From ‘Killing is Harmless’ [Spec Ops: The Line spoiler]

June 28, 2013

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From Killing is Harmless: A Critical Reading of Spec Ops: The Line:

“Similarly, it is also worth nothing that many people will play the game as a generic third-person shooter and take away little more than that. I returned multiple times to a YouTube video series that plays through the entire game to check my references. The player that produced these videos spent much of the time trash-talking the NPCs and reveling in the violence with hardly a moment’s reflection. As he gunned down civilians towards the end of the game he shouted, ‘Die you faggots!’ over his mic.”

How. Just… how. How do you have this reaction to that situation. Sure, the civvies are pissed, in your way, and spoiling for a fight. Rightfully so. (Imho, I kinda wanted Walker’s twisted trail to end there because I was so, so sick of killing everything in sight. In my playthrough, I sprayed bullets into the air away from the crowd and breathed a sigh of relief as the civilians scattered, unscathed. Huh, breathing a sigh of relief at people running in terror… that’s definitely not right.)

But to mow them down like that and revel in the violence? To slay on purpose the very people you’ve been sent to rescue and murdered in droves?! (only kind of on accident in most cases until that point) … I’m having a hard time parsing out my reaction to this. There’s so much revulsion and shock that another person out there wouldn’t feel anything toward the refugees.

I know other players won’t have the same reaction to the same scenes that I do in games. I don’t expect them to. But to me, this borders on dangerous disrespect for human life and that scares/saddens me. Over-reaction? Maybe. I dunno.

It’s funny. When playing Spec Ops: The Line, I thought, oh, good god this is awful, I’m just going to quit. But I soldiered on with Walker. Now I’m reading an e-book about Spec Ops: The Line and am thinking oh, good god, my fellow game players and humanity is awful, I’m just going to quit. And I continue on. This game is really something. I can’t look away from media I find horrifying. I know if I saw it in real life, I’d run screaming.

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