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Too Much

http://kotaku.com/bioshock-infinite-is-insanely-ridiculously-violent-it-470524003

A really salient quote from the article:

“When the guy whose game featured a reverse up-the-crotch chainsaw melee kill [Cliff Bleszinski – Gears of War] is telling you your game is too violent, it might be worth listening.”

I don’t want to get into this topic too much, but I did want to share the above article and a couple thoughts on the subject.  I have been playing Bioshock Infinite for about a week, and you know what?  Despite the absolutely stellar ratings it received from many different reviewers, the gorgeous graphics, and the overall engrossing story, I am having trouble wanting to play it.

The violence is just too much.  For the first hour or so of playing I was completely taken in by everything.  I wanted to know more, to explore, to read, to see, to immerse myself.  And then That Scene happens, the one referenced in the article where you essentially tear someone’s face off, and then immediately after rip someone’s head off.  You have no choice; you do it, or it’s game over.  There isn’t a non-over-the-top-violent solution.  And it just gets worse from there.

So am I still playing it?  Yes, the story *is* fascinating, and it’s great playing another recent game where a female lead is very capable and such (the other game was the recent (and very excellent) Tomb Raider).  And the world that the developers have put together has an incredible amount of depth.  But I can only take so much violence, and I find playing it to be a draining experience.

And yes, to be clear, I have played other violent video games.  I’m not a stranger to them.  I do stay away from violent video games where there is really no other point except excessive violence (like the God of War games); if you are going to have a game that contains violence, there should be a good reason it is there (saving the world/galaxy/whatever is at least a good start; no other possible choice is another reason).  The Mass Effect series is a good example of this.  In those games, the Reavers are coming to destroy everything, and even though your character really tries to negotiate peace it just isn’t going to happen.  Some of my favorite games, also, allow you to choose your own path (such as Deus Ex: Human Revolution or Dishonored).  You can choose a violent path if you really want to, but it’s a choice.

But this?  There is no choice.  You have to watch the violence.  You have to deal out the violence.  You have to do terrible things, and I don’t really understand why.  Yes, you could argue “realism”, that the developers are just showing you what would really happen if you did something.  Well, give me full realism, i.e. the choice not to do that.  True, the solution to the situation might not be “peaceful”, but it doesn’t have to be like this.  Especially when a lot of the people I’m fighting are essentially just religious zealots.  They are just fighting for what they believe.  They may be wrong, but that shouldn’t give my character the right to excessive brutality.

::sigh::  I do want to know what happens with the story and the characters, so I will likely play the game through.  But every time I wince at the screen in shock the developers push me further away.  This is quite possibly going to be a game that I finish and never want to play again.  And that is a shame, because I feel like this game could be so much more.

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