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Thread: Violence in Hotline Miami
01-11-2012, 11:27 AM #1
Violence in Hotline Miami
The Violence in Hotline Miami is something that Iím surprised hasnít been critiqued more, why do you think that is?
I struggle with it to be honest. I donít think itís going to inspire anyone to kill anyone or the like, or that itís dangerous, I think I may have played more explicit or graphic games even. I think itís more that the whole concept just embraces nihilism in a very pure sense and seems to give in to futility. My wife has severe depression and I regularly have to talk herself out of a mindset that life is meaningless and empty and too pointless for her to bother with, so something like this just makes me sad.
I do think itís far better that games should be honest about violence, and that thatís what this is, so it is to be applauded in that sense and is very important for that.
But itís abit like the Sopranos for me in that for all that is excellently and brilliantly crafted example of itís genre I also find it fucking hard to deal with after Iíve experienced it. Nothing against anyone who doesnít have that problem though, just an observation. I suppose it speaks for the power of games more than anything maybe.
01-11-2012, 12:02 PM #2
I find the violence in Hotline Miami less disturbing than for example all those torture scenes in CoDBlOps (one almost made me stop playing). It's all rather abstract and comical to me, like Tom & Jerry (or Itchy & Scratchy).currently playing: Assetto Corsa
01-11-2012, 12:04 PM #3
Games are the only place where you can safely and without consequences pretend to be killing someone. It would be a shame to turn that into taboo. I remember early games like DooM and Command&Conquer which were quite gory, but blood was just for spicing things up and not a goal in itself. I miss violence like that in games. Not because I'm a violent person, but because games feel somehow hollow and castrated. It looks fake when I hit someone with a gun and he just falls over. It looks fake when explosions launch people in the air (still in one piece).
Regarding the "Think of children!" argument, that violence in games makes people violent - I think it's false and that current situation is worse. It spreads falsehoods. For instance war in games is always a clean affair, people usually fall to the ground without visible signs of damage. They even keep their eyes open and facial expressions are unchanged. Explosions look like fireworks and often are about as harmless (it frequently takes a few explosion to kill someone). Permadeath is rare in modern games, a retarded person playing games might get an idea that people respawn. I think games might de-sensitize to violence because consequences of violence are not shown. Just like in cartoons, where animals get hit with anvils or dynamite and only make a face or their face becomes dirty.
I have an issue with games targeted at sadistic people, like Bulletstorm, Carmageddon or silly flash games like the one where you have a gerbil in a blender. They are repulsive to me, because inflicting pain is the main point in these games. Killing is not even means to a goal. By comparison, Hotline Miami looks very innocent.pass
01-11-2012, 12:26 PM #4
Sorry to hear that about your wife, sonson. :(
But really, stop playing Hotline Miami if it makes you feel that way. Games are meant to be a form of escapism. If it's just reminding you of your real-life problems it's not going to be worth playing further, even if it is a good game.
01-11-2012, 12:39 PM #5
01-11-2012, 12:41 PM #6
For me the whole "violent videogames" are dangerous argument has been completely discredited and I don't think we should really dwell on it any more as a community. But it's one thing to assert they are dangerous, quite another to consider why we have a medium which is so fixated on violence, which it is. It isn't normal. I'm not syaing that makes it bad at all, but it's an interesting thing to observe.
For me, I simply think it's because it's easier to tear down than build up. It takes far more craft and ability to take someone through an arc of fear or despair but come out the other end with something positive and hopeful than it does to make something "gritty" and hard bitten and cynical. Few games even try at hope.
I thought Bioshock really pulled this of well to an extent. I remember the first time seeing the whole "A Teddy Bear is waiting for you at a Gatherer's Garden" thing and it struck me as very poignant. Innocence amongst carnage and madness like that, it was done very well. Likewise when you first encounter the nursery, that was one of the few moments in a game I've genuinely found emotionally touching as opposed to clever or a good narrative trick. Tanenbaum's speech and such was a bit hackneyed and cliched I felt but the Little Sisters themselves did a good job of suggesting something bigger than unending bleakness and the failure of humanity. More games should try it.
Last edited by sonson; 01-11-2012 at 12:46 PM.
01-11-2012, 12:56 PM #7
As for sadistic games, well I'd rather have kids (including 30 year old kids) living out their sadism in games than reality. I think pulling the legs off pixels is better than doing it to real spiders, let alone running down Hare Krishnas in GTA1 vs. real life.
01-11-2012, 01:03 PM #8
It's interesting to see how programed people are into a defensive "violent video games are harmless!" response. No-one has said they aren't or asserted otherwise. But surely that isn't the only way of considering violence in games. We don't think about narrative in terms of whether it makes us more likely to pretend we're shooting aliens, or mechanics in terms of whether it makes us likely to want to jump on things which look as though they should be jumped on.
The discourse needs to become deeper. It has been defined by people with weak arguments seeking to defame games, they've been discredited, let's move on and consider violence in games more critically.
01-11-2012, 01:09 PM #9
You just made that sound like 'let's move on and agree with me'. Why should violence in fiction be problematic?
01-11-2012, 01:13 PM #10
01-11-2012, 01:15 PM #11
Actually I was sort of wondering about this today. I avoided Hotline Miami because few reviews actually told me what the hell it was about, and bits of it looked a bit too much like the standard pretentious indie crap which apparently makes for good games these days. Picked it up anyway and loved every minute of it.
Hotline Miami might have gratuitous violence but it's all cartoon violence. It's pretty detached from reality, and believe it or not the vast majority of people can distinguish between the two. As b0rsuk said, the consequences in most cases aren't shown. I've patched up the victims of violent assaults and seen some of the horrible things people do to each other, but none of that has any real connection to video games by and large. Manhunt might have come close to the line but the context of the violence is so absurd and it's such a clumsy game that it doesn't really matter. The context of the violence is important in terms of its impact - in Hotline Miami they're just pixellated representations, faceless individuals. Nothing close to real people. Even when games try for a more realistic angle (like torture scenes) that barrier is still pretty prevalent so that it never crosses into real life.
