Over the last night I’ve been thinking of how modern FPS games (Quake 4, Halo, Doom 3, Bulletstorm, Crysis, etc) seem to be absolutely terrible in comparison with oldschool games like Doom, Quake, Duke3d, Heretic, ROTT, Dark Forces, and even middle of the road FPS games like Jedi Knight, Half-life 1, Unreal, Clive Barker’s Undying, Deus-Ex, etc. What irked me is that total enemy count reduction (100 plus in Doom 2 levels, reduced to 35 or so in Quake etc) and the introduction of badly done story and grating characters in modern shooters (with few exceptions). I kept looking at valid reasons to reduce total enemies each time a new game comes out, and to introduce story in a way so that all the rooms that had enemies in Doom/Quake For instance, half of them would become empty and have “scripted story” sequences.. One really controversial idea popped up……. Shooter developers reduced this due to the controversy following super violent games in the 90’s.
After columbine, dozens of newspapers ran stories that made up stuff about doom to make it seem like it influenced Harris/Klebold, like Pipebombs and killing kids, are things that doom has. Add the hundreds of medical journals, news articles, video game attacking articles by “violent game censorship” groups quoting “Doom will become reality” (a hoax proven here), and the questionable claim that there was a version of Doom on his site that allowed him to train for columbine complete with a “second shooter”, “infinite ammo”, and other things not possible to do in doom in 1999, and you get a controversy over violent games that seems 90% fabricated, (everything but one quote by Harris that seems to link Doom as something that Influenced him/Klebold to Commit the massacre seems to be made up by the media or at least questionable). The next month, two bills were considered in senates of 2 states that would have completely banned violent games to every age group. They both failed. Next came the senate hearings to see how violent games were effecting kids, to question if violent games made kids violent.
I noticed a pattern over the last few years in total FPS games that have come out that I actually thought were as engaging and combat intensive as older games. There was only 1 game, Serious Sam 3 that fit this description. Most shooters tried too hard to put in a story and intermittently mix it in with combat so every other room had the above mentioned “scripted sequences”. Leaving less total monsters per room. And also I’ve noticed a trend over total violence levels in MOST fps games from 2002 till now. They are FAR less violent than the older ones. Call me crazy, but I think most FPS games Like Halo, Half-life 1/2, Call of Duty, etc, are actually far less violent than duke3d, shadow warrior, blood, Serious Sam, etc. So I needed some hard data to measure the phenomenon.
This Wikipedia List of all released PC FPS games was used as a base. I looked at only FPS games, and only ones I have either played and finished, or have seen most or all of the game in Youtube Lets plays videos. That leaves about 100 games to do the study on. Here is picture of the completed spreadsheet.
I used this spreadsheet to measure total violence level per year, by using my own experience of each of these games to find out violent each one was. 1-nonviolent 10-horribly violent. Same thing with enemy count % 1-almost no enemies 10-insane counts (1000+ per level). I also measured how good I thought each game was based on my play through or the lets plays I watched. (1 – Horrible, 10 – Perfect). I calculated the total per year by using formulas for average for all three categories. I also added controversy level per year, based on my recollections of controversial issues relating to violent games in the year and controversial games I knew had been released that year. I used this list of controversial games to help me on that.
The chart to the right, is viewable below:
Notice the two BIG spikes in controversial Game related issues (yellow) in 1999-2000 and 2006? 1999 is Columbine, and the media nonsense spreading around blaming it on Doom. 2006 however is less known. the Controversial stuff that year was a texas plan to 100% tax “violent” games, the Hot Coffee Controversy in GTA III, and other related controversies. Notice the obvious Drop in quality of games (green) for the 3 or so years after these? Is there a correlation? Also notice that during the big 2 “violent” video game controversies, the actual level of violence in games overall is lower than when there isn’t…. There isn’t a huge overall rise of violence in games to spark the controversy, just people saying violent games lead to this and that (falsely mostly). The small rise of controversy around 1997 has to do with 3 things, Paducah, Violent games being ‘misidentified’ as something the military uses to break down the inhibition to kill with, and overly violent games like Duke3d, Shadow Warrior, and Blood. The overall violence around 1997 is higher than 2000+ because of these 3 games, mostly. Take out games like this and you notice the actual violence level of games is lower around 1999-2000 because of the lack of duke3d, shadow warrior, and blood type games post 1999.
I’m not obsessed with violent content in games, but it seems like the more combat and blood in the game, the better it was. It wasn’t because of the blood. More combat made the game have a bigger Adrenaline Rush. Serious sam is the best example of this. Hundreds of enemies per room. And they don’t stop coming. The whole game is an adrenaline producing experience. It seemed to me that games past 2000 had less blood because pressure from censors made them need to replace blood with story.
