Putting extreme violence in video games is the easy way out. It just doesn't take much effort from a creative standpoint, you know?
So says Spec Ops: The Line lead writer Walt Williams, who addressed the complex topic during a GDC panel . Basically, he believes that violence, especially the kind found in first-person shooters, is just becoming mundane. Said Williams:
"We're in an industry full of very intelligent, knowledgeable, and progressive people. It's getting harder and harder for us to play these games and to look at them critically and say, 'This is OK.' This makes sense, especially as we get older. I would like to see less violent games out there. Not because they're bad or wrong, but because I think creatively they're too easy."
In regards to his game, Williams called it an "experiment" and said he's actually surprised that it "ever made it to the shelves." We thought Spec Ops: The Line had a lot of unfulfilled promise , as the mechanics and implementation of great ideas came up a little short. As for the future of shooters, Williams wonders what writers can do to make them more intriguing from a literary standpoint.
"Where do you go after doing a game like this? How can you make another shooter…that leaves your characters arguably alive? I think we need to get to a point where we can move back to maybe trying to write characters…that are a bit more hopeful. I think that might be a good first step."
I'd agree with that assessment. Whatever happened to those hopeful characters, anyway? Did they just get buried beneath a depressing landslide of gritty, even disgusting realism?