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TSwitch

How violent is too violent?

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Myself and a friend of mine intend to make a game. Another FPS. (Stay with me, here...) After a few ideas, and actually spending some time on one of them before dropping it as too involved/difficult (a gunfighting game) we happened upon a touchy yet interesting plot/game idea. With all of the past and present mass violence, we were trying to decide if a "mad gunman sniper" game was too much, and if it were, how could we dilute it to make it more acceptable, if that were possible. We''re primarily looking to make this as real as possible, which obviously brings up a whole truckload of dilemmas about how the level of violence a game such as this would affect the player. But when we were brainstorming the game''s basics, it struck us as a novel idea, and sometimes we all feel like venting on something, better that it is a collection of triangles than something real. Yes, some people will say that this kind of activity only desensitizes us, and I don''t disagree with them, but I, like most people here (I hope) are still chilled when we see a body of some sort. (For example, when I saw U-571, when that guy was shot by the German prisoner, that bizarre look on his face absolutely screwed with my head.) Some of the things we came up with to dilute the violence were not outwardly killing your victims, merely wounding them to the point of incapacitation, as well as having the bad guy (you) never win, showing at the end of each level/round/game how bad violence is, say, with a slowly rising camera shot on the central open area that fades out to white/black. My friend insists that there should be a way for the player to pack up his sniper rifle and escape to maintain some continuity so you don''t think of your player as disposable. While I think the connection between a player and his character is important, I don''t think that making people think they can get away with murder is an acceptable way of obtaining it. We''ve pretty much racked our brains on the subject, or at least I have, and that''s why I''m here. Any constructive comments or ideas are more than welcome. The fact that the game idea is violent is nothing new to me, repeating it will have no gains for either of us. -TSwitch

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Right now dont hold back. It looks like a US senator is getting pissed at violent games but making a more violent game means more fun online play. It will be rated M and there is no way you can restrict selling rated M games.

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quote:

With all of the past and present mass violence, we were trying to decide if a "mad gunman sniper" game was too much, and if it were, how could we dilute it to make it more acceptable, if that were possible.



Seems like your hang up is purely a personal one more so than one that can be answered by others. Your view of what's 'too violent' in games will widely differ from other people's views of what's too violent. The only way to make a game acceptable to everyone is just not make it in the first place. There will always be someone who finds something offensive about your game no matter how benign.

quote:

Some of the things we came up with to dilute the violence were not outwardly killing your victims, merely wounding them to the point of incapacitation, as well as having the bad guy (you) never win, showing at the end of each level/round/game how bad violence is, say, with a slowly rising camera shot on the central open area that fades out to white/black.



You could certainly get away with the recycling 'targets' idea (the GTA series has always done this), but I don't think it really does much to lessen the perception of violence in the game idea (after all I don't think GTA's immersion level was lessened by this happening...you just had new targets - ambulance drivers -to waste).

quote:

My friend insists that there should be a way for the player to pack up his sniper rifle and escape to maintain some continuity so you don't think of your player as disposable. While I think the connection between a player and his character is important, I don't think that making people think they can get away with murder is an acceptable way of obtaining it.



If I may ask, what is the overall goal in your game. If it's actually sniping as many people as you can, then your friend is absolutely right, you need a possibility of escaping capture. Personally I would get really frustrated with a game that punished me everytime I actually did well. Seems like the only 'win' scenario would be to lose by not sniping anybody. Not much of a game then is it? Certainly the threat of capture should be an element to such a game, but it shouldn't be the only outcome.

If you want to make a non-violent game, then come up with a new idea. If you just want to lessen the killing without a purpose aspect, then make the main character a S.W.A.T. sniper and have all of your levels be a 'snipe the bad guys to free the hostages' setup or something similar. While SOF portrayed many acts of violence during game play, the violence wasn't undirected. There were specific goals, and penalties for stepping out of line (ie killing too many civilians, shooting your partner, etc). As soon as you did that it was reload time.

It's nice to see someone who is actually worried about the impact his work will have on the 'mass audience', however I don't think there's a way to sugarcoat your idea in it's current form to make it less offensive to those who are offended by such things. You could always market it with an MA rating. I know it doesn't really do anything to stop 'children' from playing it, but it's about as good as any measure you can take other than modifying/forgetting about the original idea.

