Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

Too Much

Posted by Rampant Coyote on November 27, 2012

I picked up Dead Island during the Steam Autumn sale. I finally tried to play it. My wife was in the room. I watched part of the intro. The music and the dialog, was pretty laden with profanity. As the f-bombs continued at a rate of one every three seconds, my wife expressed disgust at the intro, and then left the room in anger. I stopped the intro, and quit the game. Still haven’t played it.

She hadn’t been watching the screen. She assumed I was playing an indie game that was trying to be “edgy.” When she heard it was a mainstream  game, she was even more disgusted.

My personal feeling is that it’s marketing. Now that the average gamer age 30, games addressing the (much larger) adult population may try to draw attention to how “adult” they are, and how much they earn that M or PEGI-16 rating. I dunno. As always, there’s a line where it becomes gratuitous where it bugs me. Maybe I’m less sensitive to it than my wife, but it does bug me. It’s too much.

Can we, as an industry, be satisfied with the fact that games are as much for grown-ups as they are for kids now? The only people who aren’t yet convinced aren’t gamers, and represent a diminishing minority.  Do we really feel the need to prove it by going over-the-top on sex, violence, and language? Sure, you have your freedom to make what you want, to play what you want (as it should be), but sheesh, guys. When I feel like I can’t play a game with my wife in the room, I’ve got a problem. I’m now regretting that I bought the game and “voted with my wallet.”

And sadly, I’m getting a few too many games in my library that are like that.

When will the industry leaders calling the shots realize that “adult” doesn’t just mean, “filled with stuff that isn’t allowed in a non-M-rated game?” A lot of indies have figured it out. I’ve got several indie titles that – while they may not shy away from those elements – at least use them in the context of a game actually geared towards actual adults.

Filed Under: Biz, Geek Life - Comments: 16 Comments to Read

  • McTeddy said,

    I agree completely. I’m not in any way sensitive about language, violence, or anything else for that matter… but at some point it because more childish than grown up.

    I often feel like M-Rated games are created for 10 year old’s who want to feel like adults. It takes “Adult” aspects and shovels them on. “Look what a grown up I am because I can make heads splatter while yelling **** you you mother****ing piece of ****!”


  • Gareth Fouche said,

    Tedious, wasn’t it?

    I’m reminded of this blog post :


    Specifically, this line :

    “Yes, and their adultness is the imagined adultness of an adolescent.”

    That’s really what it reeks of. Stunted man-boys writing what they think is “mature”, which means anything which shocks sensibilities.

  • Robert Basler said,

    I like M rated games. I’m not at all offended by mature language (I once had the hilarious task of compiling a list of all the profanity everyone in the office could think of.)

    But I’m a Dad, and I don’t want my daughter in the other room hearing that language, and I don’t like to game wearing headphones.

    I’d like a way to turn it off.

  • Rampant Coyote said,

    I grew up in the Washington DC area, and like to joke that in my first high school (before we moved to another area), “mother” was only half a word. So it’s not like I come from a sheltered background. I don’t really have a problem with these kinds of elements appearing in a game where appropriate (or, as Kaylee said in Firefly, the whole point about swearing is that it IS inappropriate).

    But I do choose to avoid being bombarded by certain things.

    Brutal Legend had an option to bleep out the offensive language. I thought that this option was a LOT more funny than leaving the language on.

  • Ruber Eaglenest said,

    Sex? Where is the sex?

    Hope some day games could handle sex in the same way other mediums do.

  • Xian said,

    In many cases it seems like the language is just gratuitous; it’s not really necessary at all. I can overlook the occasional expletive thrown in to add emphasis, but it doesn’t need to be every other word. I had a similar issue with my wife and Dead Island so I ended up having to play it with the headphones on.

    It’s not just the language, but the gore is over the top in some games. Dead Space is a prime example. It sounded like it was going to be similar to System Shock 2, awakening in space to find out that you are alone and have to deal with the infestation after everyone else was wiped out, so I picked it up without doing much research. The gore was integral to the game, requiring you to shoot to dismember enemies to keep them from advancing. It was just too much for me, and I am not in the least bit squeamish. I just didn’t see the necessity for all that blood, just as I don’t see the necessity for all the bad language.

  • Robert Boyd said,

    Felt the exact same way about The Dead Rising games. Got the first two episodes for free from Playstation Plus and about 30 minutes into the first episode, I finally gave up due to the language.

