Continuing the discussion from Best darkest COG or HG games?:
@CreepyPastaKitty Moved the convo over here
Ok so starting a new topic thread for a question I was curious about. How dark is too dark for a COG? I’m not specifically talking about whether or not it’s ok to include things like death and violence, more on how it is presented to the reader.
In most books and movies, there is a disconnect between the reader and the story. You follow a character’s journey though various circumstances but you are always following them. (For example Hunger games, Saw etc). Even with shooting video games, although they’re violent, and the player is shooting at people, there’s little thought about who those NPC’s might have been.
Compare this to a choice game where you are the main character, making the difficult decisions as you go along. When people read COGs, can they disconnect enough from the MC to imagine something different to how they would necesarily behave or is it too close to home and will make people uncomfortable or upset. The killings would not have to be graphic (I think often there’s more impact if mostly left unsaid). I’m thinking more from the psychological stand point of the MC.
I"m going to use a fantasy example (because real life examples are going to get into some seriously touchy areas, and because it’s kind of easier to illustrate with a non-real example.)
Lets say the MC is almost killed by hit and run drunk driver but before they can die, they are turned into some kind of undead or vengeful spirit (for example a vampire but anything similar will do) that is driven to kill by their violent death and new nature which is difficult to resist. Worse still is your MC needs the protection of others of your kind in the area, and not all will be as hesitant as you, either thinking it is their right to do with humans as they please, becoming desensitised over time, or using a twisted sense of morality to justify what they are doing. (For example in the case of your MC, they could end up believing that by targeting drunk drivers, ultimately they are keeping “innocents” safe from harm.) How do you live amongst them (ie do you intervene and risk being kicked out or put up with it in one way or another).
So yep, not sure if this is clear, but I’m talking about games with difficult decisions from a morality standpoint, how they’re dealt with, consequences, possibility of redemption, since it is a choice story, not a stand back and watch how it plays out from a distance story. There’s also that tricky spot in that you may have NPC’s spouting beliefs that don’t equate with the writer’s and if you don’t give people more morally black options, there will be complaints, but if you do, will people decide that that is part of the author’s belief system?
That last thought occurred after taking a quick peek at the start of Monsters which has a disclaimer at the start that the views expressed by the characters are not always those of the author. How likely are people to believe that a fictional work with characters saying things like (to give the example above) it’s justified to kill off drunk drivers just in case they cause harm to someone else. (Which of course is not my (or most people’s) stance at all).
Also @CreepyPastaKitty brought up that if you make something too dark rather than comical that it begins to get hard for the player to relate because of no sympathy? I think that is also coming under my “what happens if it gets too dark”. You may end up with a disconnect from not wanting to try to understand what the situation is with your character.
Anyway, not sure if this is as clear as mud or not, but curious as to what others here think about it.