Hatred: Devastation has been a source of controversy for quite some time now. The game about a man hellbent on slaughtering innocent civilians in the most brutal and gory ways possible because of his intense hatred of happy humans has even obtained the elusive AO rating from the ESRB. It’s a nightmarish simulator for violent, psychopathic mass murderers.
Unsurprisingly, there are many people who are opposed to Hatred and its hyper-violent content. We’ve seen similar controversy in the past with other violent video games, the most obvious of which is perhaps the Grand Theft Auto series. Yet somehow, Hatred seems to have gone a step further.
In the Grand Theft Auto series, harming civilians is typically an option. Yes, there are definitely Grand Theft Auto missions where hurting civilians ends up being a part of the main objective. But even in these missions, the civilians are always collateral damage to some unrealistically grandiose master plan of a heist or some other illegal money-making operation. In Grand Theft Auto, the violence is there and many people choose to take advantage of that option, but it takes more of a background role in terms of plot.
In Hatred, the focus is on, well, hatred. The whole point is to kill people essentially because they are there living and enjoying their lives, and thus deserve to die in the eyes of the uber exaggerated, emo cliche of a main character.
Let’s break down the latest trailer:
In the first few lines of the video, we hear the main character saying this, “Human scum, they’ve always felt so fucking safe inside their homes. Surrounded by the possessions gathered their whole lives. So weak. So fragile. They don’t deserve a natural death. Unconsciously waiting to be obliterated by my hatred.”
Hmm, what type of people do we know that feel safe inside their homes surrounded by their possessions? Oh wait, duh, pretty much everyone, and especially gamers. While some people may be incredibly active and use their homes primarily as a sleeping hut safe from predators with the added benefit of protection from the elements, most gamers see their homes as safe havens. How does he feel about these individuals, people no different than gamers? He thinks they are weak, fragile, and don’t deserve a natural death.
That’s an interesting twist- a video game character who hates the people playing and hopes that they can hate along with him. It’s straightforward enough; the developers hide nothing in the trailer. As we watch, we see the main character destroy citizens and residential areas with tanks, flamethrowers, shotguns, machine guns, and more. He finishes out with this line, “Those parasites think their walls can save them. But I will destroy everything they own and everything they are.”
Hatred and its latest trailer begs the question: Should this really be a game? For many people, the first answer that comes to mind is an immediate “No!” based on the title’s concept and violent content. For many other people, the first answer that comes to mind is an immediate “Yes!” based on freedoms of speech and expression. Both of those perspectives are understandable, yet they are only the first steps of evaluating Hatred‘s future. What’s important to consider isn’t just whether Hatred is right or wrong in principle, but whether it is right or wrong in terms of effect. If we look to research over the years, though, we’re left with even more division.