Soz, I’m writing this before breakfast.
In the wake of the controversy surrounding the new TLOU2 trailer and the new Detroit trailer (and to an extent 13 Reasons Why), I started thinking, video games should definitely be doing more to communicate, ‘woah, this is intense and maybe not for you.’
As it currently stands the ESRB has the familiar ratings sticker and - I just found this out - a detailed blurb on their website for each game. I think the blurb does a good job if a bit too spoilery.
The Last Of Us Blurb:
This is an action game in which players assume the role of Joel and Ellie, human survivors battling their way through a post-apocalyptic world. From a third-person perspective, players traverse through city ruins and use a variety of weapons (e.g., pistols, rifles, explosives, spiked bats, steel pipes, and blades) and melee attacks to fight off infected mutants and other human survivors. Players can also employ stealth kills (e.g., strangulations, pistol executions, stabbing attacks) and engage in extended combat sequences involving close-up camera angles and on-screen prompts. Screams of pain, realistic gunfire, and blood-splatter effects accompany the combat. Several attacks result in decapitations and dismemberment; body parts are depicted in some areas (e.g., chopping blocks). Cutscenes also depict intense acts of violence: a young character dying in a man’s arms from gunshot wounds; adult characters being executed at point-blank range; an enemy getting interrogated and stabbed in the knee. During the course of the game, a character makes sexual remarks about an adult magazine (e.g., “Whoa. How the hell would he even walk around with that thing” and “Oh why are these [pages] all stuck together”). The words “f**k,” “sht," and "ashole” can be heard in the dialogue.
(God I hope those came out well)
As you can see in the ratings above, ‘Blood and Gore’ and ‘Intense Violence’ are common across the three games. I think we can all agree that the violence, the amount of gore and to an extent, what gore is, varies across the games.
People have long declared that the halo games could very well be rated-T when you look at things like Uncharted etc. The violence in MK and TLoU are very different. Mk is over the top and cartoonish while TLoU is realistic, grounded and gritty.
I think the idea of ‘trigger warnings’ in games become more important in cases like TLoU. As technology progresses and polygons start looking more like people, the case for more descriptive warnings, or at the very least a message when you boot up the game, becomes much stronger.
A personal tale: I played Silent Hill 2 the other day and it’s one of my favorite games. That scene, you know the scene, I’m not gonna describe the scene, yes, THAT SCENE,.has very little effect on me in it’s current interation. You up res that, stick it in Frostbite or Unreal and I check out, I’m done.