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Opinion: Why is Hatred Spawning Debates on Morals in Games?

Violence is nothing new to video games, yet recently, opinions on the soon to be released Hatred by Destructive Creations have been blowing up all over social media and gaming sites. While some are from the view that gaming is fantasy and there’s no harm in it, others believe that it will spawn a generation of rampaging, genocidal maniacs.

The basis of the game is that you’ll play a man who has had a breakdown of sorts, is sick of ‘humanity’ and decides to pick up a small arsenal and head out onto the streets to enact scenes of extreme violence with no ethics or morals involved. The character doesn’t care who he kills, murdering anyone and everyone in his path, including civilians and police.

I’m not entirely convinced that this subject hasn’t been broached in previous games though. Grand Theft Auto has allowed the murder and torture of civilians since its first outing in the mid 90s, progressing from top-down pixel killing to brutally murdering high-definition prostitutes and old people in GTA V. Is there a difference? If you look at Trevor, a much-loved character from the game, you’ll realise that he has no motive but his sociopathic tendencies for his actions. So why does this differ from Hatred?

Is it because the villain main character doesn’t have a fleshed out back story? Is it because he’s almost a stereotypical looking bad guy? Is it because we, as the human race, are scared of the concept of someone just hating us for being ignorant and selfish that they would want to execute us with no remorse? Probably… But there’s still no difference between the actions of someone who plays GTA for the thrill of mowing down pedestrians in an ambulance or firing a rocket launcher into a crowd for kicks and by taking part in the gory frenzy of Hatred.

Opinion: Why is Hatred Spawning Debates on Morals in Games? - n3rdabl3

Still think I’m off the mark? That’s fine. There’s a line between fantasy and reality and some can see those lines sharper than others. Gaming to me and most of the community, is a form of escapism. It allows me to hide away from the harsh realities of life and do things that I normally wouldn’t do. That includes playing ‘good’ characters that use violent means to make the world a better place… Am I good merely because I murder in the name of morality? Probably not but I know when I shut down my PC or console at the end of a session that no real harm has come to anyone and so life continues. So why does that theory flip on its head when I choose to play a game as a villain?

Fallout, GTA, Skyrim and Infamous are just a few games that give you the choice to play murderer, yet none are so harshly looked upon as Hatred. Why? Is it because we can choose which morals to follow? See, Hatred doesn’t give you that choice while actually playing, though I seriously doubt that if you object to the content of the game, you’ll be playing it anyway. So again, it’s your choice to avoid it or take it as it is… A game.

While the deeper subject has touched a raw nerve with some of the human race, this is not a new concept, neither in gaming, nor in any other form of entertainment that the majority us have access to. While I can’t speak for each and every one of us, most people have sat and enjoyed watching horror movies, such as SAW, Friday the 13th or Nightmare on Elm Street where the stimulation comes from not the amazing storylines, but from the acts of violence themselves. While watching these films can be enjoyable, they also make us feel uncomfortable and is genuinely part of the fun of watching.

Opinion: Why is Hatred Spawning Debates on Morals in Games? - n3rdabl3

Most horror fans will also have some sort of connection, not to the victims, but to the villain. How many Nightmare fans do you see posting pics on their Twitter feed of Nancy Thompson as their figure of worship? I can’t think of any. Freddy Krueger, Darth Vader, Jason Voorhees, The Predator, Chucky, Jigsaw and Michael Myers all have a place in many fans’ hearts as being cool, just because of the entertainment they provide. That doesn’t make them any less the monsters they are but I’m not going to debate the ethics of liking the bad guy here, it’s merely just a fact.

You may question my judgement here, but whether interactive, visual or written, all platforms of violent entertainment are in the name of fantasy. The perception of the acts are in the eye of the beholder when it comes to ethics. There are certain people in the world that can’t differentiate the fantasy/reality line and that should be a matter of individual assessment.

Even as a child who managed to get hold of 18 rated movies and was playing Mortal Kombat at the age of 13, I believe that there’s not enough enforcement of ESRB ratings in gaming. The quality of visuals and the amount of swearing in games has increased a hundred fold since the nineties, yet parents will still hand over a copy of an adult rated game to pre-teens, just to keep them entertained. Hatred has an AO rating for a reason, so parents shouldn’t get up in arms over this, nor the violence included. If your child does get a copy of it, it’s because you’re not taking an active role in the process of stopping them doing so and partially your fault.

Opinion: Why is Hatred Spawning Debates on Morals in Games? - n3rdabl3

Adults who have an issue are obviously a different story. We’re all individuals and we all have different tastes. Those who are complaining are obviously of the school of thought that says violent games are bad. I won’t argue with that as I do believe, in the wrong hands, any form of entertainment can be harmful. Most gamers, however, are level-headed, normal people who take their stresses of the week out on a session of violent gaming, a much better way to relieve frustrations than actual violence.

So, will Hatred bring about the apocalypse, four horsemen and all? It’s extremely doubtful and at the least, there will be a community of the usual doomsayers on social media networks calling for the saviour of humanity in the form of bans. And when the next big controversial fad comes along, they’ll jump on that bandwagon too. My personal ending message is this: If you don’t like the idea of it, don’t play it and leave those alone that are. We have enough verbal violence on social media as it is.

(This is the opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of the entire staff of n3rdabl3.)

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