From a historical standpoint, games have generally been looked down upon. After all, it was only in the past decade or so that games were no longer considered things that nerds played in between intense D&D sessions. Before that, games were seen as nothing more than toys for children. And of course, you can't have toys for children that promote going on killing sprees. Even if every other form of media glorifies violence, games are the work of the devil. It was this mentality that ironically contributed to games like GTA and DOOM becoming household names. Fortunately, attitudes change over time, and there is no greater indicator of this than Mortal Kombat 11's launch.
Like the aforementioned GTA and DOOM, Mortal Kombat was considered a controversial game when it first released. It didn’t help that the game’s launch spurred a wave of children to learn extreme martial arts. It ended an obesity crisis to be sure, but there were also so many ripped out spines laying around that it was like making a floor out of LEGO. Fast forward to today and the original Mortal Kombat would seem tame by comparison. Sure, you could obliterate people with a sweet fatality, but games have moved past such crude animations. Everyone knows that chainsaws are now classy and cultured people perform extreme battlefield surgery nowadays. Wouldn't want to get your hands stuck in some guy's intestines and all that. As a result, it really shouldn’t be so much of a surprise that Mortal Kombat 11’s release didn’t generate the kind of publicity that it once did. In fact, the game seems to be pretty well received.
Indeed, Mortal Kombat 11’s release was such a non-issue that it might be the most uneventful game launch of all time. There weren’t any lawyers asking the US Supreme Court to ban games altogether—always a good start. The marketing campaign didn’t start a world war, though it would've been great publicity. Most surprising of all, the game didn't cause politicians to pretend to do something about nothing. Yup, a totally normal game release where leaked gameplay footage generated no controversy whatsoever. Not that there should’ve been any controversy anyways. It would be truly strange if people got angry over a character’s decision to go back in time to end slavery after all.
It would be even more perplexing if certain internet people hated the characters' newfound sense of fashion. But since gamers are the most mature people ever, surely no such thoughts ever materialized. Nope, everyone just looked at how the characters discovered the concept of clothing, collectively shrugged, and moved on with their day. It would be ridiculous to suggest that some people spent a considerable amount of effort to analyze whether or not there was some hidden meaning to all of this. Well, other than the fact that games are "growing up" and no longer have to rely on controversy to sell stuff.
Unfortunately, Mortal Kombat 11 is a product of today’s market, so there are microtransactions and the like. Pretty normal, aside from how the mere concept of microtransactions is distasteful. Still, considering how no one made any inflammatory and misleading claims about how the game is a pay to win hellscape, pretty mundane. There’s usually a countless number of videos about how a game is dead before it even launches due to microtransactions too. This time it’s, well, just as countless because that’s how YouTube works. People will make videos about everything under the sun just to get that sweet, sweet exposure. But hey, at least the game’s Steam page didn’t get review bombed. That’s some kind of progress at least. Because we all know that gamers will sit down and have rational discussions about the effects of microtransactions on game design without resorting to childish attention seeking behavior.
If anything, there was a greater clamor about the Siege of Winterfell in Game of Thrones. It's not often that people care about a TV show with such passion. It's also not a common occurrence that a big budget TV battle could’ve probably been strategrized better by anyone who played any Total War game for more than an hour. The surprise twist that the show’s entire lighting department was killed off would’ve definitely made some people unhappy as well. That being said, it speaks volumes about how gaming is now such a normal part of modern culture that people are angrier about a fantasy TV show than a game franchise that literally lets you disembowel people for fun. We've certainly come a long way from the days when merely mentioning Mortal Kombat meant that drama was on the horizon.
KekRaptor is our semi-regular satire series. You can read more of them here.