Imagine caring about the people you kill in a video game.
I think I lost interest in playing videogames a few years before Doom became a hit in the 1990s. If you don’t remember, it was a first person perspective of a giant gun firing at everyone it sees as it goes around corners. There may have been more to it than that, but that’s pretty much all I remember from the news reports on what was then considered an extremely violent video game.
Flash forward to 2020 and I find myself reading about a new release that attempts to humanize every kill:
“I’m not saying killing in this game isn’t part of it. But each death takes an emotional toll on the character and, I would argue, on the player. They do this thing where when you kill a random enemy, one of their allies might cry out ‘Steve!’ or ‘Jill!’ or whatever. It’s subtle, but gives an entire back story to someone that in other games might just be any old NPC (non-player character). And all it took was a name.”
If traditional shooter video games desensitize players to violence (a hotly debated argument), do games like The Last of Us Part II resensitize them?