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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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Quote:
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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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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If it adds to the ambience of the game and the setting then some swearing should not be a problem. It could even be offset by a chance meeting with say another individual whose response could be things like : good golly that was a smidget close for comfort, while the main protagonist just cursed about almost being blown away.. Or say a reprimand from a higher-up about him swearing then that same higher-up doing it due to something happening..

(If mixed in certain ways it amplifies the main setting and can be toned down by comic-esque relief and pointed at.. hence one does not create a super rambo, but a more nitty gritty character who is a tad more rough it seems then most other ppl he meets and live through the same ordeal..)

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Try this:

Write a script that has as much swearing as you feel necessary to make it real. Then rewrite it, taking out as much of the swearing as you can. That's a realistic level of swearing.

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I think the idea for a clean dialogue is an option but does that have a bearing on the rating (if their is an option for no swearing) otherwise no point in putting a clean option in as it's still going to rate as Mature.

I think a war game needs some swearing.

Your mate gets shot in the head your not going to scream at the enemy "You really nasty men, wait till I get you"

Although for humour value...that might work :P

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Quote:
Original post by drackill
I think a war game needs some swearing.

Your mate gets shot in the head your not going to scream at the enemy "You really nasty men, wait till I get you"


I always love it when people give that example.

<sarcasm>Of course he's going to swear! He'll see his dead mate, turn to the enemy and scream 'Oh my God! You killed Lenny! You bastards!'</sarcasm>

More likely he stand there stunned, let out a huge scream, cry, try and save his life (okay so he's dead already, but seeing a mate get shot in the head'll do some funny things to a guy) or any of these other emotional non-swearing responses. It's unlikely he'd actually say anything coherent at all, with the shock of seeing his mate's brains spraying about. He *might* insult them later... 'Those bastards killed my best friend' ...but not right after it.

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The main point I was driving at is that without a social reference point within the game shown and/or offset by npc's the main character will look a bit out of place almost comically and that detracts from the immersion.

small scenario :
- player runs forward and jumps into a trench, bullets wizzing past him, he lets out a curse.
- a friendly colonel inside the trench reprimands him for doing so and begins rousing his men to assault forward.

Examples : "Dear me, heavens was that necessairy ?" < radio chatter > "sir a new order we're to take the enemy position" "oh well duty calls, perhaps till later and then we'll have a chat about that cussing of yours"
<colonel rouses troops and rushes forward, leaving the player stunned behind, player watches and starts mumbling in him/herself "bloody idiots they'll get themselves killed that way.. hmm.. wait a second.. perhaps they'll make it.. just a bit more.." <large bomb hits the group leaving a smoking crater and forcing the player to duck his head back into the trench> "well I guess that friendly chat with milk and cookies is out, better find a way around that minefield"

And I agree shock might make people do strange things, but when it's just some other bloke you just met 2 seconds ago you might swear at the enemy for doing it.

Getting a mate killed story wise is only done at a crucial time to spur the player on and/or change the plot. Sometimes it's not the player's mate that dies but one of the npc's mates and that npc rushes forward while the player character yells something about ducking down. (First is a more intense version, but harder to get right seeing the player will need time to spend with that npc mate to develop a certain liking, else it won't work. The second version is powerfull enough but a bit more detached, meeting the pair a few times and seeing them work well is enough to understand the feeling)

Main idea is to both convey a storyline and create a believable immersion for the player, the storyline spurs the player on to do things and helps the immersion factor.

Another thing one can also do is add hints and tips how to play inside the game, not textual but with game mechanics for example :
<player is about to rush into a house, suddenly a grenade wizzes past his head and he ducks behind the doorpost just in time> He curses the friendly npc for throwing the grenade, the grenade goes off and a enemy npc falls into the doorway and the friendly npc responds : sorry sir, but standard city fighting doctrine for door to door fighting, first a grenade then rush in.
Here are some grenades I have spare.

The player learns a lesson and it adds to the atmosphere that city fights are vicious and to expect ambushes.

Just one more example :
(If the player character or a npc curses it should be because the enemy or environment in game does something to make life harder then it allready is to complete the mission (cussing just randomly seems silly, but in a heavy rainstorm or when a certain easy access bridge is blown it is viable.. ))

Say level : Cumbaja ?
player is sitting inside a friendly camp after the previous mission, he/she lifts his/her beer, a shot rangs out.. the beer bottle is smashed and a npc sitting next to the player is shot down, player curses about losing his beer.
Player kneels next to the wounded npc and calls out : "don't worry I will avenge you" the npc responds "it's only a fleshwound" a second shot rangs out and kills the npc, the player responds "I was not talking about you but about them messing up my beer, time for some fun"

[Edited by - Santarr on March 13, 2006 1:41:27 PM]

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They seem real enough to me. The first scenario seems a little weird, not too sure why, but the other two examples seem pretty cool. I know I'd be annoyed if an ally threw a grenade at me, and the third one's a nice bit of tragic comedy!

