Destructive Creations creates something destructive…to my attention span.
“My genocide crusade begins here…” says the lead character of upcoming PC game Hatred, as he gears up with guns, grenades and a knife before opening his front door and unloading clips into his enemies.
That’s a fine way to kick off a game – your hero, surrounded, realises that the only way out is to blast his way out against the armed forces outside to complete his holy mission – but the armed forces aren’t armed. They’re not even forces. They’re innocent passers-by.
And that is just the beginning of a needlessly violent gameplay trailer which also appears to be the full extent of your objectives: kill and maim unarmed, innocent humans who do nothing but run from your (unnamed, not mysterious) character.
(WARNING: The trailer below contains loads and loads of senseless violence, including some up-close uses of knives and shotguns.)
Is it good? I can’t deny there’s a certain appeal to how it looks. I never watched much WCW but if these graphics were a wrestler, they’d be 1997 Sting with a baseball bat.
Is it art? Fuck, no – but a lot of games don’t get flattered with that label either and I still see them as valid and satisfying modes of storytelling, diversion and various other chin-stroking criteria.
So far, so offensive and completely tasteless; but according to Hatred developer Jarosław Zieliński from Destructive Creations, video games “used to be considered a rebellious medium”. In stating this, we hark back to the likes of Doom and Postal: two games which certainly got a lot of mainstream media attention for their content which was both heavily violent and all too vivid thanks to developing technology.
Games: a rebellious medium
While I would definitely consider games a rebellious medium due to the ways they got various governments all up in arms during the 1990s – I’m loath to mention that the Columbine killers were incidentally big fans and accomplished Doom level builders – the idea that Hatred is trying to jolt us out of some cutesy-cutesy groove that we’re supposedly all into these days is ridiculous, as Zieliński says games are “losing that [rebellious] factor and just trying to fit in the nice and sweet pop-culture.”
To go with that train of thought for a second. If Hatred was an industrial album recorded by Al Jourgensen, produced by Trent Reznor and played live by Pitchshifter, then it absolutely would prove a striking contrast to all that twee folksy crap we’re being subjected to in adverts lately. And while it would prove to be a hell of an album in itself, I don’t think it would have the same mass appeal that girls singing ukulele-led Joy Division covers seems to have lately.
And, much like the creative and commercial peak of industrial music – despite the level of talent on offer – a game this needlessly violent and nihilistically bleak really does belong back in the mid-1990s.
For a start, we’ve seen worse things at the cinema in the past ten years! The first Saw and Hostel films proved to me that there was a market for the bleak torture-porn genre – these were both released almost a decade ago now. A hundred million sequels, rip-offs and clones later and it’s only now that we’re seeing it start to bore off. The perpetrators of the horrible acts in those films were, for the most part, sick sadistic souls with narrative motive.
Even villains need a motive
And speaking of motives, we’ve also had much more valid demonstrations within video gaming itself, as well as some equally invalid. While I admit I’ve had fun needlessly shooting up the citizens of Liberty City during the Grand Theft Auto series, this only happened whenever I’d failed a mission, got bored or – very rarely – booted it up just to do it for fun and burn off some frustration, all safely within the confines of a self-reflexive, detached and tip-of-a-wink in-game environment.
(And while I admit I cannot possibly defend ‘No Russian’ in Call of Duty, nor do I want to – that game is morally near-bankrupt as it is without the senseless civilian violence mission.)
Zieliński and his fellow developers may well be bored of the ‘nice and sweet pop-culture’ that we’re currently in the midst of creating and being sold, but I would argue that the reason it’s going on in the first place is that we’ve already had enough of what he’s trying to sell us in spades since the mid-90s – and all carried off much more effectively too.
What he claims is his own reaction to the cutesy stuff of late I would argue is their actually missing the boat in the first place – when realistic, non-fantastic guts and gore were even more commonplace in the mainstream than what we’re trying to live through now.
Earlier this week in a post for Geekocracy I feared that I’ve become desensitised in my late twenties – but a big yawn to the controversy this game’s creators are trying to whip up surely proves it.
Hatred hates itself. It hates people. It hates you. Don’t fall for it.