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A couple of days ago, a short gameplay trailer was released of upcoming isometric third person shooter ‘HATRED’ by Polish developer Destructive Creations. The one minute and 30 second trailer has caused quite a stir concerning its subject matter and brutal violence, a lot of which I consider unfounded. The trailer can be viewed below. Of course, I will recommend that those sensitive to depictions of violence perhaps shouldn’t watch, and instead read my description of the trailer below.

The game has you playing the role of a psychotic mass murderer fed up with the people around him. After a brief internal monologue the trailer shows several brutal killings of police officers and innocent civilians. When the original trailer was up (it was edited for using the Unreal Engine 4 logo without permission), the like and dislike ratio on the official YouTube video was close to 50:50. So it seems that people were in one of two camps: either the Hatred trailer was the most appalling thing they had ever seen, or they didn’t bat an eye and/or think it looks kinda fun.

Even I have to admit that it is poor timing for them to release their trailer, only days after death threats were sent to Anita Sarkeesian promising a school shooting at Utah State University where Sarkeesian was to speak. But besides that, allow me to express why I think the controversy surrounding Hatred is excessive and hyperbolic.

Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first. A trailer is not representative of the quality or scope of the final product. We may all be completely wrong about it being only about mass killing people. Even if it is, I believe there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, let me show you the announcement trailer for the beloved top down shooter, Hotline Miami, and see if you can spot the difference.

I think Zero Punctuation’s Ben ‘Yahtzee’ Croshaw said it best: “It’s lucky this game is stylised or I might think it was a little fucked up!”

Now sure, Hotline Miami is highly stylised, and the trailer alludes to an actual story, but why does Hotline Miami get treated to endless praise? Even by those who conversely think that Hatred is disgusting, and the people making it are disgusting? Is violence ok when it’s harder to see? Just look at the content of both trailers. What the heck is the difference here? Is killing people senselessly new to video games again?

Oh, but that’s not the real big issue here, the development team are associated with extremist political groups! I’m sorry, but when your post’s title is “Hatred” is a genocide simulator developed by Neo-Nazis, I can’t help but think you’re being slightly disingenuous, and have no idea what the word ‘genocide’ means. Now it is true that the Development team for Hatred does seem to be affiliated with some unsavoury political groups, and the article I linked to above is actually well researched, and I can appreciate that. But besides separating the art from the artist, I just don’t think it’s relevant to Hatred at all. I don’t think they should be lambasted for trying to push the envelope, their political agenda is irrelevant.

It’s obvious to me that Destructive Creations are intentionally trying to go against the grain here, which was going to ruffle a few feathers. Hatred and the controversy surrounding it is very similar to “A Serbian Film”, a film considered so blatantly offensive that it is banned in Spain, Finland, Portugal, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Norway, and Brazil. The creators of A Serbian Film claim that it is a parody of politically correct Serbian films financed by Westerners. The development team may have done too good a job of shocking people. I’m not unhappy that it’s caused a stir, because it was clearly their intention, I’m just surprised something as tame as the Hatred trailer was suddenly the final straw.

I believe that artistic expression is important to a fault. Even if it means supporting media that is trying to be offensive. Even if it means defending people you don’t agree with. This is a really important aspect of our medium. For video games to be as creatively free as traditional art and film should be the ultimate goal, even if it means Fox News and Jack Thompson have a field day. This is an issue that I really want the readers of TechRaptor to weigh in on, because I understand that taste accounts for something here. Am I being unreasonable? Let me know in the comments.

Stephen Snook

Hello! My name is Stephen Snook, and I'm a freelance journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. I've been doing the Youtube thing for a couple of years, and now I'm doing the whole being a games journalist person.

