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Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Violence, Fire, Games

ON stage, an alien chef and a humanoid ready themselves for a battle for supremacy.

But first, they need the secret ingredient that will be announced by a three-eyed green lady. Who will win will be based on how long it takes them to complete a menu and how it tastes.

In Faust Mesias' intergalactic world, the alien cook accidentally sets himself on fire and loses to the humanoid.

Though it imitates the premise of the Food Network's "Iron Chef," Mesias created Intergalactic Battle Chef in the hopes that it takes off in the mainstream gaming world, and attracts gamers who may be tired of "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas," which features profane language, drugs and violence.

Mesias is a student at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, but also attends Digital Monkey, an art program for children and adults interested in infiltrating the competitive industry and creating games that do not focus on the spillage of guts and blood.
-- Inside Bay Area - School zaps video game gore

Anyone else see the contradiction here? I'm not sure where replacing profane language with self-immolation is really moving the bar all that much. One could say I'm being pedantic about the definition of violence, but it wouldn't be the first time someone has looked at most games as violent. The real question to me is - why are we so ashamed of something which apparently comes so naturally? I mean, when assigned a task to try and make a non-violent game ... a student starts blazing aliens.

So most games are, in some way, violent. Most sports are, typically, brutal. How narrowly should we focus on violence as actually worrisome? When I was looking at retro games to possibly emulate for the iTunes project, I noted that most of them involved attacking or shooting at something. Even simple "flight" games usually involve smashing into the ground at some point.

Should we even bother to try? At the heart of both stories and sport is conflict - the art of the challenge. The chances of survival. The odds stacked up against the protaganist. You can try and twist it into different forms - but it's still there. We can accept the wide spectrum for what it is ... determine what parts are acceptable for what demographics and what aren't ... and move on.

I'm sure in the long run ... the alien chef survives just fine.

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