Hatred and the Catharsis of Violence

DEAD34345

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Strangely, this article has actually greatly improved my view of Hatred. I, without paying any attention to it, had actually assumed it was going for the same kind of catharsis as GTA rampages and the like, but apparently not. A game where you're just murdering empathetic regular people who are begging for mercy, well, it's not something I actually want to play, it sounds horrible, but it's certainly an interesting and unique thing to do. Good on them.
 

Scow2

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martyrdrebel27 said:
bificommander said:
Since Shamus mentioned it: Can I just say that I never got the point of punching the journalist in ME? Most people, both in the story and out, seem to feel she was some kind of evil muckraking paparazi. Why? Cause she asked questions other than "What's it like to be so awesome?" Asking critical questions of high-profile people, especially those involved in events with large casualties, is kind of what a reporter is supposed to do. She asks pointed questions, sure, but she lets you answer them on your own terms, and those answers apparently go on the air unedited. It never sat right with me that everyone (including the reporter herself, once the camera was off) treated this as unacceptable behavior, to the point where you get paragon point for not punching her in the face.
you obviously missed something along the way... you need to replay the games. she twists the narrative, turns your answers to mean something entirely different, and overall engages in Fox News-esque "reporting". she wasn't doing hardball reporting, i'm all for that, she was doing sensationalist 24 hour news cycle bullshit.
Eh... I associated the reporting more with MSNBC, CNN, and the goddamn local news station more than FOX. This kind of reporting is ubiquitous.

There are two kinds of people you should never speak to without a Lawyer on hand: Police and Reporters.
 

Darkness665

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Well said, Shamus.

I always bumped into the GTA-IV crowd that said Niko ran all those people down.

But Niko got nothing for it. And Niko does nothing at all without player input. So own up to it. I ran circles around gas stations, fire stations and anything else ramming vehicles causing massive mayhem. But I never survived a 6 star wanted rating. Got close, never made it. But I did it. For a trophy. And for fun.
 

LaughingAtlas

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Funny thing. When I want a game in which all of my targets (and that's pretty much everything that moves) are loathesome in the utmost, something in which it's best to kill everything I meet as quickly and efficiently as possible so as to deny them the chance to pollute the earth a second longer with their presence, I play Dark Souls, where every single mother fucker that draws their weapon first hates me just as much as I hate them.

Killing the bosses is fun because in the context of the game, I vaguely get the impression that every single one (besides Priscilla, whom I could never find a reason to justify killing and thus never did so) is either an irredeemable bastard or a mindless monster that really might be better off dead. As quite a few of the bosses are apparently deities, there's a smidgeon of that feeling you get when killing Olympians in God of War 3 to be had, too.

Going after common enemies and minibosses is a dose of the same high to a lesser, but more frequent degree, even if I only erase the ones that don't re-spawn with shamelessly cheap tricks. I don't care that they didn't have a chance, because in a straight slug-fest, neither the fuck would I, and they'd be even less bothered. Hell, I enjoy taking out Manus from the cliff with a fully-upgraded triple crossbow (forgot the name) more for the spectacle of the thing than to actually kill him, like a victory lap for every cheap thing I've done in the game up to that point.

I'm pretty sure that, while playing Dark Souls, I'm every bit the hateful monster most of the bosses are.


That in mind, I feel like the game in question is a misnomer. Playing Hatred, I'd just be running around stepping on ants until the police showed up, whereupon it presumably becomes them shooting at me, me shooting back, just any other game. Makes me think the title is more about the dev team's feelings toward the 'political correctness' crowd I've heard inspired them to do this, them and the sort of people that already seem to hate video games regardless of context. Maybe that was the point?
 

BreakfastMan

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DizzyChuggernaut said:
Great article, the comparison with GTA was especially refreshing, seeing as many have in the past equated it with Hatred's sadism.