[edited by - SysOp_1101 on August 14, 2002 4:53:19 AM]

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look at the movie "Leon(The Professional)" and maybe that would change your thoughts of the black/white scene of good guys vs. bad guys. (btw that's the best movie ever made )

Anyway, I think the player should play as he wants, be a tactical cold-blooded hitman, or just a murderer-mianac, and that would affect his chances of escape.

it's much easier to get away if you plan everything right and then take your target down than that you just go there with your guns and start shooting at everyone.

Anyway, world is not black/white. I don't like much of any good people vs. evil people games because they make me sick with their almost propaganda-like storytelling...

[edited by - angelhart on August 14, 2002 5:13:00 AM]

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That''s all good input from you guys, and now that I think about it, SysOp, you''re right, this was mostly me being concerned, but my friend went along with it my whining. I''m not terribly personally upset by a violent game, I think it''s just that I don''t want to have people evaporating hundreds of people GTA3-with-a-bat style.

The player should be able to get away, but I can''t see how you could accomplish that. All I have is packing up your gun, changing your appearance in some way, and running out, acting like a pedestrian or leaving through some other backroute. The player may or may not have to locate one of these passages on their own, or be directed towards one as opposed to it being a scripted sequence. That way, selection of your perch would be dependent upon an escape route.

There won''t be goals or strategies in this game, for instance, after your first shots, people will naturally try to call the police. The stupid ones will do it in the open area, behind a car with a cell. If you pick them off, you delay the police''s arrival, up to a maximum time, at which point someone out of the map has heard the shots and called in. Then police units start showing up, initially just to remove civilians from the scene, and if you manage to pick the officers off, you delay them gathering enough manpower to blockade off the map to additional bystanders, and finally suppressing and neutralizing you with a combination of gunfire and pathfinding to get to your insane self.

After one of these missions, you get a special mission where you have some objective like assassinating a mayor character or only shooting 20 people with a white shirt in a specified amount of time.

We were going to use a custom model format that would use bounding boxes to note where the model''s head/chest/legs/arms were so that a round hitting it would generate a different visual effect (more blood, skull fragments) and have a different effect upon the state of the player.

Also, various NPC characteristics will be implemented, like confusion, panic and anger, which are affected by every shot you take. A bystander who sees another bystander shot will only panic more, an officer who sees another officer go down will become more determined to drill one through your head, and so on.

This game''s target platform is going to probably be something like at least a 700MHz Processor, a decent 32mb video card, 128MB of ram (just in case, I don''t think the entirety of the game data will be that much) and a magical PCI card that stops time so that the computer can do it''s calculations, then restarts time.

Maybe that last thing will go under "Recommend System". Not that this game is going commercial, we''ll just see how it turns out.



-TSwitch

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In some cases violent games are no different than (I'll repeat the term) popcorn entertainment.

However, Steven Spielberg used it to good effect in Saving Private Ryan (that guy walking back to pick up his arm freaked me out. The guy I was with laughed and thought it was cool, go figure)

When violence is there for entertainment value, I don't think it's so bad. But if the violence is involved with deeper emotions (like hatred of a central character, death of a loved one, etc.) then it becomes something more impactful and objectional, in my opinion.

I was having anxiety last year and tried the game Max Payne. Hmm, 3 minutes into the story, you see a dead baby under an overturned crib. Well, I feel a lot better now. I do think that was a little extreme.

I saw some screenshots of Soldier of Fortune 2. The blank stares of dead enemies in pools of blood I think is going a little far, too.

[edited by - Waverider on August 14, 2002 9:33:18 AM]

[edited by - Waverider on August 14, 2002 9:34:43 AM]

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Waverider, if you thought that opening was a little extreme... How about when you got that OD of that drug (What was it called? Something with a Z in it, I thought)? You walked around in a room where the walls were on fire, through hallways that got longer as you walked down it, and finally, you're back in your house, and when you go upstairs like you did in the start, the bad guys aren't there, but I think there was blood everywhere, and when you go to the baby's room, the hallway turns into a large black area, with a dimly light trail of blood you have to follow to the baby's room.

