Game Dev Defends Allowing Players To Kill Undead Children

Zombie Game Creator Defends Allowing Players To Kill Undead Children

If you see a kid in a game, chances are it's one of the few things that is magically immortal — and the reason why is probably obvious. Child murder in games controversial... but that doesn't mean all developers consider it off-limits.

Granted, in this case, we're not just talking about any children — we're talking about zombie children. No More Room In Hell is a co-op first person survival horror game where you fight against zombies. In an effort to make it tense, the developers made design choices like having sparse ammo, and only allowing players to communicate with one another if they are actually close in-game. Another curious design choice: one of the zombie types happens to be child zombies. Not everyone is happy about this.

Looking through the threads found in the Steam community hub for the game, you'll find that a number of players are currently arguing over whether or not children zombies should be included.

In response to complaints and requests to remove the zombie children, a No More Room in Hell project manager posted an announcement in the discussion forums:

To officially address the topic of children zombies:

We will not be removing them. They are a core component of our game design, our design philosophy, and our long-term vision for NMRiH. Part of our goal was to create a zombie game not based on killing and action, but on tension and fear and moral and ethical choice. We are attempting to simulate a real-world collapse of society as a result of a lethal epidemic. If you cannot handle it, do not play the game. We are sorry that some people seem to be offended for one reason or another but we are NOT going to censor our game and our vision.

Reading some posts by players off-put by the zombie children, being unable to shoot them on first encounter.. that is something that we set out to achieve. That reaction is actually intentional, that is what we wanted. This is a game about survival.

Our game is free, and we developed it solely out of passion and fun to make the zombie game we always wanted. If you do not like it, we are sorry and it's unfortunate but this is a no-compromise situation.

We appreciate any and all feedback on the game, as always.

This has done little to stop the debates, of course.

We reached out to the developers to ask further about this decision and will update if we hear back.

No More Room In Hell was originally released in 2011 as a source engine mod after being in development for seven years. It was re-released on Steam in October 2013.


Comments

    This is the first I've heard about this and I'm actually okay with it. The idea of killing children in video games isn't something I'm completely sound on, but in the context of the game, it would make me incredibly uncomfortable and I think that would add to the atmosphere of the game.

    Why is this only controversial in video games? Season 1 episode 1 scene 1 of The Walking Dead had Rick shooting a child zombie through the head, and I don't recall much of a furore. Likewise there were child zombies getting shot in George Romero's original Dawn Of The Dead (from where this game gets its name).

      Player involvement. It's the same reason why games 'cause violence' in humans.

      In telltales walking dead you also get to kill children. you shoot duck in the head before he turns in episode 3 and you stomp a child zombies skull in that is too weak to move because the kid died of starvation in episode 4. It also has 9yr old clem killing a man herself and depending on what you decide to do also has said 9yr old shooting the player character as the last thing you see in the game.

      also don't forget classic fallout where killing children is not only possible but encouraged via quests/necessity. In fallout 1 your asked to kill everyone in a church and leave no witnesses, there's a child there you have to kill for quest credit (luckily while you do get the child killer perk on your character sheet from killing 1 child, the actual penalty from said perk does not activate until you kill your 2nd child). and in fallout 2 there's children in a certain area that pickpocket you, I've had them steal main quest items before... and if your pickpocketing skills not up to standard the only way to get your quest items back is to put a bullet in them.

      Last edited 03/11/13 11:41 am

    Bravo! It's about time that developers said "Don't like something in our game, then don't play it." Developers need to take this stance more often with their game content.

      Or they could play the game, and not kill the child zombies, just the adult zombies. Choice in games is always good =)

        Don't you get it? That... that *thing* is not a child anymore, eRonin! First chance it gets, it'll bite you and turn you into one of them, and then we're all screwed! You want to take pity on the mindless, flesh-eating monster? Fine, but you're on your own. This is the world we live in now, there's no room for mercy anymore. If you can't live with that, you're dead already.

    It's a video game...Like I'm sorry, Maybe that's insensitive but it's just a game, people really take things way too seriously. it's just a bunch of polygons and some code, not even remotely realistic looking either, and it's a zombie. There is also no real narrative tying anything together, it's not like 'These are your children and their friends, you must make it past them' it's just 'here are zombies'

    In short: Blow them all away!

    Glass? Who gives a shit about glass? Who the f*** is this?

    I,for one, will not be shooting zombie children. I will allow them instead, to lovingly gnore at my leg while I blast there undead parent's brains all over the walls......possibly all there zombie pets too........I guess I will have to take the teenages on a case by case thing, possible check their pockets for a birth certificate??

    Last edited 03/11/13 10:40 am

    I have been playing this game for a very long time and the zombie children still scare the living shit out of me every time. They do a great job at inducing fear and panic. Short little bastards that can run like usain bolt and then chump on your ankles. What can be more terrifying than that?