However, there's something about Hatred that I really can't get over. Something that hits particularly close to home. I love death metal, and death metal lyrics are chock full of sadistic themes. My favourite album of all time (None So Vile by Cryptopsy) has songs that depict in detail the satisfaction of instilling terror in the victim as they're dismembered. It (quite poetically) describes the absolute nadir of humanity, and other death metal bands go even further (see the infamous Cannibal Corpse or the dime-a-dozen slam bands that have lyrics that are misogynistic, scatological... just really gross).

But I think the difference in this regard is that death metal lyrics are usually secondary to the music. The music is as extreme as possible, which means the lyrics tend to follow suit. Hatred is all about the sadism with none of the introspection or self-awareness by the looks of it. Death metal bands with gruesome lyrics tend to want listeners to have a good time, have fun in the moshpit etc. Hatred however, just looks try-hard edgy and mean-spirited.

Sorry, I went off the rails a bit there.
I find myself in a similar boat to you, since I fucking love goregrind (and some death metal), but also find myself repulsed by this game. I think it is a manner of degrees, really. Taking Impetigo, for example, their lyrics are so over-the-top, they seem completely divorced from reality. The developers of Hatred, on the other hand, seem very focused on making this game seem as "real" as possible. They want it to resemble the stereotypical spree-killings of the past 15-20 years as much as possible, while I don't think Cattle Decapitation cares about the reality of their lyrics, so much. I dunno, maybe that is dumb, but that is my take, for what it is worth. :\
 

BreakfastMan

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martyrdrebel27 said:
when i first clicked the article, i was all set to make a comment about how Extra Credits already talked about Hatred and Catharsis, just last week i believe, and that it was a lazy topic to choose.

but i was wrong. you had not only personal perspective on what catharsis and simulated violence can achieve, but also took a more laissez-faire approach to hatred's right to exist.

personally, i look forward to Hatred. because i think there is a DIFFERENT kind of catharsis in it: a macroscale catharsis. what i mean is that, looking at your examples, you cite small irritations of modern life: self absorbed passers-by, traffic jams, each representing it's own world, it's own context-less issue that you can that blow up and feel better.

but for some people (myself included) over time, you don't see these problems as individual problems, you see them as part of a greater fucked-up whole. you don't see a traffic jam, you see a world of shallow people driving cars they cant afford to jobs they hate to pay for shit they didn't want, but felt a compulsion to buy because of the state of capitalism and culture enforcing one another. you hate it all, and want it all to suffer.

now, i'm not gonna go on a rampage, but that doesn't mean there isn't a catharsis to be found in aimless violence, it's just not on the 1:1 scale your examples provide.

also, you sorta look like hawkeye in your picture.

EDIT: i did NOT mean to nearly directly quote fight club there...
But couldn't greater catharsis be achieved by tearing down the system that traps people in those dead-end jobs and compels them to act that way? To pull a snake plisken and turn the whole world off, instead of just a tiny piece?
 

martyrdrebel27

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BreakfastMan said:
martyrdrebel27 said:
when i first clicked the article, i was all set to make a comment about how Extra Credits already talked about Hatred and Catharsis, just last week i believe, and that it was a lazy topic to choose.

but i was wrong. you had not only personal perspective on what catharsis and simulated violence can achieve, but also took a more laissez-faire approach to hatred's right to exist.

personally, i look forward to Hatred. because i think there is a DIFFERENT kind of catharsis in it: a macroscale catharsis. what i mean is that, looking at your examples, you cite small irritations of modern life: self absorbed passers-by, traffic jams, each representing it's own world, it's own context-less issue that you can that blow up and feel better.

but for some people (myself included) over time, you don't see these problems as individual problems, you see them as part of a greater fucked-up whole. you don't see a traffic jam, you see a world of shallow people driving cars they cant afford to jobs they hate to pay for shit they didn't want, but felt a compulsion to buy because of the state of capitalism and culture enforcing one another. you hate it all, and want it all to suffer.

now, i'm not gonna go on a rampage, but that doesn't mean there isn't a catharsis to be found in aimless violence, it's just not on the 1:1 scale your examples provide.

also, you sorta look like hawkeye in your picture.

