GDC 2013: Violent games are creatively "too easy" says Spec Ops writer

Spec Ops: The Line

Spec Ops: The Line writer Walt Williams stated during a GDC panel (via GameSpot ) that he'd like to see fewer violent games emerge in the future because "creatively they're too easy."

"We're in an industry full of very intelligent, knowledgeable, and progressive people," said Williams. "It's getting harder and harder for us to play these games and to look at them critically and say, 'This is OK.' This makes sense, especially as we get older. I'd like to see less violent games out there. Not because they're bad or wrong, but because I think creatively they're too easy."

Williams' own example, Spec Ops: The Line, turned heads for contextualizing its violence as a deconstruction of a genre that often uses conflicts as a way to glorify the heroics of a lone soldier protagonist. It's one way of going against the grain, but Williams suggests another possibility lies with creating less-despairing characters.

"Where do you go after doing a game like this?" he asks. "How can you make another shooter that leaves your characters arguably alive? I think we need to get to a point where we can move back to maybe trying to write characters that are a bit more hopeful. I think that might be a good first step."

I can see the point Williams is driving at—that violence should serve a stronger purpose in narrative and plot development beyond inclusion for the sake of satisfying a popular trope. I'd like it if more games used violence creatively to engage players in a deeper story—BioShock and The Walking Dead are a couple examples I can think of. What say you?

Omri Petitte

Omri Petitte is a former PC Gamer associate editor and long-time freelance writer covering news and reviews. If you spot his name, it probably means you're reading about some kind of first-person shooter. Why yes, he would like to talk to you about Battlefield. Do you have a few days?