Success

Hello, everyone.

Posting to remind myself of how successful I am, because I am successful but I’m not really happy yet. Anyway here goes.

So last time I wrote, which was ages ago, I mentioned that I was having some real trouble with that code project I was working on. Well after months and months of really intensely hard work I’m not having any trouble anymore.

I’d spent about a year on and off trying to successfully write a Delaunay Trianglulation algorithm, to no avail. I tried with a sweep hull method and that turned out to be a buster. I started again literally from scratch with my own data structure classes and got pretty far but was stuck when I posted last. It was really terrible because I could sense that I was close to solving it but I wasn’t at all getting the results I was looking for. It either wouldn’t form a correct triangulation or it’d crash from one nullpointerexception or another. The results looked like this:

Screen Shot 2015-02-20 at 4.30.29 pm

Basically this fails the basic principle of Delaunay because the theoretical circle that has each of the vertices of that blue triangle in the middle on its circumference would also be large enough to fit the farther vertex of the adjacent red triangle. In Delaunay triangulations, every triangle has an empty circumcircle, so until the whole set achieves that property, the triangulation fails the “Delaunay” test.

About a month and a half ago, after SO MUCH testing and guessing and error handling I cracked the problem, and suddenly I was getting these beautiful results:
I DID IT

I spent a long time playing with parameters and getting the roll of the terrain right, as well as trying to feel out how this would appropriately scale for structures with a higher triangle-density or a more deeply-sampled noise space. It was good. Really good. I’d done it! ME! Adam, the guy who failed high-school intermediate maths and had to drop down to the lowest possible level actually wrote a functional Delaunay Algorithm! Life is amazing!BirdsEye
I was really keen to port it into Unity to take it to the next level. I backed up my code which was, up until that point, written in Java using Processing and started porting it to C#. I got really far really quickly but no real results. Something kept crashing, I figured it had something to do with the difference between how 2D arrays are handled in Java vs C# (staggered lists vs true 2D implementations) but after a couple of days i still wasn’t getting it. So I checked my Java version and, i shit you not, that wasn’t working either. I’d broken my code somehow and had no way to pinpoint the problem. “Here we go again”.

So another week went by and I finally sorted it out (I’d neglected to really finish writing some random IF statement that was supposed to save me like 3 lines of code per frame, basically useless). Immediately I corrected the errors in Unity and, man, it was looking so good!

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 1.18.01 pm
I was so chuffed. Seriously, amazed with myself. Over the next week I made the solution more parameterised so that I could customise the kind of results I would get before runtime. Things like number of vertices, radius of triangulation, acclivity of the hills, Simplex noise density (I moved away from Perlin noise). Physics were really trivial to get in as well, thanks to Unity having baked in physics that handles meshes. It took some playing around to get the proportions right. Then I added in some water and voila:

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.09.39 am Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 7.10.17 am

So at this point I’m basically a god, because I can create islands from scratch by clicking my fingers. I successfully created this solution and it works better than anything I’ve ever made.

But I’m not happy with it, somehow. What the hell is wrong with me? I’ve had really very little motivation to do anything since. If you recall I did say I was going to make it dynamic to the player position. i haven’t done that yet. But I’m all out of puff right now. Shouldn’t this be when I have the most energy? Shouldn’t I be feeling amazing and eager? I was. What happened?

I don’t know. I thought writing about it would make me happier 😦

Thanks for reading, anyway. I’ll probably get back into it at some point but I’m not really feeling it right now. It probably has something to do with work, which has been a real drain recently :/

Oh well, I succeeded so that’s good.
Adam

Success

Here It Comes

Hi, again.

Obligatory “It’s been a while”, but it always has been so I guess there’s no harm in saying so. How about I let you know what I’ve been up to recently? Okay, you’ve talked me into it.

I’ve spent the last few months settling into my job as a UX Designer. So far things are fine, I’m not really having much issue settling in but it does seem clear now that my skill set is about to be forced to widen, considerably. Before entering professional life I guess I neglected to consider that being successful can, in a way, mean substituting technical work for people work. Dealing with clients, subordinates, higher-ups etc; all of that comes with being closer to the top, not to mention longer work hours. I want to be a better communicator, that much I’m certain of. It’s blindingly obvious that being able to communicate equates almost 1:1 with having your ideas heard in the workplace (otherwise who’s going to listen?) and right now I’m not really that sharp. It all comes down to being too cautious.