EDIT: i did NOT mean to nearly directly quote fight club there...
But couldn't greater catharsis be achieved by tearing down the system that traps people in those dead-end jobs and compels them to act that way? To pull a snake plisken and turn the whole world off, instead of just a tiny piece?
absolutely, but how do you make an interesting, engaging game about about tearing down something as abstract and intangible as "the system"? you could kill politicians, but just like in Shadow of Mordor, someone will just take their place. is it a game about slowly winning over the hearts and minds of the populace to enact real change? there's nothing that can be expressed in a game that would give that macroscale level of catharsis. and that itself, is another point in favor of my interpretation of Hatred's gameplay...

first, look at breaking bad. if you've seen it, it's really a tale about walter's feeling of inadequacy and impotence in a world he can't control. once he gains that little bit of control, it becomes empowering. and so goes my perspective here. i look out at a corrupt world with politicians, cops, judges, everyone in power doing everything they can for themselves while destroying the world we were supposed to inherit. i could go kill a cop, a judge, the koch brothers, but it wouldn't change anything. that building rage at feeling helpless to fix a fucked up world turns into disdain for the whole thing, so catharsis is achieved by indiscriminate killing that will inevitably result in your death. you didn't fix the world, because the world was beyond fixing. but you left a hell of scar.
 

SandroTheMaster

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jesusisking said:
So in other words in Hatred you play as an actual villain?
That's not too bad when I think about it.
No, you don't play as a Villain. This point has been raised before, even in the Shamus' podcast "diecast". This isn't really villainy. This is just taking the shoes of a psychopath and killing people not for the sake of killing, but apparently for the glee of being as sadistic as possible to proxies of regular, nice people before taking yourself out. A real villain has a plan, has an ultimate goal and an escape plan. For me, the protagonist of this game is nothing more than a sorry and pathetic figure lashing out in the most meaningless and childish way at a society.
 

EeviStev

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At the start of the Hatred trailer, the protagonist puts all of his gear (two magazines, two grenades and a knife) into the same pocket. Distribute your load!
 

Furnicula

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While the author of this article is better at expressing his views and not descending into a moral panic argument, he still descends into morality at the end.

Aside from the textures of the enemies and a bunch of animations there's not much of a mechanical or gameplay difference between the concept of Hatred or Alien Shooter 2 [http://store.steampowered.com/app/33120/], Zombie Shooter 2 [http://store.steampowered.com/app/33180/], Nation Red [http://store.steampowered.com/app/39800/] and many other top-down shooters like the first Postal or the first two Grand Theft Autos that still gave points for Kill Frenzies and driving over Hare Krishna joggers. (GOURANGA!)

While at first some of the arguments made sound plausible, for people that can actually differentiate between fiction and reality (like his son) they really aren't or shouldn't be. At the end of the day it's just another article trying to persuade people that "killing" pixels on a screen of a specific shape or form is "bad" or "morally wrong" (and the author needs his flimsy moralistic rationalization/pretense for doing so and being allowed to have fun like "going on a jingoistic war effort and killing evil Nazis/Terrorists/Russians because they deserve it" or "killing bad gang members and criminals") and he has finally found the formula of where exactly this moral border that shouldn't be crossed should be.

If the developers painted all the NPCs in Hatred green and set the story against a "zombie outbreak" with the army working against the player to keep it quarantined or something equally stupid as a plot it'd be hailed as a great awesome gory zombie shooter (there's probably some gorier kills in the Walking Dead than some of the stuff in Hatred, but that's okay cause they're zombies!) and it just seems hypocritical. If anyone can't differentiate between fiction and reality, the problem is usually not with the fiction.
 

dragoongfa

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Great article and I agree on the catharsis explanation of GTA type of violence.

