A new trailer for Detroit: Beyond Human is making headlines. Apparently some individuals in the U.K. are offended by the portrayal of domestic abuse against a child. This outcry is just the latest in a long history of cases where videogames have sparked controversy, and it certainly won’t be the last. One thing the opponents of these games fail to take into account, however, is that sparking controversy doesn’t have the effect they desire.
Detroit isn’t even the only game to spark controversy this year, and no, Wolfenstein II is not making a political statement against some idiots who assembled in Charlottetown. Anyone who knows much of anything about videogames knows that Wolfenstein has always involved the killing of Nazis. Childline’s claims here are almost as brainless, but before we get into what they’ve actually accomplished, let’s analyze the trailer in question.
A man is abusing a little girl, and if the player doesn’t step in, her screams are heard off-screen and she is presumed dead when he lays her lifeless body on her bed and says he’s not mad anymore. That’s disturbing, yes, but what that representative from Childline claims is woefully inaccurate. She claims that the player is encouraged to abuse a child for points, and that it sensationalizes violence against children.
Ok, I don’t know what trailer that lady watched, but it certainly wasn’t the one Quantic Dream released. The player is clearly not the abuser, who is actually portrayed as the bad guy here, and the game actually encourages intervening in some way to prevent the end result that is clearly undesired. There is absolutely no sense that David Cage is in any way condoning the subject matter, and actually, if videogames are to be taken seriously as a medium, they should be able to tackle any subject matter that books or movies can, no matter how uncomfortable a topic may be.
Regardless, what has been accomplished here is clear. Like any Quantic Dream title, Detroit: Become Human will probably do alright. However, like with any niche title, it would have probably flown under the radar of most…until now. All that woman has accomplished is free promotion of the game, and actually, I feel that much more inclined to check the game out now. The controversy behind Wolfenstein II undoubtedly worked in its favour too. But hey, this sort of thing has been going on since 1992 when the controversy behind Mortal Kombat’s violence inspired millions to check it out rather than the intended outcome of staying clear of it.
No, sparking controversy doesn’t work, at least not for the people sparking it. If anything it just works in the favour of the games in question. It’s hard to say if the Grand Theft Auto series would be as big as it is now if not for literally every entry in the series inspiring some dumb controversy. We have a rating system for a reason.
Clearly critics don’t know how gamers think, at all. We don’t like censorship or banning of games. We love this medium, and we enjoy a wide variety of experiences. Most of us do not try to emulate the bad things that happen in games, and those who do were messed up before they picked up a controller. Oh, and trying to tell us what we can and can’t play just inspires us to check out the thing you don’t think we should. We’re not advocates for things like child abuse. We just like to enjoy games as they were intended to be enjoyed, thank you very much.
What do you think of the controversy behind Detroit, or any other game controversy for that matter? Do you think games should be censored or banned because a vocal minority doesn’t like what they see? As always, feel free to leave your comments below.