Why all this violence?! - Alternatives to violence in video games?

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Let me start this thread near the end, with Fallout 4. Fallout 4 has a beautifully crafted game world, pretty much every location in the game has a story to tell, whatever it is a bunch of skeletons barred up in a church or emergency transmissions from a ruined suburb or a collection of terminals in a factory. Yet despite this beautiful game world the player only has one option in engaging with it: Killing things. Just like every location tells a story, every location also contains enemies to kill or quest givers that points you to enemies kill. This has been the case with all Bethesda games really, but with Fallout 4 the violence really got to me, simply because the game world is so well-crafted that I wanted to engage with it in more ways then just killing Super Mutants so I could read the logs of a survivor that had been there before.

Another poignant example for me is BioShock. Rapture is by far my favorite setting of any game to date (and it ranks really high when extended to all media) and the game deals in both fairly intellectual discourse about Objectivism, morality and human nature as well as telling several emotional stories about the people caught in the decaying Rapture. The music by Gary Schyman is wonderfully melancholic and the level design drives home the contrast between the dream that Rapture was and the nightmare that it has become. But what is the only way to engage with BioShock on a mechanical level? By killing people. Lots of people.

Maybe I am just getting older, but I am starting to feel that more and more games suffer from being caught in old wisdoms about game design. BioShock as a game is still a mechanically sound shooter with some innovative elements, but the design of everything but the combat holds the promise of something deeper, something more satisfying and tonally congruent with the game world then sending bees to attack people before bashing their face in with a wrench. Fallout 4 has an amazing world to explore but little to do in it except kill things. I don't know what could replace the combat, but I can't shake the feeling that both BioShock and Fallout 4 would have been much better games had they only had the guts to focus on something other then violence as the primary means of gameplay interaction.

i do know what you mean its rare for a game these days to allow a player to go from start to finish and not kill people and things. i would suggest age of decadence where a non combat build is viable and actually fun

I feel like it's more justified in cases like Bioshock where you're exploring a hostile world. Yes, the setting and themes are incredibly deep, but the people who occupy it have been reduced to animals. In that case, there's really only two approaches they could have gone with; fight or flight (meaning stealth).

I think Fallout 4 was just lazy with it's quests. There are plenty of RPGs where you can interact non-violently with the environment. New Vegas did it right, and Undertale proved you can make a skill-based game out of pacifism, so there are other options.

I disagree! There needs to be MOAR violence in video games! In fact make it legally mandatory for chainsaw appendectomies in every game. 2 if its a kid's game! That'll teach that bitch Dora to go exploring without proper adult supervision!

In the immortal words of Angron: Humanity is a wrathful species and anger vindicates all of its sins. Nothing is as honest a rage. Throughout the history of the human race what release of emotion has been more worthy and true than depth-less anger? In rage anything is justified. It is the highest state of sentience. Through rage comes vindication, and through vindication comes peace.

If we're talking Fallout 4 (or similar) then it's not just the lack of an alternate to violence that I find tiresome, it's the lazy way that it's implemented. Bandits attack the player character, no matter how well armed the player is, and how underequipped they are in comparison, just because that's what mooks do in games.

Just once I'd like to see a nuanced bandit faction portrayed in a game - for a group of bandits to actually survive, they should be selective in who they target, they should attack their prey mostly by ambush, and they should always be amenable to profitable negotiation. In Fallout 4, once the PC becomes powerful they should leave you well alone in terms of direct encounters, but instead they'd be stealing from your provisioners, or bullying settlers, and maybe simultaneously being friendly to you, offering you protection against raiders at a cheap rate, blaming any incidents of violence against your settlers on other groups etc. Make them a believable group with goals that can be dealt with in a variety of ways and not just more faceless mooks to shoot!

CeeBod:
If we're talking Fallout 4 (or similar) then it's not just the lack of an alternate to violence that I find tiresome, it's the lazy way that it's implemented. Bandits attack the player character, no matter how well armed the player is, and how underequipped they are in comparison, just because that's what mooks do in games.

I sort of liked how in Shadow of Mordor, you could scare the orcs away from combat. And if you used terror tactics against the orcs a lot, you'd start hearing them talk about you as some sort of boogeyman. Unfortunately, it never quite transitioned into you jumping out and them just running away - they always fought you still. It would have been a nice change if you could become so terrifying that some enemies would just piss themselves and surrender when they saw you. Alas.

