Sony took to the Paris Games Week stage yesterday with a wide selection of games to show off. There were lighthearted games like Spider-Man and Concrete Genie, fan favorite franchises like God of War and Shadow of the Colossus, and games that tackle more mature themes like The Last of Us Part 2 and Detroit: Become Human.
While Sony definitely brought an impressive lineup, the event and content shown have garnered criticism.
Commentary on the conference itself is suggesting that the event is a good example of why there needs to be a 'new way to show difficult games.' The presentation's inclusion of games across all genres is being said to simply be too much for some and that there should be a new way of organizing events so that lighthearted games like Spider-Man don't lead directly into a mature themed game like Detroit: Become Human.
It's an interesting thought, but Sony's Paris Games Week presentation was nothing more than a giant advertisement for their top-billed games. It was an event where they could display the full breadth of the media coming to the PlayStation 4, where they could show the technical achievements of their games and the diversity of their properties. It was supposed to have something for every type of gamer and showcase a wide selection of games for the PS4, thus making the console more appealing.
In addition to criticisms of the lineup, outlets claim that Sony's presentation was ripe with unnecessary and gratuitous violence. The two trailers being used to support this argument are for The Last of Us Part 2 and Detroit: Become Human. The two games had trailers that showed beautiful craftsmanship from developers, both of which included gratuitous violence.
One media outlet took a hard stance against the trailer for The Last of Us Part 2 for capitalizing on violence against women to sell a game, something the outlet says the entire media industry (mainly films) has an issue with.
The outlet goes on to suggest that this notion is further supported by the lack of context. Before diving into the perceived violence against women, let's talk about violence without context. Violence is not something that is bound to a video game. It is something that happens every single day and often times it happens without context.
We don't always have an answer as to why someone was violent and we aren't always provided with answers to violence. A game doesn't have to provide context for a scene, especially when it has to do with a story that is spoiler sensitive. The violence is a tool to create something bigger: the setting and the tone.
Now, for the violence against women.
Without a doubt, the trailer features both women and violence. However, it also features women who get back up after taking hits and it doesn't stop at that. The women are put in control of every aspect of this trailer, from leading the attack on the other two women (the men are lackeys) and in the end of the trailer where they have to fight for survival.
The entire scene suggests a history of violence regardless of gender. Before we see the woman getting set up to be hanged, there are three men shown to be hanging above her. Even the dialogue suggests that there is a history of violence and hate.
The trailer is setting the tone for the game, just as the first trailer for the first The Last of Us did. The message isn't that 'violence against women is OK.' It's that the game is set in a brutal time, where your survival isn't given to you, it's earned.
The Last of Us Part 2's trailer shows characters put in a position that could mean their death and rising up to fight it every time, down to the last second. It's grim but no less grim than the first The Last of Us where you are killing humans and non-humans with equal regard.
Detroit: Become Human was also noted for continuing the violence against women trend. It's an interesting notion because the 'woman' being abused is actually a robot – which is both sexless and genderless until someone creates the exterior to appear a certain way and programs specific actions.
Despite it appearing as though the abusive father has control throughout the entirety of the trailer, the choices for Kara, the android, show that the father's fate is not in his own hands and neither is the fate of the little girl.
Overlooking that, the trailer wasn't looking for shock and awe with the violence. It was showing that robots (or androids) can be more human than humans – a notion that isn't difficult to achieve when the human is behaving like a monster.
We aren't seeing 'cool' violence in these trailers like we see in Battlefield, Call of Duty, or Star Wars Battlefront. We are looking at scenes that elicit emotion, that are disturbing and should be seen as such because that is exactly what they are looking to do. The trailers took mature themes and put them on display.
These trailers are making it clear that you will be encountering mature themes in the game and they aren't looking to lure you into playing them under any other premise. To request that they tone down the violence in a trailer could create a false perception of the game and asking that violence is toned down in a game altogether is to create an unrealistic world.
If anything, Sony could make a short frame suggesting that viewer discretion should be advised prior to showing trailers with adult themes.
All these criticism's aside, the majority of the gaming community doesn't sit down to watch the full conference for events like Paris Games Week. The trailers are put on display at events like these for those in the industry. The average consumer will be watching the trailers for the games they are interested in through various outlets at their own discretion.