THAT was visually disturbing (as well as aurally, with your wife's screams in the bathroom), and I won't say I wann't freaked out by that. /me shudders.

That was a wierd game. I only played it through once, then got disgusted.

edit: I think that was in the right order.

-TSwitch

[edited by - TSwitch on August 14, 2002 9:50:21 AM]

[edited by - TSwitch on August 14, 2002 10:20:53 AM]

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I think that what you are trying to do is going to be relatively impossible in the terms that you set forth. The very idea of a game based on a hitman (There''s your game name. ''The Hitman'') is going to be controversial. If you''re looking to not offend people, creating a game where your goal is to waste civilians is not the way to go.

The main problem is that you want added realism. When violence in video games look real, it becomes controversial. To lessen this perception, you need to either lessen the degree of violence, or you need to decrease the realism. A game like Super Smash TV is violent, yes. But it''s generally perceived as acceptable because everyone looks like a cartoon character. Take Bugs Bunny for example. How violent are Bugs and his cohorts, really? If you reduce everything to raw action, then almost all cartoons, movies, etc are violent to a degree because they promote conflict.

Now, you have a few options here. First, you can try and not offend people. This means that you will need to decrease the level of realism to a cartoonish level. You''ll also need to change the plot slightly, where the player is working for the ''good guys'' and isn''t just wasting people at random.

Second, you can say the heck with it, make it as real as you want, as bloody as you want, and offend as many people as you want. You''re a hitman, who when he doesn''t have a contract, likes to kill people for fun. When the medication wears off, you go berserk and just kill people till your insanity meter hits a ''normal'' level. If it gets too high because you haven''t killed enough people, then your brain anurism(sp?) acts up, and you die.

To choose this route, you are taking a lot of risks and I think you should weigh them carefully, because there are also some big gains. You will stir up controversy. It is possible that like GT3, your game will be banned in the more PC countries. Parents won''t let their kids play the game, you''ll get hate mail, harassing phone calls, and Mrs. Gore will get her panties in a knot and call the police to have you hauled in on non-specific charges of endangering the welfare of a child. Maybe not that last part, but humor me. The images it brought to mind were pretty funny.

On the other hand, going this route gives you one thing that is nearly priceless. Free marketing and exposure. Have you ever heard of the game ''Postal''? It''s about a disgruntled mail worker who goes postal. The makers of the game got a letter from the Postmaster General saying he objected to their game and didn''t want them to publish it. They released that letter to the public, got flooded with hits to their website, and sales increased by a monumental amount, because a public figure objected to the content. Have you ever played the game? It sucks. The graphics are bad, the play control sucks, and the plot, well... Let''s just say that the story continuity leaves a lot to be desired. But they sold half a million copies of that game, essentially for the sole reason that it was controversial enought to certain people that they publicized it for them. You can''t buy that kind of marketing appeal. They stood their ground and it paid off.

Another game was ''Panty Raider''. When I first read about the game, I was just dying to play it. A fraternity house goes apes, and starts raiding sorority houses for their panties. What a concept! Then, the womens rights groups started calling. The game quickly evaporated into some aliens coming to earth, and threatening you with the destruction of earth if you didn''t get them pictures of girls in their underwear because they got their hands on a Victoria''s Secret catalog under a rock on Pluto. LAME! They backed off, and what happened? They lost out, big time. I didn''t buy it after I heard what the ''new'' game was about. I would have before though, if nothing else but to show my support.

Lastly, you can choose something in-between. I think that in the end, you need to make a few important decisions about your game. First, why are you writing it? Second, what do YOU want to see in it, and what do YOU want to be able to do.

If you''re writing a game because it is fun for you to play, I think you''ll find that the game will be better because you enjoyed writing it. If you start catering to what some miserable, "Back in my day, we didn''t have these computers. We wrote letters, and we liked it!" type of person has to say about what direction he thinks society should turn, don''t bother. Because if you don''t enjoy writing it, that will show through in the shoddy programming job you will do and your game won''t be worth the CD it''s burned on.

Write your game for you. Not for someone else.


