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  1. #1
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    And you say we are not desensitized to violence

    Alec's article about Bioshock Infinite. Not one word about the gruesome, excessive, over-the-top violence in the game. The very first death in the game is you taking the equivalent of a chainsaw to a man's face. There are "killmoves" where you rip people's heads off with that spinning hook thingy, all animated in bloody detail. You can literally blow people's heads off (all detailed, too).

    When I was playing, this was the most striking and off-putting thing in the entire game. I actually looked for a "gore" level in the options menu. Now I admit I haven't played a whole lot of mainstream shooters in many years, but maybe that is precisely the point. For those that have, this gradual ramping up of graphic violence might seem natural, like slowing heating up a bowl of water where your hand is, as opposed to dipping your hands straight into hot water like it was for me. Compared to the violence in the games I usually play, where a headshot doesn't leave so much as a bloodstain.

    Do we really need this in games? Does it add "value"? Would a game lose something important if this level of graphic violence was not present? Would it make it somehow "less realistic"? I just can't understand how one can write so much about the game, covering everything the game has to offer, and not once mention this. I'm not one of the frothy-at-the-mouth lunatics that shouts "games lead to violence!", but I do feel disgusted at this level of detail, and the lack of attention to this makes me feel that exposure to this really does lead to being desensitized.

  2. #2
    Lesser Hivemind Node Labbes's Avatar
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    Combat, then. Infinite is a game with two brains – one the virtual tourism of this lavish setting and the ever-present, ever-teasing narrative, and the other the loud, explosive and highly violent action.
    These large, multi-level spaces, the amped-up colours, the preponderance of explosions which could level a house, the veritable armies of freaks and fanatics you face: it’s much more cartoon absurdity than it is macho fantasy. That said, the gore of melee kill moves and the fire-based Vigor is pretty extreme stuff, of the sort you wouldn’t find in cinema outside of the most malevolent grindhouse flicks.
    Some of the screenshots are pretty gorey as well, so I have no idea what you expected.

  3. #3
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus vinraith's Avatar
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    Exposure to cartoon video game violence leads to desensitization to cartoon video game violence, which is of course totally different than desensitization to real life violence. Show me a video game with a guy having a chainsaw shoved in his face and I'm likely to be amused, show me the real thing and I'd be so horrified I doubt I'd be able to sleep for a few days.

    You want to know what scares the hell out of me? Games where shooting a guy in the head doesn't produce any blood, any gore, or any horror. Talk about desensitization, isn't the violent act the concern here? Isn't showing violence with virtually no consequence far scarier?

  4. #4
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Berzee's Avatar
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    I've played about 5 minutes' worth of Bioshock games in my life because I found them to be gross and creepy to the point of outweighing their many potential charms...I agree that it's a little weird if it wasn't mentioned in the Infinite article, but I already knew it was going to be like that. =\

    (For some reason the violence in, say, Chivalry, while gross, doesn't stop me from playing it, not sure where the difference lies).

    I am a huge fan of providing *options* though, and I wish there was a way for me to play most games with "Germany-TF2-gore" where people explode into cogs and wheels. =P The only appreciation I ever really get out of "ELITE KILLMOVES" is the acrobatics of it.
    Last edited by Berzee; 02-04-2013 at 03:51 PM.
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  5. #5
    Lesser Hivemind Node Labbes's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Berzee View Post
    (For some reason the violence in, say, Chivalry, while gross, doesn't stop me from playing it, not sure where the difference lies).

    I am a huge fan of providing *options* though, and I wish there was a way for me to play most games with "Germany-TF2-gore" where people explode into cogs and wheels. =P The only appreciation I ever really get out of "ELITE KILLMOVES" is the acrobatics of it.
    I honestly think there's a difference about how we perceive violence in singleplayer and multiplayer games. If I shoot some guys in Counterstrike or Unreal Tournament, I feel good because I am better than them (supposedly). I don't care if they burst into flames, bleed or explode into toys; it's more like sport in that you beat someone, if you play a singleplayer game you just beat the system or the AI.