I'd have to recommend some over-the-top Full Metal Jacket style insult for the second scenario, but maybe just a Dammit! for the third. I think for the first one he should kinda report something about the enemy to the colonel, say "There raining a whole load of shit upon us sir!"

But hell, it's your project!

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Swearing affects the tone of what is said, but not the content. Thus it is realistic to have someone swear where that character would in real life, but you should also be careful to make sure that the swearing isn't just a filler for actual dialogue.

As for two settings, I think it's a great idea. As one who has often suffered from having parents who either follow the ratings or are still more restrictive, I think it would be a good idea to have a game have both a teen and mature mode. Something in the ratings box should mention this so that parents can agree to let their kid buy a game if he'll only play it on teen setting. Given that the trend is to rely on technoloical means instead of trust and respect, game companies would likely implement something where the parents can enter a password to lock it in teen mode or something like that.

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Quote:
Original post by TheOddMan
Quote:
Original post by drackill
I think a war game needs some swearing.

Your mate gets shot in the head your not going to scream at the enemy "You really nasty men, wait till I get you"


I always love it when people give that example.

<sarcasm>Of course he's going to swear! He'll see his dead mate, turn to the enemy and scream 'Oh my God! You killed Lenny! You bastards!'</sarcasm>

More likely he stand there stunned, let out a huge scream, cry, try and save his life (okay so he's dead already, but seeing a mate get shot in the head'll do some funny things to a guy) or any of these other emotional non-swearing responses. It's unlikely he'd actually say anything coherent at all, with the shock of seeing his mate's brains spraying about. He *might* insult them later... 'Those bastards killed my best friend' ...but not right after it.


Good point, although I’m sure I’ve seen films where the hero's mate gets shot which sends him into a suicidal rage screams "YOU FUCKERS!!" then repeatedly stabs the enemy with his baronet once he's some how managed to avoid all the bullets coming his way and run half a mile to the precise person who shot his friend. That in its self is unrealistic but hay its not real life :)

but I know what you mean.

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The main thing one has to keep in mind is that a player will want to play the game and to be immersed in and entertained by it. Think of a good action movie, but now the player is the main character. It kind of helps to get into the mindset of the main character perhaps even try out your main characters dialogues in front of a mirror to get a feel if they fit and are not too over the top or out of place.

It really depends on the setting and how the feel of the game is, imagine for example fear with swearing (possible but not needed tho the main character might have said more) (It would also deduct at certain times from the suspense buildup if done at the wrong moment, but at the right moment might have given the character more of a personality (yet different, from a good highly trained soldier with a twist to a toughened old style veteran akin to seen in movies)) and say serious sam doing it (not needed and if too heavy it would break the immersion, sarcasm and corny remarks fit better with the lighthearted approach of that game)
Tho with soldier of fortune it would fit better, but again not for the main character seeing he is a professional and so used to adversity (except if it goes to extremes he might let out one) one mostly sees it in a enrolled character, someone not fully wanting to be there but being good at what he/she does none the less and experienced.

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Even though I am not as good with words as our fellow members are, I wanted to say that if you plan on using swear or cuss words as we call them , I am cool with it. But think about the situation thoroughly before adding any swear words to your game. Because you don't want to put them in the game without having a reason for it. For example, some one seeing some one that they loved, die right before them or their home or country is destroyed by some one that hated them. Because then at that point, I too would be cussing. But to cuss just for the hell of it is not a good move, plus it would make the game less worth renting or buying. Also think of the reputation your game would have with or without the use of cuss words. I dont really know what else to say.


I will say this before I go though, I am using swear words in my game to, but only when the situation calls for it. Such as a monster jumping out of nowhere to right in my face. Also when the main characters are battling the bosses.

If you cuss, do it in the right areas with the right reasons.

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It'd be absolutely ridiculous not to have swearing in a modern-day war FPS. But there's only so many swear words you can repeat, and only so many times you can repeat them before they start losing effect. Just place them well. You can always remove/add them later on if it's not balanced.

And you could always have a censored version with *'d out words and "beeped" out dialogue, which would still give the same impression without offending anyone.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Swearing doesn't bother me as long as it fits and doesn't go overboard. Present Day war game I would expect a decent amount of it. I would just try not to go to crazy with it..

This is a movie, not a game. But, Jarhead I felt went a bit overboard with all the swearing.. It was like every sentence with sometimes multiple swears.. It just got a bit tedious after a while..(Modern war type thingy)

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This topic is 4263 days old which is more than the 365 day threshold we allow for new replies. Please post a new topic.

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