Conservative Violence: How to Chance an Industry

Conservative Violence


Over the recent years games have stopped evolving, because they have been repeating the same themes and the same mechanics over and over again. Apart from my fatal addiction to World of Warcraft there is no game that can fascinate me or offer me anything I haven’t seen before. How can a medium that has so much potential be stuck in a rut?


This led me to take a closer look at how games are being made. Game developers have to sell their game to a publisher who will then put the game out there for them. According to the designers this is where it goes wrong. The problem does not lie with the designers who don’t want to innovate, but with the publishers. Publishers do not want something new, because they do not know how to sell it. And often they try to fit a game into current genres, which means that any quirky or innovate game mechanics need to be eliminated. That is why I have concluded that conservatism is the problem of the industry.


Publishers only stick with what they know and with what will sell. There are no true innovations anymore, because taking a risk or experimenting simply costs them too much money. Games have been the same every since I have started playing them at age 12 and this is caused by the conservatism of publishers who do not know how to publish a different game.


Nevertheless games still sell, the industry is making a huge profit and games are hot. Why would they want to change it? Every single designer wants to innovate and wants to keep their audience interested. The only way to achieve this is innovation and to keep on trying to renew old concepts or maybe even get rid of them altogether.


After this conclusion I examined if I could also find conservatism in game mechanics and this is how I stumbled onto the issue of violence. In this essay I will explore the subject of game mechanics and what the player exactly expects from games. Then I want to focus on violence as a mechanic in particular. Violence in games, in this essay, stands for the act of hurting someone physically and often killing them. Violence is the easy way out. It is the mechanic that has been done so many times that it can’t be done wrong anymore. Does it serve a specific function for the player and if so, how can we replace this function with something equally satisfying?


It is not my goal to give precise answers, but to raise questions around the subject of violence in games and to make suggestions regarding how this conservative attitude can be replaced by a more progressive attitude. This essay is therefore meant as an exploration of violence as a game mechanic. What does it do? Why is it so frequently used in games and how can it be used differently?


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