Oh honey… Honey, please.
Gamers get it, Destructive Creations. Hatred, the mass-murder simulator due out in the world very soon, is your baby. It’s your hyperviolent and extremely grotesque little child. You want it to do good in the world, and you want it to succeed and hopefully earn you money. And despite its previews of a despicable storyline for Hatred that embarrasses video games and their gamers everywhere, as well as the mediocre gameplay that you’re no doubt developing for the isometric shooter, it doesn’t go without saying that you must care about your integrity as a developer and want to make Hatred the best game it can be.
But please don’t tell us that you’re this oblivious to the bad press your game has been receiving. We get it, you designed Hatred as clickbait heaven. Any press is good press in your eyes, and Hatred certainly achieved that. But playing dumb as to why Hatred just received the AO rating – the harshest rating doled out by the ESRB who is in charge of regulating games – is just silly. “Well, I’m not quite convinced why Hatred got AO rating while it lacks any sexual content… even if this violence isn’t really that bad and this harsh language isn’t overused.”
Snark aside, let’s be honest with ourselves. We don’t know what Hatred will actually play like. But if anything it’s true, the mainstream media continues to characterize video games and gamers in general in a bad light. News outlets across the world consistently spew false claims that violent video games are directly associated with making people violent. Despite the best efforts of the e-sports community to legitimize video games in the public sphere as more than a simple passtime, and the growing reality that those with expendable incomes very often will spend it on video games, reports still come out regularly about how these games are “corrupting our youth.” Even well-intentioned efforts to point out violence can get games outrightly banned from distributors, despite claims of the legitimacy of the arguments being made remain in question to this day.
That in mind, how does Hatred, a game that not only glorifies video game violence in the most explicit ways possible, but also attempts to provoke media for the sake of attention, help anyone in the gaming sphere? Spoiler: it doesn’t. Even when compared to equally controversial and hyperviolent games like Grand Theft Auto V or Manhunt, the game still falls short as a controversial and ugly mess. Whereas Grand Theft Auto V allows players to do what they want, and Manhunt has a dark narrative reminiscent of Saw that is compelling to experience, Hatred is simple and straightforward: slaughter civilians, because “omg, wow, that’s graphic violence so maybe you’ll pay attention!” At best, it’s a sleazy cash-out to get people to buy a game not because it’s well made, but because it’s notorious for the audacity of its content; at worst, it’s just a desperate cry for attention by an untalented developer. Iconic titles in the annals of video game history such as Dead or Alive Extreme Beach Volleyball and BMX XXX come to mind.
Hatred developers at Destructive Creations go on to say, “I would prefer to get a standard M+ rating, because with AO we will have problems to get to consoles in the future, but on the other hand I think you guys (our fans) would be disappointed with it.” Despite an M+ rating not existing, the silliness of arguing the decision of the ESRB for the notably offensive content in Hatred is just blindness to reality. Again, even Manhunt 2 achieved the AO rating in its day for its extreme use of violence, and Rockstar happily toned things down to pass the ESRBs standards. The ESRB has its own issues, but calling Hatred‘s content objectionable by many people’s standards is self-explanatory; the public outcry has already been loud enough to realize that reality.
This all being said, Hatred has the right to exist and be played by gamers. If films can have The Human Centipede, games can certainly make room for grotesque displays such as Hatred. But for Destructive Creations to act so blissfully ignorant to the content of their own game is only a continued embarrassment upon their own studio.