Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Friendship! Friendship?

Gamers typically live in a world saturated by blood, gore, and gibs. Violence has, of course, always fascinated man. However, there are numerous games that do not fixate themselves on violence and destruction, and these games offer an interesting look at what games offer us as people.
The Harvest Moon series transports the player to idyllic, pastoral settings; the player then engages in developing a plot of land into a well-functioning farm and homestead. The only violence to be found is the ability to cut grass with a sickle. You can also apply the hoe to your farm animals; they don't like it, and thus produce less (also, you have exhibited one common trait of serial killers). The game focuses on development: there are no taxes in the game and no way to lose. Your character never starves, most every other character you meet is willing to make friends with you, and in the end things inevitably turn out alright.

Sim City, a popular game franchise from the brilliant minds of Will Wright and the folks at Maxis, offers another look at concepts of growth and prosperity in games. Again, the focus of the game is development rather than destruction. Players do have the ability to invoke various natural (and unnatural) disasters upon the virtual denizens of their artificial cities, but they are primarily encouraged to build. In fact, there is no way to win the game. You simply can't. You just build and build and build and build. Naturally, some gamers are bored by this manner of game progression; others relish the ability to set their own goals for gameplay. Either way, the lack of violence and dischord within the game environment set it apart from mainstream games.

These are not by any means the only non-violent games. However, it is striking that there are so few of these sorts of games. Does this say something about the nature of humanity?

Of course it does. It does not say anything necessarily negative about us as a race. Humans find brutality and carnage more instantly gratifying than careful consideration and development. The concept of instant gratification is what pulls many people to play games. Being able to achieve skillful feats from the comfort of the sofa naturally attracts the soul to pick up the controller.
This isn't to say that peaceful games of progression aren't fun whatsoever. They stimulate the imagination by allowing a more infinite canvas in which to build worlds; worlds which would not otherwise exist.

As usual, I have an encouragement to make to you, dear readers (which at this point, I still have very few). If you have never tried peaceful games: try them. Many of them are very simple to learn, and your psyche may find it relaxing to foster friendship instead of fatality.


  1. But Timo Mortal Kombat has taught us all that Fatalities are way cooler than Friendships

  2. and although i loved the non violent game that is animal crossing, it has also made me hate animals because all they want is for me to do chores for them.