  6. #6
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus soldant's Avatar
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    It's cartoon violence, it's nothing like reality. It's over the top, stylised, and nothing like real life. Even viewing a bunch of shock images on the Internet is unlikely to prepare you for the real thing when you see it, let alone desensitising you to the idea of actually perpetuating any of these acts. Game graphics still haven't advanced to the point of reality, and even then I highly doubt the artists are going to get it right. Hollywood doesn't get it right half the time and they have a significant advantage.

    Does the gore add anything to BI? Nope. But it's still far away from reality, and it's not likely to do any real harm in desensitising people to actual violence. It's all in the context of a game, one with a stylised game world. It's not real, it doesn't reflect reality. At the risk of sounding dismissive, I think you're overthinking this.
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  7. #7
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Smashbox's Avatar
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    I felt that way during the Dishonored marketing cycle - the neck-stabbing, blood-spurting, and eye-bugging was very prevalent, weirdly.

    And, for the record, I've never 'said we're desensitized to violence.'

    There has been good, scholarly writing about the cathartic role that violence in media can fill. Some (quite intelligent) people don't believe that violent media, consumed by adults of their own volition is harmful, and may fulfill psychological needs in a healthy way. Human beings and their societies evolved in a pressure cooker of violence.

    I don't have a strong opinion either way, really, but I know that when the just-plain-shitbag character in my book chokes to death, I enjoy it. Just deserts, catharsis, etc.

    Haven't played the new Bioshock yet, though.

  8. #8
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Smashbox's Avatar
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    Oh yeah, the other bit I meant to say:

    Vinraith's point about knowing it's fake is completely important. There's a HUGE difference between the Liveleak video that shows a man getting crushed to death (which makes you want to throw up, turn off the computer, and brood) and the completely real looking crushed to death scene in a film (which barely affects anyone who knows the difference intellectually).

  9. #9
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Cartoon violence and game violence are different than real violence.

    The melee executions in Bioshock are meh. Lots of blood, sure it's violent but it's fake.

    If I saw that happen in real life I'd freak out. If I saw a particularly nasty glassing I'd be pretty disturbed.

    I was once in college shown a video of a man being decapitated by a bunch of guys in combat gear in a woodland area. I was told the video was from someone in Russia and the victim was from an ex-satellite state. The sound the victim made still rings very clear in my head as do the laughs from his murders as they essentially carved his head off and I watched that video one time and that was over five years ago. I still hate thinking about it.
    "Halo is designed to make the player think "I look like that, I am macho sitting in my undies with my xbox""

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  10. #10
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    I have friends who refuse to see Tarantino movies because they're "needlessly" violent, and there are people who object to the nudity and sex in Game of Thrones (see Boing Boing). The claim to necessity is technically true, as you still have the dramatic elements that form a story even if you remove the explicit content. But the graphic material is making a point, whether internally or as social commentary.

    Vinraith's point is well taken: showing the disturbing consequences of violence seems more honest than swapping blood palettes for sweat. Perhaps BS:I's purpose is to illustrate the callous role that FPS protagonists play, and the fact that people like the OP and Berzee feel that revulsion is a good sign.

  11. #11
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    I play lots of games with violence in and am completely desensitized to cartoon violence depicted in games... this isn't the same in real life, I know its not the same for 2 reasons:

    I saw some ones toe get ripped off in a Judo accident once (it got stuck in between two poorly laid out mats with no cover on them) and I hurled for about 5 minutes solid... I can still recollect the event like it happened yesterday even though it was around 18 years ago.

    I had a heart operation 3 years ago and nearly bled out while in recovery, I still get 'phantom bleeds' where I have to check my leg to make sure the blood I can feel running down it is fake.

    Never have I thrown up because of game violence even though what is depicted is far worse than anything I've seen in real life... Hell "The Walking Dead" TV show has turned my stomach more than any video game ever and that still isn't even close to real life.

    I can't help but feel people who think real life and bioshock violence compare to each other have never seen real life gore more than a nose bleed.