Basically, in person, I constantly find myself extrapolating or reshaping what I’m trying to say, mid-sentence, so as to avoid the other person misinterpreting. The result, more often than not, is that I bore them or they lose track before I get to my point. It’s really terrible, honestly. I’ll be talking and all the while noticing visibly the conversation slipping away but I feel powerless to do anything about it. I’m a passenger staring wide-eyed at an empty driver’s seat while the vehicle careens off the road. What makes it really torturous is knowing. I know how bad I sound and I know what’s causing it. It’s just not in my nature to be at ease while communicating; this only happens when I’m nervous, which happens to be a lot of the time. Especially at the job for which I’m still on probation.

Other than that, I’ve been finding myself doing a lot of coding.

It’s weird, I bought a new macbook and an intuos 5 for creative work on the go and all I’ve been doing is coding. Coding stuff that is undeniably out of my league. That’s another thing about me that I find painful: I’m always biting off more than I can chew, or at least biting off more than I’ve ever chewed before. Sometimes this is a good thing, but a lot of the time it’s not. Especially since my emotional fortitude can be a little uneven at times. If I feel myself falling into a bit of a rut I just lose all motivation for work and pretty much anything can set me off. Then, by the time I’m feeling all right again I’ve already shifted gears into some other project that I’m excited about. I can’t maintain motivation long enough to finish anything.

My latest project (which is unfortunately slowing down right now for aforementioned reasons) is a generative low-poly world. The kicker to this project is that the world itself is supposed to stream in vertices according to player proximity: The closer the player the more dense the network is. So, just like real vision, the farther away something is, the more abstract/less detailed it is. I’m drawing a lot of inspiration from Tim Reynolds’ work. That stuff is really special to me and it’d be awesome if I could make a game with a similar aesthetic. I’m really drawn to certain atmospheres, I think.

It’s just a matter of being talented and motivated enough to create one with a solid enough code base to turn into a game. I can’t wait to explore narrative but it’s such a low priority at the moment. Code is kind of killing me.

Here It Comes

A Bit of a Tantrum

Hey, it’s been a while. Well probably not for you but for me it’s been a few months. I’m actually just on the bus on the way back from a meet-up that the IGDA had on called “Beer and Pixels” where people bring their stuff down and show off the games they’ve been working on. The whole experience made me feel kind of frustrated, to be honest. Generally I like to think of myself as a really decent person but this is one of those instances where I can tell there’s probably something wrong with me.

You know there’s something wrong with you if looking at other peoples’ hard work makes you feel resentment. It’s not that I resent the people at all; I resent the fact that people can produce work that I feel is a lower quality than mine yet actually be on a path to completing it, while I’ve got nothing to show for myself. It’s like “how can you people tolerate your own work?” I’m angry at the fact that they seem to be able to accept their limitations… and that that seems to work for them. Not accepting my limitations is pretty much how I live my life. It’s a path littered with self-loathing but on the rare occasion anyone actually sees something I’ve half-finished they always seem really impressed which makes me think it was worth it. The issue is I seldom, if ever, finish anything. I resent that my process is inferior despite the standard for my work being superior. What even is that?

I look at my work, the same work people think is great, and see rubbish. I’ve got to work harder. I’ve got to start again. It’ll be better this time. When does it end? I’m tired of failing to finish. It doesn’t matter how amazing your work is if the end result isn’t finished. I get scared that all I’ll ever amount to is a huge series of projects that were abandoned three months into development.

What scares me the most is the apparent solution; acceptance of imperfection. Is having shitty work to your name better than having no work at all? I would rather have a small, perfect series of games to my name than a long list of mediocre ones. It’s not really fair, is it?

I guess I’ve just got to low-ball it. Aim for something really incredibly simple and do it perfectly. I have a basic list of constraints, I should be working within them.
No Generative Stuff – too hard on processors/ too hard to go multiplatform.

Limited Game Area – again, it’s a resources thing.
8-16-bit Aesthetic – Because I can do that.
Simple Inputs – Multiplatform.
Self-Expanding Concept – It’s got to basically be something I can expand on really simply.

A Bit of a Tantrum

What’s Wrong, Nintendo?

I’ve been a big fan of Nintendo for a long while. I think a lot of people consider them video game Disney, and rightly so. They have the greatest catalogue of IP in the industry, home to more beloved characters than any other. But there’s a serious problem at the moment that just bewilders me. The company can’t make money. Seriously.

Nintendo have no idea what they’re doing. The problem is basic. The solution, simple. Make more games.

Oh we haven’t communicated the value of the tablet.

Make more games.