  • Personally, being a big fan of over-the-top violent gorefests (one of my favorite movies of all time is Evil Dead 2) and having grown up with games that have a similar degree of violence but were unable to make it as visually clear as in Hatred, I’m excited. It looks to be a fun, blood-soaked action romp through the tulips (in this case “tulips” means “corpses”) and while I can certainly understand those with less appreciation for the visceral finding it distasteful (I don’t pretend that my affinity for all things brutal is anything more or less than personal taste and I realize it’s not for everyone) I don’t think that it (or any other piece of art) should be banned or silenced. As for the politics of those creating it, I feel like labeling the game “propaganda” based on that is putting a little too much assumption into one’s interpretation; the people being killed seemed to be just whoever happened to be in range, not any specific group being targeted. It looks as though Hatred is just about, well, hatred, one man’s hatred of everyone around him, not only certain groups around him that he considers himself “superior” to. In fact it’s pretty obvious that he DOESN’T consider himself in any way superior; he opens with “it doesn’t matter who I am” and states that he fully intends to die at the end of his massacre. The sheer fact that the creators have unsavory political views does not justify reading more into the game than is implied, especially when the opposite of one’s assumptions seems to be true.

  • SirBittle

    First off, I loved Hotline Miami. I can see though where some people would make a distinction – that game was mostly killing mobsters (arguably deserving it), while Hatred is about killing any and everyone – innocent or otherwise.

    Freedom of Speech is extremely important to me. In the U.S., video games are legally considered to be art. As art, the developers become artists, and like any other work, it should be protected. Even if I don’t like it, I would never stop it from being made. The market seems to determine that for us – if a game is bad, no one buys it.

    When it comes to Hatred, it’s irrelevant to me what the developers’ political beliefs are. I’m sure I’ve played games in the past made by people on the completely opposite end of the spectrum.

    I think I will buy the game because I have seen nothing like it before. In a realm of games that are boring, repetitive, using the same old tropes, the same predictable interactions… Sometimes it takes a game like this to make people a little uncomfortable, to get them thinking about the broader range of topics that games have the power to explore. That’s what art is supposed to be, if you ask me. Not just invoke the same reaction every iteration, but “push the envelope” a bit. Get you thinking.

    Remember the “airport scene” in Modern Warfare 2? In that scene, you could choose to open fire on crowds of helpless, innocent civillians. But no one forced you to.

    No one is forcing you to kill anyone in Hatred, either. It’s you pulling the trigger.

    Or even better: if you don’t like, don’t buy it in the first place. Problem solved.

  • Stephen Snook

    Totally agree. Taste does account for something, for sure. I’m not looking for universal praise, just acceptance of art.

    Thanks for reading!

  • Stephen Snook

    Ditto all your points. Really glad that people understand my point of view.

    Thanks for reading!

  • SirBittle

    Thanks for writing!

  • Zepid

    I can’t wait for Hotline Miami 2. I personally think Hatred is tasteless but I don’t see anything wrong for a game like that to exist. We have plenty of movies where the main character(s) go on mindless killing sprees. People need to chill the fuck out and let art be art.

  • Alex

    This game is gonna sell well only cause everyone made such a big deal out of it… and only thing I know about Hotline Miami is a soundtrack, which is awesome.

  • Reptile

    If nobody gone “omg this game is bahd!!” then I think this game would be forgotten in the middle of the endless sea of indie games.
    Well, I think that is what they wanted, attention.

  • Cy

    I’ve said this a few other places, but I love that this game exists, even if only because it sends the PC nuts and SJW’s into a frenzied, mouth-frothing rage. I think that if the game gets released and it isn’t censored or toned down from the trailer and if it’s actually fun to play it could be one of the most important games in the past several years.

    Gaming is moving in a dangerous direction, where games can “go there” only so far, and then they need to stop. Or they can only push the envelope in politically correct ways. And those ways are getting less and less every year. Gaming needs something like this to push the envelope back in the other direction, to show that something that a lot of people find distasteful and offensive isn’t going to be stopped no matter how much of a smear/pearl-clutching campaign the gaming news mounts.

    As for the “unsavory political groups”, I’d suggest you check out the developers website where they talk about the accusations on the front page. Even if you don’t believe them, it’s a good counterpoint to the smear merchants.

