“Surely it couldn’t hurt to of­fer non-vi­o­lent forms of player ex­pres­sion?”

Alan Wen thinks more games could do with of­fer­ing harm­less fun in­stead of vi­o­lence

Games Master - - Upfront -

How many of our favourite games aren’t vi­o­lent, in some form or an­other? The shoot-’em-up re­mains one of the most dom­i­nant gen­res, with PUBG currently rid­ing the top of Steam’s chart (and with more than double the play­ers of the game in sec­ond place). Even gen­tler fare like Stardew Val­ley or Minecraft can’t over­come our nature to kill some­thing ev­ery once in a while.

I’m not just talk­ing about the gory stuff, be­cause fam­ily-friendly Nin­tendo’s hardly im­mune, whether you’re stomp­ing on goom­bas as Mario or smack­ing peo­ple around in Arms. I’m also not say­ing vi­o­lence isn’t fun – it is, oth­er­wise devs wouldn’t keep us­ing it in their games. For one thing, it makes for great in­stant feed­back. I per­son­ally find the pop of a head­shot or watch­ing a tough-as-nails boss ex­plod­ing into a shower of pix­els bloody sat­is­fy­ing.

You could try to be like the YouTu­ber Gold­vi­sion, who at­tempted a paci­fist playthrough of GTA On­line. While it’s a no­ble con­cept (even if he was mostly do­ing it for laughs) it also feels like un­der­min­ing the chaotic de­struc­tive nature at the game’s very core. Why re­move vi­o­lence if it’s only go­ing to leave a fun vac­uum?

A bet­ter way might be to sim­ply re-con­tex­tu­alise those fa­mil­iar me­chan­ics into some­thing more in­no­cent. I’m re­minded of that time in Un­charted 2 when Nate wakes up in a Nepalese vil­lage and those but­tons you’ve been press­ing for the past few hours to kill peo­ple are sud­denly used to greet the lo­cals, or how one scene in the DLC of The Last Of Us turns its gun­play into a su­per soaker bat­tle. Ob­vi­ously, th­ese are iso­lated ex­am­ples, and act more like coun­ter­points to the rest of those games’ vi­o­lence.

Goose can­non

This is why I’m par­tic­u­larly tick­led by Aussie devs House House’s up­com­ing game where you play as a goose set on be­ing as much of a nui­sance as pos­si­ble. It’s won­der­ful how it ba­si­cally takes its game­play cues from Metal Gear Solid, but in­stead of break­ing into a mil­i­tary base, knock­ing out guards, and try­ing to pre­vent nu­clear ar­maged­don, you’re an over­sized bird sneak­ing into a vil­lage gar­den and play­ing a lot of pranks on a poor groundskeeper.

Re­lax, I’m not about to ad­vo­cate a boy­cott while fly­ing a peace ban­ner – I’ll still be blast­ing aliens in Destiny 2 and hav­ing a whale of a time. But when so many games give us death and de­struc­tion as de­fault, it’d just be a nice break if more de­vel­op­ers could cre­ate fun game­play that of­fers non-vi­o­lent forms of player ex­pres­sion. Surely it couldn’t hurt.

“House house’s goose game ba­si­cally takes its game­play cues from metal gear solid”

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