Batman Comic Book Writer Advocates More Video Game Violence?

Landry Walker, writer on comic book Batman: The Brave and The Bold, recently played Batman: Arkham Asylum and did not like what he saw. In his own words, "Batman doesn't get shot. He doesn't get shot, because he's Batman."

As a comic book writer with the name Batman in his bibliography, Walker says he has every right to assert this belief. He says he found the game "lacking" because Batman's methods for dealing with the gun-toting henchmen in Arkham was to run up and punch them.

There was practically zero sneaking. Almost no subtlety or grace. He would just run up and punch the bad guy, usually taking a few machine gun shots to the face, and then zip away to a magical gargoyle that would render him invisible while his Bat-health recharged. Then he would repeat the process until there was nothing left to punch.

It was effective, I will grant that much. But to me, it kinda missed the point of Batman.

In addition to his complaints about Batman's style of fighting, he also has a beef with violence in video games. Namely, there isn't enough of it - or at least not enough realism in it.

I want a game that recreates that insane rush of endorphins and adrenaline or whatever it is after hearing a simple bullet crack past your ear. That's what games should be. So real that I just have to put down the controller for a minute because some part of my lizard brain is shaking in disbelief over the scenario I somehow managed to survive.

I think Walker's arguments about the violence are more interesting than his assertions about Batman. But feel free to dissect the hell out of both in the comments here or head on over to Elder-Geek and let Walker know what you think yourself.

Video Game Violence: What Do Gamers Really Want? [Elder-Geek via GamePolitics]


    Intriguing article; I said much the same thing in articles on Assassin's Creed I & II. I don't think its reasonable to say *all* games should do what he is advocating, but some certainly could benefit from that kind of realism. What we've done is turn too many games into Halo--super soldier megamen. There are different ways of being powerful, and being able to shrug off bullets is only one of them. Being able to hide and sneak around is another. But, if the character doesn't NEED to hide/sneak because he can't be killed weakens the whole process.

    Compare Assassin's Creed (or Batman AA) to Thief, for example. For Thief, staying hidden is imperative. For AC, its only an option.

    Interesting comments. I agree to a certain extent, but I think he missed the point a little with Batman. Sure, you can play the game without stealth, but you can play most of it without being seen if you want. The stealth mechanics are in there, it's just up to the player whether they're used or not.

    As for games needing to be more realistic, I'm not completely sure about that either. With so many games opting for the dark, gritty realism of Gears of War, we're losing some of the idea of escapism in games. I loved firing up Fable because it was so much brighter than everything else I was playing, and it wasn't so realistic. Games aren't always meant to portray real life events, but also to offer an escape into things and places we can't normally do in real life.

    Fair enough, a Batman game should be realistic and violent, but realism has its place, and not all games should be as realistic as Walker is describing. There are times that I'd much rather play Mario than Fallout 3.

      Dark, gritty realism of Gears of War? Surely you jest?

        What I mean is that we're getting a bunch of games that consist of a palette of grey, black and brown. The use of realistic graphics, physics and violence means that some of the "fantasy" of video games is lost.

        I obviously don't mean that GoW is a realistic story, I mean that the developers are trying to convey realism through their game. Whilst it's great, and I like it in most of my games, it's not always appropriate, and valuing realism above all else can sometimes lead to games becoming less interesting in my opinion.

    I never really imagined that Batman Arkham Asylum was like that.

    It would've been a good gameplay decision to take out the health regeneration in my opinion. Forcing the player to go stealthy a lot of the time could have made a very reasonable challenge.

    But I've said it before and I'll say it again: (Ay Carumba!) I really can't judge on Arkham Asylum because I've never had my fingers around a copy of the game.

    In Arkham Asylum I can run around jumping everywhere and then I die. It missed the point of Batman.

    Just because the player can do something, doesn't mean that it's intended.

    It just seems to me like this person wants it both ways, He wants total realism, but for a batman game obviously the developers are going to make sacrifices to the realism for the sake of style and gameplay. If we had total realism batman wouldn’t be able to do half the stuff he can and would be taken down by a single shot. The violence argument is somewhat moot as well, Batman has a rule of not killing anyone, so I think the way the fighting was presented in the game was awesome. What does this guy want batman to do just stomp people heads into a bloody mess?, that’s just not batman.

    Think if batman had been killing people left and right, or if not killing just really putting the hurt on them, then this guy would be telling us that the game wasn’t true to the original batman. Don’t change a thing, AA is one of the best games of the year, and the best comic book game of all time. More of the same please.

    I think AA was good, because you still were able to approach most of the grunts and enemies in different ways. You could use Batarangs and Batman's other gadgets, the explosive spray that I loved when you were able to crack and destroy walls from the outside. Though now that I read this, I do think that in sections AA did turn into a bit of a punch-fest, especially in some of the challenge maps. Some of the challenge maps were awesome though, especially one of the first ones where you were able to prey on the grunts one-by-one and take them all out. It gave me a real stalker/bat feel, so that part was awesome for me. My highlight was the fight with Killer Croc, since you could barely fight back, just run as the Croc hunted you within his lair, that was awesome.

