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Controversy in Story / Setting


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#1 Wavinator   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1822

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 08:14 AM

I realize it''s not done much, but I''m wondering what your thoughts are on doing controversial settings / stories in games. Is it the case that a game should be considered fun, and controversy takes away from this? Or is it something that appeals to a distinct audience? I''ve been thinking about a game that uses the American Civil War as allegory. One issue that I''m really interested in is that of slavery, and I''ve been looking for a metaphor to represent it as a form of evil for one side, and ruthless profit / practicality for the other. But then I got to thinking: if I do this well, it might be considered good story / setting. But some will consider it moralizing, and be annoyed no matter what. Does controversial material belong only in books, or movies, but not games? If so, why? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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#2 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 08:46 AM

I think that contraversial material should be included in games, as long as it has purpose (of course ). It would probably be a tough thing to do. Firstly, games are traditionally associated w/ kids, so people will be concerned about that even though a lot of adults are into games as well now-a-days. Also, you know how this world is. Mindless bloody slaughter is less offensive than meaningful contraversial material or even nudity.

In Morrowind (Elder Scrolls: 3) they are going to include slavery, becomes it is part of their culture. It would be a little bit more intense if you included slavery and had the setting actually on earth in the time where such slavery occured. Then it wouldn''t have the buffer zone of being in a fantasy world.


"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd

"Though the course may change sometimes, the rivers always reach the sea" --Led Zeppelin

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#3 sunandshadow   Moderators   -  Reputation: 4978

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 11:12 AM

IMHO games can always use elements that make them different from other games, and controversy is a good source of this. An moralazing is something many books and stroies do - my current writing project is a bildungsroman (coming of age/education/finding your place in the world novel) that puts forth a definite opinion on what is ethical and what isn''t. It is vital, though, to make sure you have a well-rounded view of your subject before you start writing. A stack of library books from Aristotle, Plato, and Confucius to Arendt, Nietzche, and Rand guides my effort. To the above recommendation I will add Jane Yolen''s Pit Dragon Trilogy, especially the first book, told from the point of view of a slave child on a world where all children start as slaves and some prefer to stay that way.

#4 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1217

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 12:05 PM

Are you all trying to tell me that using the players prejudices against them in a game is:

  1. Not contravercial?
  2. Not a good idea?
  3. Not fun?

Because I thought of this how long ago now? How long does it take people to come around? (j/k ) Nah, seriously though, it is about time this discussion was brought up... 100% behind this idea

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          


#5 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 12:09 PM

Hmmm...dwarf, that idea is fun and good, but I got the feeling that Wav was talking about contraversial as in it could be offensive to some people.

Using the player''s prejudices against them isn''t really contraversial in the same way, is it? Maybe I''m missing something.


"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd

"Though the course may change sometimes, the rivers always reach the sea" --Led Zeppelin

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#6 SpaceCowboy851   Members   -  Reputation: 123

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 12:15 PM

Bring on the controversy! You just have to be careful to make it a dominated strategy. Like making a slave owners troops have super low moral so it wouldn''t be worth being a slave owner. The player should be able to choose any path and perform equally well on all paths. But the controversy should open up moral avenues for the player to explore in himself.

Ut

#7 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1217

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 12:17 PM

Naz - it must be contraversial, seeing as nobody has done it. If you do it then everyone will be really shocked and annoyed that they were mislead the whole way along... As if that isn''t controversy... I am still for controversy if you have any other means. I think that the controversy decision should be dedicated to Landfish as he is the most contraversial...

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          


#8 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 12:24 PM

Yeah, I mean it''s contraversial in the game community, but I thought Wav meant more contraversial from a moral standpoint. Like if the player were to roleplay a drug-dealer or a slave owner in the 1800''s or something.


"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd

"Though the course may change sometimes, the rivers always reach the sea" --Led Zeppelin

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#9 kseh   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2154

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 01:39 PM

How does that go? "The medium is the message."

If the same contoversial subject is covered in a book, on TV, in a movie, or in music, all with the same view point, you''re going to get different things out of each. Even if they pretty much say the same thing.

Why not add games to the list?

#10 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1217

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 06:02 PM

quote:
Original post by Nazrix

Yeah, I mean it's contraversial in the game community, but I thought Wav meant more contraversial from a moral standpoint. Like if the player were to roleplay a drug-dealer or a slave owner in the 1800's or something.




And you are saying that genocide isn't a controvercial topics... Say that to a few holocaust victims and their families and see what happens. We are talking now about electronic being genocide...

How can you make this contravercial? Have a group of marauding warriors threatening a peaceful goblin villiage. The player must decide which side they are to be on when the battle comes (if they choose to be on any side). From this they either befriend the goblins or they befriend the humans. Seeing as the goblins owe you their life (if you save them) they will trust you completely, whereas if you join the humans they will probably just consider you an unnecessary extra hand. Might be interesting to see the results of such a quest...

I like the slaver and drug dealer one though. I intend to include opium trade in my game as well as a bit of slavery... If it gets to the expansion of the world that is

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          


Edited by - dwarfsoft on October 27, 2000 1:04:30 AM

#11 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 06:07 PM

Yeah, I guess you are right, dwarf. Hey, you''re breaking all the rules. Congrats!


