I love violent video games, but you'll never catch me playing Hatred

Aside from being a tasteless parody of American mass shootings, the game doesn't even look very good

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The Independent Online

I love violent video games. I’ve played all of the GTAs, most of the Modern Warfares, and more than a few hack n’ slash RPGs. I’ve never been bothered by blood and guts. But when it comes to the boundaries of good taste and quality, there's a line.

Originally, I thought the release of Hatred by Destructive Creations was a joke. If only.

The game has hit the news this week after being pulled from the popular online store Steam, before being reinstated (specifically, this is all happened on the store's Greenlight section, where the games it decides to release are voted on by users). As a staunch believer in the free market, I know I have to accept this. But I wish I didn't have to.

In Hatred, the central character is committed to a "genocidal crusade". As the trailer shows, this includes going out into the street and violently killing as many innocent people as possible. You can see it for yourself here:

Defending themselves, Destructive has said that the game is all about railing against political correctness, recalling the industry’s days as a rebellious and socially subversive medium. That might sound like quite an artistic statement to make, but the game is solely about murdering innocent people for no reason — so in my view that makes Destructive nothing more than trolls.

In the trailer, Hatred's protagonist petulantly narrates his indictments against the noncombatants of the world. Then, after he shoots cops, pleading women, and anything he can lay his hands on, a bland ripoff of the Doom logo flashes onto the screen.

Despite all the hype now surrounding the game, there are no major gameplay innovations here. What's more, the graphics look awful — not what I’d call an exciting take on the Unreal Engine, the software system which has produced landmark games such as Deus Ex, Unreal Tournament, Bioshock and Mass Effect.

Of course, no-one has to embrace political correctness. But given that Destructive has chosen to parrot American mass shootings in such a tacky way, I doubt they have the intellect to empathise with anyone at all, let alone with society's stance on what is and isn't acceptable.

Also, I’m not saying I only play games for the story, but Destructive could have at least made an effort to provide a narrative that didn't solely hinge upon a predictable and boring, misanthropic murderer. Instead, they treated us to a schlocky take on a troubling topic.

So, as you might expect, when Steam decided to pull the game, I thought, “Good for them. They shouldn’t have to sell this crap.” The backlash was instantaneous. “They’re demolishing our freedom of speech!” said the fans, who demanded that Steam return the game to Greenlight post haste.

I smiled at this, because that’s not how the free market works. Were this a government censoring or banning the game, I’d be quick to side with Destructive. Using the law to abridge freedom of speech is wrong, but retailers are not the government. No matter how popular Steam may be, they don’t have to put up with Destructive's crap.

However, their rotten, adolescent power fantasy has now returned to Steam, where its fans eagerly await its release. So I have to eat my words - if that's how the free market works, then so be it. Destructive's fans came together as a group to put the title back into the marketplace, and made a compelling enough financial case to Steam. Good job.

But I still hate it. I loathe the fact that there’s a market for such games, but I can’t stop it, and I admit that. The whole scenario has taught me a lot about the Steam community in the last couple of days. Maybe it isn’t the place for me after all.

To read Alex's blog go to: http://www.alexrwhite.com/

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