  • coboney

    Its not a game I’m interested in personally but the outrage over it is absurd given we have games like GTA and Postal among others that have existed. ITs a callback to the era of ‘video games cause violence’ that we really don’t need games media parroting in my opinion

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    I don’t mind violent games but if we’re going to treat games as art then we need acknowledge it’s ability to move people.

    I need to have a moral framework for violence in video games. I don’t mind shooting invading aliens or demons and I can make a moral case for the killing in most war games. But I won’t slaughter innocents and I won’t play games where that’s part of the story.

    I’ll even go further and say such games are bad. Morally bad. Objectively bad. I won’t play monsters.

  • Brad Sherard

    It is a game. It is fictional content. Why must the self-appointed aesthetic culture police always bemoan these things? Have they no respect for a human’s capacity for recognizing reality? Every time this shit comes up, eventually the fervor dies and the content remains. I am always tricked into thinking it is because people have finally realized what story telling is. Then another witch hunt erupts and I realize that no one has learned anything.

  • Jofe

    Personally I’m not really up to this kind of senseless violence, but I won’t go all moral police on this game. To this day I haven’t played Hotline Miami because of this, yet you won’t see me condemn it for its violence. If people want to buy it, fine, don’t judge them.
    Also, I thought the link between the developers and white (a) supremacist group(s) had been debunked.

  • NilkadNaquada and SirBittle made great arguments, but there’s a growing trend that really worries me in mainstream video games discussion these days.

    Whenever people who are all for diversity in games in terms of content and subject matter encounter something they find distasteful, they tend to start preaching how harmful or dangerous it is, with their endgame being that said video game should not exist.

    Sometimes, such as in Hatred’s case, they will make up arguments for the sake of controversy, like saying that the protagonist is a white supremacist and kills people of colour. This always leads back to some kind of “political agenda” which is frankly absurd. Regardless of the developers’ political inclinations, the game itself is *not* politically charged, so this shouldn’t even be a point of discussion. They’re making a game, not a political statement.

    Hatred is a blatantly violent game about a murdering psychopath going on a psychopathic murderous spree. It’s obviously more controversial than Hotline Miami, because the visual depictions are more life-like. Some will like it, some will not. All can have a say on the matter. What people shouldn’t do, in my opinion, is getting up in arms and try to make it disappear just because they don’t like it. What they *should* do, is vote with their wallet. If the game flops, none will follow in it’s footsteps. Then again, in the age of unbridled political correctness, maybe some people are afraid of the implications of a potential success for the game

  • Pablo Hernández

    Do we have to deal with this stupid outrage everytime a violent game comes out?
    It’s a fucking game, it’s a work of FICTION.

    I watched a Serbian Film and I wasn’t offended by it, I’ve seen worse shit in real life videos.

  • Pablo Hernández

    Totally agree with you, it seems gaming is the only type of art on a leash.
    It’s time to break the boundaries

  • Pablo Hernández

    As long as you don’t go on a campaign against violent games I respect you.
    If you have a morality problem with the game and don’t buy it then that’s the end of the controversy there.

    I won’t respect people trying to make violent games disappear because I don’t think anyone should force their moral views upon the rest of society.

    If it were for the sake of morality we wouldn’t have Mortal Kombat today or many other great games which offended some people.

  • Pablo Hernández

    Sadly some people think they are better than the rest of us, and for that reason they feel they have the right to decide what kind of entertainment we should enjoy.

    We must stop these arrogant people at all costs, adults should be free to choose whatever games they want to enjoy even if a sensitive minority finds it offensive.

  • Mark Andrew Edwards

    I don’t mind violent video games. The two I’m playing most right now are Borderlands 2 and Shogun 2. Lot of killing in both. And I don’t have a problem with gore, I don’t seek it out but, eh, violence has consequences.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  • Stephen Snook

    I’m gonna update the article with their response. Thank you!

  • Well said. Any form of entertainment is a consumer product and the consumers are the only ones with any right to decide what they want. Feeling offended does not justify censorship.