There are a lot of non violent games out in the wild. They just aren't being pushed on us like other games. I kind of want to see more in the way of supernatural domestically. Like take the sims and cross it with bioshock... That idea is horrible or wonderful.*

I hope part of the reason combat is pushed so much is that we just know more about it and we know how to make engaging systems about killing people. Like we don't really have the platform to present a nice dinner in the same quality we present a knife fight. I fear that the real reason is violence sells and we focus on violence in games because we want to.

*Or maybe pokemon harvest moon. I am 4 pages into a design doc for this idea. No it's not good why do you ask :P

Okay, first thing, like other people said, there are games without violence, of course not AAA ones but complaining about those having violence is like complaining Super Hero films have costumes.

In general violence is something humanity as a whole finds, for a lack of a better term, relatable in a story, the act of actively resisting or causing a change, I think pretty much every mythology is built on stories with violence with them, and generally, there's no problem in it. Design wise, combat is a very easy way of causing people to keep interest as it changes with the other alternative buing puzzles, just talking and exploring could become utter shite without an extremely good writing, which most games, heck, most media lack.

Jim Sterling sums it all pretty well here:
http://www.thejimquisition.com/2015/08/submerged-review-ankle-deep/

Its kinda justified in FO4.

Think back to when the DayZ mod for Arma2 came out. Some people would turn to banditry and kill people on sight. This starts a chain reaction with everyone starting to kill people on sight not to steal their stuff, but to prevent the possibility that the people they killed were bandits who would kill them. Even normally non-assholish people resorted to this tactic as a measure of self defense.

Ark:survival Evolved is the same way. You HAVE to assume that every person not in your tribe is trying to kill you. There are no depths to which people will not sink to to kill you or steal your stuff in that game to the point where you cant even trust seemingly new players and show them the ropes because they could be veterans merely pretending to be new players so they can find a way to crack th defenses around your base and let their tribe in and destroy/loot your place (destroying potentially dozens if not hundreds of hours of work).

And thats a videogame. People resort to these barbaric practices just so they dont lose hours of their work. Imagine if your life was on the line.

In FO4, raiders are running rampant, there are an army of Terminator synths that look human, supermutants are eating people, etc etc. There isnt any law and order like in NV (with the exception of diamond city and good neighbor, who dont extend out much from their area) with the NCR on one side and Legion on the other with most of the conflict revolving around those two. It is a far more desperate setting than NV, possibly even FO3 (the brotherhood helped).

Ryotknife:
Its kinda justified in FO4.

Think back to when the DayZ mod for Arma2 came out. Some people would turn to banditry and kill people on sight. This starts a chain reaction with everyone starting to kill people on sight not to steal their stuff, but to prevent the possibility that the people they killed were bandits who would kill them. Even normally non-assholish people resorted to this tactic as a measure of self defense.

Ark:survival Evolved is the same way. You HAVE to assume that every person not in your tribe is trying to kill you. There are no depths to which people will not sink to to kill you or steal your stuff in that game to the point where you cant even trust seemingly new players and show them the ropes because they could be veterans merely pretending to be new players so they can find a way to crack th defenses around your base and let their tribe in and destroy/loot your place (destroying potentially dozens if not hundreds of hours of work).

And thats a videogame. People resort to these barbaric practices just so they dont lose hours of their work. Imagine if your life was on the line.

In FO4, raiders are running rampant, there are an army of Terminator synths that look human, supermutants are eating people, etc etc. There isnt any law and order like in NV (with the exception of diamond city and good neighbor, who dont extend out much from their area) with the NCR on one side and Legion on the other with most of the conflict revolving around those two. It is a far more desperate setting than NV, possibly even FO3 (the brotherhood helped).

Na That isn't really a good justification by itself. The game needs to do what is good for the game not just what would be the most realistic.

You know the puzzling thing about fallout 4 is that is has kind of a deep noncombat system. You have the settlements and then the crafting. You could make a whole game just out of the settlement management. (In fact they should make a game just about that.) Think about it, take fallout 4 remove all the guns and monsters, there would still be a lot of fun to be had scavenging ruins and building up your settlements. (Then imagine if they built on that and added more verity of settlement quests, diplomacy and trading, recherche, More verity in buildings, story chains for your settlers.. I hope they are planing something for DLC.)

Have you tried Stealth Games? Many have great worlds and allow you to go through the whole game without killing a single person, infact good stealth games will let you go through the game without even knocking anyone out. Deus Ex Human Revolution, Thief Gold (plus the sequel) and Dishonored all have stylistic worlds and allow you to go through without even interacting with your enemies.

