I’ve raved (and ranted) before on here about games and the quality storytelling that is often overlooked when pundits wax philosophical about the violence our kids are exposed to. Unfortunately, conflict (and therefore violence of varying degrees) is an inherent part of storytelling. I challenge you to find a compelling, interesting story on TV, in books or movies, or any artistic, storytelling medium that does not involve conflict of some kind.
It can’t be done, because conflict is what defines storytelling.
But there’s something to be said for the level of violence that conflict breeds. I’ve played Call of Duty, in its many iterations, and it is full of realism (as can be when built from a bunch of pixels). I’ve also played the Halo series, in all its iterations, and it’s full of violence, as well.
Both of these series are known for great storytelling alongside their gameplay. I think the difference, however, is the more realistic violence of the CoD series (and, really, all “realistic” shooters) that set it apart in people’s minds. But, in all seriousness, these games both aren’t as violent as, say, the GTA series or many, many other games. But, then again, that’s kind of the point of games like GTA (and Saints Row takes it to its ludicrous conclusion) – they are send ups of that kind of culture.
Movies and TV have become increasingly violent over the decades. What would shock us 30 years ago is merely an also ran today. But I’m not really writing this to talk about violence. Let’s be clear – my kids aren’t playing ANY of these types of games in MY house until they are in their late teens, at the earliest.
I just want to mention Halo 4 – I finished the campaign, finally, and it is standard Halo for gameplay (though, I found it actually much harder than usual) and just as good if not better than some previous installments. I’m a big fan of the Chief/Cortana relationship, and the fact that we can care so much for a faceless protagonist.
I watched Forward Unto Dawn earlier this year, and the way that the Halo franchise is being cared for – the story, the tie-ins, everything – is really nice to see in “blockbuster” entertainment. It seems that, only in the games industry, people are given the time to craft something worthwhile, rather than punching something out the door by a certain date.
Still indie, in a way.