Offering my two cents on Hatred, I think that the sole point of Hatred's 'story' is that it truly represents acts of hatred. The name itself points out what the game's focus is all about.

Humans have hatred in them, the reasons behind the hatred itself vary from understandable to ludicrous but the hatred is still there. Depicting true hatred, because that's what this game is all about, is in it's own way; honest with the darkest parts of our nature. Art represents our inner world and if video games are to be considered artful they will have to represent the darkest corners of our souls as well.

True hatred is part of human nature, having a game revolving around acts of true hatred, acts that will make most people sick; is gaming being honest with its artistic aspirations.

Art is meant to be both inspiring, cathartic and sickly. I played Manhunt 1 and 2 for catharsis but in the end I did feel honestly sick about some of the things I had my character do. That feeling made me consider some things and gain some insight in our sadist tendencies.

In conclusion, I believe that games that make the gamer sick about acts that they are doing are more than just cathartic, they offer insight in parts of ourselves that we don't want to touch but that we have to in order to truly understand our human nature. I believe that you can't truly understand what it means to be humane if you have never felt the lash of a sadist.
 

saltyanon

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Great article. One question though. Isn't "Ban this sick filth" what led to its (initial) removal from Steam anyway?

I honestly don't think we've progressed, really.
 

Not Lord Atkin

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Interesting view. I personally don't see the need to be able to identify with the protagonist though. I have been hoping for more games with actual monsters in lead roles to be honest.

That said, hatred is just plain unappealing to me. The violence does not have a purpose. It is not proving a point or trying to convey an artistic meaning. It's just there to cause controversy and promote the game through shock value. Hatred is a cynical product made by cynical people and it does not deserve the acknowledgement it got.

I am not against violence. I find it a very useful tool in an artist's box that can help further the story, create tension and solidify the atmosphere. It has been used to great effect before. It helped Mario Puzo paint his rotten and corrupt reflection of the worst qualities of the real world; it has added a sense of weight and finality to the Last of Us or even a dark, perverted sense of humour to Mortal Kombat. Even when it's being cartoony and gratuitous, it helps the sense of catharsis, makes the entire thing more satisfying - sort of like what you talked about in the article.

The problem is that if you only add violence to shock, without having any actual purpose or place in the narrative, the audience will be able to tell. The entire thing will feel pointless and out of place and rather than making the audience immersed in the product, it will make them question the author's mental state. This is the main issue I've had with Sapkowski's The Witcher pentalogy; albeit to a much lesser extents. Because right now, hatred does not appear to be anything more than a shallow, cynical shock-value marketing campaign for itself.

Sure, it has a right to exist. But I sure as fuck have a right to not buy it.
 

Therumancer

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I'll be honest in saying this game doesn't surprise me all that much, I mean we've already had people making mods and such to simulate school shootings, and heck years ago they even made a Columbine Massacre RPG. This is simply the first really professional (or semi-pro) effort to create something like that.

At the end of the day I don't think "Grand Theft Auto" is an apt comparison since it's too mainstream, all the arguments about it are correct, but when it comes to a game like this, it's like comparing apples and oranges.

I see something like "Hatred" as being similar to horror, real horror is something most people do not "get". They see the mainstream Halloween type stuff, and movies and video games that play out like a fun house, recycling all the familiar tropes which have become inoffensive through that familiarity, and call that "horror". Real "horror" is a combination of being taken outside one's comfort zone, as well as an exploration of humanity's dark side, which many people like to pretend we do not have. Only very specific kinds of people are wired to enjoy the real deal, and this is one of the reasons why when you see real horror there is oftentimes an outcry of one sort or another against it, since norms just do not like being made to feel uncomfortable, or to be made to think in the terms things like this can invite.

