Put Down the Gun and Pick Some Flowers
By, M. Hauschel
Do you ever get tired of shooting people in the head, or slashing monsters with swords? I sure do. Don’t get me wrong; those genres of game are entertaining and exciting. It’s just sometimes I’d like a play a game that doesn’t involve any sort of violence. Sure, I could play Bejeweled until my face falls off. But I’d really like to see developers make non-violent MMOs, and especially non-violent MMORPGs.
I grew up playing console platform games, with my favorite being Dr. Mario. I enjoyed the game for its’ simplicity and addictive nature. Later on in life I spent a great amount of time playing the Age of Empires series, and Ragnorok Online. But the one game that really took up most of my adolescence life was Neopets. The concept of having a game without violence being the focal point rocked my world. I was able to create a shop with a lively marketplace. Explore the different worlds and see different creatures. Play a variety of mini-games to generate income. Having the option to have a variety of pets and being able to decorate them made my 11-year-old self squeal with glee. Technically, it’s not a non-violent game, because there is a battle arena option. Asides from that, you could enjoy the Neopets’ world without ever having to step into the arena. The idea of having a game that didn’t focus on violence as a means to gain levels was not a popular notion at the time. And still is not one.
There are few successful titles in the video game genre that are considered non-violent, such as Harvest Moon and Animal Crossing. That might have to do with gender-based purchases of these games. According to the book Grand Theft Childhood, nine out of ten of the most popular games played by girls are non-violent. (Compared to boys favoring violent games in their top ten.) Is the lack of non-violent games being produced due to the fact that females are the ones purchasing them? Perhaps.
Playing non violent video games doesn’t come natural to many gamers.
In a Hartmann’s study, Gender and Computer Games: Exploring Females’ Dislikes, 52% of males between the ages of 12-19 find interest in videogames, while females were only 15%. The research suggests the lack of interest in video games is due to the nature of games being designed for the male audience. The lack of social interaction and stereotypical sexual objectification of characters were among the biggest complaints of why females lack interest in video games. Games like The Sims become a top selling game mainly to its’ attractiveness to female players. While females make up 44% of online gamers, the market has not been creating games that satisfy their tendency to play non-violent games.
There might be a glimmering hope for those of us wanting to experience a MMO without the violence. Flickr founder, Stewart Butterfield, with the studio Tiny Speck, has recently developed Glitch. A game based on living on a planet that exists in the mind of eleven imaginative giants. In order to save the future, players travel back in time and shape the creation myth. Sharing the world with other players, every action you and other people take evolves and develops the world.
While the notion of creating a MMORPG without violence creates obstacles for developers, is also create unique innovation. Hopefully, in the future we’ll see more titles that explore this genre, and enter a market virtually untouched by most developers. Until then, I’ll continue stabbing creatures in the face.