That said the impression I get from Hotline Miami is that it's quite self-aware in terms of the violent content. As the game
"deteriorates" in later chapters I get the impression that it sort of scolds you for being a violent bad ass, while at the same time rewarding you for increasingly violent escapades. The two contrast fairly well - on the one hand there's a graceful, fast-paced dance of death with violence being rewarded, followed by the mockery of being clueless and enjoying what you're doing. I don't get the impression that Hotline Miami implies that life is cheap or that it's pointless. Quite the opposite in fact.
Then again so much crazy shit happens that I might be missing the point entirely. But it seems a lot smarter than I initially thought, and by "smart" I mean it abandons the pointless ambiguity and pretentious message crap that so many indie devs think passes for 'art' these days. It's fairly enigmatic, but not in the usual clumsy indie fashion.
01-11-2012, 01:16 PM #12
01-11-2012, 02:00 PM #13
01-11-2012, 02:03 PM #14
Yeah, it's a bit weird. Even WoW has some torture quests that are quite distasteful (I mean actual torture of prisoners, not "kill 20 boars and half of them don't have livers", which is a wholly different kind of torture!).
As for Hotline Miami, I've been waiting for a demo. I've read all the glowing praise, I love the soundtrack, but I don't really feel like actually *playing* the game, which I guess is a bit hypocritical given all the games I've played/play, but there it is.
01-11-2012, 02:13 PM #15
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To be honest I feel generally more disturbed by mainstream movies like saw, hostel or even final destination where people get maimed and tortured in most gruesome ways only to attract the gore loving crowd that like to chuff down their popcorn with a piece of intestines. I am fine with media violence if it has purpose or meaning even if the message is nihilistic. That may sound as contradictory but to me it is not.
How you perceive media is very subjective. I must find myself in a very particular mindset or emotional state in order to enjoy certain movies, books or music for example. It all depends on my mood or the phase I am going through. I know that many people do not share this problem and can enjoy going to the cinema any time... I can't.
I can't watch love stories when I am heart broken.
I can watch american psycho when I am angry and I can enjoy eternal sunshine of a spotless mind when I am feeling melancholic. But I can't do it the other way around. Same goes for the games I play.
In the end, I have to admit that it is not the media's fault as I cam to the conclusion that there is a game, book, movie, song for every mood that I may find myself in. It all depends on when and how.
Also I am very sorry for your wife sonson, I wish you the best of strength to support her well.
01-11-2012, 02:15 PM #16
Again, I really don’t think that violence within games is dangerous or outright bad, but I do think there should be discussion as to why it’s an almost ever present within many mainstream examples of the genre anyway. Not all songs are about violence, not all great pictures feature murder, so why is it such a feature within videogames?
01-11-2012, 02:17 PM #17
Maybe violence shouldn't be so dominant to the point where it's a core part of the majority of games. And before someone reminds me there are plenty of games without violence, I'm talking about the violent to non-violent ratio in gaming. And before someone reminds me that violence and sex is a big part of us, that doesn't mean it should be the only part constantly shown. And before someone reminds m- LOOK, just shut your gob, ok? Sonson is right, we can barely talk about this without being accused of hating on violent games. We have to stop spouting pre-programmed responses meant for ignorant video game protesters and remember we're talking to our own here. Why is so hard to admit that gaming is unusually focused on violence? It's ok. The bad people aren't going to take away your games.
Last edited by Drake Sigar; 01-11-2012 at 02:22 PM.
01-11-2012, 02:36 PM #18
I think one reason why violence is such a prevalent content in video games is that it lends itself to some uncomplicated game mechanisms. It has been said above that it is much more easy to destroy than to build up. I agree with that but would add that the way violence or destruction is handled in many games is that such player interaction in the game world often is very quick and allows for immediate events of "reward" or "achievement".
Let's take shooters, or most MMOs, or real-time strategy games. The player engages an enemy in a fight and provided he is able to beat the enemy the player directly gets a feedback: Well done, you have made some progress / overcome this obstacle. It is very easy to design tasks this way while at the same time providing a "fun" mechanism for the player to enjoy.
Now, I know that there are many games where this isn't necessarily true, like strategy games that give only an abstract representation of violent conflicts or fighting games where it takes a bit longer to whittle down an enemy. But it holds true for many fast-paced games and for those cases where the violence is a bit "slower", there is still the sense of overcoming an opposition that acts as an incentive.
01-11-2012, 02:37 PM #19
As someone who has suffered through a year of depression I really see nothing wrong with Hotline Miami (I haven't played the game but it's at the very top of my shopping list). If anything that game seems to be a cathartic release for most people that play it, so if it's in the form of digital violence then so be it. Besides the violence in Hotline Miami is so stylized and exaggerated that it's more like cartoon violence than anything resembling real life violence (something that many other games are meticulously trying to recreate).
I am sorry to hear about your wife as depression is a paralyzing thing and everyone goes through it in his own way. I hope she will get well soon. What I found helpful for me was to face and challenge things that where the cause of my depression, mostly questions of purely existential nature. It takes a shitton of bravery and looking inwards and talking about it with others and facing some traumatic shit along the way. At the start of if I actually used to have anxiety attacks when certain subjects where even discussed in my vicinity, and tackling the problem head on, come what may, was the key for me to get over that shit.
01-11-2012, 02:44 PM #20
As someone who went through real war,seeing all the horrors of it.. I don't see anything worng with violence in VIDEOGAMES.