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Raiken

Mature themes on a game I'm working on

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So I am writing a game design doc regarding a game that I wanted to make in the future with many mature themes which are commonly never touched and often avoided. I wanted to address topics such as racism, sexual assault/rape, pedophilia and homophobia in a respectable manner via interactions with NPCs and quests. As I was writing the events down, I thought that it would be a good idea to consult a larger audience before I keep going down this road.

Before you read the idea section, you should know where the game is set in. Basically, the game is going to be a survival horror zombie game (like resident evil and last of us, not like MGS: Survive or WWZ) and will be set in a small city on an island(Island contains two other cities and rainforests). The focus of the game is how society functions in war-like situations and will not be focused on kill the zombies and fill a bunch of food meters. 

 

Idea 1: Pedophilia/ Rape

In the game, there will be a female doctor who would volunteer to help the government during the outbreak with all her medical knowledge. The outpost she was assigned to collapses within the first week and she runs away with her surviving friends and nephew to create their own safe house. This safe house gets destroyed too within the next week and many of her friends who survived the collapse of the government outpost die during this attack. 

The female doctor escapes and huddles down with the medical supplies and her nephew in another location. She now only helps women who were abused and you (in case you built a good rapport with her). 

Later in the game, when you investigate her new safe house, you will find a locked door which will lead to a dark basement. As you investigate the dark basement with your flashlight you will find her nephew chained to a metal pipe and various signs that the nephew had been raped by his aunt. The rape would be suggested by a bottle of aphrodisiac you will find in the room and confirmed when the doctor (the rapist) will turn the lights on and will have a shotgun pointed at you. At this point in the game, you can either leave her be or return to save the nephew by killing her. 

The other route (the redemption route) is that the player will find the doctor's diary and police report she was going to file against her ex for rape charges. These two items will be obtained via a quest where you will try to retrieve an item from her apartment on her request. The diary and the police report will let the player know that the doctor was once raped by her ex who was a rich man. He bought her silence by paying for her student loans. This will be done so that the player will understand that her previous experiences with sexual assault, deaths of her friends and isolation due to the outbreak had corrupted her and led her down this awful path. Using this newly gained knowledge, the player can rescue the nephew with a drop of blood shed and talk some sense into her.

 

Idea 2: Racism/Homophobia

In the game, there will be an Arabian Muslim businessman who owns a successful food franchise in the country and a farm that produces the ingredients for his franchise. During the outbreak, he will be one of the main suppliers of food to the survivors with the help of the government and his privately owned security team. He is a very hospitable and generous man who will risk his life and wealth to help those in the outbreak. His people will even try delivering food to those who can't come to the various outposts to retrieve it. 

However, he also has a policy that prohibits entry and food delivery for homosexuals, jews, and transsexuals in any of his outposts. He also believes that the outbreak is a punishment from God for not condemning homosexuality due to the sins committed by Jews. The Arabian businessman would stick to his ideology no matter what someone says to him. However, despite his backward and horrid ideology he would still not take the life any human being whether they belonged to the group he hated.

To further add depth to his family and faction, you can also go on a mission to deliver food to a location with his son. His son will tell him that he is going to deliver some supplies to the neighboring Christain family. Upon delivering the supplies, you will find out that his son lied to him and was actually delivering supplies to a gay couple in need. On your way back when you question him, he will tell you that he doesn't share the same ideology as his father. The businessman's son believes that just because he doesn't find the acts of some people agreeable according to his religious values doesn't mean he should condemn them to death or abuse. 

Towards the good route of their storyline the Arabian businessman, his squadron, son and you will head out on a rescue mission. His son will die during that mission and as you and his father enter the building you will find out that the family you set out to save was a Jewish family. The Arabian man would be enraged by seeing the star of David necklace on the table and the Torah. The Arabian man would want to kill the Jewish mother and her children but with the correct dialogues, you can talk sense into him. After completing the mission and saving the family, he will immediately ask the mother if she knows whether she knows any other Jewish family in danger or hiding. When asked what he intends on doing with that information, he will reply "Send my men to see if they need anything or if they need rescue..." he will look at her kids and say "God would never let me enter heaven if watched as innocent people die while I could still help them"

Conclusion

I know that these topics are difficult to tackle but I believe that gaming as an interactive medium can tackle them at a much deeper level compared to any other medium. The amount of hours games usually pack is ample time to develop and build characters. I just want to know whether you guys think the direction I am taking regarding this is a good idea or not. And whether you all believe that games can be used as a platform to deal with mature topics. 

Side note: In case one of your biggest concern is the Muslim man being portrayed as homophobe would raise Islamaphobia flags, I'm a Muslim too. 

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From my personal point of view, I think it is okay to address such topics, especially in a horror game, as long as rape and other very horrible things are not shown explicitly. However, you should keep in mind that hard topics can easily backfire on you if somebody feels insulted and that sometimes happens faster than expected and gets ugly quick...

