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.