• BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 9:09 a.m.

    I honestly think you yourself Towell, highlighted the one who's at fault here: You and your hipocrisy. I mean, yes, the torture scene is a VERY uncomfortable thing to go trough, but it's meant to be. Just as the final "playable" scene in The Last of Us. These scenes are so impactful BECAUSE you have no choice but to go trough with them, you make them optional, and then they become as forgettable as any optional choice available in games like Mass Effect or even Spec Ops: The Line. Which, ironically, many of those games most memorable moments are ones that you DON'T have a choice or say in. And look, I get that people get uncomfortable having to do some of those more twisted action in games... But it really IS fucking hypocritical of going "well I don't want to play this game anymore..." When before getting to that scene, you've killed hundreds or sometimes even thousands of people in cold blood, headshots or brutal melee kills. So all those are suddenly okay just because you didn't get to know the people you were killing at all? I'd say that makes you an even worse person then. I seriously don't understand the mentality of people that go "wow, this is way too much, this is wrong, why does the game making me do this?" When most of us that have been long-time gamers have been murdering and obliterating countless of people in so many different, brutal and sadistic ways in the name of fun. In fact, I find it very ironic that a lot of the people that probably defended or tried to justify Mortal Kombat's violence back when it came out, are now people that are bitching and condemning scenes such as the GTA V torture scenes. Instead of being hypocritical nancies, why don't just take the material for what it is, and move on? if you found it disturbing, then find a lesson in that. But it speaks very poorly in my opinion, when you suddenly go against something and want to have a "choice not to do it" the second a game asks you to endure something, to challenge you, in a way.
  • Vonter - October 3, 2013 9:43 a.m.

    I assume it's referring to a change of tone. I know most games have you being a one man army slaughterer of a thousand souls but most of the time the violence has no meaning from a narrative perspective, it doesn't matter if you kill 2 or 50 in a stage since if it's not an important character there isn't a reason to care. However torture (and I'm just imagining it since I haven't seen the scene) can be more impactful and disturbing because you're prolonging someone's suffering, so it becomes personal either if you're the torturer or the one being torture. IMO it's also about tone MK is campy and goofy despite it's graphic death animations. Also I hope it's not in the near future but I rather have the choice of not doing or having rape if that's the next thing they go for. Since Rockstar sometimes like to push it much at times.
  • BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    ...So just because it's meaningless, or because it's goofy, it makes it okay? Again, isn't that hypocritical in itself? You're STILL brutally murdering a person. And actually, the fact that in most games you're doing it for no real reason, makes it even WORSE than when the narrative gives you a clear reason to. To put it in other terms, say in real life they put you in a ridiculous looking place with bright colors and surreal tone, and they ask you to kill a dude dressed in a clown suit, with a mallet, just because. Does that make it any more acceptable for you?
  • Vonter - October 3, 2013 2:39 p.m.

    Context in my opinion gives weight to the crime. Just reread that. I don't think anyone will say it that way to describe a tragedy. Murder is not acceptable, however it's part of nature. Killing in self defense or reaction to danger it's kind of debatable but also context it's ALWAYS important. But returning to games; it's mainly how you show it how it tells if I should care for killing/destroying/crushing, and also having options of either doing it or not, since if not I appeal to the self defense argument that most run & shoot games present. Still games lIke Batman show developers could give neutralizing means to take out foes and still feel good.
  • BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 3:51 p.m.

    To further drive my point home... Let's take that final example you made: The Arkham games. Yes, the game goes to painful lengths to show that no matter what, batman never technically "kills" anyone... So wait, that automatically makes every single person he violently beats up and brutalizes alright? Again, translate that scenario into real life, if they reported in the news that a guy beat up, broke bones and left countless injuries on more than 50 inmates or prisoners, even if he didn't kill a single one, do you think the media, much less the law, would condone it? Heck, while we're on the subject of batman, let's go into the way he interrogates people, shall we? In several points of both games, he grabs the last person standing in a fight, lifts him by the neck, and forces him to give him information under the implicit threat of more pain or even asphyxiation if the doesn't comply. It's obviously less brutal, detailed or graphic than the torture scene in GTA V, but the practical effect is the same: Threaten with violence and pain a person in order to gain information. And yet, because it's batman, because you don't technically "kill" anyone, (even though by breaking important limbs apart, you're guaranteeing that most of those people's lives are ruined, or at least greatly affected.) and because the way in which he interrogates people doesn't make you uncomfortable... Then it's totally okay?
  • Vonter - October 3, 2013 4:08 p.m.

    Alright I'm sorry. I didn't come with a good argument because firstly I haven't seen or played the scene and secondly, well it seems one needs to not generalize so lightly since it's likely there can be exceptions. Still I thank you because it has make me come to another conclusion. Does real logic needs to be applied to videogames? Come to think of it death is mainly a contrivance for the player since you don't die and the games ends there, no, you go back in time and try again. Also the same with enemies (except the ones that die for the narrative) are they not just like actors that go out of stage and reenter to repeat this process? I think, yes I don't care when violence is exaggerated because it feels that it doesn't have consequences and most game don't present them, hell even the main character has little development in that regard. Maybe I'm a little desensitized. Or just stupid. Still I'll be honest believe or not, I stay by my excuse of "they start it".
  • BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 4:23 p.m.

