Challenge Draws Gamers, Not Gore

Posted by | January 17, 2009

A study drawn out of the University of Rochester and Immersyve Inc., shows that gamers enjoy, not the gore of violence of games, but, well, the game part. The fun factor in games, especially those that layer on the carnage, doesn’t magically appear from a well-crafted arterial spray, but the challenge of mastering the game mechanics, overcoming obstacles, and discovering new tactics and strategies. Violence is, at best, window dressing and may actually turn gamers away from a particular title.

However, the study also mentioned a certain percentage of gamers do play for the violence, although this segment tends to be more aggressive overall than the typical player. Even for these aggressive gamers (you know who they are, they killed your poor level 35 character in Stranglethorn 20 times one day with their own level 80 draped in 2000 gold worth of player-killing weapons and enchants), violence and gore wasn’t enough. There had to be a real game under the flying viscera to keep them playing.

None of this is very surprising to us at Vox, what with being gamers since the days of Pong, which is about as non-violent as you can get while still being able to pwn noobs and throw the horns in another player’s face. The reason you see so much violence in gaming is because combat and melee provides a natural medium of conflict, an easy way to challenge the player without having to create some arcane system or plot. Just “here’s a zombie, here’s a crowbar, have fun.” It’s simple, it’s easy to understand, and the developers can go back to coating everything in the shiny glossy anti-aliased 3d candy shell that consumes 80% of the game’s budget.

In some games, fighting and violence even seems to just get in the way, the Silent Hill games come to mind here, even if force-feeding monsters a lead pipe now and then serves to underscore the game’s themes. And of course, we’re all familiar with those annoying random battles with useless stupid monsters that plague the RPG genre like a bad case of a contagious disease that makes you suddenly shoot blood from your eyes without warning.

Anyhow, it’s about time more game developers got the memo, especially those window-licking idiots who screwed up Silent Hill Homecoming by transforming a game about secrets and atmosphere and tension into Monster Wrestling V THIS SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY BE THERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRE! Moronic troglodytes, the lot of them.

You can read more about the study at this Science Daily article.

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