Hatred was a game that generated a lot of controversy. Controversial games that put the artistic merit of the entire medium into question are anything but new, this has been happening since the first Mortal Kombat, but what I thought was interesting about the controversy surrounding Hatred was an unusual amount of it came from gamers themselves.
I recently watch Total Buiscutte’s let’s play of Hatred. I have to say that I was underwhelmed about the whole affair. The game is pretty tame compared to comparible AAA M rated titles. There were lots of titles that contained a lot more gore and violence, God of War, Gears of War, Mortal Kombat, Prototype, lots of examples that were bloodier and gorier that didn’t generate nearly as much contraversy as Hatred did, in fact, I’d go so far as to say that the level of violence in Hatred was on par with Kingdom Hearts. So what made Hatred so special?
Let’s compare Hatred with Grand Theft Auto 3, another game that sparked a lot of controversy (and the only one amoung the Grand Theft Auto series that I have played myself). In GTA, you played as a criminal in an sandbox world, completed missions, and were given lots of tools to complete those missions. A lot of those tools were tools of destruction and could be employed outside of missions, plus there were things you could do outside of missions, like explore the game world, or look for secret packages. You could, if you were so inclined, go on a murder spree with all your tools of destruction, and while such actions would attract the attention of the police, who you could then murder as well, attracting more police attention, and onward until the police (or if your wanted level is high enough, the army) finally took you out (or if you somehow evaded their detection).
Violence is no stranger to the medium, or even unique to this medium, and acts of violence can be found even in E rated games such as the aforementioned Kingdom Hearts. But in Kingdom Hearts, the things you commit acts of violence against are an inhuman “the Heartless” that are completely inhuman and a clear threat to yourself and everyone around you, killing them is like killing a tiger that was terrorizing your neighborhood, practically a public service. The few human characters you face in battle are so unambiguously evil as to be caricatures rather than human.
In GTA, the senseless slaughter of innocent civilians was the result of being given the tools to do so and the consequences thereof being trivial compared to real life. IN Kingdom Hearts, the slaughter isn’t senseless and it’s being perpetrated by something that is completely inhuman and a clear threat to everything around you. In Hatred, the slaughter of civilians is the point of the game. this, I believe, is the difference between Hatred and other games of its type, framing.
Hatred doesn’t actually do anything that wasn’t done in some other game. What it does, what makes it generate the controversy, is how it frames itself.
Here’s the kicker, Hatred is not a game that could make money without the controversy. In fact, Hatred feeds off of your hate for it. What is Hatred without controversy? A GTA clone with most of the fun stuff taken out. So by making a big deal out of it, you give it power over you and the exposure it needs to thrive.
But I have good news for you, if you don’t like Hatred, or any game like it, there is a simple solution, ignore it. The hatred surrounding Hatred only gave it exposure. If you ignore it, it cannot hurt you because it holds no power over you, and you refuse it the exposure it needs to survive. If you think Hatred is monstrous, then do not feed the monster. It’s as simple as that.