'Hotline Miami' Showed the Futility of Ultra-Violence as Critique

It’s hot as hell outside, too hot to pay attention to anything for more than a few minutes at a time, and that’s the perfect context for Hotline Miami. Replaying just last week, I found myself abstracting murders out to a math problem. Rotate here, shoot off screen, hide behind this door, throw that shotgun, grab that knife, empty that magazine, avoid that window, fire through that window. It all flows out into abstraction, sublimated under the power of game design that makes us start working in patterns and stop recognizing what those patterns are doing.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/gyzxvy/hotline-miami-showed-the-futility-of-ultra-violence-as-critique
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I really do get why Spec Ops: The Line and Hotline Miami don’t work for some folks… and I guess also in keeping with what the Cameron says about context, for me, Spec Ops: The Line will always be a great game, but only because it was released in 2012 instead of now.

And I am super curious about the question the article posits, about how games can criticize their own use of and reliance upon violence, particularly in the context of military shooters. There are some really good anti-war indie games, but I do wonder if it’s possible for a AAA shooter to criticize its own genre without the only way to accept its message being to exit the game entirely. And Spec Ops: The Line in particular stands out to me, since even if it might elicit groans had it been released in 2019, I’m struggling to think of other AAA games that attempt to follow through on their critique as thoroughly (kinda thinking about Austin Walker’s preview of Call of Duty, and how the farthest the game seemed to go was making the player uncomfortable about the U.S. military,and even then they seemed to backpedal into tossing in a justification at the end).

I am super curious about whether anyone here knows of any well known or obscure games that successfully do this sort of criticism, beyond the finger wagging mentioned in the article.

(btw, in case it didn’t come across , I wanna say that I thought Cameron’s piece was superb)