Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Non-Violent Game Idea: Puppies in Hell

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 10 Jan 2012 12:00
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I hope everybody had a tolerable observation of the seasonal festivities. While you're quaffing egg nog and discovering that Grandma forgot to buy a SIM card for your new PSP and the shops won't open for another two weeks, make sure you never forget the true meaning of Christmas. A hodge-podge of pagan midwinter festivals and traditions with a half-arsed connection to Christ tacked on by the Emperor Constantine so it would be easier to convert the rest of the Roman Empire to Christianity. Where do you think that whole Christmas tree thing came from, religious nuts? Not too many evergreens in Jerusalem.

Anyway, rest assured my end-of-year video for 2011 will be up soon and we can finally draw a line under the traumas of that horrible year. And with my slightly tardy review of Serious Sam 3 last week I personally can draw a line under my outstanding issues, including the seemingly interminable Shooter Season 2011. Now it's over and half the big properties in the mainstream games industry have shat out the third instalments of their planned trilogies. And hoo-bloody-ray, say I. So rarely do we see so many trilogies get tied off all in one go, and that means the coming years will bring an absolute pile of new intellectual properties. In theory, anyway. This is where you'll notice the manic edge to my fixed grin implying that I'm determined to be at least a little bit optimistic if only to lessen the likelihood of spontaneous suicide when they announce the Gears of War prequel trilogy.

Take this for the golden opportunity it is, game developers. Let's see some real creativity from you to justify the huge amounts of money Square Enix or whoever are funneling your way. In fact, before you get too into whatever project you've got going, I've got a little challenge for you: make a game that's gratifying without using any violence at all.

You remember my context-challenge-gratification triangle theory of game design, right? Well, it was while playing Serious Sam 3 that I realized that there're so few games that create a sense of gratification without some degree of visceral schadenfreude. And I think it's an image problem games would be well advised to rid itself of that they're all about gleaning entertainment from the misery of others. Usually by watching them explode into dog food. Even something like Spider-Man 2 with its gratifying swinging physics also features the ability to swing bad guys around your head and hurl them into brick walls at skull-bursting velocity.

Don't get me wrong, violence is fun as hell, but I wonder if one could create the same kind of amusement that doesn't involve the torment of another living creature. Such a game would be a useful draw card to have the next time you get caught up in a "corrupting the children" debate.

This is all leading up to another opportunity for me to write down another hypothetical game idea that I currently don't intend to make myself. This is one that's been knocking around my head since I played Serious Sam 3 and, consequently, Serious Sam Double D, the 2D one. This idea is one I like to call Puppies Hugging Things: The Game.

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