Oh we haven’t created enough brand recognition for our system.

Make more games.

 “Oh we can’t compete with Sony or Microsoft of Apple so maybe we should target a different demographic.

No, you fools! MAKE MORE GAMES.

  1. The value of the tablet is that you can use it to play Wii U games. That’s it. Make more games that use the tablet in interesting ways and people will perceive the value of the tablet. Nobody wanted a touch-screen phone when the iPhone debuted in 2007, now nobody will have a phone without one. The only thing that changed was that Apple demonstrated the use case for the things and marketed the crap out of them. Suddenly a healthy new platform was born that everyone wanted to develop for. Not because “touch-screens are cool” but because “people were making cool things for touch-screen devices”. Likewise, make some cool games that use the tablet and we’ll want one. It’s not that hard.
  2. The system is different from your last one because it plays games the last one can’t. It’s a different system. Why didn’t you give it a different name? Did you think that sticking a random letter on the end was going to give the impression that it played different games? just like the DS and the DSi right? oh wait, they play the same games. That’s a stupid problem you created for yourself. Anybody could have told you not to do that, but somehow you did it. The only solution is to do what the Gameboy Color did for Gameboy games. Slap one of those babies on every one of the hundred of Wii U game boxes you’ll be designing because of all of those new titles you’ll be shipping that you can only play on the Wii U.
  3. People are playing games on Sony and Microsoft and Apple and Google platforms not because the consumer just likes their brand better. It’s because there ARE NO GAMES ON YOUR PLATFORM. Guys! Make more games! I won’t have to spend my money on Steam if you give me wonderful new games to buy on your wonderful platform. Give me no choice. Make so many awesome games that I can’t help but buy them. You can do it, you’ve already proved that with the 3DS. You turned that lemon into lemonade in under a year and I can’t get enough of it. Fire Emblem, Zelda, Pokemon, Professor Layton, Animal Crossing, Luigi’s Mansion. Great games. I own some of them because I am a loyal customer who enjoys games made by companies named and in a close relationship with “Nintendo”.

“But we’re going as fast as we can.”

No, you really aren’t. And here’s where my real argument is.

nintenod_heads

See these guys? They’re old Japanese men. With the exclusion of Masahiro Sakurai, who is only excluded because he started at Nintendo so young that after like 26 years in the industry he’s still not even 45. But anyway THESE guys have been at the helm of Nintendo, calling the shots of their major franchises for the last three decades. Nintendo has something like eight internal game development teams and six 2nd-party companies that they basically own. This means that if they all started making a game each (let’s say on three year cycles) at the same time, you would have 14 months of new Nintendo titles straight. Then you’d have to wait two years for new ones. I know this is pretty speculative math here, but it’s not outside the realm of realism. The issue here is that Nintendo is under the impression that 5-6 guys can oversee 14 studios worth of work. That’s a problem. It’s been too long since we played a new Star Fox, F-Zero or Metroid. Can we get a Wii U Kid Icarus? A Wii U Pokemon adventure game? Or how about some NEW IP. Haven’t had any of those in a while. No fresh new characters for kids to fall in love with?

No. And the reason is because they don’t have it in them. Not while 60-70 year-olds run the company. Not while a handful of men call all the shots.

Nintendo needs to expand. Buy out another 10 studios. Hire another 1000 people. Do anything. As long as it gives you the opportunity to make more games than you’re making. The 3rd parties don’t respect you. They’re long gone. They left when you stopped pushing Nintendo Power. All you have now are the cards in your hands, so stop sitting on them and play them.

What’s Wrong, Nintendo?

What happens when I’m left to myself.

Boy, you’re in for a raw one today.

 

So I’m finished with my education. No more university for me. I’ve been studying since I was 5, I’m now 22. That means I’ve been studying for 17 years straight, only to end up where I am right now. I tell you what, I’m not confident. It doesn’t feel good, this.

 

No way.

 

I’ll tell you how I feel? I feel like the last month of my life is an indication of what the next 12 are going to be, which is “waste”. That’s really unreasonable of me to say that, since I only handed in my thesis one month and three days ago. Shouldn’t I deserve a break? I don’t know.

 

No seriously, I don’t. I don’t know anything. I don’t know what it’s like to be on my own. I don’t know what it’s like to be responsible for my future in a way that wasn’t prescribed by somebody else. Nobody is telling me to do this, and that makes me think I shouldn’t be doing it. It’s almost hypocritical, being rational; it’s supposed to be this super wise position to take but it leads you nowhere you haven’t been before. On one hand, you’re not supposed to believe anything you don’t have data for. On the other hand, looking for data in places where you have none is agonising.