As for RPG's Vampire Bloodlines the Masquerade allows you to go through the first two thirds of the game with minimal combat using stealth and persuasion skills, the last third unfortunately turns into a boss rush in which you'll be wrecked without combat skills.

While I agree that nonviolence options in games would be welcome, honestly, I think the reliance on violence is because it's generally the furthest realistic option we'd have IRL. It's a greater escapism than talking things through. That helps make it appealing.

And there was a guy that went through fallout 4 killing almost no one outside of bosses. Bosses don't count as kills, so he made it through with a body count of 0. There are syringers, too.

One problem with non-violence is that there are people out there that can't be reasoned with, and those people can be very dangerous, so what then?

That isn't to say that there's no nonviolent games out there, or anything like that.

Rebel_Raven:
While I agree that nonviolence options in games would be welcome, honestly, I think the reliance on violence is because it's generally the furthest realistic option we'd have IRL. It's a greater escapism than talking things through. That helps make it appealing.

I'd also argue it's a really easy way to do everything games want you to do, whether it's close to real life or not.

I'm looking at steam top sales, and there's American Truck Simulator on 2nd place, Slime Ranger on 4th and The Witness on the 5th. Maybe you should try one of these games.
There's also Rocket League.
Or maybe you should buy something from TellTale. Tales from the Borderlands are pretty popular.
Or The Blackwell Bundle.
Or maybe one of the building games - there's KSP and Cities Skylines.
And there are racing games. Some of them are bound to be good.
Or maybe buy a visual novel or two. Aviary Attourney looks interesting. Especially if you're allergic to anime bullshit.

I can understand complaints about how there aren't enough good games of certain genres, but at least buy something that isn't a shooter.

For the title this thread, there are too little suggestions on alternatives in the OP. Probably everybody right now is tired of hearing about Undertale (advertised as "the friendly RPG where nobody has to die"), so I won't say any more details. But we had other relatively good games with low violence in 2015 like Grim Fandango remake, Life Is Strange, Kerbal Space Program, Journey remake, The Beginner's Guide, etc...

I think a lot of it comes down to ease of production. It's a lot easier to design and implement a consistent combat system that works throughout the game, than to have to go through each encounter individually, creating dialogue trees, non-combat interactions, recording voice over, etc. Combat is just much more efficient to develop than non-violent resolution scenarios, and since developers and publishers are always looking to cut costs, simply defaulting to combat as a means of resolution for the vast majority of encounters is the most efficient solution.

nomotog:
You know the puzzling thing about fallout 4 is that is has kind of a deep noncombat system. You have the settlements and then the crafting. You could make a whole game just out of the settlement management. (In fact they should make a game just about that.) Think about it, take fallout 4 remove all the guns and monsters, there would still be a lot of fun to be had scavenging ruins and building up your settlements. (Then imagine if they built on that and added more verity of settlement quests, diplomacy and trading, recherche, More verity in buildings, story chains for your settlers.. I hope they are planing something for DLC.)

I think this would be great. But in Fallout or another similar setting there'd still to be some option of violence, if only to have something you're trying to avoid. Like you could enter conflict with another settlement but it's just as likely to be mutually destructive and only as a last resort. Not the main character just blasting away the opposition.

The other thing is just the projection of power, rather than actual conflict. If you have artillery and strongly trained combat force a settlement will probably join or surrender peacefully rather than risk being wiped out and raiders are going to be pushed out of well patrolled and defended zones.

I'd say the biggest part for so much violence is due to it being the easiest mechanic to showcase a game/advance the story. A game without violence tends to stall as it would have difficulties advancing the story, which is why The Witness is doing so well even though it lacks the violence most games have. Even though it's quite vague in how it does the story itself.

But really, persuasion/talking/non-violence is hard to advance a game's plot/showcase said game's world/etc. It would take some really gifted, or crazy (most likely both), devs to work out a game without violence in it.

Because In games like Bioshock and Fallout, why on earth would your character go for the pacifist route? They are in a hostile world where nigh-on everything wants to kill them; it would make no logical sense for them NOT to fight back.

Games like Undertale seem to have everyone digging pacifism when it make absolutely no sense.

Something Amyss:

Rebel_Raven:
While I agree that nonviolence options in games would be welcome, honestly, I think the reliance on violence is because it's generally the furthest realistic option we'd have IRL. It's a greater escapism than talking things through. That helps make it appealing.

I'd also argue it's a really easy way to do everything games want you to do, whether it's close to real life or not.