 

Greetings

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There is no way you can touch these subjects without upsetting a lot of people. Especially in these days where people seem to be overly sensitive and prepared to gang-up on you on social media or screw up your Steam ratings.

If you want to stir up controversy that's okay but you have to be prepared for some hot wind. Personally I wouldn't even go there within a mile radius.

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Since it's a horror game, I'd recommend figuring out possible prices for the PC to pay in order to take the good option.   Essentially, "you can come out feeling better about yourself, or you can come out unscathed."  That the player will take the good path, at least the first time around, is so safe of a bet that it's almost a guarantee, so adding a price to the virtue and a reward to the vice to the margin wherein the player almost accepts, or barely accepts, the vice is the magic area where the horror gets to the player's head.

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Well, I never had the intention of showing any rape on screen and never will. It would just be implied by the evidence and confessed by the doctor. Secondly, I am fully aware of the backlash things like these tends to create. Which is why I don't intend on oversimplifying it and would take inputs from various people before putting it in. 

Though I know no matter what I do someone would get offended by what I would put out in regards to such topics. I would take constructive criticism that people would throw at me regarding this but if people would just bitch because I didn't support their agenda then screw em. I'm not making this to support any group, it's just going to be various messed up situations and you would be given the choice to either make the best out of them for just yourself, make the best out of them for everyone or just #*@! everything up.

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The two points raised above: 1) You can tackle these issues in games and 2) You will upset some people with it at the least.

I think it depends on how you portray it, what gravitas you give the scenes, and what freedom the player has around it. Heavy topics need heavy research and even heavier respect.

With that said, you also have to make sure these things make sense in the setting and the world, so that they don't feel needlessly placed. A good example of well placed drama in a post apocolypse setting would be the film The Road (2006). Where the brutality of world really feeds into the questionable deeds. A bad, bad, bad example is in something like the film Dawn Of The Dead (2004) where, despite the raging zombie hoard literally at their heels, the characters seem to find time to have petty jealous spats about relationships and so on.

I would give the muslim/homophobia situation a re-think. Not because I think it's too touchy. but because I don't think it makes as much sense as the first scenario. In the post apolocyptic world you describe, I can't imagine someone who doesn't like gay people would have enough free time to know who is gay and who isn't. That said, Islam does have a deep problem with gay people, so perhaps it would make sense if it was quite early in the apocolypse (e.g. not total anarchy, but close to). Because there'd still be enough structure left in society to make it feel more possible.

I would always advocate for portraying dangerous and dark issues such as these because I, personally, feel that what art is for in some sense. But I am the kind of man that really doesn't mind a bit of backlash and verbal combat, it doesn't bother me.

TL;DR heavy research, good setting, respectful portrayal, beware of backlash, don't apologise for art.

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On 4/25/2019 at 10:03 AM, Raiken said:

I just want to know whether you guys think the direction I am taking regarding this is a good idea or not.

Look at other media. There are stories, books, articles, and movies about those topics.  Most never go anywhere, and many stir up controversy. Some land the authors and creators in prison in some countries.

If you're going to tell a story, and it's legal where you live, then tell the story.

But if your goal is to make a profitable commercial project, you'll need to consider the masses and not just your story.

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Don't know if you're still looking for input on this, but I am doing some mature themed writing myself so I thought I'd register to give my comments.

Notice how you're using a lot of "opinion words" in describing your story. Backward, horrid, innocent, talk sense, phobia, etc. You should try to detach yourself from your own value judgements when writing fiction for entertainment, otherwise it's going to feel like reading a political diatribe and it's going to basically suck. If your story involves a divisive topic, try to avoid writing dialogue that carries a tone of clearly favoring one side over the other. The story should have some appeal to everyone regardless of whether they lean left or right, and whether they personally like gays, jews, muslims and the like, or if they can't stand them. It also shouldn't assume that the player knows, or cares about the pecularities and customs of any religious group, including ideas about morality that you've grown up with and always taken for granted. Naturally, this is difficult to execute well and I would therefore suggest that you refrain from pursuing your second idea. The rape story gives you much less to worry about in terms of pissing off your audience.

For a good example of what not to do, watch the movie The Purge.

 

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Posted (edited)

The first idea would be almost traumatic to me, what regards the whole rape thing because I have been called ugly/smelly/stupid by women for hundreds of times when I was younger.

For the second idea, well if you're a Muslim, you should try a way to introduce what Ashka means(I would personally like to know, I know it means Love for Allah, but that's pretty much it) and you should definitely refrain from overusing the concept of Jews as "being wrong".

My point is already in the name of the topic "Mature themes on a game I'm working on". You are of maturity age, so be mature. The point of these two words is the most important here. Mature themes here implies racial/cultural differences, but "mature themes" also means maturity of the themes in game, or mature concepts.

Edited by Acosix

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Posted (edited)

I have heard Ashka means something like...an important part of Q'uran, and a teaching which means there is nothing wrong with Muslim religion and the simple teaching of the message of Muhammed Mustafa(or Odabrani or Chosen).

Note I'm not talking about facts here.

Edited by Acosix

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