Ex-Dishonored dev Joe Houston believes gamers must reconsider the link between real world and virtual violence.
In an editorial on RPS, the former Arkane Studios employee considers violence within video games, and how players should react to it.
“In light of the recent gun violence in the U.S. and the resultant anti-game talk that has stemmed from it, it’s important as gamers not to simply retreat to the easy reaction, that games aren’t a part of the problem,” he said. “While I think that might be true…I think it’s a pity to stop there.
“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.
According to Houston, “linear games that have a lack of personal ownership in game violence actually do so at the disadvantage of society.”
“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.”
Citing the German Government’s decision to grant Dishonored an uncut release, Houston suggests this wouldn’t have been possible without the game’s intention on emphasising player choice.
“One could argue this is largely because the game can be played without killing anyone,” he said. “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.”
Huston is currently working on a PC strategy title called Unwritten; the first project from his Roxlou Games studio.