Yep, this. It's an extremely easy way to let the player progress and show that progression. Evil person/god/tree wants to make things go bad? Beat it up! Baddie gone means problemen solved. Also, you got exp/a new weapon/new skill. You've accomplished something!

Another thing about violence is there isn't much need for variables. Either you kill it or you don't. Easy to write, easy to program.

Fallout 4 is a bad example since that game is supposedly an RPG all about giving you choice, but Bethesda dropped the ball on that one in favour of more shiny and Preston Garvey >_>

I mean, at the core, games have competition as the main driving force as well as fantasy. Racing games are technically non-violent, but they just don't sell as well. Maybe it's just that violence is the most cathartic and instantenous expression of agency when it comes to games, since we often control a single person.

Also, they are entertainment, so it's not without reason to think that they'd aim for whatever is the most pleasing. Games have their roots in 80s and 90s action movies, and those were unapolegitcally violent, but fun as a result. There is more variation, just that it is often so extreme as to be boring.

Tell you what OP, if you are a bit tired of violence, give Spec Ops The Line a go sometime. It carries a similar sentiment about it and uses it to tell a really interesting story.

The only RPG's I know of that give alternatives to violence for every single conflict are Renowned Explorers: International Society and Undertale. They even serve different roles, where RE just gives you more playspace (it uses tactical gameplay to play out diplomacy or bullying) and Undertale has a stronger narrative goal to serve. I think both games are awesome.

I also think violence as conflict solving is normal because gamers are way more likely to accept the abstractions of violence in a game. Press A to do a physics-defying combo is accepted. Press A to make a compliment not so much. We expect so much more control over dialogue, that it's really hard to make a game system around it. Still, I think RE in particular does it really well and it's really interesting.

I think I wasn't clear enough on what I actually meant in the OP. It is not that I don't want violent games, I liked the combat in BioShock, Fallout 4 and (Rise of the) Tomb Raider and they were all pretty satisfying to play just for their mechanics. I totally get that Rapture is a violent place and that combat has a given place in the scenario presented, just like in Fallout 4. What I meant was that both BioShock and Fallout 4 presents game worlds that could facilitate so much more then just that. While BioShock keeps feeding me the tragic stories of the people that lived there via audio logs, while Schyman's melancholic soundtrack plays and the game asks questions about morality all I can do to engage with the world is kill another dude (or gal). The games narrative, the artistic framework and general mood shows us one thing, but it never lets the player engage with it in any meaningful fashion because the gameplay is the same as it was in 1994.

Here's the main theme of BioShock. I've asked non-gaming friends to tell me what genre it comes from and most think it is some kind of sad drama. But the game is purely action. It makes me sort of sad, because underneath all the combat in BioShock are themes, moods and stories that would fit so well into another type of gameplay. I guess what I am trying to say is that BioShock presents something that it never delivers and I find it far more appealing then what the game actually gives me. Just like Fallout 4 could have done so much more with its' open world then just have hostile dudes everywhere, so could BioShock have done something much better with all the mood, theme and tone setting then throw it all away by being a traditional FPS.

Well, Light side users in Dark Forces II: Jedi Knight had a plethora of Force powers at their disposal to bypass fighting if they wished, from yanking blasters out of people's hands to temporarily blinding them to casting blaster-proof shields around one's body. Granted most people just used it to make killing enemies easier, but the potential is there for mostly-pacifist playthroughs once you pick up a lightsaber. Hell, your character runs so fast by default that you could sprint past many engagements, even if you didn't have Force Speed.

As for an explanation for why violence tends to be the go-to choice for games, this Errant Signal video provides a pretty good explanation:


Basically, video games are particularly adept at spacial simulation and physical interaction, and the most straightforward approach to conveying said interactions tends to be through violence. Alternate approaches like dialogue are hobbled by their relative complexity.

The witness has a pretty beautiful gameworld, you know. I'd also recommend the Vanishing of Ethan Carter - that game is like an interactive painting. Mind-blowing. I don't think you're short on choice when it comes to non-violent games nowadays.

But that isn't the point, is it. The point is why are *these specific games you like* violent. Well, There's the argument that current control schemes as well as current game engines are fundamentally made for two things: movement and shooting (EDIT: that above video is also where I got this from, and it does a pretty good job of explaining it). Furthermore, games in general need some kind of competitive aspect, a conflict to resolve, in order to be entertaining. And the most cathartic type of conflict is combat. And the most cathartic form of combat is violent, deathmatch type combat. Put 2 and 2 together, and it's no surprise why games are violent.