Looking for an honest video game publisher? Visit www.gamethoughts.com

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quote:
Original post by angelhart
look at the movie "Leon(The Professional)" and maybe that would change your thoughts of the black/white scene of good guys vs. bad guys. (btw that''s the best movie ever made )



As soon as I saw the main hitman holding a pig sock puppet and making pig noises, I turned off the movie, and walked away.

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there''s already a "hitman" game btw...

i thought it was quite funny how you went from "i don''t think you should be able to get away with killing people so always make ''em get caught" to "we''re going to have a level where you shoot as many people as possible wearing white shirts - and you get to see their skull fragments"... ...

perhaps you could turn the storyline round a bit so that you''re supposed to be defending someone from potential hitmen... on some levels you''d basically assume the role of a sniper, lying in wait to spot the guy that''s gonna try and take your man out and then getting him before he has the chance, whilst on others you''d almost have to dive onto the bullet to save the day, picking off would-be assasins as they pop their heads out of windows or drive past...

it wouldn''t sensationalise violence because it would basically put you in the hero role, defending people and protecting their rights to free speech, etc... i can envisage a level where you''re a bodyguard on stage at a meeting of world leaders where you have to protect the entire contingent from a militant group intent on disrupting procedings...

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This game is mostly a "find a good perch, unpack, shoot things" game. If you decide to pull a GTA3 and shoot the crap out of everything while on the ground, you''re going to find the police will have no trouble finding you at all. I intend to make insides of many buildings in a small section of city with a large open area in the middle, like a mini park. The police arrive on the scene, and spend some time blockading the place, then finding you. (they won''t know the layout of the building other than a line of sight node discovery method)

I''m sure I could make it so the police will bust your stupid ass if you''ve set up on top of a car, for example. Maybe with visibility, if they can see all or most of you, they''re just going to pop you/come up behind you and give you a tap on the shoulder.

This game is intended to be from the bad guy standpoint the entire time. We''d like to make it multiplayer (4-8 players, small hi poly maps is why) and if we do, we may incorporate a "good guy" element, like you said about the gunman trying to pop your VIP, and the good guys have to eliminate the enemy sniper, and the bad guy can either eliminate the good guys or the VIP. Kind of like a mix of CS''s assassination maps, TFC''s Hunted maps and Rogue Spear''s Assassination.

Somehow, it''s a mix.

Those "kill all the guys in white" games were to be a after-action bonus (I''m trying to think of a better name for it, sounds to arcade-y) in order for the player to obtain guns, ammo, baby needs, and probably skills of some sort.



-TSwitch

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ah, okay... perhaps it would be better to have something where you''re not indiscriminately killing people then to obtain the weapons bonuses...

i don''t mean clay pigeon shooting or anything but perhaps you could have some sort of contest with another hitman to try and pick him off before he gets you... as you get further into the game, he could become better and better, or perhaps you''d have to defeat more than one at a time - kind of a "this is my patch so sod off"...

the new weapons you collect could be the ones you then steal from your prey... it could perhaps be used to gain you a reputation in the world of gangsters and contract killers... your progress on these levels could lead to you getting special other contracts - perhaps the one the guy you just shot was due to take on...

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ok here we go, youra freelance hitman, you get hired to kill/protect random important people by killing would be assalints. also since you want more of a sniper type game there could be instances where you have to snipe an inanimate target to achieve some goal, perhaps shooting a water container ontop of a building to stop a mass of snipers on the building or to stop the fire that has started on the mayors hotel with him stuck in side. but in the end you get caught for killing a rival mobster for another mobster and goto jail ( only to be picked up later in the sequel by the government doing the same stuff you got put in jail for but now for the "good" team). hows that sound?

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Well, vanegar, that''s a bit off the "mad gunman" path this game was taking, but I''ll be sure to try to include some of those scenarios in the game. Perhaps your itchy trigger finger needs more scratching. Maybe shooting out the tires of cars passing by, causing the car to peel off on its rims, or a water tower needs shooting so it puts out a brush fire below... or some of your original scenarios.

paulus_maximus: ...i don''t mean clay pigeon shooting...

LOL, yeah that''d be really easy, too!

I''m sure that doing more and more in-depth missions like this would require i implement more of the halflife engine, in my own way, meaning more in the fgd file. what a pain those things are.

