Mortal Kombat 11’s developers watched hangings on YouTube for research

By Stephany Nunneley, Thursday, 9 May 2019 22:00 GMT

A former Mortal Kombat 11 developer has stated they watched horrific things on YouTube for research purposes.

While doing research for fatality finishers in Mortal Kombat 11, developers watched all sorts of violent things on YouTube for reference.

According to a former staffer speaking with Kotaku, such research involved watching videos of hangings or cattle being slaughtered, or looking at images of murder scenes.

But even when the employee wasn’t looking at the content themselves, they would come face-to-face with it when walking past another employee’s desk. Such scenes eventually caused the person to suffer from mental and emotional duress to point they were diagnosed with PTSD.

The PTSD diagnosis came from a therapist they started seeing after they couldn’t shake what they had experienced.

“I’d have these extremely graphic dreams, very violent,” they told Kotaku. “I kind of just stopped wanting to go to sleep, so I’d just keep myself awake for days at a time, to avoid sleeping.

“You’d walk around the office and one guy would be watching hangings on YouTube, another guy would be looking at pictures of murder victims, someone else would be watching a video of a cow being slaughtered.”

What was bothersome to the employee was how they and other staffers became somewhat desensitized such violence due to how often it was ingested.

At the same time, the staffer told Kotaku, “you start to blame yourself for being shitty or weak or spineless,” for thinking about the emotional or mental impact. Especially when they were well aware of the game they are working on – and what it constitutes.

As far as management was concerned, other than a warning during the hiring process that content would get “a little violent,” there isn’t a company plan in place to help employees cope with the violence consumed on a daily basis.

The employee goes on to tell Kotaku they weren’t the only staff member unable to shake some of the images from their head.

“When he looks at his dog, he just ‘sees the guts inside of it,’ and he couldn’t look at his dog without ‘imagining all of the viscera’,” a former colleague shared with the Kotaku source.

“We talked a lot about how the end product isn’t so damaging as people make it out to be, and I tend to agree with that,” they said. “But I think the process of making these things can be harmful for people. It can cause them to burn out, or lose a sense of self, sometimes.”

If anything comes of this, the former Mortal Kombat 11 employee hopes studio heads and coworkers can “talk to each other about these things,” because having supportive co-workers and management is “really crucial.”

 

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