But as for those two. Well, consider that the Fallout series was made with tabletop RPG rules originally, for which combat is a basic and integral part. Consider that part of why the Fallout lore and world-building is so rich is because of violent combat. I.e. the reason there's so many monsters, mutated animals and ugly-looking mutants is so you can kill them.
As for Bioshock, that game is made by the developers of the System Shock series, a pseudo-horror game about a rogue AI on a spaceship trying to kill you. And the original pitch for Bioshock was also something in that vein. I don't know if you've seen it, but I have and it said very little about the atmosphere or lore of the game, instead concentrating on the gameplay systems that fit within the game's combat-heavy nature. The final game looked nothing like the original pitch, but the basic fundamentals were preserved, combat being one of them.

So the answer to your concern is largely history-based. These games were conceived with mechanics first and lore second, and in Fallout's case it's also a standard tale of moving the "RPG" further toward "Action" since that's what sells more on consoles.

Videogames are a way of doing stuff you can't do normally, exploring settings and worlds we can't do normally.

Something tells me laying in wait with a sniper rifle to shoot people hanging around a building, then to loot it, or grabbing a battle axe to battle a dragon, aren't the kind of things I'll be doing any time soon. Heck, giving people grief for not doing their job is about as 'violent' as life gets these days. Can only do that with videogames.

The concept of violence has been taken out of our lives as best as we could make it happen. Even pro-gun types in the US only love real violence as long as they can think it won't affect them and happens to other people. People still seek out violence and the tension it offers as a result though. It's like there can be something as 'too peaceful' and we seek out fictional violence to replace that with.

Which, the way I see it, is great. Get more violent games going on, everything that people do fictional is stuff they won't do for real.

Something Amyss:

Rebel_Raven:
While I agree that nonviolence options in games would be welcome, honestly, I think the reliance on violence is because it's generally the furthest realistic option we'd have IRL. It's a greater escapism than talking things through. That helps make it appealing.

I'd also argue it's a really easy way to do everything games want you to do, whether it's close to real life or not.

Oh, definitely. Text trees, or even responses to actual words won't be all that easy to come up with. Especially when it comes to a full game sort of scale. At least if we're talking getting it to something satisfying to the player taking in to account a lot of negotiating tactics. Even games like Fallout, and Bioware games were kinda shallow as far as that goes.
A lot of this is hardware problems, both in that the gaming machines aren't strong enough to organically respond to non violent methods all that well, and the amount of writing required on the script is extremely dense.
Violence is just he easier way around all of that.

I guess there's other ways, like Civs where I imagine it's possible to never fire a shot in hostility and still win, but I'm not sure that's what was in mind, rather more personal games where it's handled on a more person to person basis.

CeeBod:

Just once I'd like to see a nuanced bandit faction portrayed in a game - for a group of bandits to actually survive, they should be selective in who they target, they should attack their prey mostly by ambush, and they should always be amenable to profitable negotiation. In Fallout 4, once the PC becomes powerful they should leave you well alone in terms of direct encounters, but instead they'd be stealing from your provisioners, or bullying settlers, and maybe simultaneously being friendly to you, offering you protection against raiders at a cheap rate, blaming any incidents of violence against your settlers on other groups etc. Make them a believable group with goals that can be dealt with in a variety of ways and not just more faceless mooks to shoot!

There's an indie game I helped kickstart called XO that's basically shaping up to be Battlestar Galatica the video game, and they're doing something like this. The main enemies are aliens who swarm you mercilessly and actually self destruct their ships rather than letting the ships be captured (or really just letting the humans study ANYTHING related to them) but there's also pirates, and the pirates are utter cowards. They only attack the civilian ships in your fleet, and they don't do that if they're under heavy escort, preferring to avoid a direct fight if possible. But that's not going to happen, because unlike the aliens, their ships can be captured, and me wantie ship.

OT: I get what you mean. One game that I think does a very good job of avoiding from falling into these pitfalls is Metro Last Light, because the violence always matches up with the narrative. There's only ever one group of bandits, they don't endlessly swarm your character in a suicidal rush, they were attacking an undermanned civilian convoy and you just happened to stumble upon it. You're constantly told how the nukes devastated the world, and then you go up top and get attacked by mutants, just frequently enough to feel at danger but not so much that you can't stop and drink in the hauntingly beautiful atmosphere. And the battles with soldiers constantly reinforce how the main character is worried that the Metro is going to destroy itself with one last war. The violence fits the narrative, it doesn't just go "Well we better spawn Raider group number 542 and throw in a Mirelurk King for no reason." I think Fallout New Vegas handled this much better. Everything you fought had a place. Whether it was highwaymen that were equipped with utter garbage to show how the NCR had ground them into the dirt, wildlife to show the dangers of walking off of the path, the Legion to show how they were moving into the area, stuff like that.

