Editor's Note: Nathan gives us his view on the topic of gore in video games. While I do agree that realistic physics for blood spatter and severed limbs can increase the visual impact of a game, I also think that it can be really easy for developers to overdo it. Despite the fact that Dragon Age: Origins is one of my favorite games, the amount of blood on your characters sometimes reaches comical proportions while you're playing it. – Jay
A video I watched recently, in which an elderly women claimed video games cause children to be sexist, racist, and violent, sparked my interest in the concept of blood and gore in video games. I've seen debates in the past regarding this concept and whether or not the gore we see today in games like Gears of War and God of War is too much, but one side of the argument some people fail to explore is the side I support. I think that gore is not necessarily excessive; rather, our technology has improved over the years and has allowed developers to explore the art of blowing off limbs in more detail than ever before.
Innovation is key to the development of video games. It now plays a bigger role in consumer enjoyment than ever before. It's not rare to see a game receive mediocre reviews if it didn't bring anything new to the table. Is the increase in gore an example of a previously not-well-known concept going through the process of innovation?
Ever since video games first hit the market, the technology behind them has progressed at a phenomenal rate. Personally, I think blood and gore is an example of the developers keeping pace with this new technology. In the early days of games, did you see limbs flying off of bodies and rolling across the floor? Probably not, because the tech we had back then made it extremely difficult to make that sort of thing happen. But, in the current day and age, developers can now make body parts break off when shot and create a plethora of other grotesque ways to mangle bodies.
The question presenting itself is whether or not the gore we see nowadays is excessive. Your answer to that question may be different from others due to personal taste, but I think an important factor to consider is the game itself. Let's take God of War as an example. Kratos is a very, very angry person. He has blades attached to his hands, and he's out to cause as much damage as possible. The man killed a god! Would this game be any worse if the gore was turned down a bit or even taken out completely? The answer is yes. Playing as a big burly man with this much rage wouldn't be as fun if he wasn't tearing enemies in half and gutting creatures with his blades. It would seem silly, almost as if the developers were afraid to include gore or were just too lazy.
Over the years, graphical quality has improved greatly due to technological advancement. Gore in video games seems to be taking the same path. If developers take advantage of this technology, are they doing anything wrong? No. Gore in video games only becomes a problem when the developer focuses too much attention on it, and the core gameplay suffers as a result. I think we have yet to head down that path, and I don't see any reason that we should. Gore, like pretty graphics, is meant to enhance the experience for the player, not hinder it. So let's be thankful that video game companies recognize that they can make games better than they could years and years ago. Let's appreciate the developers for introducing gore as a way of saying, "Hey, look what we can do now!"