Tag Archives: Violence

In Defense of Didacticism

"What Right Have You to Judge Her" (from the New York Public Library Digital Collections)While watching reports and live-tweets come in from the recent East Coast Games Conference, I was intrigued to see a number of speakers independently touch on the same point. Warren Spector advised, during his keynote address, “Don’t judge the player. The player shouldn’t know your answers to the questions you’re posing”; while Steve Jaros, in a panel on “Writing For Mechanics Beyond Combat,” offered a concurring view: “Give your players options without attaching value judgments. Present them all sincerely.” (These quotes may be paraphrased.)

But acting as the player’s judge (and jury, and executioner) is in some respects the primary job of a game’s developers. Moreover, surely all art emerges from the artist’s own experiences and worldview to convey a particular set of ideas. How does all that square with avoiding being judgmental?

I want to dig into that question here, using the notions expressed by Spector and Jaros as a jumping-off point. This isn’t a rebuttal or a reiteration–rather, it’s a different framework for viewing many of the same challenges. We may even come to some of the same conclusions. Continue reading

Eight Ways to Accommodate Violence in Action Game Stories

You’re making a first-person shooter or a third-person action game. Your gameplay centers around combat, but you don’t want your protagonist to come across as the sort of person physically and psychologically capable of massacring hundreds over the course of a day.

That’s okay! I’d love to see more nonviolent games, but violence is exciting, dramatic, and we know how to support it with solid game mechanics. Here are eight simple options to help keep your protagonist from coming across as a monster–just the first eight that came to mind, but I’m sure you can think of others. Some of them can work in combination while others stand alone. Some focus on game mechanics, some focus on art, and some focus on writing. But most–so long as they’re considered early on–are pretty easy to build a game with. Continue reading