"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd

"Though the course may change sometimes, the rivers always reach the sea" --Led Zeppelin

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#12 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1217

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 06:41 PM

Thanx naz, I like to think that I am setting a positive example in game design and by doing so I hope to set the trend for freedom of thought... We are all slaves to game cloning, let us be free and walk in the light of literature personified into a game (or is that gamified? )

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          


#13 Nazrix   Members   -  Reputation: 307

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Posted 26 October 2000 - 06:54 PM

No not glamorized at all...

My contribution to originality in games is the inclusion of the kanagaroo scrotum as an item. With all those legends and lore on that website, it could be quite interesting. If that is not original I don''t know what is j/k


"All you touch and all you see is all your life will ever be --Pink Floyd

"Though the course may change sometimes, the rivers always reach the sea" --Led Zeppelin

Need help? Well, go FAQ yourself.


#14 Forneiq   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 06:47 AM

As long as it''s a part of the game. Don''t piss people off for the sake of pissing them off. However, I think that you have the judgement capable of handling such a decision. As was said earlier, read a lot, make sure you know what you''re doing, make sure you know what you will be saying about each side of the issue. Treat everything fairly, don''t be biased.

All in all, if it will make your game better it doesn''t matter what people will think.

I am so glad that Landfish is finally getting the respect he deserves.

#15 MSW   Members   -  Reputation: 151

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 07:44 AM

as far as contraversy goes, slavery is a pretty "safe" subject...it prolly won''t elicit much of a responce, people would likely just shrug and accept it as yet another game mechanic..after all Mario seems to be a distinct individual within his world, but one that is a "slave" to player control [his master? Mmm...that brings up some interesting ideas along the lines of "watching films = voyerisam" seems to have an equal video game paradime "playing games = slave ownership"]

Anyhow there are planty of "unsafe" contraversy issues, abortion, violent content in video games, etc...these are issues no game has yet to fully explore in any deep meeningfull way...

Take the violence in games issue...sure from our point of view this is a stupid idea, we play thousands of games and don''t seem to act out in violent ways against our fellow man...we also point out that kids watching TV and movies can see just as much violence [done in a more realistic way] as they experience in games...but these arguments against the acusations simply "pass the blame" on to parants, film industry, etc..but there still is a very disturbing problem: For every violent movie or TV show there seems to be a non-violent one thus evening things out...this isn''t the case with video games [at least at the mainstream level]...walk into any store like Best Buy and take a look at the film and video game choices available...from this discrepincy alone the parents, the film industry can pass the blame right back upon us ["my kids are playing Quake simply because you provide few alternitives", "yeah, we made Natural Born Killers...but we also made Toy Story 1 and 2"]...worse yet we have little to defend ourselves with should this occur...just from looking at what is available at retail, we as game developers seem to be saying "violence is fun!"...

How about a game where the player controls a little boy who likes to play video games? Mom and Dad could be the typical bad parents...the kid could even get picked on at school, etc..basicly create a "real life" game enviroment where the kids only source of escape comes through playing violent video games...in effect re-create the situation that has lead up to the various horrible kids shooting kids events...but by giveing the player control over the kid, we basicly ask "what would you do?"...if the player were to go on a shooting spree instead of simply quitely suffering through his lot in life, then what effect did the violend games the kid played have upon it?..sure a player could argue that the kid he controls sadly had few alternatives...but what does this say about the player? did he do this because it was an accepted video game practice?

#16 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1217

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Posted 27 October 2000 - 01:05 PM

Personally I would not want to play my life in a game. Picked on at school would bring back all those bad memories....

I think you have an idea though

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          


#17 Landfish   Members   -  Reputation: 288

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 11:45 AM

Wav, I just spotted this thread. It''s one of the best I''ve seen. One of the design commandments I try to follow is MEANINGFUL, and you''re hitting the nail on the head. If you pull it off with any kind of class, you''ll be my personal hero.

#18 A. Buza   Members   -  Reputation: 122

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 02:30 PM

Just my spur of the moment thoughts on the subject...

In my opinion, of you''re going to do something controversial, you should make sure you don''t do it simply for the sake of being controversial. Secondly, I think that if you do go the controversial route, make sure that you avoid stereotypes (unless, for some reason thats what you want. ). I.e, a slave owner shouldn''t be some generic super -==*EVIL!*==- guy... Um.. if that makes any sense...

Anyway, I''m all for controversy in games! Challenge my sense of morals! Insult my generic society-enforced beliefs! Make me question my sexuality! Make me think! And so on...

..Ok, maybe not the ''sexuality'' one...



#19 dwarfsoft   Moderators   -  Reputation: 1217

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Posted 28 October 2000 - 02:37 PM

Here is how you make your slaver NOT evil:

Your character meets an NPC, this NPC is a nice bloke, seems to have a lot of money. Helps you out on a few quests because he is ''going your way''. Really he is checking out how well you fight. Eventually he says ''I could use somebody like you to keep order in my business''. You can choose to agree or not. If not then he goes, if you agree then you find out that he is a slaver and you get to see all sorts of greusome treatment of slaves. He is an alright bloke, so to speak, but his brutal treatment of slaves that are to be traded leaves something to be desired. What is your moral decision. If you had this NPC save your life and not turn you into a slave then do you feel obligated to him or not? He has asked you to be a guard or something and you now have the choice of doing your job and getting rich, or running off and perhapse being hunted down and put into slavery yourself... Hmmm

-Chris Bennett of Dwarfsoft - Site:"The Philosophers' Stone of Programming Alchemy" - IOL
The future of RPGs - Thanks to all the goblins over in our little Game Design Corner niche
          





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