Cursing Means Something in Killzone 3
Cursing is a wonderful thing. My first real act of rebellion against my parents as a kid was to say “f–k” all the time. As I got older I tried to rein in my dirty mouth a bit, but now that I’m a shut-in drunk asshole, cursing provides one of the few pure, real joys in my life, and so f–k it. Sorry, mom.
Sometimes, less cursing is good. The word “f–k” is uttered only once in the film The Aviator — when Alec Baldwin drops it as an expletive — and that’s the best line in the movie (not a shot against the movie, which I adore). The first time we hear it in Mass Effect (“Don’t f–k with Aria.”) is a powerful moment, particularly since the word doesn’t appear at all in the first game. That Mass Effect has a very Star Wars-y, family-friendly adventure story feel to it makes the word’s appearance that much more effective.
The King’s Speech is a great current example. It appears to be a stuffy costume drama, and so when Colin First starts yelling obscenities it’s genuinely funny. The words have power there because nobody expected to hear them in that movie.
Other times, though, you might as well just have a “f–k” in every other sentence because the word isn’t gonna have any particular power in the context of some particular movies or games. If you have, say, a realistic, graphically ultraviolet game, how often the characters curse really has little impact, because you’re not going to notice when someone does it. unless it’s way over the top like in something like Bulletstorm. In Killzone 2, the members of Alpha squad yell a lot of curses, and it’s a good complement to the game’s wonderful and unbelievably loud chorus of gunfire, an epic score and blood flying all over the place.
In Killzone 2 we ended up with too much of it. The thing about swearing is that it’s highly effective when it’s done right, and in Killzone 3 I think there’s some swearing but if feels a lot more impactful. It’s at the right times. In total, I think there’s seven ‘f–k you’s and one ‘motherf–ker.’ I think that’s fine.
Now, having your characters curse less doesn’t make your game worse, but it definitely does not, in a Killzone game, make it “more impactful” when somebody drops an f-bomb, because it isn’t subversive or otherwise surprising for any character in that franchise to throw down a bad word. Yeah.