The Hatred Controversy

Hatred Game

I’ve gone back and forth on whether or not to write about this whole thing and finally decided that it would be a good exercise if nothing else. The disclaimer is simple: this isn’t based on research, it’s based on my readings of other articles and my personal experiences, thoughts, and philosophies. It’s opinion, not fact. So without further ado, here we go.

The Basics

If you haven’t heard there is a game being developed called Hatred wherein the sole objective is to go on a murdering rampage. The game developers at Destructive Creations, based in Poland, say they are going against the “political correctness” trend in games. They’ve no doubt achieved their goal of pure shock value by the response of even major media outlets taking a look at the game.

The Arguments

I’m sure there are many different arguments taking place here but the most common outcry from the community seems to be that this:

Gamers fear the (very likely) scenario where this game will be held up by the proverbial Man to say gaming is BAD for you.

I can fully understand this sentiment. Games like Postal, GTA, etc that already allow the “killing of innocents” are already held up as an example of the ‘bad influence’ gaming has – usually on the young easily manipulated minds of children. And it’s always been their habit to completely disregard labeling games as Mature or Adults Only.

But in that vein there are those complaining that it shouldn’t be a comparison because in those games mass murder isn’t the purpose of the game – there are other things to do, it’s just an option. And then there are those who are concerned with the type of person capable of not only playing the game with it’s graphic depictions of violence but to enjoy playing the game enough to do more than a trial run through.

Thus far, every argument has a point and I can agree to some extent with the concern shown. What I find interesting is people’s tightrope walking with regards to censorship. So far nothing I’ve read has outright called for it, but the majority have made it very clear that they find the content extremely disturbing and some can’t even watch the trailer through to the end.

My Perspective

First I’d like to point out that Poland has one of the lowest murder crime rates of all the “first world” countries of planet Earth. I find it important to point out because of what I’m about to say. We find this game particularly disturbing in the US because of our culture and history. We have regular mass shootings, bombings, sexual assaults, etc. We’re constantly bombarded with these things that it’s pretty much impossible for anyone not living under a rock to tie the visual stimuli of the game to specific instances of this occurring in the real world. And not some far away war torn country to which we have no relation but our own back yard. Worse yet it’s not under the guise of some gang related turf war or “good guys” vs “bad guys,” but the very real scenario of one sick individual taking out their rage on whoever and whatever crosses their path. A lot of people have a very hard time reconciling that with their view of the world.

We have become so used to sugar coating things by giving it some other attachment where we can fully detach ourselves from the scenario. It’s a lot more difficult to do so when you’re playing a singular individual with no heavy philosophy or some over reaching ethos to attach your actions to, only a deep human emotion that, like it or not, many of us are capable of entertaining and feeling at some level. And that makes most very uncomfortable. We don’t like to sympathize with the “bad guy.”

To address the fear of this being a burden on gamers – I think the problem goes much deeper than a handful of games. It’s, again, a cultural perspective that it’s okay to scapegoat. It’s acceptable to say this game, this music, these people, etc etc made me do it. Instead of forcing people to always take responsibility for their personal actions, we try to divvy out the blame and lighten the load. It’s no longer the fault of the person, or the fault of the parents, or hell even the fault of society – it’s the fault of an inanimate object, game, lyric, movie or whatever else they want to blame for giving them the idea.

While the idea may not have occurred to you to go on a murdering rampage before playing game X, it certainly didn’t occur to you that it was a socially acceptable thing to do without some influence. And the likelihood that a game gave you the idea before all the mass media coverage of the latest mass murder spree is just absurd.

There is no shortage of gory material out there. Music, games, movies, and like I keep saying – the news – have more than enough examples of acts you COULD do that are wrong and most would agree is socially unacceptable behavior. But we still allow those things to exist, because they shouldn’t be help accountable for people’s actions in the real world. We just slap labels on them saying what audience we think can handle that material without taking it literally and going out and mimicking it in the world.

My Verdict

Alright so let’s get personal. When I was a kid – like very early elementary school age – I fell in love with horror movies, the Exorcist and Nightmare on Elm Street to be specific. When I hit my teens I discovered those sites that collect the morbid news and photos from around the world and repost them, not sparing any of the gory details.

I bother mentioning this because I feel it’s necessary to see why I have a very clear detachment of reality and fiction, as well as the realistic outlook of what actually happens in the world around us. It’s never occurred to me to actually copy the actions or scenes I’ve seen in either fictional or real life content – though I can’t say I’ve not let my mind wander and fantasize about just stabbing a very annoying customer in the neck with a pencil, heh. It’s with that in mind that I don’t feel I’d have any problem giving the Hatred game a go. Maybe that says something bad about me to some people, to which I simply shrug. I’ve never really cared what people think.

I think the game brings up some very interesting questions about how we react, where we think to draw the line, what we feel we could stomach or even enjoy, and what we think about people in different lights. I think I would tire of the game because of it’s singular purpose before I could no longer stomach the pleading of innocent souls. In fact if you’ve ever seen me play games you know it’s more likely I’d start making fun of the pleading. It’s just something I do. But more than anything I’d do what I always do and explore every nook and cranny of each of the many maps they’re saying will be available to rampage in.

Many others have mentioned that they game is stupid just because it has a singular purpose, but hey I think that Goat Simulator is absolutely retarded (albeit hilarious to watch with the right caster) and to me this falls in the same vein of absolutely pointless yet entertaining in the short term. One of those games you pick up, play till you’re bored, and then set aside.

Maybe I’ll use this game as a way to vent after people troll me in League. Who knows. And that’s assuming the price is agreeable – cause I’m not paying anything past 15 bucks for something so simple without giving me a reason to come back and play it 50 times. I guess time will tell huh?

End Notes

I hope this hasn’t been as.. discombobulated as it seemed in my head while writing. I’m rusty, that’s for sure, and I’m sure I didn’t go into as much detail as I really want to on many things. But at the completion this article is ~1440 words long and I didn’t want it to be triple even quadruple that number. This isn’t a bloody dissertation after all. So comment if you want me to elaborate or discuss further.

So what’s your take on the game? How bout the arguments flying around in reaction to it?