I know I’m not the only one here who thinks that the use of abusive and foul language in video games has gone way out of proportion, in today’s age. Let me break the ice by bringing this issue/non-issue out in the open. Don’t mistake this for a ‘Concerned Parents’ kind of a post, it is not, trust me. I am not a parent.
Having got that out of the way, I got done with Far Cry 3: Blood Dragon yesterday (our review here), it was a fun a game. You can agree with me when I say that Blood Dragon was more like a homage game to the 80s Video Games Era rather than a standalone independent concept. That is Blood Dragon’s core USP, and it stood true to it for most its parts, but that changed the moment I heard Sgt. Rex Colt use the word ‘f*ck’ in one of his cheesy one-liners. The ‘f*cks’ became more common in mission briefings and cut-scenes and this eventually became a buzz kill for me. I seize to remember any game of the 80s, even of the 90s use the ‘f’ word or any other offensive word so openly and frequently. I remember the games of that era for anything but.
I was excited for Blood Dragon because it was one game I could play with my 6 year old cousin. The plot is simple, the learning curve is easy, it seemed the perfect game for any 6 year old, but I’m in a fix as to whether I introduce him to this game or not. I was hoping to do the same with Tomb Raider, another game I thoroughly enjoyed, but I couldn’t. And Tomb Raider games have always been in the ‘all ages’ category historically, though it was different with Tomb Raider 2013. The game is rated Mature and it’s content is adult focused, it explores themes which are not for your average adolescent.
All this doesn’t make any sense. I’ve never heard Lara Croft use ‘f*ck’ or ‘sh*t’ or ‘b*tch’ in any of the previous Tomb Raiders, why now, even when Tomb Raider 2013 is a prequel. A PREQUEL! Did Lara just stop abusing after she hit 18? The Far Cry series never had a single ‘f*ck’ until Far Cry 3. Far Cry 1 and 2 were rated PEGI 16, only Far Cry 3 got the PEGI 18+ rating. There have been countless Tomb Raider games, only Tomb Raider 2013 hit the PEGI 18+ mark. Heck, even Assassin’s Creed III had countless profanities. The list could go on and on. Hitman: Absolution, Crysis 3, even the Half-Life remake Black Mesa, all these game were flaring with “effin this” and “eff that” and this list is neverending.
Having said that, it is evident that there is an upward trend of inclusion of such language in video games, and this trend is catching on faster than ever. Video games have become more ‘mainstream’ a.k.a. Hollywood in their approach. Publishers and developers want to appeal to gamers in the mainstream sense to achieve higher sales. It all comes down to sales and profits in the end. It is cool to say ‘f*ck’ than not to say ‘f*ck’, even when the situation doesn’t ask for it. And what publishers are not understanding is, they are alienating a big chunk of their audience because of this. Games are not being marketed like how they’re supposed to.
I don’t want to sound like a preacher. Obviously GTA wouldn’t be GTA if it wasn’t for its language. In fact, the language used is the very essence of any Grand Theft Auto game. I’ll go as far as saying that it is necessary to use such language to portray the events shown so well in the GTA series. But that is for GTA. And GTA is GTA. But for a Tomb Raider prequel? No, seriously! The language comes off more as a desperate attempt to win over people than offer creative accuracy. It’s the same thing with Assassin’s Creed III and Far Cry III, even with Resident Evil 6. The situation doesn’t ask for it, yet, you gotta put in the ‘f*ck’ to make you a quick buck by impressing teens.
Video games a decade back, even the mature ones, were games you could play without worrying about foul language. And video games invoke many feelings, the most primal being innocent fun, and this is not the case today. Video games are going out of their way to use foul language, and this is a bad thing for the industry in general. It’s the means and measures publishers are using to sell games that is worrying. Gameplay is being trumped by other not-so-important factors during their development. This needs to change, and this change needs to happen now.