‘Hatred,’ the video game shouldn’t exist and is disgusting

Posted: October 18, 2014 in Opinion Piece

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by Patrick O’Rourke

When I first saw the trailer for “Hatred”, I didn’t believe it was real game. I thought to myself, “Why would someone go through the effort of creating a game like this? It has to be a parody.” But no, Destructive Creations’ Hatred is a real video game and its all male Polish development team decided to announce their first title at what might be the worst possible time, just a day after a second female developer had to leave her home following death threats stemming from GamerGate, and popular feminist critic Anita Sarkeesian was forced to cancel a speaking appearance because of a school shooting threat.

The game’s website describes Hatred as follows: “It’s a horror, but here YOU are the villain,” says Destructive Creation’s website. “Wander the outskirts of New York State, seek for victims on seven free-roam levels. Fight against law enforcement and take a journey into the antagonist’s hateful mind. Gather equipment of the dead ‘human shields’ to spread Armageddon upon society. Destroy everything on your way of hunt and fight back when it’s disturbed…” “…just don’t try this at home and don’t take it too seriously, it’s just a game. :)” No, I didn’t add the smiley face. They added the smiley face. It’s almost like the game’s development team is trying to make light of their title’s extremely dark subject matter.

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Hatred’s trailer starts off with a man who says his name isn’t important. He’s wearing a Matrix-style long black coat, his head is covered with dreadlocks and he’s assembling weapons. He discusses how the world is pointless, spouts a few horrible one-liners that feel like they’ve been pulled right out of a ’90s action movie, and then engages in his grotesque killing spree.

For decades the gaming industry has tried to defend itself against claims that video game violence inspires school shootings and, now, a group of developers is creating a game built around the idea of slaughtering innocent people. There’s no artistic justification for the violence in Hatred. Its main character has no real motivation. The game’s violence is over the top, unnecessary and offensive. Will Hatred actually inspire a mass shooting? Probably not. But does the game need to exist in an industry constantly trying to get the outside world to take it seriously? Also no.

There’s a place for violence in gaming and it can add a lot to a game’s experience. Shadow of Mordor’s crazy finishing kills are spectacular and fit perfectly into the game’s Lord of the Ring’s universe. The Grand Theft Auto franchise lets players assume the role of a criminal but the game also is an interesting commentary on North American culture. It’s important to point out that in the GTA series, players also have the ability to go on a killing spree just like in Hatred, but that’s not how the game is designed to be played and there are consequences for those actions.

Grand Theft Auto V tells a compelling story and gives players moral choices. In many ways, it’s almost satirical. Hatred is designed to be a giant people-killing simulator and nothing else. So, how does Destructive Creations justify their game’s existence? “The question you may ask is: why do they do this?” says their website, knowing we’d be here anyway. “These days, when a lot of games are heading to be polite, colorful, politically correct and trying to be some kind of higher art, rather than just an entertainment — we wanted to create something against trends. Something different, something that could give the player a pure, gaming pleasure. Here comes our game, which takes no prisoners and makes no excuses. We say ‘yes, it is a game about killing people’ and the only reason of the antagonist doing that sick stuff is his deep-rooted hatred.”

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Destructive Creations says their title exists merely to be violent. There’s no artistic merit to the game and it isn’t trying to say anything important. But gaming has evolved beyond titles designed as solely entertainment and games like Hatred push the industry back to the early 90s. Epic Games, the creator of the engine Hatred runs on, has distanced itself from Destructive Creations stating, “Epic Games isn’t involved in this project,” and that the, “Unreal Engine 4 is available to the general public for use for any lawful purpose.” In response, Hatred’s creative director Jarosław Zieliński has removed the Unreal 4 logo and any Epic Games branding from the trailer.

Violence in games will always be a contentious issue and it’s something I often find myself divided on. For me, violence is acceptable if it makes sense within the game’s universe, isn’t senseless and helps a game tell its story or convey some sort of message. Hatred does none of these things. It features an angry guy who hates the world and is killing simply because he wants to. The gaming industry is better than this and has come so far over the last five years.

It’s almost as if Hatred is being created by the masses behind the misogynistic and reactionary campaign that is Gamergate. In an indirect way it seems stand for everything they believe in – maintaining the status quo old senseless games and not helping the gaming industry to evolve and tell interesting stories.

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