I think I need to start a new thread on the actual design of the game, since this thread was mostly about the violence aspect, and I suspect that that''s been resolved a half dozen times over.

-TSwitch

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Guest Anonymous Poster
If you are going got an armed gunman randomly shooting people from the top of a tall building just for the sake of killing then I reckon that''s very sick. More than that - it''s only going to appeal to twisted people. For a start, where is the fun?

Performing headshot after headshot with a sniper rifle on UT is something that, yes, people do, but it''s only rewarding as parting part of a team really (defending the base, killing the flag carrier etc) in a straight forward deathmatch then it''s very pointless (and very much frowned upon).

I have played the orginal Hitman and it''s pretty twisted in it''s own way. For me if suffered a complete lack of interactivity - since I don''t think you could enter the buildings. And finding a spot is surely most of the fun.

I''d go for assasinations if I were planning this. Allow the player to choose which jobs he takes (so he can align himself to ''good'' or ''evil'' - performing ''ethical'' assasinatiosn if you will). Player could be rewarded for performing minimal kills, and player who shun massive crowd killings could avoid those missions.

The point of a mission should be, to be dropped off in the area, find a suitable spot (allowing the player to select tactics - discreet thief style play or quake style guns blaring) perform the kill(s) and then to evacuate the area without dying.

Naturally you''ll want to include masses of technology and weaponary for the player to spend his/her hard earned money on.

On the note of violence, if you are killing someone with a sniper rifle you will hardly be able to see anything at all. Unless you have the cinematics of Max Payne to repeat the kill in slow motion. To that end make it an option, those who want to see the kill up close and do so, but people aren''t forced to. There''s no need to force people to one way of thinking when a simple checkbox allows them to make there own mind up.

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quote:

Original post by munkie

Original post by angelhart
look at the movie "Leon(The Professional)" and maybe that would change your thoughts of the black/white scene of good guys vs. bad guys. (btw that''s the best movie ever made )



As soon as I saw the main hitman holding a pig sock puppet and making pig noises, I turned off the movie, and walked away.



You missed the whole point of that scene, it was about someone who is like sociopath and who just don''t know anything about human relationships suddenly feels something new that he has never felt... o well, I still think it''s the best movie ever made

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quote:
Original post by TSwitch
This game is mostly a "find a good perch, unpack, shoot things" game. If you decide to pull a GTA3 and shoot the crap out of everything while on the ground, you''re going to find the police will have no trouble finding you at all. I intend to make insides of many buildings in a small section of city with a large open area in the middle, like a mini park. The police arrive on the scene, and spend some time blockading the place, then finding you. (they won''t know the layout of the building other than a line of sight node discovery method)

I''m sure I could make it so the police will bust your stupid ass if you''ve set up on top of a car, for example. Maybe with visibility, if they can see all or most of you, they''re just going to pop you/come up behind you and give you a tap on the shoulder.

This game is intended to be from the bad guy standpoint the entire time. We''d like to make it multiplayer (4-8 players, small hi poly maps is why) and if we do, we may incorporate a "good guy" element, like you said about the gunman trying to pop your VIP, and the good guys have to eliminate the enemy sniper, and the bad guy can either eliminate the good guys or the VIP. Kind of like a mix of CS''s assassination maps, TFC''s Hunted maps and Rogue Spear''s Assassination.

Somehow, it''s a mix.

Those "kill all the guys in white" games were to be a after-action bonus (I''m trying to think of a better name for it, sounds to arcade-y) in order for the player to obtain guns, ammo, baby needs, and probably skills of some sort.



-TSwitch



Hmm that actually sounds pretty cool - it sounds to me like a large part of the challenge would be finding a good place to snipe from, not the sniping itself - probably when sniping it would be good to just have one target you''re trying to take out, but the hard part is planning everything and finding the best snipe point/armaments/etc, and getting away after the deed is done.

/me imagines JFK assassination scenario...

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This is going to be a long post, sorry, but I am trying to effectively address your issue, and it is a complex one that cannot be simply explained in short replies. I do get to a very useful point by the end.

