Fiction: Is There a Line, and Should It Be Crossed?

I’ve noticed throughout the forums that there’s a large range of views about what’s “acceptable” to write about in games, as well as fiction in general. Since it’s led to many a page getting flooded with arguments, it seems like a nice solution would be to relocate those arguments to their own page.

So, do you think that there should be constraints on what people put in fiction, and if so, to what extent, and why?

It’s all up to authors of games to write what their imagination comes up with, as long as there is nothing overly lewd, no racist or sexist things then it should be ok

Well, yes. Short version, stories aren’t created in a vaccuum and most probably reflect an author’s view. People learn by absorbing stories and learn discrimintory tropes based on noticing patterns in stories. If some of these people go on to write their own stories, it would reflect these learned tropes and reinforce them. Harmful in the long run.

No, you can have things like racism in stories, but you just need to use such themes in a wise manner. The safe way is reserving such negative things for villains of the story.

Having Nazis (the old standby villain) in your story for example is naturally going to have some sort reference of racism in it, but if your hero protagonist is actively fighting them, the story isn’t endorsing racism even though its in the story.

@Xt1000305 But who would decide what could be construed as “lewd, racist, or sexist”?

@ScarletGeisha So you’re saying stories SHOULD be written “in a vaccum” and not reflect the society in which they are written? That’d be like saying To Kill A Mockingbird would be better without the whole racism thing, or Catcher In The Rye would be better without all that silly stuff about alienation. Please forgive me if I am misinterpreting your argument, and elaborate if I am.

@EndMaster I agree with you there, although I do enjoy the occasional exploitation film.

Society happens to be full of shit. What I’m saying is that a lot of stories reflect that shit and teach it as normal, because we see it all the time and don’t think to question it. Not saying at all that it should be written in a vaccum, but that it should challenge kyriarchal structures or else it is doomed to reinforce these structures. Stories dealing with sensitive things are just as important as idealist ones, but only if it does not in anyway exploit the subjects it depicts.

@ScarletGeisha Oh! I see your point. But surely that isn’t grounds to reject any and all stories that reinforce a viewpoint that can be construed as negative? I mean, Things Fall Apart can be interpreted as sexist and Heart of Darkness is racist as all hell, but does that mean their other merits should be ignored?

I’m from an Asian country. Both books mean nothing to me. Any and all stories created from in contemporary times should indeed be rejected, since all it does is simply contributing to the cycle of learning and teaching harmful values. For stories termed as classics, now their problems should not be ignored. Yes, you can still learn from them but do not for a moment think that just because it’s written from the past means it should be excused of any fuckery.

“Lines” are constructions of the human consciousness. Nowhere in the constellations or anywhere else in the universe does such a thing exist. I don’t believe in “lines”, but for the sake of getting along, I either find ways to circumvent them, persuade you to my thinking, or simply stop wanting to cross your “lines”.

@ 13ventrm Hey I wouldn’t want to live in a world where we didn’t have exploitation movies.

But we know villains are pretty much up for anything when assigning their negative traits. How graphic you want to describe such things is where it might get dicey for some, but even that can serve a purpose if only to show how horrible they are and make you REALLY want them to get their come uppance by the end of the story. (Or experience a sense of crushing defeat if you don’t manage to beat them)

I imagine the real question is should one assign negative traits to the protagonists or just create a villain protagonist period. Well again it’s been done many times and done very well. We can use Vendetta as an example here.

Now if you want to create a grim/dark/gory/mean spirited/offensive/etc story with no real “lesson” you should certainly be free to do so, but you have to keep in mind that you’re most certainly going to offend some people and obviously if we’re talking about this site specifically, the owners/admins are fully in their rights of deciding what they want on here or not.

I’d sort of argue though if one is going that route then they need to just revel in it and go full tilt with that mindset. Nothing worse than half-assed exploitation that attempts to masquerade as something it isn’t. Because as they say, if you can’t be a good role model, then you can at least serve as a horrible example!

@Neo So you’re stating the obvious, the concept of a “line” is completely subjective. That doesn’t answer the question of if you have a “line” and if so, what is it and why?

Note to self-refrain from feeding possible trolls.

@ScarletGeisha The rejection of all contemporary stories? That seems rather extreme, and besides that, who or what would determine what values are “harmful”? What’s considered “harmful” to some could be seen as pushing the boundaries, or commenting on something to others. It’s reminiscent of when “Howl” was banned in the 50s and 60s for being “immoral” due to references to homosexuality, back then it was seen as “harmful”, but now the references wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow.

One of the advantages of a postmodern society is being able to acknowledge the faults of a classic whilst appreciating the merits.

@Neo Could you. . .elaborate on that please?

@Endmaster I know, I’m just young and stupid and get hung up when people dismiss stuff simply for crossing what is the line in their mind.

So sort of like A Serbian Film? It keeps up the illusion of being symbolic and very well could be symbolic but it’s most likely exploitation?

@13ventrm Foolish mortal, I am not from your realm! I come from a different dimension the likes of which you have never seen, nor could ever hope to comprehend! Why am I here then, you ask?! Because it’s just me there, heh.

Close your eyes and try to wish the Sun didn’t exist. Open them. Does the Sun still exist? Congratulations, you have discovered that the Sun exists outside of our human consciousness, in other words, it will exist regardless of whether we want it to or not. “Lines” are the complete opposite of the Sun.

@13ventrm For some reason, the word “subjective” and “doesn’t exist” in the same sentence triggers a lot of more emotional, subjective responses. Much like how you now think I’m “trolling”. So I refrain from using that word. And isn’t it obvious? I have no line.

@Neo Okay, you have no line.


To me, A Serbian Film is certainly well made and for what it was the plot was acceptable. However, I really think the director of it was basically making torture porn and is either outright lying that its anything other than that or he’s deluded himself into thinking that he’s created “art.” Like I said, it’s well made torture porn sure, but that’s what it still is.

I mean sure he claims that there’s a message there about the state of Serbia, corruption, etc. but I’ve seen the film and I’ll be damned if I can actually “get” any sort of message there, symbolically or directly. And I’m betting most people who have seen it, was more out of a morbid curiosity of just how “bad” it is rather than donning their monocles and discussing the merits of such a film. I mean if we compared it to something like Human Centipede, it’s the same torture porn. HC was just being a little more honest about it.

That being said, strange things happen and some people can find positivity in anything, even exploitation. Maybe somebody did see Serbian film and got something out of it that I missed. Maybe it caused them to realize that there are bad things like what happens in the film and it encouraged them to go out into the real world and do something about it like donate money to a charity. Who knows? I mean I don’t write stories for any sort of moral lesson because I’m not there to preach. I’m basically writing stories that I would find entertaining. Now if there IS something positive that the reader got out of it (other than entertainment) then that’s great, but I certainly didn’t plan for it happen. And as for anyone who read something and they went on a murder spree afterwards, well chances are it was most likely something wrong with the person who read it to begin with, rather than the story itself. You could write the least offensive story in the world and still get some nutjob thinking that it meant to go eat babies.

@EndMaster I saw it on a dare once and the only possible symbolism I could draw from it was something along the lines of “The Serbian government will fuck you over from birth and it won’t even stop once you’re dead”. Maybe Serbians got more from it, being raised in the culture and all that.

I always get ticked off when a work is blamed for a nutjob doing something, especially videogames as they’re still struggling to get recognized as legitimate forms of art to the public.

My simple answer: yes, and sometimes.

@Epicazeroth May I ask where your line is drawn?