Recently, in the Paris Game Week, Sony unveiled a plethora of games excitedly anticipated by gamers everywhere. We got to see a new trailer for Spider-Man, as well as gameplay for the new God of War. We also got to see some new content from the creators of InFamous; Ghost of Tsushima. The climax of the entire experience for me had to be a new trailer for The Last of Us: Part II, which sadly did not feature Ellie or Joel.
The second trailer did, however, feature some scenes that a select few found very gritty and very “violent.” Now, I watched and rewatched this trailer. I slow-mo’ed it. I downloaded it and played it on repeat on my 4K TV. Bottom line, I have seen this trailer enough times to replay it in my mind without missing any details. What can I say, I love The Last of Us.
Anyway, according to these certain people, The Last of Us: Part II, in fact, all of Sony, was too violent. Let me stop right there and have you think about this for a second. The Last of Us, one of the darkest games with some of the grittiest themes, is too violent. Not only is it violent, but it depicts misogyny and abuse against women.
Now, I’m not heartless, and I can see where some people are coming from, especially those who have been through abusive situations. I can understand why some people may not enjoy or downright dislike the harsh scenes in video games. However, on the flip side, I realize that I cannot sensor something that makes me uncomfortable.
So why is this particular game such a big deal? Let’s take a quick look at both the reveal trailer and the new trailer from Paris.
The reveal trailer felt very much like the first game; a lot of ominous themes and human emotion. This reveal trailer did a stupendous job of getting me hyped and excited for what I believe will be one of the greatest games to come out in the coming years.
The second trailer adds a feel of mystery and dread. It feels like in this game, the greatest threat are the people themselves, kind of like in the first game. I love this tone, and it adds an incredibly personal feel to the zombie genre. Personally, I didn’t really see anything over the top in this trailer, but I will admit seeing the gruesome scenes in incredible fidelity adds so much to the already vivid ambiance. For some it added too much.
One gamer took to social media, stating
“The Last of Us is opting for the ‘let’s make it even more grim/violent” route & and please keep that away from me!”
Clearly this guy never played the first game, or if he did, he played it with his eyes closed. Keeping my opinions to the side, this individual is welcome to dislike and not play a game it is “too grim,” but to say making the game darker and edgier is not making it better is completely objective. Personally, I think if the trailer offended him for no other reason than he likes being offended, then he’s a little b***. But, I digress, because like it or not, some people do have at least a partial valid point in this argument. Another person, this time from pastemagazine.com, stated:
The violence in videogames has never felt this real before, though. The uncanny valley will probably never be fully traversed, but with HD graphics and 4K TVs games like The Last of UsPart II look startlingly lifelike.
I wrote about this in a previous post, Violence in Video Games (check it out if you haven’t already). What the person from Pastemagazine said is one hundred percent true. As graphics improve and games become more realistic, so does the violence. People didn’t take notice in our games until blood became present and the concept of what was happening in video games became more and more life-like, and as visual quality improved, so did the realism, and sequentially, the controversy.
In my post I also presented the aged argument that “Violence has been depicted in movies for years.” While this is true, games differ from movies and TV shows in their interactive story telling. You are not just watching something happen. Instead, depending on what game you are playing, you are the one doing it (virtually) or having it done to you. While some may argue that games are not as involved as others make them out to be, I believe that there is some sort of interaction between the player and what happens in the game, something that no movie or TV show can ever achieve. This is where games like Detroit: Become Human enter the fray.
Depicting scenes of domestic violence against a woman and child, Detroit: Become Human was also hit by the offended bandwagon. In this particular game, your choices are directly linked to the outcomes of different individuals, in this case a woman and child. The beauty of this game is that you can either save or condemn a character based on your previous decisions. You can be as merciful or unforgiving as you want, but in the end of the day it’s still a video game. Just because there is a scene of domestic violence doesn’t make it a central part of the game. Even Micheal Denny commented on this when questioned about the unsettling gameplay.
Speaking about Detroit: Become Human in particular, Denny played down the scenes of domestic abuse and violence, suggesting it’s only one part of a wider story that presents multiple difficult choices to the player.
