Apathy – The Video Game.

You’ve probably seen the trailer for Hatred by now. If not, go and have a look.

Plenty of other people are going to write thousands and thousands of words about this game, about why it’s hateful, misogynistic bollocks at best, harmful misanthropic tedium at worst. I’m not going to bother with that, because it’s more tiresome to read than I imagine the game will be to play. It’s the exact reaction developer Destructive Creations (who are possibly a bit Nazi-ish) are looking for. I’m going to talk about how boring it is.

Hatred is the game that has finally made me feel like the 29-year-old man I am. In case your history is a bit rusty, Hatred harkens back to games like Carmageddon, Mortal Kombat and Postal. Games that caused moral panic in the tabloids, were banned in some countries (Germany, Brazil), heavily censored in others (civilians turned to zombies in Carmageddon, blood changed to ‘sweat’ in Mortal Kombat), but which now look harmless and comical. You look at videos of these games, or sit down to play a few torturous rounds of Mortal Kombat, and you can’t believe that these things were discussed in Parliament and the United States Senate.

This sort of thing isn’t new, of course. Any new technology or latest pop culture trend has been demonised, from Marilyn Manson to Pokemon, pinball (it was banned in New York for thirty years!) to Dungeons & Dragons. Despite all this, it’s taken Hatred to make me think, hang on, this is fucking boring. Why is this my hobby? If this game had been released 15 years ago, I would’ve loved it. I may not have played it, but I would’ve cheered for it, talked about how it was a triumph of freedom of speech and expression. I’d have loaded up my LiveJournal and launched an invective towards anyone even thinking about censoring or banning this game.

Now? I look at it and I’m tired. I get the same weird, slightly queasy feeling I had when I saw the trailer for the latest Mortal Kombat game. You can only see so many women sliced to death from the groin to the brain; see so many GrimDark, Jon St John-sounding motherfuckers sliding a pistol into a woman’s mouth and blowing her brains out before you get an ache in the bones, your eyes glaze over, and you just feel exhausted.

I don’t have anything against violence in games, I don’t think this game should get banned, I just want a tiny bit of context, is all. “Oh, Harry, you can kill innocent people in all sorts of games like GTA!”, which is true, but it’s not really the main narrative thrust of the game, is it? Your character is punished by the police.

If Sam Hauser ever wrote a script with the words

“My name is not important. What is important is what I’m going to do … I just fuckin’ hate this world. And the human worms feasting on its corpus. My whole life is just cold, bitter hatred. And I always wanted to die violently”

he’d rightly be laughed out of the industry, but he doesn’t.

GTA IV, for its faults and ludonarrative dissonance, was trying to tell a story about violence and war and the toll that takes on a person; it was about the lie that is the American Dream, it was about one man’s obsession with bowling and partying.

Hatred is some douchebag shooting people and stabbing them in the stomach over and over again, with some decent destructive physics. There’s no point to it.

What’s truly offensive about Hatred is how inoffensive it is. It’s telling that there’s been no hysteria in the Daily Mail and its retarded cousins. Mortal Kombat et al had a certain power because they were the first of their kind. We’ve seen everything in Hatred and the only word I keep thinking of with this game is tired. I’m not offended by it, I’m just bored. There’s no shock factor anymore, it’s 2014.

You need games like Gone Home to be shocked; shocked that you’re playing a game about a young woman struggling with her sexuality. How have we gone from something like that, to something like this? How have we regressed this quickly?

Gone Home isn’t a brilliant game, but it’s an interesting one. I’m not ever going to play it again, but I’m going to remember it. I’m going to remember Samantha’s bedroom, her VHS collection, her letters, her hopes and dreams, her pain and escape. The dude in Hatred doesn’t even have a name. I’m not trying to be one of those shrieking games are art! wankers; I’m not usually so ashamed of my hobby that I need to try and elevate it and make it something that it’s not, but Hatred is just embarrassing and makes me… tired.

Don’t ban this sick filth, just ignore it.

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