In a uniformly amazing essay entitled, “The trouble with video games isn’t the violence. It’s that most of the characters are dicks,” British games writer Charlie Booker examines exactly what makes people feel so uncomfortable about violence in games:
So we both stop in our tracks, and moustache man snatches the guard, pins him against the wall, and stabs him right through the throat with a hunting knife, killing him instantly. Then the body hits the floor, moustache man says “OK, come on”, and we continue sneaking into the compound. Or rather, we were supposed to. But I stopped after a few steps and walked back to where he’d killed the guard. I just stared at the blood on the wall. And I thought, “I don’t want to be friends with the man who did that.”
Obviously there was no means of expressing a thought like that within the game engine, so I had to keep it to myself. Moments later, moustache man orders me to climb a watchtower and dispatch a guard myself. I climb the ladder to find a man asleep in a chair. Just dozing with his back to me. And as I walk near him it says “Press X to take out the guard”, so I press X, and rather than bonking him on the head, or maybe just persuading him to leave, my character also grabs the guard and stabs him right in the throat. And I thought, “I’m no better than moustache man: that was an appalling thing I just did.”
He then goes on to point out the rampant homoeroticism inherent to Modern Warfare 3:
In other words, Modern Warfare 3 would be nothing but a gigantic needlework simulation were it not for the storyline, which is the most homoerotic tale ever created in any medium, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood videos. Behind the military manoeuvrings, the human story revolves around people backstabbing, bitching, making catty asides, breaking off friendships and betraying one another. Ignore the gunfire and it’s like a soap opera set in a ballet school.
A soap opera set in a ballet school. Now that would be a cool game.