E3 2014's Violence Went Too Far - o_JMan240_o Blog - www.GameInformer.com
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E3 2014's Violence Went Too Far

I'm not normally the type of person who is bothered by violence in games, and I'm not afraid to admit I enjoy it if it's handled correctly. "Gears of War" didn't make me cringe, "Bullet Storm" wasn't shocking to me, I didn't lose my lunch while watching the x-ray kills in "Sniper Elite 2." I'm good at separating fantasy from reality, and as a result genuinely difficult to upset through the use of violence in a game. This year's E3 went a little too far for me though, and I definitely think it went too far for a public showcase of what the video game industry has to offer.

The first day of E3 opened with Microsoft's press conference, and the expected appearance of "Call of Duty" and "Assassin's Creed," two of the industry's biggest yearly titles. While both series are known for being violent, they're rarely outright gory - especially not on the main stage of a televised press conference. Yet the reveal of both trailers featured dismemberment following gory and unsettling deaths. "Call of Duty" Advanced Warfare's" severed arm was out of left field for a series usually focused on shouting and explosions for its trailers. It wasn't until the first-person beheading of "Assassin's Creed: Unity's" trailer and subsequent close-up of the still twitching head that I felt uneasy though.

Perhaps they would have played differently had they not been back to back at the very start of the shows, but something about the one-two punch of gore soured a good bit of what was shown. The character from "Bloodborne" dragging an axe through a corpse made me wince a bit. Even the joking death of the "Sims 4" character seemed crass in the face of what started the show. The only reason I didn't turn off Sony's conference at the "Mortal Kombat X" trailer was because I happened to be watching the Giant Bomb stream and was able to focus on their laughing and joking.

I've thought about it over the course of the week, and I can't really think of a reason for all the violence to be on display - even in the case of a game like "Mortal Kombat X." What purpose did showing a severed arm serve in explaining what "Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare" is as a game? Why couldn't the "Assassin's Creed: Unity" reveal trailer have just faded to black? Why was the audience watching to learn about new games subjected, without warning, to such a gory scene? Mortal Kombat would have been fine showing a fight instead of a super-cut of fatalities - most of which I'd imagine fans of the series would like to discover on their own.

At it's core, E3 is a public forum. Parts of it are shown on TV, the rest is spread around all over the internet in multiple different forms. There are people watching to find out about games with violence and games without, but no one at the E3 press conferences seemed to respect the idea that their audience might not want to see detailed dismemberment without warning. No other industry can get away with the amount of mature content video games dole out in their publicly available marketing material. Movie trailers are heavily policed for content, music is edited for language, video game trailers are rarely either. Hell, most companies don't even bother to preface the video with a warning or rating except in territories where it is required.

It's fine to have violence and gore in games made for adults, but the time and place for it is in the games and not on a stage in front of millions of people around the world. Let the players decide if they're comfortable with the violence, don't just shove it down peoples' throats. Seeing developers prop up their grisly visuals with lingering, featuring shots to end trailers makes my skin crawl; it gives the impression these trailers, shown at the most widely influential and anticipated show of the year, are what game fans come to the medium for. I didn't tune into E3 to see dismembered human beings, and I wish the people making the trailers had given any thought to how pointless and grossly self-congratulatory the gore they put on display felt.

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