“I wouldn’t say it was a central part of the game,” he said. “It’s a big part of that scene about Kara questioning her programming and whether she can react against her master in a very challenging circumstance.
“You’ll see another character, a policeman, and whether or not he saves a hostage or not and the choices there. It’s a very branching game about making choices for the characters. We introduce Mark as a new character as well, and they’re all going to have big challenges put in front of them. I think the game’s about content that makes you think and making choices in a very branching game with a lot of consequences.”
This didn’t stop people from crying out “misogyny,” and for the past few weeks Sony was the center of topic. Even my business class talked about using violent imagery to sell products (guess how well that went).
Polygon directly pointed out that the problem wasn’t that Sony’s games were violent, but that they were violent against women. Speaking about The Last of Us: Part II, Julia Alexander from Polygon says
“The violence is particularly upsetting as it features the assault of women.
The fact that their antagonist is a woman herself does little to undercut what this trailer is on its most blunt level: an extended sequence of brutal and unexplained violence against women being used to thrill the viewer, and ultimately, sell a video game.”
There are two things from what she wrote that stand out to me.
- The violence wouldn’t be such a big deal if it wasn’t directed towards women.
- The violence against women is for the trill of the viewer, and to sell the game.
First, let me go on record and say that I think Polygon and anything it puts out is cancer and literal dog feces. The article, though containing valid points, is still very hypocritical, as read in the first portion of the quote. The trailer up set her because the victim was a woman. So, if the victim had been male it would have been fine? Well, according to her, yes!
There’s a difference in how Naughty Dog handled the trailers for The Last of Us and The Last of Us Part 2. In The Last of Us, Joel may be gunning down hunters, but we understand why he’s doing it, and those he’s attacking aren’t women or marginalized people. The trailer is violent, but it’s justified; none of that justification exists in The Last of Us Part 2’s trailer, where violence simply exists.
While I have to agree that the second trailer for The Last of Us: Part II didn’t hold enough context, it doesn’t mean that it was unnecessary. Sure, perhaps it may have been a bit overly gruesome, but it did a great job in setting up a feeling of dread that is sure to be present within the rest of the game. But, when comparing the violence in the first and second game, Julia clearly states that the violence in the first game is fine because it’s not being done to women or “marginalized people.”
As for the second point, the short and definitive answer is no, the violence is not being used to sell the game. Why? Because the game in question is The Last of Us: Part II, one of the most highly called for sequels to one of the greatest games of our generation. Trust me, this game doesn’t need a bloody trailer to sell. It’s The Last of Us; they could have put out a video of Joel cooking a cheesecake with a unicorn; the game would still sell like hotcakes.
Julia than goes on to claim that the reason why the trailer is as it is is because there are not enough women in the industry
How many women were involved in the creation, editing and approval of this trailer? In an industry (and studio) that’s predominantly run by men, did women feel comfortable offering a critique?
I can’t answer Ms. Alexander’s questions, but I can guarantee you this; those who aren’t complete p****** found that this trailer did an excellent job in introducing us to a new mysterious and deadly world, and we are more likely to buy the game to discover the truth behind this grim and mysterious new world. This means that the trailer is doing its job, and if any women in the industry were doing a good job, they would must definitely have approved of this trailer.
I know this post came off more as a rant than anything remotely intelligent, at least for some readers, but I really am passionate about video games. When a site like Polygon attacks a game I love, and hypocritically demonizes it, it really bothers me. Again, and as I’ve stated in other posts, I do not support or approve of violence in real life. Graphic scenes in video games should stay in video games, where they can aid in the narrative and invoke an emotional response from the player. I sincerely hope that people can see that our games, while sometimes graphic, are just forms of entertainment.
If you agree or disagree with my post, or if you have your own opinions to add, please leave them in the comments below. If you would like to read my previous post on video game violence and my analysis on why it’s become such a controversy, please read my blog post; Violence in Video Games. Remember to subscribe and like us on Facebook.
As always, game on, and have a great day.