"A hypocrite knows right from wrong; they know they sin when they sin," Chmielarz said. "They find excuses for these sins just like we find excuses to mow down another hundred enemies in a video game. And even though they don't follow it, deep down they know which way the moral compass is pointing. Hatred takes the excuses away from us and asks us to enjoy the sin out there in the open."
HATRED FOCUSES ON VIOLENCE AND MURDER AS THE POINT. IN MOST VIOLENT GAMES, MURDER IS THE MEANS, NOT THE OBJECTIVE.
Hatred's development studio Destructive Creations is led by CEO Jaroslaw Zielinski. He told me in an email interview this week why he thinks people are finding offense with the announcement trailer. He said the following when I asked why myself and others have a hard time watching it:
- "Because all women die the same ways as men and there's no mercy for anyone."
- "Because all those executions are pretty suggestively done, with no cartoonish moves. And peoples' reaction to them is pretty flattering for me as an animator."
While he's right about the "no mercy for anyone" bit, I don't think the extreme violence is actually what I'm having a hard time with (though I can't speak for others). For me, it's context. Without the (admittedly thin) excuse of being in a virtual war, or being a virtual assassin, or whatever else, I find senseless virtual killing to be...well, senseless. And if anything, I find it pretty reprehensible. Which, yes, I realize makes me a hypocrite. I'm okay with that.
From what the trailer for Hatred shows, the game isn't making a statement about violent games. It's not saying, "We've removed your thin excuse to show you what you're really doing in these games." It's violence for violence's sake. Zielinski explained what Hatred's trying to convey as follows:
"By the game? That we should not bend under political correctness propaganda which we can see everywhere right now. We live in the free world, with freedom of speech and artistic expression and we should use it in any way we want, otherwise we'll be falling under SJWs [Social Justice Warriors] regime. Some reactions for this trailer are a great example of this. Fortunately there are many people who understand us and are standing on our side."
Hatred may be intended as an expression of free speech in its most potentially offensive form, and I'm certainly not calling for it to be censored. As someone who supports social justice, I think the statement about "SJWs" is ridiculous, but that's a whole other conversation. What doesn't square here is the fantasy aspect: There's nothing to excuse away the violence in Hatred. I can get behind people (myself included) virtually killing other virtual beings as long as there's some remnant of an excuse. Hatred strips that, which both makes me not want to play it and worries me about those who do. Chmielarz puts it as such:
"Hatred takes the excuses away from us and asks us to enjoy the sin out there in the open. We will not do it.
A request to bare our animal souls in front of ourselves is a step too far. The fact we cannot do it is a gift, one that allows us the realization that we're not as corrupt and empty as we subconsciously feared we were. And thus a lot of people will not buy and play Hatred, feeling disgust just looking at the game's title. However, and I guess that is the key here, I don't think it is Hatred we really despise.
It's the realization that we are surrounded by people who do not have enough basic decency to be hypocrites. People who have no moral compass, no empathy, who refuse to acknowledge that no, it's not 'just a game.' With their cold realism, motion-captured animations and hair-raising screams, the creators of Hatred go all the way to make sure it's not just a game, but an experience.
We don't want to acknowledge the ugly truth that there are people out there whose idea of fun is to press the shotgun barrel against the face of a terrified woman –- and pull the trigger."