    I'm not exactly sure I understand your conclusion. I mean, the point I was trying to make is that games are a form of expression, one that typically is used to entertain, like movies, but like all forms of expression, they can convey a ton of different messages that the author decides to put into them. But being a form of expression means that they are not physical, they don't actually have a palpable consequence, so no matter what you do in a videogame, it stays in the videogame, even if you're actively participating in it. Which is why violence and death is so easy to shrug off in it because- well, it has no consequence, and frankly, that's how it should be treated as in overall terms. And it is why I am actually alright with almost anything that occurs within a game, even if it clashes against my moral beliefs, it's not actually REAL, so it should affect me unless I want to take any meaning from it. The point I was trying to make is that yes, video-games have their own logic, of course. But also that you should be tolerant of what happens in a game EVEN if it makes you uncomfortable, because usually, when this happens (just like with movies) is because the game is trying to make a point. Just as you are willing to engage on countless of otherwise morally questionable endeavors just because it's "fun", so you should be willing to at least experience, and analyze what it means when a game is making you do something that isn't "fun". Not immediately be intolerant about it, and demand that they make such kinds of actions or situations be optional.
  • Vonter - October 3, 2013 4:37 p.m.

    Yeah I'm sorry if I sounded intolerant when I tried to make my point but oh well I suppose it's the other way around. Maybe just watching more carefully and not just rushing through the content. I think it's a thin line between trying to be objective and not digging much into a single part of a overall experience.
  • BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 5:46 p.m.

    No worries man (: I still think it was good because a nice conversation came out of it, methinks ^^. And well, yeah, I think there's definitely a balance when experiencing any kind of story. On one hand, you want to immerse yourself in it as much as possible to enjoy the whole experience more, but on the other, you should also stay a bit at a distance to be able to analyze what it is what you're actually seeing, so that you can take the good from it, and ignore or separate the bad or distasteful.
  • Sinosaur - October 3, 2013 6:04 p.m.

    I didn't enjoy that mission (I don't find torture entertainment enjoyable in any form, not a moral statement, just really don't like it), but I didn't even think to say Rockstar shouldn't have put it in there. It was just another in a stream of missions that made me hate playing as Trevor near the start, because his missions weren't enjoyable to me (the terrible flying controls are now the main reason I don't like playing as him). If I wanted to get upset with Rockstar about making torture games, I would have gotten up in arms about one of the Manhunts.
  • BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 7:31 p.m.

    That's fair, I never said people had to enjoy that mission, or those kinds of scenes. You're definitely within your right to like or dislike anything, just like with everything else. But this article sounds more like, "I didn't like doing THIS ONE THING, so now I'd rather if they gave me a choice to do it or not" which is what bothers me. Also, speaking of torture, people are all acting outraged about this... Yet I don't remember many saying anything about the Punisher game that came out back in the PS2 era, which was filled with torture scenes and gruesome, violent deaths.
  • Sinosaur - October 3, 2013 8:26 p.m.

    One difference might be that this is one scene that breaks tone, whereas when you get into that Punisher game, it's a core mechanic that you'd likely be able to find out about ahead of time even if you read reviews with no spoilers. Obviously graphics have changed, but more importantly, in the last... 7 years(?) opinions have changed and a lot of the post 9/11 fanaticism has been tempered, leaving people to reexamine the things that they thought were okay. But above all else, this generation has seen a lot more people taking critical eyes to the themes in video games. During the PS2 era, people were focused on defending games from asshats like Jack Thompson, whereas now, with more video game websites making it way easier to get your opinions out to the masses, people are attempting to be thoughtful. Sometimes successfully, sometimes not. So, in short: it's probably heavily because more people can more easily write about video games now than at any other point in any other generation of consoles.
  • BladedFalcon - October 3, 2013 8:36 p.m.

    ...Well, that would certainly explain why now people love to bitch about the tiniest bit of things that immediately offend their sensibilities, and demand that products be changed so they can feel better about themselves. Instead of either just enduring what they didn't like and move on, (Which is what I feel you're doing.) simply not take part, or just accept that not everything is tailor made for you. And well, I will concede that the torture scene in GTA V IS pretty jarring, although, when viewed from the perspective of what kind of Person Trevor is, as well as how corrupt the FIB agents were, I don't think it breaks the tone within it's universe and characters, it's just shocking because it's certainly a one off scene that never happens again, even if there is a LOT of other things that happen that are pretty damn horrific, yet funnily enough no one seems to bat an eye about those, Like Trevor's heavily implied cannibalism. Again, to me, the reason this whole thing is annoying, is because it really feels hypocritical when it's the members of the gaming community, that suddenly decides that there's a kind of violence that's wrong, and they won't tolerate, or want an option to be made to opt out of it. Yet they otherwise find all the moral wrongs committed in games to be perfectly acceptable for the most part >_>
  • DeeEss - October 4, 2013 3:23 a.m.