    Good article.

    I think the level of violence is already high, I mean you get cinder blocks thrown at you, hit with pipes, shot, it's what happens to the character once that violence has occurred to them.

    He notes a moment of knowing a bullet has missed you by inches, to create that scene 9/10 times the bullet will hit you and adding realism, you die. Games shouldn't be a grind. I think the difficulty modes enable this to happen, you could include harder difficulty. More realistic laid out scenarios, as opposed to simply more damage caused.

    Maybe video games, need a more exacting genre definition. For realism I watch a documentary, for fun I watch Batman. I call bullshit if a documentary lies, but Batman flips a semi trailer end over end and I smile.

    There's a big difference between TF2, Batman, and Peggle, yet all are considered video games. We currently define them by our interaction with them but it does little to define the content of the game.

      I think you make a very good point about turning games into grind by making them overly dangerous/realistic and punishing mistakes severely, Demons Souls went down this path and suffered for it immensely in my opinion.

      Experimental (and rather intriguing) efforts like Heavy Rain aside, games shouldn't be entirely realistic portrayals of real life, they should be entertaining stylized representations of slices of life. Does anyone really want to play a military game where the vast majority of the time is spent on patrols or escort missions where nothing happens? Because realistically, any serviceman will tell you they'd rather not get attacked, while we tend to relish being ambushed in videogames - how else can we get to the killing? And if you think folks camp in games now, just wait until you see the camping a realistic response to gunfire would cause!

      Don't get me wrong, I'm pro-graphics and pro-gore, because I think both can really add to a game's immersiveness - I just think that realism can be taken too far in terms of gameplay mechanics.

        Yeah, there's definitely a fine line between realism and fun. I made a point on another article about the realism of games like Forza 3 and Operation Flashpoint where you have to account for real-world physics and effects that are pretty accurately simulated. Though at times Forza 3 could be frustrating as hell, it's a standout example of how to add realism (with the car damage sliders etc) and still leave exciting, fun gameplay. I think realism's good to a point, and Forza 3 did it very well, because it allowed you to choose on a scale how much realism you wanted to include, from none to nearly completely.

        Fair enough, we don't want games to be completely ridiculous; but we don't want to play what is essentially less of a game and more of a simulator. I think GTA also did realism well. Even when you ended up crashing a car or a bike into an obstacle, Niko (or Johnny/Luis) went flying out of the windshield, the distance depending on how fast you were going, the type of obstacle etc.

          I think the driving in GTA4 was horrible, whoever decided to give the cars life like physics should be fired, its hard as hell to control and makes moving around the city a chore. By about 5 hours into that game i was taking taxi’s everywhere, GTA4 is a perfect example of realism coming back to bite you in the ass, Sure your friend will occasionally call you to do stuff in real life, but in translates to a boring and frustrating pointless mess in the game. That was the biggest problem for me. The whole feature was pointless , I’m sure they will ditch it for the next game.

          Also getting stars was way too easy, sometimes I just want to move around the city and have fun, why the hell do I get a star when I fire a single shot in some back alley with no cops in sight.

      I couldn't have said it better myself. Not all games call for huge amounts of realism, and insisting on things being as real as possible can degrade the game. Too real, and we all complain about dieing every 30 seconds and it loses the point of being a "game". Not real enough (in some games) and the player can feel removed.

      Good dev teams get the balance right, and I think Rocksteady got it right in Batman. Sure, it can turn into a slugfest, but conversely I took out huge groups of guys without being seen.

    I AGREE. The fact that there were gargoyles everywhere took away from the challenge.

    Wow. I gotta say the original post here is a little poor. Walker never describes Batman AA as "lacking", he only uses that word in relation to violence in general in the current gen of video games.

    And I think that first quote has been taken well out of context. It makes it sound like Walker's bagging the game because you can't sneak (which just makes it sound like he has no idea how to play it), but if you read his full post he's actually describing watching his friend play and is disappointed at how his friend approached the game (and that the game let him get away with it).

    Sorry but this is some pretty poor, lazy reporting.

    I played on Normal difficulty my health would only regenerate proportional to the XP I got when I took out every last bad guy.

    If your health was regenerating sitting on a Gargoyle you must have set it to Easy. I enjoyed the game, and once I got good at it I really enjoyed the sneaking bits, the brawls not so much.

    My only concern with the sequel is why will I lose all my gear? Think about I've completed the story (not all the challenges) I got all the upgrades, come the 2nd game I'm back to nothing.

    I know Batman is kick arse in a fight, but he's also meant to be a detective, and switching on my visor to follow a cleary marked trail didn't feel like being a detective. Not saying it was out of place, and to be honest I don't know how they'd pull it off in a game. I greatly enjoyed the game and look forward to a sequel.

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