The are tons of games that allow you to kill men, women, children, sick puppies, etc.
There’s this one anime/manga, the title escapes me, but there’s a little girl that has a puppy and this puppy is discovered by one of her bullies, basically the bully beats the puppy to death along with a group of his “friends” and the little girl basically loses her mind and kills all of the children in very hardcore violence. Like a lot of the people here want(?) there’s a reason why the little girl massacres all of the other children, its not just “because” ya know?
Honestly, tons of other games deal with it as well like in one of the Call of Duty games there’s a gas attack and you see this little girl, a long with her family, being covered in it and die. It was a terrorist attack and if you wanna go into “was there a reason behind it?” Yes, there was, not a big personal reason, this girl and her family died because terrorist wanted to spread fear and chaos, is this a complicated enough reason to show children dying compared to (just remembered the anime’s title) Elfen Lied?
People seem to usually want to go the route of why do books/games/comics/etc. want to be connected to reality? Because reality based things is something we can actually connect to and understand. So, the more grounded into reality it is along with some scifi or fantasy makes for interesting stories. I say keep it but give the scene a reason.
In reality we have people who do atrocious acts for bigger reasons or just because they felt like doing it, so maybe a choice variation can come into play maybe? Like this child stole something from you so the MC kills the boy just out of pure evil or maybe there’s some background into the choice.
I don’t see any issue with the described scenario at all. It’d be different if it were an action the player was railroaded into, but if someone deliberately clicks a choice of this kind, the only person they can be upset at is themselves.
The option to play as a villain is just as viable as any other, and there’s no reason to whitewash the kinds of things a guy who can create and direct fire at will would be capable of. For as common as wizards and sorcerers are in fantasy, it’s rare to see it really explored just how dangerous and frightening they’d be to the average person and why.
The real question I’d have in that scenario is, if powers like that are in any way common to the setting, then what keeps that kind of thing from happening all the time , and what means to the authorities have for restraining or dealing with magic users who go evil?
Take a look at games like Dragon Age, Divinity Original Sin 1 & 2, and just games that deal with magic users. I’ve seen/read many ways that usually involve violence meeting violence which ends in complete subjugation of many people. I read a book once (years ago) that gave off the feeling of peace, like legit peace, but turns out it was just years of secret genocide and controlling the willing/broken populace. I remember the author explaining, at the end of the book where the authors note go, that humans are humans there is no such thing as real peace for us, one size losses and another wins which brings hard feelings and topics that should never be discussed.
Even something like the Culture novels, the ultimate sci-fi utopia…it’s not disguised that it works through the deliberate cultural erasure of ‘incompatible’ societies or sometimes by outright wiping people out. People are naturally contrary beings, you can’t have complete unity in any setting in a realistic manner without some brutal subjugation of those who won’t get on board going on, whether physical or mental. It’s why utopias are so elusive and difficult as a setting and much of the time wind up dystopias in disguise.
Oddly enough, I still like it when people use those settings and show it to be a big ugly mess covered up by pounds of makeup. I guess I only like them because people usually have different takes on what the mess is or how well they’ve covered it up so now the main character/size character has to decide what to do with this information. Its getting more played out now but I still like the concept haha.
You’re right, a lot of fiction deals with mature and complex issues - it’s often a way of exposing them for analysis and discussion rather than an opportunity purely to exploit for entertainment. Plus as long as you have a choice to not murder the hypothetical child, there’s no problem, right?
Playing as a villain is a reasonable option - something worth considering is, where does it go from there? If that branch of the story is about descending into inhumanity, what’s the shape of the journey when the inciting evil act is so extreme? Will the draconic blood hunger for increasingly extreme actions, and how will that play out?
(Something I enjoy a lot about A Study in Steampunk is a possible villainous branch which feels both organic and inexorable, and is very effective. It may be worth having a look at that and other games which include villainous/evil paths that work well for you.)
Regardless, please do make the game - it’s easy to talk hypotheticals but that’s nowhere near as useful as seeing how it works in practice.
I think how you portray it is going to make a big difference. I mean there’s a difference between someone who loses control of their power because of a dragon bloodline and when they realise what they’ve done, it’s a shock because that’s not something they’d normally do in a rational mind set; compared to writing a scene where the player can deliberately delight in killing a kid in graphic detail. I also agree with HannahPS, if it’s a gradual loss of humanity, starting that high on the nastiness scale, will give you less room to move later.
