Dishonored Dev Says Games Don’t Create Violence, But They Don’t Prevent It Either

Dishonored Dev Says Games Don’t Create Violence, But They Don’t Prevent It Either

If you read a recent piece on video game violence, there’s a good chance that somewhere in that article, included is a screenshot of a Dishonored neck stab. Last year was the year of the neck stab, after all. Rock, Paper, Shotgun spoke with the developer that coded that move in-game — Joe Houston — and he had Opinions On Game Violence.

For those that haven’t played it, Dishonored is a stealthy game in which you are free to choose how to approach a problem. This poses unique questions about video game violence and what a player chooses to do, versus what a game developer gives as an option. Who holds responsibility, the person choosing or the person that gave the option in the first place?

Delving into the issue a bit in relation to actual-life violence, Houston said the following:

So does that mean that linear violent games are better for society than those like Dishonored, those that touch only superficially on violent acts versus those that allow the player to make extreme choices? I argue that linear games that have a lack of personal ownership in game violence actually do so at the disadvantage of society.

I don’t believe that game violence causes real world violence, but I do believe that it does little to prevent it. And games with meaningful (and potentially distasteful) choice just might do better because they stand a chance of making the player think about what they’re doing on screen.

Linear versus choice-driven games and what they offer/do when it comes to violence is arguable; there’s probably no right answer. But the idea of whether or not games even have a responsibility to prevent violence is a curious one.

Do they?

By nature of how ubiquitous the medium is, it’s probably irresponsible to not even think about it, at least. Certainly we’ve had games that aim to educate or make the world better. So it wouldn’t be impossible to make a game that tries to prevent violence.

Food for thought between our neckstabs.

Dishonored Dev Joe Houston On Violence In Games [Rock, Paper, Shotgun]


  • Just from a creative standpoint, I wouldn’t mind if they banned all these games, so devs would focus more on coop games vs advanced ai and fantasy/sci fi settings.

    There seems to be more creativity and variety in games shown on Good Game Spawn Point vs Good Game.

    Triple A games have basically just turned into lame interactive violent movies, you’re better off watching actual movies.

    • “Triple A games have basically just turned into lame interactive violent movies, you’re better off watching actual movies.”

      While i mostly agree with you on that point, i prefer to play a story than watch one, i dont watch a lot of movies, i get bored and with most action movies these days, however i still enjoy playing through games like Dishonoured/hotline miami/deus EX/ass creed.

      So sure they are more like movies but i find them more enjoyable than movies.

    • I agree to an extent. Some of the best games i have played in recent years are ones with little to no violence like Rayman Origins, Minecraft, Beyond Good And Evil and Portal 2.

      The exceptions of course are usually the ones that are story and adventure driven. Red Dead Redemption, Skyrim and the Mass Effect series (at least the cutscenes are interactive, which i happen to like) are personal favorites.

    • I would agree that spec ops did a very good job of conveying actions & consequences of violence. Just didnt do a good job in giving you choice.

      • It wasn’t supposed to give you choice, it was supposed to make you realise how it doesn’t matter how you to choose to act – the world doesn’t always respond the way you’d like. They ask us, “do Walker’s good intentions justify the horrors he inflicts?” In situations where you think you have no choice, you still have to remember that you’re responsible for followingly through. There’s always a choice, and that choice is to just simply stop.

  • the best part of all this, to me, is that it shows how the gaming industry is maturing. even when the most recent cause of this debate on violence in games comes from a pretty ridiculous source, ie the gun lobby, we still have a think about and discuss whether it’s an issue. contrast that to the gun lobby’s automatic response of “we’re not the problem”, and it reflects pretty well on gaming

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