As for interacting with the world...yeah. It's a shame we can never do more with that.

Gethsemani:
I think I wasn't clear enough on what I actually meant in the OP. It is not that I don't want violent games, I liked the combat in BioShock, Fallout 4 and (Rise of the) Tomb Raider and they were all pretty satisfying to play just for their mechanics. I totally get that Rapture is a violent place and that combat has a given place in the scenario presented, just like in Fallout 4. What I meant was that both BioShock and Fallout 4 presents game worlds that could facilitate so much more then just that. While BioShock keeps feeding me the tragic stories of the people that lived there via audio logs, while Schyman's melancholic soundtrack plays and the game asks questions about morality all I can do to engage with the world is kill another dude (or gal). The games narrative, the artistic framework and general mood shows us one thing, but it never lets the player engage with it in any meaningful fashion because the gameplay is the same as it was in 1994.

Here's the main theme of BioShock. I've asked non-gaming friends to tell me what genre it comes from and most think it is some kind of sad drama. But the game is purely action. It makes me sort of sad, because underneath all the combat in BioShock are themes, moods and stories that would fit so well into another type of gameplay. I guess what I am trying to say is that BioShock presents something that it never delivers and I find it far more appealing then what the game actually gives me. Just like Fallout 4 could have done so much more with its' open world then just have hostile dudes everywhere, so could BioShock have done something much better with all the mood, theme and tone setting then throw it all away by being a traditional FPS.

The was this lesser known game that helped codify the Combat, Diplomacy, Stealth approach. Hardly anyone remembers it now.
It was called Fallout. I believe it's long dead and no one wants stuff like this anyways.

Ehh, I really enjoy violent games. Bioshock without the innovative combat just wouldn't have been fun.

erttheking:
[quote="CeeBod" post="9.934020.23503026"]
OT: I get what you mean. One game that I think does a very good job of avoiding from falling into these pitfalls is Metro Last Light, because the violence always matches up with the narrative. There's only ever one group of bandits, they don't endlessly swarm your character in a suicidal rush, they were attacking an undermanned civilian convoy and you just happened to stumble upon it. You're constantly told how the nukes devastated the world, and then you go up top and get attacked by mutants, just frequently enough to feel at danger but not so much that you can't stop and drink in the hauntingly beautiful atmosphere. And the battles with soldiers constantly reinforce how the main character is worried that the Metro is going to destroy itself with one last war. The violence fits the narrative, it doesn't just go "Well we better spawn Raider group number 542 and throw in a Mirelurk King for no reason."

The Metro series really needs some more love for how they handle the balance between combat, stealth, narrative and a morality system. Really good stuff.

Gethsemani:
Let me start this thread near the end, with Fallout 4. Fallout 4 has a beautifully crafted game world, pretty much every location in the game has a story to tell, whatever it is a bunch of skeletons barred up in a church or emergency transmissions from a ruined suburb or a collection of terminals in a factory. Yet despite this beautiful game world the player only has one option in engaging with it: Killing things. Just like every location tells a story, every location also contains enemies to kill or quest givers that points you to enemies kill. This has been the case with all Bethesda games really, but with Fallout 4 the violence really got to me, simply because the game world is so well-crafted that I wanted to engage with it in more ways then just killing Super Mutants so I could read the logs of a survivor that had been there before.

Just to point out, while I mostly agree with this statement about Fallout 4, they do have the Charisma perks to allow you to bypass combat. And I can think of at least 3 key events in the game, that I was able to bypass with good conversation options, that had everyone walk away without death. And there is that perk that lets you potentially turn hostiles into neutrals or allies. So they at least tried to give you some pacifist options. Granted, it's impossible to finish the game without killing, but they do try to minimize it.

Gethsemani:
Another poignant example for me is BioShock. Rapture is by far my favorite setting of any game to date (and it ranks really high when extended to all media) and the game deals in both fairly intellectual discourse about Objectivism, morality and human nature as well as telling several emotional stories about the people caught in the decaying Rapture. The music by Gary Schyman is wonderfully melancholic and the level design drives home the contrast between the dream that Rapture was and the nightmare that it has become. But what is the only way to engage with BioShock on a mechanical level? By killing people. Lots of people.