Anyway, personal deaths like that one (particularly if they’re involving minors) need to be treated very carefully if you don’t want to turn people off your game or get it sensored by apple. There’s a difference between reading something in a book (passive) and actually controlling the character such as in COGs (active) that make these things hit a bit closer to home and if you make people too uncomfortable, it may cause them to dislike the game. There’s also a difference between “deaths” where you’ve got nameless minions dying or “evil” characters, compared to what you’re describing with a one on one death at your hands. It could potentially be done, but would need a lot of care. Your best bet might be to post the scene and get some general audience reactions to see whether people found it engaging, or a turn off for playing your game.
And that is the exact problem. We are living in a society that has lost/is losing its ability to tell these things apart, which affects the real world.
Gonna put this in blur now, cause trigger-warning for rape:
Look, e.g. how often in fiction a woman raping a man, brutally is taking either as a joke or even portrayed as being empowering to the woman. It’s RAPE. there’s nothing funny, nothing empowering about it. Yet very often it is used in fiction for shock. To get people talking. And then look what happens IRL when it happens.
Likewise, a guy raping someone, regardless of gender. It happens in fiction, and either it’s shrugged of, portrayed as ‘the person deserved it’ or ‘oh look this character’s evil’. And then real life roles around and the first thing we usually get is ‘what did the victim do to make him rape them?’ or ‘no it can’t be, he’s such a nice person’…
Fiction doesn’t have to be sunshine and pancakes, of course not. But when it comes to ‘shock value’ it does require some skill to pull it off. As others have said, it’s important how something is portrayed in-universe AND why it was put there to begin with.
And again, saying something is only shocking if you deem it so… is very sobering if not devastating. There are some thresholds that should be much much clearer, but they aren’t.
Fiction can’t shock me because it’s just that - fiction - it ain’t real even if the the topics it touches are. I’m not quite that delusional yet that I can’t tell fantasy from reality… and I like to believe most people are in the same boat as me, more so than those who can’t make the distiction anymore (or never did). It’s possible we’re entering an era of bad people getting worse but is it really that bad is or is some of it being exercerbated by the (social) media to look worse than it actually is?
Life has it’s ups and downs. When you focus too much on the negative then sooner or later that is how life is going to be for you. People are more likely to remember bad things than good ones too, it’s part of the reason why bad news are more common than good ones - they tend to leave a bigger impression and they sell better. That being said, artists can influence society in a small way but it ain’t their responsability to fix people nor should they censor themselves just because it might give ideas to individuals that are already problematic, delusional or have no idea on how to behave in society. Fix or help those people to fit in instead of conforming the entire world to their problems.
These topics may be sensitive to some but I think they encounter a bigger resistance in certain places, this forum for example, because it is known as a sanctuary for those that have met all sorts of prejudice, harassement and persectuion for their choices, preferenceres and experiences. That sort of thing leaves a mark and tends to make people bitter, cautious and negative towards everything and everyone. They prefer shelter, not salt in their wounds, but “ordinary” people like me don’t have a problem discussing these topics because we never went through the same problems nor can we relate.
First, people who are interested in previous forum discussion on this topic can look here and here.
Nor is anyone else on the forum–but a number of people seem to be subject to a delusion that they aren’t influenced by fiction. After all, they know it’s fiction, so it can’t have any power over what they believe or how they act…
That doesn’t mean we should only write about sunshine and butterflies. Precisely because fiction is powerful, we need to use it to explore the horrors of life as well–we can’t abdicate the job to nonfiction writers. A good work of fiction is great for conveying experiences at the extremes of human experience, generating empathy, and getting us to reflect on normally unspeakable and fearful things.
Buried in my CoG game is the choice to murder a child rather than see a kidnapping go wrong. I did my best to write this not just for shock value, but following up what it meant–showing consequences for your relationships and mental health. Whether I succeeded or not I leave to the judgment of the readers.
Bah, don’t worry about it man, make the child killable and slap an 18 YO rating on it and we’re good to go. Honestly who cares, it’s just fiction.