    I appreciate how thought through and reflected your opinions are, but for me, once you remove the element of choice from a scene like this, and it becomes a gate that stands between you and the rest of the game, it also loses most of its impact. It becomes a book or a movie at that point, and the inherent strength of video game storytelling is taken away. This scene would be alot more impactful if the game had been smart enough in its writing so as to convince me to do the actual torture. I'll use an example from Mass Effect 3. (****Spoilers***) I had made a choice as to what had to happen to the krogan. It was not an easy choice, but previous developments (and choices of mine) now painted the alternative as unacceptable. Ultimately, a friend and ally had a completely different view on this. This was discussed back and forth, and if the circumstances had been different, it could have been solved in a different way. But as it turned out, I was left with only two choices. Either surrender my desired outcome, or shoot this friend and ally in the back, killing him. And I killed him. This was so much more meaningful and profound to me than the torture scene, in which you make the choice to do nothing, the character just stands there in an animation reminiscent of a Final Fantasy VII character, waiting for his ATB gague to fill. To me that's cheap. If the game wanted to force you to go through with the torture, there are ways of doing it, other than "I can wait longer than you"-approach GTAV took. It completely broke any immersion or guilt or unpleasantness I might have felt when I turned the TV off at one point, and when I turned it back on 30 minutes later, the FIB agent was still recylcing his dialogue to get me to go through with it.
  • BladedFalcon - October 4, 2013 6:28 a.m.

    I understand your point of view, and ideally, yes, having the element of choice work the way you describe would in theory have more impact, however, even in that scene you pointed out to me, there's a lot of problems with the way choice is handled. First, the way choice "affects" things in the Mass effect universe is ultimately very binary and artificial. If you don't think about it too much, it works, but ultimately, if you truly want to achieve something, you have to play a certain way to get the most of certain scenario. That scene you describe for example, you mentioned that if the circumstances had been different, that could have been resolved differently... Said circumstances ultimately boiled down in you choosing the "renegade" option almost constantly in the previous games. It wasn't so much a set of circumstances that combined in a way that made sense so much as it was a reward the game gave you for playing a specific way. Second, in most games, specially modern ones like Mass Effect or the walking dead, choice is ultimately a little more than salad dressing for certain scenes, and has no impact in the long term. And because of that, the game has to work around it in a way that the story continues regardless of the choices you've made. Going back to your example, it doesn't really matter what you ended up doing, the war that the Krogan are supposed to affect unfolds the same way regardless, and what ultimately happens to them is barely addressed in a throwaway line at the end. Choice in such games is a pretty illusion, but it's ultimately artificial and meaningless. With the GTA V example, I agree the game should at least have had a case in which you take more than 5 minutes or so to do it, the FIB agent gets fed up and kills you, forcing you to restart instead of just letting the scene go idle indefinitely. However, the importance of NOT giving you a choice whether to go trough with it or not, is the fact that you're not playing as yourself, you're experiencing the story trough the eyes of Trevor, a character with an established and specific personality and motivation, you're not meant to have a choice because the scenario is something that a person like Trevor would want to go trough. That's the point of the scene, if you add a choice to NOT go trough with it, it would go against the internal logic taht the story had already established for Trevor. I know that "choice" is an element unique in videogames that separate it from movies or books, but the truth is that currently, very few games handle choice in a meaningful way. A true handling of choice would be that the game could end up working in wildly different ways if you made choices impactful enough to branch in very distinct paths. But no modern game has either the resources, or the will to create such scenarios that genuinely reflect choices, because it means that a large part of the audience will not see the rest of their work unless they play over again. And anyway, that's not the point here. The point is that games like GTA V and The Last of US were never meant to be "choose your own adventure" kind of games, they are meant to be stories in which you play trough the eyes of defined characters that think and feel different than you. That's the point. Adding an element of choice in these scenarios wouldn't really fit. And let's be honest, the only reason the author of this article wanted choice in this scenario wasn't to make the scene more "impactful" he wanted the choice because he didn't want to go trough with something he found uncomfortable doing. He wanted a cop out. He didn't want to be challenged.
  • THEBIGJ3 - October 3, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    I agree to a certain degree, it would be good to have choices in these events, BUT, the designer is not assuming we are to take on the roles of these characters so personally. As much as a game should be a fully immersive experience, artistic licence allows a developer to let us experience characters in their full, sometimes psychotic nature. I suppose the simple way to put this would be that Trevor is designed as a psycho-killer, who tortures and kills people, if you take this away from h, you lose a large elembet of who he is, however uncomfortable it is to participate in his actions. This article was a good read though, and I believe highlights just how far developers are willing to go in order to show a player what living like these characters is REALLY like.

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