Though there have been court decisions, (Rush Limbaugh''s relative, a judge, issuing a decision stating games were not an art form and not entitled to certain protections notably) and elected officials decrying violence in games and trying to legislate morality in the guise of civility, I submit for you consideration:

1. Humans are by nature violent. Anybody who has been a child knows how violent we can be, especially as children, even without ever having been exposed to a violent game. Though it is true a free and civil society is the ideal to strive for, we are frankly a long way away from that.

2. Nobody in an medium who includes violence in their content will ever have the violent scenes censored if it is the scene where good finally triumphs over evil. I suspect this feeds our innate superiority complex brought about by religious and commercial institutional doctrine and practice. You will get censored (likely) if your violence occurs when you are demonstrating dramatically the malevolence of the antagnonist.

3. Writers and designers for centuries have always attempted and sometimes succeeded in overcoming this censorship via context. Examples could be in Gladiator, the extreme violent gladiatorial combat was common for it''s period in history. This was supplemented by the empathy the audience had for Maximus, said empathy having been generated by the dramatic techniques of placing him in as much trouble as possible and stacking as much as possible in the deck against him so his actions were logical and rational (though quite violent) for a man in his position in his times.

Maximus was wounded badly, had his wife and child killed, the farm he had built all his life was burned to the ground, his rank and title stripped from him by a caeser who had risen to power through assasination (reminds me of the first pope), and the ideal presented to him by the elder ceaser before his murder were all designed to make the main character (which in a real sense is the non-interactive avatar of film, our vicarious experience in the safety of the crowd and the darkened exhibition venue) someone we could empathize with and further understand their motives enough that their actions, no matter how violent, were considered reasonable and rational in the context of his situation.

Remember clearly that Maximus''s character was continuously reinforced and contextualized with the verbalizations of "Strength and Honor" and constant imagery of him praying to the gods for his family and visibly, constantly and with deep sincerity and reverence indicating he was a family man, a simple man, "The farmer" (as it was actually articulated in the film by another character).

The opening scene established him alone as a man who was gently running his fingers through the stalks of wheat (as a farmer who was a simple man who loved what he was) in a demonstration in scene - in action his fond memories of the simple live he loved, always wanted to live, and how far away from that he had gotten (reinforced symbologically by the melancholic music in the BG soundtrack). We saw other reinforcements of this kind, gentle simple man everyone could find something symbologically to identify with in other shots: his noticing the bird landing on the stalks of wheat, his faithful dog (aka as the ''old yeller'' trick in the biz).

And the filmic storytelling device of coming in on the action as late as possible was skillfully employed, when we enter the film just before the last battle of a 12 year long war that finally would bring peace to the empire, and maximus had not been home for over two years (he even quoted the exact amount of time to Caeser in chambers when they speak), so our empathy bones for the great guy this man is just about maxed out when everything gets turned upside down by that snake of a guy (the son of Marcus Aurilius), and we have so much empathy and endearment for this character that he can get away with hugely violent murder and combat for the rest of the movie and we still like him. We liked him enough so that we gave him an academy award.

So in a very real sense, we awarded violence. This is the power of context, and as you will see, I will explain how you can use this tool to fight the senators and judges just as Gladiator did.

You have to remember that wherever they could, they reinforced this goodness and consistency in character in Maximus whenever was plausable throughout the rest of the film, such as in scenes where he would not take up the wooden sword against the Germanic giant character because he was tired of fighting, because he had been fighting so long, and would only fight for ''strength and honor'' because of his character''s values and perceptions that had been so carefully laid out from the beginning of the movie.

This was also illustrated when he could do nothing but weep as piteously as a human can grieve over loss when he found his wife and child dead, giving him reasonable lattitude with the audience that he had lost everything, and didn''t really care if he lived or died anymore after that. We saw this carefully foreshadowed by his constant references through monologue to his troops just before the big charge in the beginning of the film, where he puts everyone''s mind to ease about dying.

His dissociation from fear of death and having no more reason to live is slowly built back up in a reason to live and take action when he discovers he could win his freedom again via gladiatorial triumph, so now it becomes logical for him to really get violent. Violence now has a purpose for this man, whom just a few sequences before in the film, had no purpose anymore, because everything had been taken away from him.