For me something like "Hatred" isn't really sophisticated enough to get the enjoyment I can derive from horror, but for an ordinary person, well, I can see how the concept could get to them. While I'm not a huge fan of White Wolf, consider that it's (in)famous for producing games where the player takes on the role of a malevolent anti-hero, usually with no real redeeming features by human standards, indeed a lot of the games making up "World Of Darkness" focus entirely on monster-centric plotlines and encourage you to be a sociopath in regards to ordinary people, oftentimes needing to victimize people one way or another as a casual matter to use and restore abilities. This has included everything from raping people for certain lust based powers, to engaging in torture and brutality to feed on the pain, to at least one group, a sect of vampires, that can grant status from "fleshshaping" poor victims into grotesque "works of art". The point here is simply that it's an example of a very similar thing to Hatred, albeit with a lot more detail, in a WoD game you might very well play a character who kills begging victims because that's how you feed and power your abilities (it depends on what your playing). This is to say nothing of how characters like Jason Vorhees and Freddy Kruegar has remained cult icons years after their last movie, basically people watch a lot of movies like that for the monsters, not for the victims. Of course that can fit into what your saying when all of the victims are written to be annoying stereotypes and the kill list takes the form of a sort of jaded morality play, but that isn't always the case.

Basically, it's a product for a very niche audience. It doesn't look deep enough to really impress the jaded horror fan who wants to either be shocked or explore the darkness (so to speak), but it's pushing the envelope to the point where I don't think it's something your casual gamer would be into either. From what little I've seen it actually reminds me a bit of "Blood" but without all of the things that actually made "Blood" kind of cool back in the day.
 

SILENTSAM69

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It is interesting how with every new art for there is outcry that it will influence horrible things in society. History has shown that there is nothing to worry about. Not to suggest that violence in video games causes less violence, but the correlation does seem to go that way.

I once ready paper about a study that suggested that violent porn helped reduce urges in violent sex offenders. It gave them a sage place to release those urges. I do not know if that study was done very well, but I wonder how it could relate to this issue.

I personally think that with the new wave of attacks on video games implying they cause violence or sexism is pretty funny. These ideas have already been shown to be foolish, but somehow people still take these ideas seriously.

I also think that the massive attack on video games is causing a demand for more violent and or sexism video games. Kind of like how telling people rape jokes should not be told makes them more funny.
 

Dizchu

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Furnicula said:
While at first some of the arguments made sound plausible, for people that can actually differentiate between fiction and reality (like his son) they really aren't or shouldn't be. At the end of the day it's just another article trying to persuade people that "killing" pixels on a screen of a specific shape or form is "bad" or "morally wrong" (and the author needs his flimsy moralistic rationalization/pretense for doing so and being allowed to have fun like "going on a jingoistic war effort and killing evil Nazis/Terrorists/Russians because they deserve it" or "killing bad gang members and criminals") and he has finally found the formula of where exactly this moral border that shouldn't be crossed should be.
Many people seem to think that the negative reaction to Hatred is influenced primarily by moral outrage, but it's not always the case. The main issue seems to be a complete lack of self-awareness and taste on the developers' parts (unless the game is a very elaborate satire, but I doubt it).

Look at it this way. Transformers 4 and Mad Max: Fury Road are completely filled with over-the-top action, cars and explosions. Yet one is considered the absolute nadir of action cinema while the other has been critically acclaimed. It's not about the content, it's about the execution. And Hatred's approach towards its subject matter (from what the promotional material has shown), is absolutely juvenile and tasteless. Sure, I don't think it should be banned, but I think it's important to recognise the difference between something that is well-executed and something that is not.
 

Kohen Keesing

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Furnicula said:
If the developers painted all the NPCs in Hatred green and set the story against a "zombie outbreak" with the army working against the player to keep it quarantined or something equally stupid as a plot it'd be hailed as a great awesome gory zombie shooter
...
If anyone can't differentiate between fiction and reality, the problem is usually not with the fiction.
dragoongfa said:
[...]I think that the sole point of Hatred's 'story' is that it truly represents acts of hatred. The name itself points out what the game's focus is all about.

