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Degree of cursing and swearing?

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Hello, I am beginning to take more interest into the design and writing aspects of game development. Currently, I lead a rather popular unreleased Half-Life 2 modification and of course evaluating my options based on whether it becomes a success (many people are predicting large success). Anyways, if I do end up working on a retail project, more than likely it would be the design aspect of a military oriented game. I have been in the Canadian Army for 4 years (and counting) now... so that's what I know best. I have been working on a script for a modern war-themed first-person shooter and the dialogue has quite a bit of swearing. To me, swearing obviously isn't bothersome. I don't always swear, but typically when I'm in the field, every other word is one. In my script every other word isn't a swear, but many lines contain them... So to my point: What are your feelings about swearing in games? Does it depend on the context? In my case, the audience is for the Mature ESRB rating (17+) and the design of the game would be to simulate the complications and challenges of modern infantry combat. I think the best option is to make it an option. Have an option for realistic dialogue or clean. The problem with that is it would greatly increase the amount of work going into the game (additional dialoge to be recorded).

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Personally, I don't mind if a game includes heavy use of swearing, but only if it's consistent with the context of the game and isn't just done for gratuitous shock value (although done to accentuate the gritty realism of a game is fine by me).

In your example, lots of swear words in a modern era ultra-realistic military tactical FPS game would be okay with me, and I'd probably expect it. If it were a futuristic military game, I'd expect the swearing to have evolved somewhat from the terms we use today. If it were historical, then the swearing should reflect the period. Fantasy should invent their own swear words in order to help build a sense of the world.

I seem to have drifted off a bit, but in general if your target audience is adults and you are making a modern real-world style game, then swearing seems okay to me.

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Anyone who would buy a game rated M probably doesn't mind swearing.

Me, I find swearing essential for conveying moments of high emotion in stories. I'll have to be careful to keep the swearing in Xenallure acceptable for the Teen rating we are aiming for.

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I think the idea of having an option to set the language between original or clean is interesting; what you'd have to do is setup dialogue filters when text is passed to the OutputText() (or whatever) function, doing things like, "if(found_swear_word == "damn") { new_word = "dang"; }". But even with a filter option like that, games are rated on the worst content they contain, even if there is an option to turn it off (or even if the player can't normally get to it, such as the "Hot Coffee" issue with GTA).

As for swear-words with war-based games, I think it's essential. Saying, "Holy crap, keep your flippin' head down" doesn't quite say what needs to be said. Yes, I like that; swear-words in war-based games "need" to be said. Without them, it's like taking away the bullets, or the fact that people will die. War is real, and swearing is real, and a game shouldn't compromise its artistic integrity just to get that 17+ rating.

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I, myself, don't swear but I also don't mind at all when others swear whether in a game or movie or real life. As most military movies have swearing; I think people would expect alot of it in a war game. I would suggest not overloading the game with swears, though, otherwise it sounds fake-ish(In my opinion) but by all means have as much as seams realistic.

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Original post by Servant of the Lord
I would suggest not overloading the game with swears, though, otherwise it sounds fake-ish(In my opinion) but by all means have as much as seams realistic.

Yeah, I know what you mean there. Some games or films have lots of swearing that sounds forced and not natural at all. When soldiers swear, it has a nice flow to it since they don't even use the words as cursing necessarily (they aren't trying to emphasize all the time, but naturally put a swear in as an adjective, verb, or noun). I remember when I completed my 8 week basic training, my parents picked me up from the base after the graduation parade, and they asked how my last day went and I was saying 'Oh it was alright, just a lot of waiting around, squaring my shi-- I mean stuff... away.' It just came out naturally, but luckily I caught it first :)

I'm glad to see the responses so far in favour (or acceptance) of swearing as long as it is controlled. I'll keep writing as per usual.

Thanks for your thoughts!

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Quote:
Original post by sunandshadow
Anyone who would buy a game rated M probably doesn't mind swearing.

Me, I find swearing essential for conveying moments of high emotion in stories. I'll have to be careful to keep the swearing in Xenallure acceptable for the Teen rating we are aiming for.


I second this.

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Swearing is part of the language. 'Nuff said.

But to expand it is required sometimes to emphasize some emotion. Also, it'd be more realistic in a military game because when you're out there about to get your head blown off I think "watching your mouth" would be one of the least things you'll be thinking about.

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Keep it real. Literally. Characters should talk like real people would talk in the same situation.


I dissagree. Characters should talk like characters. They are not real people, and a story isn't real life. It's a subtle difference, but it's important.

I suggest keeping swearing to a minimum, because it's very easy to go overboard with that kind of stuff. Second, you risk alienating the players if you overdo it. While most people will tell you they don't care, many others *are* bothered by it, as swearing can become taxing pretty quickly. Finally, it's also easy to become gratuitous with it, and you might come off as a designer/writer who can't make characters that are more than pottymouths.

Personnally, I prefer characters who only swear occasionnaly, because the situation requires it. It gives more impact, and the moment is more meaningful.

Just my two cents.

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