  12. #12
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Jesus_Phish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DenieD View Post
    I can't help but feel people who think real life and bioshock violence compare to each other have never seen real life gore more than a nose bleed.
    They should count themselves lucky if the worst they've ever seen is a nose bleed.
    "Halo is designed to make the player think "I look like that, I am macho sitting in my undies with my xbox""

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  13. #13
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus thegooseking's Avatar
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    I can only echo what others have said. I remember being very disturbed when I looked at leaked photos from Iraq involving dead people (and particularly dead non-combatants). Really sickening stuff in there. But the two sides of the coin there are that one, I don't empathise with video game enemies in the same way I empathised with those people, and two, my lack of empathy for video game baddies (in most cases; my first time playing Deus Ex gave me nightmares because I wasn't being as nonlethal as I could) did not prevent me from empathising with those people.
    "Moronic cynicism is a kind of naïveté. It's naïveté turned inside-out. Naïveté wearing a sneer." -Momus

  14. #14
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Drake Sigar's Avatar
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    Just post Jim's video and then we can move on.

    http://www.escapistmagazine.com/vide...ed-to-Violence

    And no, I've never seen the clip played in the video. Don't want to.

  15. #15
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus mickygor's Avatar
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    That first kill in Bioshock: Infinite has stayed with me. I've done some pretty horrific things in that game, mostly involving water tentacles, but that first kill... I almost felt it. That said, it's for that very reason that I'm grateful for it. It's rare a game disturbs me.
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  16. #16
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    Videogames violence doesn't really have any impact at players.

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...-a-872726.html
    It's an article about USA drones operators and how it affects them. Spoiler: they are pretty mentaly fucked up after some time of dropping bombs on Afghanistan.

  17. #17
    Network Hub Bleekill's Avatar
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    I'm pretty desensitized to video game violence but I still kind of think about the violence "realistically" depending on the game. Like for example I'll shoot a guy in the arm or leg by chance in Raven Shield and he dies in the game. The AI is dead but I'll walk up and shoot him again in the chest or head, kind of pretending he's still alive like he would be in real life. That's not in all games but in more realistic shooters I like to "role-play" I guess. So maybe for me, violence isn't real enough yet in games? Maybe we should portray it more realistically in that it isn't a beautiful gush of blood. Maybe have dudes suffering on the ground for a long time, forcing you to put em out. Make it way less glorious. But that won't sell.

    I also watch raw war footage on liveleak sometimes and I get that pit in my stomach when I see a death. A few videos have fucked with me for an hour or so. Games don't really come close to that kind of heaviness. Hell, I heard a guy recount being brutally stabbed in Brooklyn on this radio show and it had my stomach all queasy but I forced myself to keep listening. Movies rarely and real footage sometimes doesn't even have that bad of an effect on me. I guess my imagination is potent.
    Last edited by Bleekill; 02-04-2013 at 09:47 PM.

  18. #18
    Lesser Hivemind Node deadly.by.design's Avatar
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    I've played games for most of my life, but the violence in Dishonored kind of bothers me. It's not really why I went stealthy/nonlethal, but I do enjoy games that give you that option. Honestly, though, I think the biggest thing about that game's violence is how the leftover guards say you just killed a family man, or their good friend, etc.

  19. #19
    Secondary Hivemind Nexus Tikey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by deadly.by.design View Post
    I've played games for most of my life, but the violence in Dishonored kind of bothers me. It's not really why I went stealthy/nonlethal, but I do enjoy games that give you that option. Honestly, though, I think the biggest thing about that game's violence is how the leftover guards say you just killed a family man, or their good friend, etc.
    Kill someone in Splinter Cell. Read the note he was carrying. Note was a letter to his wife and baby daughter saying how much he loves them and that he hates what he's doing but he's doing it for them and he will quit in a few days to be with them. Restart mission.

  20. #20
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    While I enjoyed 99% of BioInf, I did find the melee executions a bit off. Needlessly violent, compared to the rest of the game. Some guy looking down at you, neck wrenched between the gears of a motorised grapple, doesn't seem to fit with any other weapon or moment of the game.

    Bioshock 1's melee kills made sense. You were swinging a large bludgeoning weapon. Most of the time you're using melee, your enemy is right in your face. The splicers are much more hostile in mannerisms. They scream at you in barely-human tongues. Your melee attacks smack them around, leaving large red welts where they hit.
    I prefer that to BioInf's. Your enemy is stunned, you could just smack them in the head. Instead you tear their chest apart, still alive, then toss them away.

    SpecOps' executions linked into the narrative and the mechanics. In BioInf, without magic "Executions = health" pants, you've no reason to perform them.

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