This brings me back to my theory. After BIG violent game controversies the industry in the US has been making dumbed down FPS games to avoid worse controversies. 2000 was the last year that a lot of good FPS games that had fun gameplay and good stories came out. Modern FPS games started throwing in too much story. They kept on reducing total enemy count and violence and gore level. Notice the violence level past 2000. Two big games caused the violence to jump up in 2006 and 2011. F.E.A.R and Bulletstorm, respectively. Twitch shooters and those two are responsible for the raise of violence seen past 2000. But most games I played in the years past 2000 were LESS violent than the ones in 1996 and 1997, blood and gore wise, even though the graph seems to show that games have been getting more violent past 2000. They (with a few exceptions) have been getting LESS violent in the US. Twitch shooters like Serious Sam/Painkiller/Bulletstorm made the exception to this trend. 99% of those are european developed. US games besides Bulletstorm in the years past 2000 have been far less violent, blood and gore wise. The twitch shooters also had much more enemies per room than most shooters, even oldschool shooters like Doom/Duke3d/Shadow Warrior. All other shooters that weren’t twitch shooters seemed to have less than 10% of the enemy count per level found in the twitch shooters, at least in 2000 and later. This leads me to a theory of mine which I briefly mentioned. In the US, (possibly) due to threat of lawsuits for the years after columbine (2000-now) there has been a severe reduction of what makes FPS games fun to me. Story is added in to make the game less violent. Plain and simple. Back in 1998 US fps games had NO story, whatsoever, besides Half-life. They had tons of fights with enemies and really bad gore in some cases, and all had a decent amount of blood, with the only exception being Half-life which concentrated on puzzles and realism instead. Now… Most games have blood but very little gore. And monster count has been reduced from 150 per level to 35 now. Why? To fit in the story that IMHO is used to make them less violent, because they can say (‘there is more to do now that there is more than killing in the game’) to critics. Why is this happening? I don’t know for sure, but I suspect censorship has lead to times when the industry is afraid of censorship and start toning down their games.
In fact this dumbing down is what is ruining modern shooters. Adding story was good at first with Half-life, Unreal, Undying, etc. But FPS developers weren’t very good at keeping this up. They weren’t designed to make story intensive games, unlike RPG developers that Concentrated on it. The story got worse and worse, IMHO, with all the ” realistic war” games like COD, Medal of Honor, America’s Army, etc. These games suck horribly. They are way too intense and are simply aren’t FUN! You cannot relax and play these, because every 10 seconds some drill instructor asshole is yelling at you to “MOVE IT”. Even if you got their in 000.35 miliseconds. Doom 3 and Quake 4 abused this BS tactic to make it so insults from friendly characters were guaranteed to happen no matter how quick you got to the insult trigger. This is partially the fault of censors. They pressured the industry to make FPS games less violent. This, IMHO lead to the story driven shooters of today that had 10 enemies per level and crappy stories. FPS games like this aren’t nearly as good as Doom, etc.
And the graph clearly shows a correlation between big game controversies and horrible games coming out after them, overall. We’re in a 5 year period that has had only 3 good shooters with good story come out, because everything else has been dumbed down. Same thing after 1999-2000.
- New Video Blog up at my Youtube Channel. (erosionoffreedom.wordpress.com)
- The Erosion of Freedom Youtube Channel (erosionoffreedom.wordpress.com)
- Paying 1% More For Violent Games (wasdstomp.com)
- Anecdotal Evidence In ISPR Study Links Gaming Addiction to Shooters, MMOs (multiplayerblog.mtv.com)
- The Darkness II: A short, entertaining, by-the-numbers horror shooter (arstechnica.com)
- The True dangers of violent “video games” and “gamers”. (violenceinentertainment.wordpress.com)
- Bulletstorm Review: Ultra-Fun Mayhem and Carnage (savings.com)
- Gotham City Impostors launched, Batman FPS chaos ensues (slashgear.com)
- Have Patience With Valve: The Next ‘Half-Life’ Will Be Amazing (forbes.com)
- Gordon, where are you? (themoviereport.net)
- New Youtube Video : Training on “Doom” Debunked (erosionoffreedom.wordpress.com)
- Episode 1 Of Duke Nukem 3D Free For The Next Two Days (androidpolice.com)
- Violent Games Don’t Cause Violence, Anticipation Does [Modern Warfare 3] (gamerant.com)
- Duke Nukem 3D for Android of the Day (geeks.thedailywh.at)
- Duke Nukem 3D on Android (ubergizmo.com)