 

How am I supposed to be able to know whether or not what I’m doing is going to ultimately work out for me if I haven’t finished yet? That’s kind of what stops me from starting in the first place, which leaves me with this stupid predicament I’m in:

 

In the morning, I’m optimistic about the fact that I’ve got a new day to work with. I start out pretty leisurely because there’s no sense in panicking early. I then settle into media for the day and catch up on whatever it is I’m consuming for my own distraction. That distraction usually distracts me from the time until I realise I’m slightly behind schedule, so I create a new one. “on the next hour, I’ll start”. When that time comes, maybe I’ll open up the thing I need to work on, maybe I wont. Often, what happens is I’ll consume some media that inspires me momentarily and be carried off on a tangent of frantic research or expression in an attempt to capture that beauty. That’s the only thing that feels productive, trying to contain that elation in consuming something by finding out how it works and then generating it for myself.

 

I think that’s ultimately why I want to make video games. I just want to be able to procreate the feeling of consuming an experience for the first time, and propagate that elsewhere so other people can enjoy it, justifying my distraction. If all of my years of engrossing myself into consuming video games allows me to make them for other people, then it’ll have been an investment all along instead of a waste of time. My whole life feels like that. A desperate attempt to convince myself and those around me that I’m not falling behind or wasting my time. It’s absurd, and we all do it. But what else am I supposed to do? accept my situation and just do nothing? spend all day consuming and just forget about giving something back? Or maybe I’ll be one of those people who convince themselves that writing about a thing is contributing something comparable to the experiences you’re writing about. I hope people in the media don’t think that about themselves, that would be terrible.

Ugh. I think this is what depression feels like. I’m really sorry you have to read this (really, you don’t). As I’m writing, I’m hoping that my musings will take me to a logical solution to the problems I’m having. There was a post I wrote a while ago while studying that had something to do with internalising being productive because it allows you to play mental cartographer instead of walking in a forest of thought blindly. I didn’t say that, but that’s an apt metaphor for what the thing was about.

Introspection is a powerful tool but like all tools, its ultimate benefit is dependant on the one using it.

 

No good being introspective if you’re looking for bad things to think about yourself. I still don’t feel very well about any of this. I suppose I’m just going to have to ride it out and see what happens. Optimistic me would like to think that this is a redeeming quality, and that my self-torture is sort of an auto-autobiographical tool. Like I’m creating the complication for my life which, when surmounted, will condition me to be someone capable of succeeding at what I want to achieve. Sort of like if the Hobbit was written by Rene Descartes or something. I don’t know. Pessimistic me says that I’ll tell myself anything to make me feel better about being incompetent but that wont make me any more competent.

 

So that’s what it comes down to. Self-efficacy. Does my success have anything to do with how positive I’m feeling? I think modern psychological inquiry points to “yes”, but it makes me feel horrible to think about that. I just want to be sad. I don’t have enough motivation to haul myself out of this feeling, so it feels good just to wallow. Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.

What happens when I’m left to myself.

Approaching holistic generative game design.

Procedural game design or, rather, procedural design in general, is a really interesting topic. To me, what makes it interesting is the way that people receive it, in comparison to standard manual design. And that’s really the distinction, isn’t it? “manual” vs “automatic”, right?

At the moment, I’d say the biggest problem anyone has with generative games is that, while the games offer a vast amount of permutations of a thing, they all feel like permutations of the same thing. That thing may be specific or it may be unspecific. I’ve been really interested in physics lately so let’s think about it as congruent to entropy:

Generative designs with low entropy are easier to manage. The less you leave to chance, the more opportunities you have to ensure quality. This, obviously, reduces the amount of different experiences you can have in the one game, which reduces the replay-ability of the title.

Designs with high entropy are exponentially (don’t quote me on that) more complicated. The more factors you leave to generative design, the more difficult it is to ensure that each of those variations will be of a high quality.

I want to reinforce a point here just in case anyone gets the wrong idea. I’m not suggesting that games with low entropy (I almost regret using that word now) are “more designed”, I’m suggesting that design can be applied to one of two things.

  1. Designing a narrative.
  2. Designing a space of narratives.

The problem I think designers have today is that nobody really considers how much farther up the tree of space-time/culture/history/possibility they have to account-for in order to ensure that their space of narratives holds up.