      Real children?

        "Short little bastards that can run like usain bolt and then chump on your ankles."

        I thought he WAS talking about real children.

    Zombies are dead people, so you aren't really shooting a child, you are shooting a dead organism run on pure primal instinct.

      And this is a video game, so they aren't even shooting real Zombies too :D

    If my family turned would I be able to shoot them...prob not.

    could I shoot the boys next door....yes, little shits.

    I have no issue slayingzombie children...... but only in minecraft.
    Also wtf can i back space on my comments in mobile mode?

    LOL. What's the big deal with killing children in video games? We do almost everything else. Grow up or get out.

    Major respect to the devs for that response.

    And major laughs at the people complaining about it. Sigh.

    Whats the point I can never join a server what so ever. They are either full (when they are not) or some other bullshit to do with connection. What a waste of downloads. If anyone wants to play a private game add me on steam

    Steam name: Heyderek

      Waste of downloads, Just start your own server Or ask a friend to play man! It is free! And if the servers are full, that means people are enjoying the game. Means it might be worth at least checking out.

    I'm very divided on this, while I believe that under the context it makes sense to include children zombies, if there was a real zombie outbreak in the world (as implausible as it may seem) you would not expect the cause of it to restrict itself to merely infecting adults, so if the developers want to make this game as realistic as possible, as well as add the abject terror and moral and ethical reasoning they stated, the inclusion of children seems understandable.

    However, this could come back to bite the entire gaming community, the mainstream media has shown in the past there are no lengths it will not go to to demonise the industry when it feels the need to. The MSM in the past brought up amongst other things crudely made flash games (V-Tech Rampage, Kindergarten Killer) and unofficial game mods (Chris Dorner's Last Stand) alongside AAA Titles if they strengthen their argument about the gaming industry as a whole, even if the vast gaming community shares the MSM repulsion of them.

    What's not to say after the next massacre in the US, alongside the array of usual suspects when they inevitably come to blaming video games, they bring up the fact that in No More Room in Hell you can kill innocent children

      The only way to stop this demonising is for people to take a stand to this scare tactic bullshit. The craft will never grow if devs don't have a sack.

    Edit: Meant to reply to @ruen with this part:
    Honestly, the American MSM will say that crap either way, so who cares? They already have a lot of ammunition, and where they don't, they're more than happy to fabricate and lie. So I don't really see your argument as being relevant in the face of the unethical parts of the media.

    I'm in favour of including zombified children because it enables the possibility for expression by the player. To shoot, or not? To feel, when you do shoot, or when you die? That -is- gaming.

    Last edited 03/11/13 1:04 pm

    Zombie children are already dead. They're not going to grow up and thank you for not killing them. This shouldn't even be an issue for anyone.

    Now if it were a human child that has been bitten and is 100% going to turn into a zombie and be trouble... THAT'S an issue. But even in a case like that, I'm sure you could restrain them or go somewhere else or something like that. Maybe if it were just you and them in one surrounded room and you had to sleep and you couldn't restrain them and they might turn during the night and nom you... that would be an moral/ethical question. Would you euthanize a terminal child to save your life? I can understand people having issues with that.

    I'm with the developers on this one. Sure, it may be distasteful or confronting to some people, but, as the project manager mentioned, that's the point. It adds a whole new level of emotion to the game. Rather than being another zombie game, players are given something that will make them stop and assess what they're doing. Will they be able to kill zombie children and save themselves and their allies? Or will they falter and fall? Or will they find another way to deal with these enemies that will both save them/their allies and keep their morals intact? I think it's great that a develop is willing to push the line in order to give gamers not just a new experience, but something to think about. How can gaming be taken seriously by non-gamers when gamers themselves try to censor things that have been added for legitimate purposes and not for gore and a cheap thrill?

    I don't recall there being any notable controversy with Dead Space. There's a part where you enter a nursery and demonic-turned babies and toddlers attack you and you have no choice but to kill them.

    I'm with the developers on this one. Zombified children aren't new anyway.

    It sounds like someone needs a....*shoots child zombie*....Timeout.

    It's not my cup of tea but I'm not seeing the big deal.

    As long as people are warned about the content beforehand, they can make the choice on if they want to experience it or not.

    But can you dropkick them?

    I know they'd exist if there were an zombie apocalypse, but I've always had an issue with infant zombies. No zombabies!

    "We reached out to the developers to ask further about this decision..."

    Why? That statement provides more than enough info on the topic. What else do you want them to say?

      "Why? That statement provides more than enough info on the topic. What else do you want them to say?"
      I really hope that's their response.

    Wasteland 1: You can kill Bobby
    Fallout 1: Plant explosives on kids and set the timer and watch the kid go boom

    I understand why they don't do it, it just winds up the hippies. But it's a pointless argument. At the end of the day, it's just easier for the developers to not put kids in the games.

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