I can't speak too much to the Bioshock franchise, as I've only played Infinite, but from what I've heard from some game reviewers, that the ultra violence was the point. It was supposed to be a stark contrast to the setting, and to the views presented by the people in the game. Like how Comstock's floating heaven was supposed to be a paradise, and all it was, was a haven for bigotry, slavery, and hatred.

Gethsemani:
Maybe I am just getting older, but I am starting to feel that more and more games suffer from being caught in old wisdoms about game design.

I've never understood this statement. "I don't like violence, so I must be getting old." It has nothing to do with getting older, it has to do with you not being a fan of violence all the time. I'd consider that a good thing no matter what your age. And I agree about the desire to see more games that focus on something other than violence, but it's simply the easiest form of conflict to code. A physical combat struggle, is the simplest, most universally understood form of struggle/challenge that you can create. You don't have to factor in morality, the culture of the audience, or any of those pesky human things. "I am trying to protect my *insert thing you are protecting*, this person/group is trying to stop me. I will now use the game mechanics to fight them, so that I can be victorious." Yes it's simple and straightforward, but it's also universally understood.

Gethsemani:
BioShock as a game is still a mechanically sound shooter with some innovative elements, but the design of everything but the combat holds the promise of something deeper, something more satisfying and tonally congruent with the game world then sending bees to attack people before bashing their face in with a wrench. Fallout 4 has an amazing world to explore but little to do in it except kill things. I don't know what could replace the combat,

Bolded for emphasis. And that's the catch isn't it? You complain about games being too violent, but then admit you have no idea what to replace the violence mechanic with, and still have it be an exciting, tense, engaging experience. If you are making a game, with the intent of replicating the excitement of a summer action blockbuster, you're going to have violence in it. You just can't have one without the other. Now sure, you can have a movie without explosions and fight scenes, and in fact, tons of movies are just like this, but they aren't "action movies". Same rule applies to video games. If you are buying a game because it seems like it's going to be an intense action experience, then yeah, expect violence. If you want something non-violent, well there are plenty of games out there that have no violence at all, or at the very least, drastically minimize it. Find those games.

Gethsemani:
but I can't shake the feeling that both BioShock and Fallout 4 would have been much better games had they only had the guts to focus on something other then violence as the primary means of gameplay interaction.

....you want a Post Apocalypse game that isn't about violence? Please name me one Post-apocalypse movie that didn't include violence in it. That's kind of the point of a "post-apocalypse" setting. Societal norms have broken down. Now, regular people will have to rise to the challenge of simply surviving another day, against dangerous threats from every side. I...I don't really see how you can even have that happen, and not include violence on some level.

Many games however, do allow you to bypass violence, including several AAA action titles. Deus Ex and Dishonored come to mind. You can easily go through the whole game without killing anyone. You still might have to drug them, or knock them out (and I don't know if that still counts as "unnecessary violence" in your book), but they aren't dead. You can also just skip past them by being super sneaky in most cases, no need to knock them out at all. I agree it isn't the common form of game, or it's an optional choice in games that are out there, but it exists. Maybe you should just start looking for game titles that don't scream "ACTION MOVIE EXTRAVAGANZA!!" if you are looking for non-violence.

But, to assist you a bit, I'll list a handful of games I can recall off the top of my head, that allow you to complete them without violence, or at least without killing. Perhaps others can toss you some titles as well to help you out.

The Talos Principle (this game is so non-violence it's great. seriously, the challenge are the puzzles)
Portal
Portal 2
Life is Strange
Mirror's Edge (one of my personal favorites)
Simcity
Styx Master of Shadows (there is an achievement on every map to go through without killing anyone. granted, it's much easier to just kill people as you go along, but it's there)
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Dishonored
Republique (at least as far as i've gone in the game, the focus is on avoiding detection and violence. stealth is the girls primary weapon)
In fact, you might try looking at stealth games in general if you want non violent stuff. They tend to turn the focus onto avoiding conflict, which is my personal favorite.

That's all I can think of at the moment, though perhaps others will add some other titles for you to check out, to satisfy your understandable need for non-violence.

WolfThomas:

nomotog:
You know the puzzling thing about fallout 4 is that is has kind of a deep noncombat system. You have the settlements and then the crafting. You could make a whole game just out of the settlement management. (In fact they should make a game just about that.) Think about it, take fallout 4 remove all the guns and monsters, there would still be a lot of fun to be had scavenging ruins and building up your settlements. (Then imagine if they built on that and added more verity of settlement quests, diplomacy and trading, recherche, More verity in buildings, story chains for your settlers.. I hope they are planing something for DLC.)