  • Robert Boyd said,

    Actually, I meant The Walking Dead games, not Dead Rising.

  • EHamilton said,

    I’ve always been on the squeamish side when it comes to violence, and I avoid games that I know will push me too far. I generally avoid anything that involves too much realistic modern-world violence. Even then, there have been a few games where I felt obligated to keep playing on account of their good design, but wished I didn’t need to swallow quite as much unpleasant content to get through them.

    This week I’ve been playing through Swords and Sorcery Underworld, which has much nicer graphics after its facelift. All the same, I keep closing the game every time a member of my family walks by. I just feel weird about playing a game that seems to revolve around wandering around killing hundreds of half-naked (OK, 95% naked) women, even if they come tagged with evil-sounding names. Somehow all of this felt more tolerable back in the 80s, when it was all done with crude pixelated graphics. Now it makes me feel uncomfortable. And then old and uncool for feeling uncomfortable.

  • Brian 'Psychochild' Green said,

    On one hand, some people are pretty foul mouthed. I think if a zombie apocalypse happened and I was fighting for survival, you’d be lucky to hear any other word besides the f-bomb on my lips.

    On the other hand, this is a story written by someone. Overusing a technique, like a swearing, lessens the impact. And, as someone pointed out in reference to Firefly, there is no point when swearing is truly “appropriate”… although running from Zombies might be it. And, a lot of media (beyond even games) do try to use “mature” elements to appear more adult than they might otherwise be perceived.

    On the gripping hand, a lot of times when people complain about swearing or violence in games, it’s a “spare the children!” argument, with the assumption that games are still a child’s hobby. Some adults don’t mind a bit of salty language.

    Not a simple issue, so I’d be careful tarring everything with the same brush.

  • twitched said,

    I have to say, if there’s an example of a game where cursing is thematically and narratively appropriate, it’s the Walking Dead series. Giving up on TWD because of language is like giving up on “Crime and Punishment” because of the violence.

  • CdrJameson said,

    I wish adult games weren’t so puerile.

  • Attila said,

    I think it might actually just be a representation of a large group of adults in today’s society, at whom the games are mostly aimed. Most of the people commenting here are probably certain types of intellectual. If you work a day at a restaurant or pulp mill, language use differences become evident very quickly.

  • LateWhiteRabbit said,

    You aren’t missing anything, Rampant. Dead Island had an amazing concept, a beautiful, evocative trailer, and trite, awful writing and gameplay in the actual game. Character selection was like “Pick your offensive racial stereotype of choice”.

    For a zombie game, play Telltale’s The Walking Dead instead. It has cursing, but where it is appropriate/inappropriate to be coming out of people’s mouths. Honestly, the Walking Dead game it feels right when people do it because you can actually think of the characters as real people. It is the only game I’ve ever played where I cursed AT an NPC for being awful and thought of them as a living, breathing person at the same time.

    @Robert Boyd
    As others have indicated, if you stopped playing the Walking Dead because of cursing, you are missing out on one of the most defining examples of games as art and how brilliant an interactive narrative can be I’ve ever seen. (And I’ve been gaming for 25+ years.)

  • Xenovore said,

    In games I’ve played, 9 out of 10 times the cursing comes across as a shallow, gratuitous attempt at “realism” or being “adult”, but it rarely if ever enhances the game-play or story.

    And really, cursing just shows a lack of respect and consideration for the player. Developers, while you and your buddies may have no problems with the F-bomb getting dropped every 5 seconds, that doesn’t mean the rest of us appreciate it.

    And really you’re doing yourselves a disservice by putting so much cursing in your games. As mentioned already, for some of us the excessive cursing is a showstopper; we are not going to purchase or play those games. If you really want to get your games purchased and played by as many as possible, you need to take that into consideration.

  • hexagonstar said,

    I outright boycott games that try to be edgy by throwing countless f-bombs at you. Shows the intellect of the people who play such games and that the publisher tries to cater to the dumb multitude.

    There are very few exception where I let it pass like in Vampire The Masquerade Bloodlines where I think the language and sexual themes are created in a style that suits more toward grown up players who posses a certain confidence about such topics.

    I’d really like to see a game where the dialog is the exact opposite: sophisticated and smart without falling back to profanity.

    So, many game developers try to give a game’s characters a realistic edge by giving them tons of profanity. Profanity bugs me in real life just as much. If I come across a person who swears often then chances are very low that we can ever be friends. Profanity is the language of low-life.