Violence and LBP

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First off, let me inform you that I am a pacifist (waits for the kids to look it up in the dictionary...). I became one for two reasons:
  1. Dad was an Episcopal priest (those are the priests that CAN marry, just FYI)
  2. The Vietnam war was still going on and being relatively poor, I was VERY eligible for the draft
  3. I didn't relish the idea of killing someone. Period.

Now, to be fair, I have played my fair share of violent video games. I have watched violent shows, etc.

Because I know the difference between reality and fantasy.

HOWEVER, I was tickled pink when I saw that some creative folks had invented a game that, for the most part, was about fun than killing. That appealed to me. A game without guns - sweet!

And I had quite a bit of fun playing LBP.

The Dark Side of LBP: MGS

Oh, dear, this is the part that really was problematic. MGS was looking to be a VERY profitable game (as is LBP). I only bought it because my nephew said it was something that I probably would like (i.e. you aren't supposed to engage the natives). Clever. And yes, I like to put people to sleep with the dart gun.

I started out, like most, with the misconception that it was merely an additional challenge - nothing more than a paint gun. The plasma balls no more than moving electric bolts.

However, it has been getting ugly.

Tasers, Flamethrowers, and More

People have been asking for more. The paintgun was named "paintinator" - however this didn't fool anyone. Rather than create levels that featured clever gameplay, they have been creating levels that featured violence (myself included).

Again, at first, I thought this was merely an additional obstacle. Thought nothing of it.

Now people have been asking for tasers, flame throwers, and other items that mutilate, injure or destroy the sack person.

What started off as silly (flame, electric, gas) has escalated into full scale Little Big Planet World War. You can find tanks aplenty in the LBP universe (despite the fact that for the most part they are boring and really offer little gameplay value).

Some have actually asked for blood. That the sack people actually bleed.

"E for Everyone"?

When people primarily play games about war eventually all games look like war games (or if they aren't they should be). I'm aware this is an oversimplification - but do we really need to turn LBP into a reflection of the ugly horrors that read in our papers? Does anyone really want to see a Little Darfur?

How dark do we want to make this planet? Should children be exposed to the horrors of war, even if it is through a sack person? At what point do we numb ourselves and forget that the ideal of the world is, in fact, world peace?

Or, to be blunt, should LBP reflect our planet as it is or our planet as we would LIKE it to be?

Too Deep, Too Heavy, Too Political

No doubt.

However, when one looks at the commercials for what the creators expected of LBP and what it has become, I have to wonder at times.

Did they in fact foresee a time when there would be the paintinator, that people would literally be asking for more violent means to off other sack people? And at what point does this go from a game for everyone to a game for a few?


  1. Gilgamesh's Avatar
    I don't think the addition of the paintinator changed much to LBP's perceived violence, or people's demands for more weapons. I've been playing since the last Beta and haven't noticed a particular shift in this position.

    "Violent" or "Dark" levels remain only one of the subsets of levels people make. Creators still make artistic levels, racing levels, contraption levels, trophy levels, arcade levels, etc etc etc. The moderation process, while arbitrary, should keep any excesses in violence in check.
  2. feloneouscat's Avatar
    We disagree. Human history, as well as video games, shows that we tend to devolve into more violent and bloodier conflict.

    Whilst I don't ever expect the sackboy to bleed, one does have to wonder at the overall wisdom of providing what is obviously a gun of some type in a "comic mischief" game.

    I would truly love to believe that human beings tend toward the light, but history says otherwise.
  3. supersickie's Avatar
    I don't know who said it first, but doesn't art supposedly imitate life? Undoubtedly, there are those that are infatuated and inundated with violence and that definitely plays a part in the levels they produce. However, I would argue that there are a great deal of creators that merely express their greatest fears - consciously or unconsciously - through their creations.

    Are you more concerned with the glorification of "violence" or are you just upset that it's made it into the game on a more than comical level?

    Also, out of curiosity, were you a conscientious objector during Vietnam? I only ask because it doesn't seem like you have what the government would call "valid/justifiable" reasons for objection; I don't think anyone - then or now - is anxious to end another persons existence. Again, just curious...
  4. Gilgamesh's Avatar
    God of War : Demon Skull was released a long time before the MGS pack was even hinted at. In it one had to sacrifice several Sackboys into firey pits (sometimes with some of their limbs coming back up) and there was a fair amount of blood involved. It was a very dark and violent level.

    This level rose to fame during the early days, and was praised as one of the greatest LBP levels, but was ultimately shot down by moderators (for being too violent/bloody) once LBP hit the general masses. I've yet to see or hear about anything remotely on par with that level in terms of dark atmosphere or violence. Nothing I've seen, including the levels from the MGS pack, come even close.