If it’s realistic and relatable and properly forewarned of its hard content then it’s just art and represents freedom of choice, we’re old enough to suck it up, although im sure my opinion is unpopular, but these obscene things dont have to mean anything, they dont have to have anything to do with real world morals, i leave it all inside the book where i read it.
Personally, I would not say that there are any ‘inappropriate’ choices, not unless you are speaking of the extremes of the extreme (the option to rape a child, for example). But, for the most part, I would say that a good writer is one that can effect their reader through their work; reading of horrowing experiences that scar the reader as much as they supposedly scar the protagonist is the sign of a good writer and a good piece of written work. If you can make the reader feel bad about the bad things they choose to do in the game, even better. A strong emotional response is memorable, it catches the attentions and imaginations of the readers, perhaps even resulting in reflection upon what they have read once they have finished.
There is nothing wrong with any of this, and I personally enjoy such work. Even child murder, if you can write it well, can leave a reader breathless. That is what you want, after all. You do not want, as a writer, to have your work dull and boring, forgetable and routine. You want to affect the reader, write things that are memorable.
Just look at Game of Thrones. It has every possible perversion, every thinkable horror, and it is some of the most popular written works in the world. Everything from child murder, rape and incest, prostitution and fanaticism, starvation and torture. I mean, what happened to Theon Greyjoy. Things you never quite come to ever forget.
I despair for the day we can no longer affect our readers by showing them the horrors they prefer to forget, so fragile are their sensibilities. It would be the death of art, and the end of us all as writers.
I don’t think taking content out of something you already wrote or changing what you write about are… sound choices. If you have someone proof reading for you and drawing red flags at these choices I would personally include some sort of hook into the game that allows the reading at the beginning to be aware of these choices and the option to turn them off, or mark off certain explicit/inappropriate content assuming of course this content is not completely necessary to the story.
Everyone has things that don’t sit well with them for one reason or another.
Honestly your comment makes me the happiest to write then I have been in a long time. That is exactly my outlook on writing and if writing was only something I did for pleasure I would never had questioned this. However, the world market changes often and the standards set by our sensitive societies to protect every possible offense and shelter everyone… Make it difficult to not question yourself when you’re writing for others to read what you write.
I know what you mean. We want our work to be read and appreciated by others, and the constant threat of damnation by people I can only describe as ‘fascistic philistines’ can lead us to self-censor and even mutilate our own creations just to please others. This was something I thought about for quite a time, and I concluded that, even if no one appreciated my work in my lifetime because others damned me for not bending knee to them, I would still be proud of what I created. I would still go to my grave, to discover the truth about the final mystery of life, with my integrity and self-respect intact.
If others care more for money and fame than they do for their craft, then they can lick the boots of tyrants if they wish. Ignore them and follow your own passions as a writer. Do what truly makes you happy and content in life, and write something you would be proud to put your name on, even if others despise you for it. I love to write, it is my greatest passion, and I value by abilities of the craft more than perhaps anyone would. It is a gift from the Gods, if they exist or not, and should be practiced and treasured as such.
But that is me, of course, and I’m speaking more in a wider world context. I hope this helps in some way, and, should you wish to speak more, feel free to message me whenever you wish. And sorry if it came off as a bit of a rant.
Many things we speak of with passionate hearts come off as rants. And in truth, they are. I am not at all ashamed to have a lot to say on certain topics. There are a lot of things that I’m passionate about and in this society where net speak and lack of true conversation are increasingly more prevalent, I am honestly just thankful to still have my passion. I won’t censor myself.
With that being said, I understand that as times change and sensibilities grow… Any author seeking to out his/her name on anything whether it’s for fame or money or even just to share a piece of an ever growing imagination with the world… That author needs to recognize and respect the audience that’ll be buying and reading and reviewing the work to their peers.
So I will find a way to adapt. Thank you for your opinion. I’m often pleasantly surprised to learn that more people share my sentimental on serious matters.
Wouldn’t bother me tbh, I’m more of a realist than most of the armchair moralists we have to allow to control our thoughts these days. However, as Dilbert’s boss once said, it is what it is, so if you feel that you don’t want to leave it as it is, you could just make the urchin an adult midget or just describe it as ‘small’ and let the reader decide what it actually is. Problem solved.