Spec Ops: The Line Writer Says Violence is “Too Easy”
Walt Williams, the writer of last year’s phenomenally intelligent third-person shooter, Spec Ops: The Line, gave a talk at GDC (via Polygon) in which he lamented the abundance of violent games, stating that he would like to see far less of them as they’re “too easy”.
He refers to”ease” not in the sense that they’re unchallenging play, but that they’re too easy to digest by providing players with fodder that they can unthinkingly kill.
“Nazis are basically human demons, killing them is no big deal,” commented Williams, who added that he considers his own game Spec Ops: The Line, as an experiment in which the characters you kill have personalities and how killing them matters.
“It was a hard game to get out the door but [the] reaction to it has been quite wonderful. When you sit down to play a shooter, you’re signing up to hunt hundreds or thousands of people,” Williams noted. “In a game, we’ve allowed hunting to become, not merely mundane, but run of the mill.”
Williams explains that his goal with the game was to make kills memorable by integrating the player’s acts of violence with the narrative—adding a ‘human cost’ to the player’s actions.
“You have to view your enemies not as obstacles, but as characters. [They are] The victims of your players’ violence. When they see you they see a force of nature: They see death, and they are frightened.”