Humans have hatred in them, the reasons behind the hatred itself vary from understandable to ludicrous but the hatred is still there. Depicting true hatred, because that's what this game is all about, is in it's own way; honest with the darkest parts of our nature. Art represents our inner world and if video games are to be considered artful they will have to represent the darkest corners of our souls as well.
And here we reach the epitome of the issue, I think. Gamers as a whole are pretty damn good at dealing with dissociating themselves from games with the knowledge that pixels are pixels and computational math is not bothered with the concept of morality. But to the rest of the outside world - especially when you add in the element of tactile feedback that comes from gaming - the immersion of it can become confusing. And when the average first-world white-picket-fence person is immersed in a story that emphasizes the darkest part of people with no redemption (and even the SAW films had a thin veneer of moral redemption in their stories, iirc) it's going to make them incredibly uncomfortable.

I kinda liken it to a child googling the wrong thing and suffering an rather traumatizing awakening. The difference is that adults can't run to their parents and bleatingly cry on a shoulder until the discomfort has passed.

On a personal note, I'm super keen on Hatred. Not only because it's scheduled for release the day before my birthday, but also because I occasionally seek out entertainment that makes me cringe a bit (Read: DeadSpace 2 eye scene, Always Sunny In Philadelphia, and the aforementioned SAW). I like to be reminded that over-the-top pandering-fests like Call of Duty and DMC really ARE over-the-top gloryporn:

I don't like watching The Expendables or Transformers all the time, sometimes I need a little reminder from Pitch Black or Fight Club that other parts of my empathy can still function.

Plus, there's a whole other level of Catharsis here that hasn't been touched from what I've read -
I know a lot of people, myself included, who went through nihilistic, emotional phases in their childhoods/teens and had similar "Fuck humanity, you're all scum, the world is horrible" mindsets who can use this game as a way to subconsciously (or consciously) put all that angsty self-pitying crap to bed with a flamethrower.
 

DrunkOnEstus

In the name of Harman...
May 11, 2012
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DizzyChuggernaut said:
My favourite album of all time (None So Vile by Cryptopsy)
There's someone else on here?! I'll never forget when I decided to play the drums, I was like 15 and I found out that Flo Mounier was an actual person and that a human could defeat the dry drum machine-core out there. Anyway.

I'll probably try Hatred out of morbid curiosity, which is probably most of the sales the dev expect (if they're expecting much at all), and I too am one of those people who couldn't handle having blown up Megaton. I don't think we've seen enough of it to really know the context of the whole experience, but I'm pretty sure dizzy here is on point in comparing it to death metal/grindcore lyrics. I don't consider None so Vile to be an instruction manual, and I'm sure Hatred won really be much of a "spree killer simulator" in that regard. We'll see though, they've got some bit of my curiosity.
 

SecondPrize

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It's far more about us and our reaction to it than the game. If pixels were people, all gamers would be fucking monsters. Because we've all sniped a soldier in the nads just to do it. We've all snuck up on someone and placed three charges of C4 right behind them. We've all gone out of our way to run someone down in a vehicle and then reverse over them a few times and we've all had far more fun with bodies and ragdoll physics than would seem appropriate. We all smiled with glee when doing it. Your argument only works if we do the bare minimum to kill these characters that get in our way. Having a reason to do it (they're a jerk) flies right out of the window when you don't just shoot them, but fill them with enough bullets that they'll be able to open a pencil factory in the next life. There's no good reason for that, no matter how much of a jerk they are. It doesn't matter if a character is meant to be your enemy when you cackle with glee as you launch them a hundred feet in the air with your explosives rather than just shooting them. That's gone beyond violence for a reason into violence for the sake of violence, which is what hatred is.
 

CaitSeith

Formely Gone Gonzo
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EeviStev said:
At the start of the Hatred trailer, the protagonist puts all of his gear (two magazines, two grenades and a knife) into the same pocket. Distribute your load!
Why? He wants to die!