Videogame Violence Galore
From the good old days of low-res pixeling to todays high resolution blood
Sex and violence was a topic in video games since the early days of computer game history. Some people might not have realized it but there was always an urge to use forbidden topics in a virtual scenario not just since recently. Even among the first text adventures were subjects with quite a lot of (fictional) violence and blood. Remember The Lurking Horror from Infocom, a horror text adventure or Jack The Ripper which already introduced some graphical images of violence.
In Friday The 13th the player could slash the other characters with an axe or other improvised weapons and was rewarded with a shocking digitized scream and sometimes bloody skulls. In Mad Doctor, a game of a very similar style, the player walked around as the designated doctor to find victims which he had to abduct and kill to eviscerate out their guts to create something like a Frankenstein monster.
The wave of virtual violence continued through the decades of various platforms. On Amiga there were games like Elvira I & II and Waxworks by Horrorsoft to name a few who brought you explicit visual gory violence on the screen. I don’t wanna cut on the violent Beat’Em Up games here too much but the most popular probably were Barbarian and Mortal Kombat. In Barbarian you could hack of the opponents head with a battle axe, after which a fountain of blood evaded from the torso (quite similar like in GTA: Vice City when using the Katana to decapitate passerby’s). And in Mortal Kombat one could throw the opponent into an abyss with deadly spikes for example. It was one of the climaxes of game violence during the nineties!
The Tour de blood continued on game consoles like the Playstation with games like Thrill Kill (which I think was not officially released) where the player could rip limbs off from the opponent and beat them with just these. The game was without a doubt one of the most gory fighting games of it’s time!
Today the amount of R rated games has increased to a multitude with highlights like the Grand Theft Auto series (or pretty any other game from Rockstar) and for many games there are mods which will increase the gore level or uncover other “not-for-indexing-offices”-determined content. Like so in the excellent No One Lives Forever where you could download a massacre mod to increase the amount of blood when shooting down an enemy exponential. While in Half-Life there was always a gib mode (corpses splattering apart and only leaving bones and bowels on the ground), in it’s sequel Half-Life 2 things went more realistic. Corpses behave more like realistic corpses which is often called rag-doll effect, meaning that the body is not stiff but moves and bounces when hit. To many fans disappointment the level of blood was reduced a lot in this part.
The newest popular offspring of virtual violence jocundity is without a doubt GTA: San Andreas which continued the amok tour of stealing cars and massacring passerby’s and added new aspects to it. It also for the first time (in such a popular game) features a mode which allows of interactive sex with the ingame girlfriend without any censoring. This mode (which is currently is stirring up the US authorities) however was locked by the developer but was unlocked by the player community shortly after the PC conversion was available. Today’s game entertainment market is controlled by the demand of consumers so the industry has slowly established and conformed over the years to the needs of the people who pay. For a second I believe commerce is not a so bad thing after all! Either way, games will be games!