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Article - 'Violence in Your Game' by The_Pup

An item about Miscellanious posted on Apr 1, 2004

Blurb

Though you probably won't be sued for posting your game on GW, The_pup gives us ideas to determine how violent our games are.

Body

Given the circumstances in Gaming World, there have been over a billion great RPGM2k tutorials and TOO MANY articles on "cliche" games. If you haven't known it, I have been the major b**** at GW lately(this wasn't meant to be a pun) and I have been getting lazy 'cause of the California heat and several projects. If you have read the title you know this is gonna be about Death, Violence, and games. If you are offended by any of those things then this article you may not like.

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I. Age Groups Associated with Death and Violence
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If you wanted to release a game(realistic or otherwise) make sure the content is appropriate for the age group that it is intended to be aimed at. If you are off and make a gruesome game aimed at kids then you might get a very negative reputation. Usually death and Violence can be categorized into 3 categories sorted out by age but the reaction of a person towards violence in a game would usually be their mental maturity.

- Children(ages 6 and up)
- Teenagers(ages 12 and up)
- Adults(ages 18 and up)

Children aren't used to seeing blood and gore and disturbing deaths as adults seeing that they wouldn't understand death thus they might become confused or afraid while playing games. Typical acts of violence in a child's game would be jumping on an enemy. Typical acts of death in a child's game would be either a character fading then vanishing or a character getting knocked off the screen.

Teenagers are somewhat broad and random in reaction to violence and death. So games aimed at teenagers may vary a lot. Usually teenagers are not afraid of seeing graphically animated blood(usually pixilated) and are not afraid of seeing realistic blood(usually rendered). Gore on the other hand is typically gross and maybe frightening to the younger teens and not that much to the older ones. Examples of death for this category would be people on the floor bleeding out, death by poison, people getting stabbed through by a sword/knife, getting shot in the head, etc.. Examples of violent acts would usually be fighting, wrestling, shooting other people, slapping, groin abuse(mild acts such as kicking or punching), etc..

Adults are normally used to a lot of blood and a lot of violence. Gore, decapitation, and maybe even a quartering, whatever can kill a person is here. Blood and gore can be shown in full detail and fluidity. Body parts can be displayed in whole or in pieces. Games like these usually are very, very violent and gory. Basically, for adults, anything goes.

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II. Categories of Death in Specific
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There are too many acts of death and violence in the real world but I am going to list the major categories.

Ironic - This category is typically a funny, unexpected, or "I knew that was coming" type of death.

Horror - Very gory or unexpected. Other times you know there's a killer out there but the character doesn't know. Usually games that employ this are 3D but there are some 2D games that are actually scary. Games that employ horror usually ensure very quick or very slow deaths.

Serious - Sometimes a character dies a quick and silent death(or slow and silent). Other characters in the game will mourn for that character or try to seek revenge or try to give up on life. This is typical of RPGs such as Final Fantasy 7. Only do this death to kill off an important character in your game's storyline and use this type of death SPARINGLY.

War - Usually scenes to highlight an epic battle or an important battle. Many people may die in cutscenes like this. Dead bodies may litter a battlefield and no words said or given to the dead. Violence will almost always be at its peak.

Comic - Cartoon violence and death. ESRP usually labels this category "Comic Mischief" may be mixed in a bit with some irony. Deaths in this category involve Mallets and Jumping. This would typically fit children. Comic violence and death may also be very gory and bloody so rate accordingly.

Senseless - There is no point to the violence. Just kill.

Glorified death - Death of a person is celebrated or is held in a huge ritual burial. For very important people.

Horrible death - Death by a cause that is too unspeakable to be thought about. Usually sickening, gross, and/or disturbing deaths. Definitely not for children.

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III. Realistic Death/Violence in Your game
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Ok, I have read some of the realism articles and the debates in them. I like realistic death and violence a bit more than unrealistic(sometimes games borderline the two). Note that realistic violence and death will bump up your target age group. Here are some examples of games you might have known:

-Liero - This is a Worms style game but in real time. Weapon bullets and projectiles hit you made blood splatter all over the place and even contributed to the ground you had to dig up. If you died, you blew up into gibs(body parts) and also contributed to the ground you had to dig through/shoot.

-Quake 2/Quake 3 Arena - Yes, Q2 and Q3A. These FPS games let you kill your enemies. If you kill them with regular bullets they die and fall to the ground. If you kill them with a big weapon they blow up into very bouncy gibs. If you kill them and then start shooting at their body, they explode. Get the picture?

-Abuse - A 2D platformer horror game. A lot of traps to kill of a player/enemies. Puzzles can also kill off your enemies but you have to be quick.

If you have noticed, some bloody games must include some point of realism(if not much). Some games even made death a part of the way battling played out(such as Liero for making blood and gibs a part of the ground and for digging through it), others help support the AI(lets say you killed a guard in room A1, a guard from A3 walks in and sees the body and starts locating other guards), and while others it's just a matter of decoration. Blood is mostly a decorative effect unless used in a vampire like way.

Some ways to make death and damage seem realistic:

-Gibs for the "blow up a body" style play.
-Death animations are important. Though they may take up a couple of extra 'bytes to use they will help the user know that the enemy died. It also adds a bit of eye candy.
-Damage animations(see death animations) and damage indications on characters.
-Dead Bodies that get in the way. So if you kill a character it will hit the ground and you have to go around or through it.
-Dead Bodies that react to being attacked/hit. It is amusing to see a body blown into the air by a grenade in Halo.
-Environmental hazards are a good way to help and hinder a character. They can use it to their advantage or for a strainer to keep enemy numbers down.
-Enemies do damage to each other. This would usually be a punishment for an AI that tried shooting you but an ally was in the way.
-Explosions that send frag in random directions. Things can be said about a piece of metal getting stuck in your skull.
-Fall damage. Yes, as unrealistic as it may seem, you can die from falling from too high a height.
-Damage to different parts of the body. This may require you to combine damage animations and damage indicators so you can show damage to the head, body, arms, etc.(example game: House of the Dead).
-Blood and gib physics. This includes effects such as blood splatter and bouncing body parts.

I hope this article will help you on your way to making a somewhat better looking game and get less mothers suing you on how violent the game was.

-Shaun