    For this I say, if anything, popular LBP levels have gotten less violent since the beta days.
  5. feloneouscat's Avatar
    @supersickie - Yes, I was a conscientious objector - I believed at the time, and I still do, that there is no valid reason for one person to take another's life. It is based on both religious and moral grounds. I consider that to be both "valid and justifiable".
  6. feloneouscat's Avatar
    @gilgamesh - I can't say I was one of the lucky few to have experienced the beta, nor did I play "Demon Skull".

    However, it is difficult to determine whether people are being less violent (I would argue they are not), that the violent levels are harder to find, or that people have learned that publishing a violent level is a good way to get it moderated. In the end it is a moot point.

    What I DO see, however, is Sony is doing a lot of consolidation in order to cut losses. This may lead to people "loosening the reins" in order to spur development.

    Now, whether this mean that LBP becomes a World At War, who can say. I'd prefer it did not, however.
  7. Fjonan's Avatar
    Violence is a part of our nature. No philosophical view will change that. By the way ... pacifism means, that one does NOT think, war is a valid and necessary option for a state to use, no matter if in defense, preamtive or as a frontal assault.

    About the MGS pack: I think the paintinator adds a lot to the game, just think about the fire extinguisher used in Dantes "Sack Quest" and I would not want to miss it althoug I will refrain from using it in my levels since it just does not fit my theme.

    I bet Sony had a strong hand on the MGS pack since the MGS series is another very important Playstation only franchise just as Killzone and God of War is. This is advertisement and viral marketing since you will have a bunch of Little Big Snakes running around in cute videos on Youtube, nothing more. One can argue if this is the right thing to to, to advertise for 18+ games in a game that is rated for everyone but why you will most definately not see are flamethrowers, machine guns, tazers etc. since this does not at all fit the game. The paintinator does.

    Think of kids. They got water guns, bow n arrow and the little plastic colt. Weapons but noone would accuse them of being war mongers. They are kids. So is LBP.

    And what do kids do? What do people do when you let them create things? The first thing they will draw, create, show is what they know best, or what fascinates them. War is something exciting, something you think you know from the news and movies. Tanks are cool in the eye of a child and somehow I think tanks are cool when blending away enough of my adulthood.

    You would see those things in LBP no matter if the MGS pack ever happend cause it is part of our culture. If you want - and I am with you here - make the world a better place do not blame Sony for putting MGS in LBP or JohnDoe14 from Idaho for creating a tank in his level and rather strive to show the people that it works without those things, that they think about why they like and and little bit - just a little bit - learn yourself that those things do not make a human a killer or threaten world peace in anyway. Without competition on a very wide scale we would not even be ABLE to think about that.
  8. feloneouscat's Avatar
    @Fjonan - Yes, Dantes "Sack Quest" used the paintinator is a very clever way. Applause for thinking outside the box.

    Oh, I guarantee that Sony had a strong hand in the paintinator -- and I'm sure it gave the folks at Mm fits to try to wedge the MGS theme into a "E for Everyone" theme. My gut reaction at the time, however, was "gee THAT wasn't very subtle!".

    And I would be a liar if I didn't say that I found the MGS pack to be a lot of fun. Heck, I even built a TON of copyable turrets (including a sackboy seeking one that people said was impossible to avoid).

    What bothered me was someones comment on LBW about adding tasers (and even HE was offended that it seen as "guns, guns, and more guns").

    Now, I do not believe, nor have I ever believed that video games, television shows, or movies make people killers. I'm not saying "outlaw violent games" or "prevent anyone under the age of 45 from playing them". However, I DO fervently believe that introspection is a good thing.

    As I say, perhaps it was too deep, too heavy, too political and maybe, just maybe, too tainted with growing up in a different world.

    Tomorrow I'll discuss something different -- maybe religiion
  9. dakotarhea's Avatar
    ok ok well......i play and love lbp but even before that i was the guy that loves violnce look on my trophys, i have flower little big planet deathspank then pops up splatterhouse red dead redemption and MAG....i love lbp for the ability of creating what you want to any extent you want (privatlly) so be glad its just a bit of violence and not the mijority....and at least its not know sexual content all over the place like other games o.O SO with that said..yes im a dark guy but i still like happy peacefull things everyone has there faintest love for hate or violce....but theres always an exeption. and you may be that exeption just dont worrie about it untill its like the base comunity of lbp asking for blood then id be worried too
  10. dakotarhea's Avatar
    (sorry for the grammer im on my iphone)