While we were sat there chatting, the guy at the next table started randomly talking to us - I think he asked about a book and if we'd read it. He told us he was a poet, and that he wrote about life. I told him I developed games for a living, which he didn't take well - he's one of the people, it seems, who only knows about the games the newspapers have made a fuss about. "I write about life," he said, "but you... you're a dealer of artificial death. Despicable."
For starters, it really brought home to me something I hadn't really felt before: that there are people out there who feel this way, who feel that all games are violent and that the people who make them must all be sick and depraved (and this is a completely seperate issue from the effects of violence on children - these are people who dislike violence in general). I thought about whether this was a view that people could actually get by just glancing briefly at the industry... and you know what? I don't think you can. The top selling games are the sports games, usually - games like FIFA, NBA, NHL, or more currently, NfSU2. Violent games? Your top three are GTA, Manhunt, and Postal, methinks... and there's a lot out there based around killing and destroying. But it's not outselling the aforementioned sports titles. When I picked up my Xbox, I got two games - Halo, and Burnout 3. I've played Burnout 3 a lot more than Halo.
It got me thinking about simply turning the situation round... instead of destroying lives, you're creating corpses. Voila, now it's a construction game!
And that reminded me of Sonic the Hedgehog. The enemies in that were all robots, which you destroy through spin attacks or through jumping on them or whatever. But when you destroy a robot, you free the creature that was inside it - squirrels, bunnies, etc. Liberation through destruction. I wonder what our poet would say of that?
Anyway, here's a story idea based on all this that you should feel free to steal. You're a member of a race of non-corporeal beings on a planet somewhere. One day, explorers discover your planet, and accidentally discover that through meditation they can 'capture' people of your kind in their minds, giving them enhanced mental capabilities. These explorers, being a somewhat unscrupulous folk, report back about these wonderful misty things that double your brain power if you just go and relax in one for a bit; and people come in massive numbers, to make mind-slaves of your kind. You yourself are captured and put to work; but the person who has you is weak-minded, and you are able to turn the tables on him, taking control of his body. So now it's up to you to try and free your people - quite possibly through killing off their captors.
Liberation through destruction.
Well, it beats "You're a psycho who pisses on people."