Not long after coming to rome, he is reconnected again to his destiny (or so we would be led to believe) by his servant bringing him his iconic symbols of his wife and child, his meeting with the antagonist in the center of the arena, where he states his vengeance in the most dramatic way possible, leaving the audience almost stunned at the character of a man whom could come back from such endured hardship. In this way, we are even more engaged in the story though the character, and despite the odds against Maximus, the audience is more behind him that ever because it appears he actually has a chance to reach his goal.

Anybody that was dragging along through all of Maximus''s travails to that point were absolutely riveted and re-engaged when he turned his back on Ceaser and then uttered his revenge.

The point here is that the writers and designers of this story used every trick in the book they could to make Maximus''s obstacles, actions and speech the plausable choices a man we empathized with reasonable, rational and expected based upon the context of the situation his type of character had been placed in.

It was only in that way was the path of censorship cleared away, and cleared away so widely that little resistance existed to censor anything about the violent content (and it was pretty violent and bloody, nobody will argue that) because it belonged there in the time, place, circumstance and character(s) involved.
In fact, the path of censorship was so widely cleared away by context and it''s tools: time, place, circumstance and empathy for the obstacles placed before the central character (the non-interactive avatar) that lots of people who would have criticized the violence either professionally or personally were silenced, and the removal of that desire to criticize gave way to the desire to praise, and praise it recieved, all the way to the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Via technique, approach and style, the violence of that film was acceptable to a wide demographic of filmgoers, filmfans and film industry professionals, including even censors.

And in this way, you could also silence the critics and open the way to praise. Here''s how I suggest it could be done.

4. Your character is a mad, gunman sniper. Obviously a potentially extremely violent character, wide open for criticism.

How could you sweep that criticism aside? Through context.

Your ''lone mad sniper'' could be characterized as perhaps a highly trained military sniping specialist, highly disciplined and self-sufficient, as somebody trained in that profession would be.

The situation he is placed in is that weapons of mass destruction have been used against the society in which he is sworn to protect and preserve, and loves with patriotic fervor. Let us circumstantially narrow his position by saying that the weapon of mass destruction is biological, and he was in an underground bunker training facility at the time the weapon was launched against his country, so he was unaffected by the attack.

The biological weapon has devastating effect on those who were not exposed, nearly paralyzing the effectiveness of the military infrastructure almost entirely, with only sporadic and thin resources untouched by the attack. He ends up being only one of a few thin resources left in reserve to combat the invasion his countries enemies on the very shores of his homeland.

Now, he alone, with the aid of a few other NPC''s and resources, has to repel the invasion of his homeland.

You see now, his madness, brought about by the rage of witnessing the disastrous and tragic results of the biological attack on his beloved homeland, with even further empathy creating complications and obstacles such as his own family having succumbed to this attack (shades of Max Payne!) drive him to become a one man assualt weapon determined to repel the invaders.
You put an american flag in front of this context, and make the lone mad sniper an american soldier, and make the agressors/invaders terrorists, and not only might you have a game that you can makie violence within as graphically as you can possibly create it, buy you also might ship a ton of units and make a huge pile of money. All this by tapping into the psychology of the millions upon millions of Americans who are bloodthirstily revenge bent against terrorism.

In reality, it is Gladiator brought into the current geo-political schema, which is has been very sensitive territory for some time, currently and for some time in the future. You would probably have a lot of criticism, but you would almost surely have a lot of praise as well. Because of the simple reason that one of the major reasons people play games is to do things in a virtual environment they cannot do in real life.

I gainsay to ask for a show of hands of people who would not desire to take it to the terrorists in a violent and overwhelming way? Not many of you, save for conscientious objectors and pacafists will raise their hand.

Consider these approaches, well established as effective in entertainment mediums in combatting censorship to the point of defeat, the next time fear of censorship and it''s silent reprisal arises in your thinking about your creative designs. Go get ''em.

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i say let your players run amok with high powered rifles on general members of the public if they wish but then find some way of laying on the guilt. the thing with most games where you shoot people indiscrimately is that when one person is dead you just aim your gun at the next and forgot about them. after the mass murder there should be like a cutscene with a news report of your victims untimely deaths with sobbing relatives and the reporter telling you about theer lives with so much potential cut short cos they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. then unless your players truly are sick they will feel bad for what they have done etc.

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