I think this would be great. But in Fallout or another similar setting there'd still to be some option of violence, if only to have something you're trying to avoid. Like you could enter conflict with another settlement but it's just as likely to be mutually destructive and only as a last resort. Not the main character just blasting away the opposition.

The other thing is just the projection of power, rather than actual conflict. If you have artillery and strongly trained combat force a settlement will probably join or surrender peacefully rather than risk being wiped out and raiders are going to be pushed out of well patrolled and defended zones.

I don't think you 'need' violence. (Though ya you could include it. You want to find some way to use death claws :P) I would love to see a post apocalypse setting that didn't use violence the same way most do. When you think about it, it's kind of nuts to think that after most of the world is destroyed in hell fire that we would instantly snap right back to killing each other. You would think the value of human life would go up in that kind of place.

Happyninja42:

Gethsemani:
but I can't shake the feeling that both BioShock and Fallout 4 would have been much better games had they only had the guts to focus on something other then violence as the primary means of gameplay interaction.

....you want a Post Apocalypse game that isn't about violence? Please name me one Post-apocalypse movie that didn't include violence in it. That's kind of the point of a "post-apocalypse" setting. Societal norms have broken down. Now, regular people will have to rise to the challenge of simply surviving another day, against dangerous threats from every side. I...I don't really see how you can even have that happen, and not include violence on some level.

I can't think of a post apocalypse game* that that doesn't include violence, but I can think of at least one where it is not the primary interaction you get. Apocalypse world(NSFW**) It has upwards of 10 classes(skins) for players and one is the combat class. Every other class focuses on their own theme. The idea of the post apocalypse is under served if all we do is focus on the violence.

*OK table top game, but I say it counts.

**The funny thing is if the game was more violence focus is I wouldn't feel the need to tag it.

nomotog:

Happyninja42:

Gethsemani:
but I can't shake the feeling that both BioShock and Fallout 4 would have been much better games had they only had the guts to focus on something other then violence as the primary means of gameplay interaction.

....you want a Post Apocalypse game that isn't about violence? Please name me one Post-apocalypse movie that didn't include violence in it. That's kind of the point of a "post-apocalypse" setting. Societal norms have broken down. Now, regular people will have to rise to the challenge of simply surviving another day, against dangerous threats from every side. I...I don't really see how you can even have that happen, and not include violence on some level.

I can't think of a post apocalypse game* that that doesn't include violence, but I can think of at least one where it is not the primary interaction you get. Apocalypse world(NSFW**) It has upwards of 10 classes(skins) for players and one is the combat class. Every other class focuses on their own theme. The idea of the post apocalypse is under served if all we do is focus on the violence.

*OK table top game, but I say it counts.

**The funny thing is if the game was more violence focus is I wouldn't feel the need to tag it.

I wouldn't count anything other than video games in this discussion, partly because that's what the OP was specifically referring to, and also because non video game mediums are WAAAAY less restricted in what they can do. Non video games can come up with whatever focus they want, and it can be totally fine. They can incorporate the actual players interaction with each other, as well as a mediator's opinion, and on-the-spot verdict on what is/isn't acceptable for the game (the basic purpose of a GM). Video games, do have an unfortunate pedigree of being based in violence. I brought this up in another thread about a person wishing that video game magic was more diverse, and the same rule applies. In video games, you are limited to what the devs code, and what they can accomplish with the engine. Sometimes, the engine puts serious limitations on what you can/can't do, and make the game look/play good. It's just a reality of the medium. Now sure, there are games that work to push against this limitation, and they are making good strides, but the games that are doing this, are usually lower budget indy games, and not AAA titles. Please note I said "usually", which implies not all of them. I don't need a listing of exceptions to this rule, I understand it's not a 100% thing. But the majority of them aren't trying to break new ground in coding, they're trying to make a game they think is fun, and will make them money. And to do that, you do what the majority of entertainment industy does "go with what works". And violence works. Violence transcends language barriers, violence is universal. Violence is one of the most natural, and human things there is. We understand it. So yeah, games, and books, and movies, and tv shows, are going to have violence in them as a general rule.

Would it be nice to have other things? Sure, in fact, I agree with the OP that games that don't focus on violence are more what I'm looking for these days. But I'm under no illusion as to why violent games are a thing, or the majority right now. It's just too easy to use it as a tool for the game, to set up violence challenges to overcome.

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