Joe Houston makes some rather interesting points about violence in video games.
Former Dishonored designer Joe Houston recently opined in an editorial about the dangers of censorship in the gaming industry, stating that, “linear games that have a lack of personal ownership in game violence actually do so at the disadvantage of society.”
“Too often we think about what we might lose as players and developers if forced to engage in that conversation, becoming blinded by the fear of censorship. As a result we miss out on more creative and effective ways to be a part of the solution.”
Houston points out Dishonored, and how for every unspeakable act of nonetheless awesome killing committed, a similar non-violent route is also possible.
“I don’t believe that game violence causes real world violence, but I do believe that it does little to prevent it. And games with meaningful – and potentially distasteful – choice just might do better because they stand a chance of making the player think about what they’re doing on screen.”
The argument is pretty simple actually: if you don’t show gamers that they have a moral choice, how will the starkness of the immoral choice be highlighted all the more?
“One could argue this is largely because the game can be played without killing anyone. This doesn’t change all the things you might do in the game, but simply by knowing that it allows non-violence you find that every violent act you choose in cast in a sobering light.”
Houston is currently working on the turn-based strategy Unwritten for PC as part of his new indie development studio Roxlou Games.