A well-crafted hand-designed game is often intuitive to what makes a game good because it relies on the designer’s understanding of what makes people tick on an incidental level. In the context of their chosen genre/theme/story etc, a designer would know when something was getting boring, or too “samey”, because they understand the scope of their game, and would be able to inject some more creativity accordingly. Like, let’s say we’re making a “film noire shooter”; there are things that make film-noire what it is, and there are reasons why film-noire is a genre of narrative. The same goes for shooters. If you’re not doing anything generative, then all you have to do is refer to the handbook of film-noire and shooters to see what works and what doesn’t. You know what people like, and can create an experience that is likeable. But how does one do that when they’re creating something increasingly more generative?

I think the key issue is one of meaning. I think we use genre/tone/story…basic literary techniques… as a way of cataloguing human experience, and texts that work with these tools effectively are considered meaningful. So now the question is one of meaning. How can we make generative games more meaningful. Well, I think in the context of games, the better adjective is importance.

Games often capture our attention using various tactics of generating importance, like giving us a time limit to complete a task. There’s nothing inherently meaningful about time limits, other than the fact that once they’re over, we no longer have the ability to make something happen. Somehow, that’s important to us. Maybe it’s kind of an allegory for death. Life limits, of course, are another one. And quest checklists. And stories. Ultimately, all game design can be reduced to a single effort which is “give the player reasons not to put down the controller”. Sometimes those reasons are short term, sometimes those reasons are long term. Sometimes they’re devious and abusive, sometimes they’re beautiful and encouraging. But good games are always important in some way.

What is the definition of an “important story”? Or an “important terrain”?  How do you define a space of narrative which, at each corner, returns a meaningful result?

I think the answer lies in Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.

I posit that every motivation offered to players in video games can be found in this pyramid and that, when offered to the players in the right quantity and arrangement, are a recipe for a good narrative experience. I’m going to do a case study right now on Super Mario Bros. Ready?

Super Mario Bros.

Immediate Motivations – Safety:

  • Not dying (thwarting dangerous enemies, getting mushrooms for health).
  • Getting to the end of the stage before the time runs out.

Secondary Motivations – Esteem:

  • Long term life insurance (1-ups, fire-flowers, coins).
  • Bonus challenges (finding secrets, hitting the top of the flag pole, warp rooms, etc)

Higher Motivations – Self Actualisation:

  • Saving Princess Peach, for the good of mushroom kingdom.

I argue that the game is fun because it offers the right balance of these motivations, which usually increase in challenge and decrease in frequency over time as you move up the pyramid. Also, as the game progresses, the player’s concern should be more frequently focused on the higher elements. In an adventure game, these motivations should also be dispersed physically across the landscape, which the player traverses over time.

Note that I’ve just described the dramatic arc.

Also, keep in mind games don’t just follow one dramatic arc in isolation. Longer games tend to have multiple dramatic arcs influencing the tension of the main arc in a recursive/fractal manner. These are often manifested in the form of side quests, which help to keep player interest up. The way I see it, the third derivative of your “tension function” is mapped directly to “player interest”, within certain bounds. If you “shake things up” every so often, you know, throw in a plot twist or two, the player won’t get bored of your formula. Ideally you’re sort of trying to hide the transparency of your formula by adding noise to it (not the Perlin kind).

All of this needs to feel like it’s happening in a universe with logic and reason. It needs to feel like what the player is experiencing is special because it has meaning within that universe. The basic premise of any story worth telling is this:

“The universe we live in doesn’t always have crazy stuff going on but somehow this crazy thing happened to some people”.

You could preface every single story ever with that.

So basically what I’m saying is that a generative design for a game should be a world first. It should populate that world with one “big motivator”, and put that thing far away from the player’s starting position. The game should then (in a not so linear fashion) proceed to create other, lesser, reasons for doing things. Maybe some would be intertwined with the big reason, maybe some wouldn’t be. It would then create a bunch of immediate, more physical, impediments between each of the motivators, and following those even smaller, more immediate challenges.

I think you could map out Super Mario Bros. and find it fits that formula pretty well.

Game

Biggest Complication – bowser and his minions have stolen the princess and taken her into one of the faraway castles.
Challenge – find the princess.

World

Big Complication – you don’t know which castle the princess is in, and each are heavily guarded by a gauntlet of traps.
Challenge – Get to the next castle and figure out whether the princess is there.
Plot twist! – There’s no princess in this castle!

Level

Simple Complication – The castle is in the distance
Challenge – Get to the end of the level to get closer to the castle.
Plot Twist! – this level has a secret warp zone!

Screen

Minor Complication – Dangerous enemies block the path to the end of the level.
Challenge – traverse the screen to be closer to the end of the level.
Plot Twist! – there are items hidden on this screen!

So yeah.

Approaching holistic generative game design.

A Notion Regarding Violence in Games.

Video games (or just games these days, am I right (how crazy is that? (almost as crazy as double embedded parentheses))) can be violent. Not just sometimes, a lot of the time. People getting shot, cut up, cut open, punched, kicked, burned, exploded, what have you; games can be violent a lot of the time. I’ve seen it, you’ve seen it. Nobody’s saying it’s not there.

A lot of people see this violence on their TVs. They see their loved ones holding the controller, pressing the buttons, literally causing violence on screen to happen. To a lot of people, holding a game controller equates to holding a murder weapon. Psychologically, anyway. The argument we see a lot is “If the simulations they’re killing on screen are meant to be people, then the player has no issue, or less of an issue, with killing people. The idea of killing people is more familiar to them. They are desensitised to violence. They are more likely to be violent.

That’s the argument anyway.

I think the argument is false for a few reasons, and I’ll explain those reasons soon. First, though, I want to talk about why games are often violent or why violent games are popular…

A long time ago, when games were first becoming a thing, the technology we had available to us made it difficult for those games to be realistic depictions of phenomena. By that I mean the box-art was often the best reference you had in deciphering what the games were even about because characters were a collection of dots on a screen, not much more. But they had to be entertaining, nonetheless. Play is a verb, it cannot be removed from the concept of action. As you might imagine, these games weren’t so entertaining in their own right, often being far too simplistic to be intuitive or descriptive as experiences. To make up for this, games often relied on more lofty premises to grab our attention. Shooting, slashing, jumping, punching. Gross actions were the only thing that could be depicted with any semblance of visual legibility; more cerebral experiences with embodied characters just weren’t possible.

The box art for Video Checkers for the Atari 2600
What Video Checkers looked like (in full resolution)

Time has changed games significantly. They’re much better at being simulations of reality now than they ever were (and that statement will continue to be true whenever it is made).That being said, the characters in a video game are still just dots on a screen. There isn’t any promise that the events happening on screen could be recorded versions of actual violence, so the reality that the experience has been carefully put together by a team in a studio is never far behind. In addition to this, assuming that on-screen violence is realistic enough to register to some as “real”, the context is almost impossible to ignore.

Consider this:

You are reading a book. You know that the book details scenes that are violent. As you read the book, you read violent words and “make violence happen” in your brain. If I were to question your moral code for making those words happen, you would tell me that it wasn’t your fault, and that the words were already there to be read. You didn’t make violence happen, you simply chose to read a narrative that contained violence.

Don’t be fooled by the controller, most video games are the same. Violence is a part of some of these games. Painstaking hours have gone into animating characters, simulating physics and creating realistic graphics that are violent. It’s not the player’s creativity that generates these actions, they’re part of the narrative experience (whether or not the “narrative” is a competitive one between multiple players) and players have as much choice in these violent actions as someone reading a book has a choice of what words are written in it. In games where the only way to affect the simulated world is to fire bullets at other players, that is the only thing players will be doing. It’s not the players’ choice to fire guns, nor does it make the idea of guns more attractive. There are good methods in place (in Australia, at least) to stop people from thinking “I think I want to go acquire a gun today because I saw it in a game, I’ll just go get one”. It takes registration and time and money and effort to get one, and there are serious penalties for anyone misusing them. So in the real world, the choice to inflict violence on others is far more grave and requires a hell of a lot more commitment than pressing a button on a controller in response to a prompt on-screen that says “push this button”.

Okay, then. What about when there is choice? What about games that are realistic enough depictions of humanity that they allow for players to choose not to attack other characters in order to achieve their goals. Games that depict the pain of other characters as well as they depict the visceral nature of violence itself but also render friendship and peace as too. Well, I would argue that violence is the players’ responsibility. If the game offers choice, the player is accountable for what is depicted on-screen. Just as they would be in real life. The world we live in is a much more perfect platform to experience violence in, so anyone seriously capable of it in the real world is probably already seriously considering it, or doing it. Games don’t teach people to be violent if they’re offering players the choice not to be violent, they’re teaching them about choices. And you know what? After thousands upon thousands of hours spent playing games, when I see people making violent choices in video games that support pacifism as an alternative, it makes me squirm.

I may be desensitised to violence. I am not desensitised to malice.

A Notion Regarding Violence in Games.