers are impossible in real life, like turning around almost instantly. On the other hand, in reality your field of view is not nearly as limited as it is on screen. Jumping from second story windows is another immersion issue: Without realistic (not just effect-like) perception of depth, the player can't intuitively recognize dangerous heights, so it would be immensely frustrating to be punished for misjudgments in this area. Realism can only go as far as the player has realistic controls and feedback to deal with realistic challenges. Before we can have realistic shooters, we need almost holodeck-like human-computer-interfaces, but if we had those, who would claim that a holodeck would be boring without unrealistic game rules?

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:27AM (#30581310) Journal

    I'm sure there are, but a lot of them do involve immersing yourself in some kind of virtual world.

    But a lot more don't.

    You could go white water rafting, learn an instrument, build a solar car, ride your bike down to the lake, make pot brownies, put up some shelves, skydive, teach a kid how to use Linux, study a new language and literature, go dancing, meet a girl.

    I could go on, but I've got my hsing yi class at 8 am and I have to drive my daughter to school first.

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:29AM (#30581338) Journal

    There are some requirements though... You need to get your partner into "the mood"

    Not around here, you don't.

    Slashdot is all about DIY.

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:31AM (#30581358) Journal

    Call of Duty is very unrealistic.

    I was thinking about that. If they really wanted to make it more realistic, the first time your character got killed, the screen would go black, your computer would crash and you wouldn't be able to restart it.

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:34AM (#30581372) Journal

    For true realism try Americas Army 3

    If you want realism, there's a recruiting office down at the local mall that has a total immersion game that will rock your world.

  • by grrowl ( 953625 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @09:43AM (#30581436) Homepage Journal
    More realism in consequences will only come with greater realism in controls. Once you're truly "in the game" can you deal with "in the game" realism.
  • Re:He is correct. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by hitmark ( 640295 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @10:16AM (#30581672) Journal

    no continues tho...

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Richy_T ( 111409 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @11:53AM (#30582582) Homepage

    I believe that gives you automatic access to level 4 Country and Western

  • Re:He is correct. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Scrameustache ( 459504 ) on Tuesday December 29, 2009 @12:56PM (#30583290) Homepage Journal

    I could go on, but I've got my hsing yi class at 8 am and I have to drive my daughter to school first.

    School? On Tuesday, December 29th?

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus