A fierce debate has been raging since Sony decided to portray two of its biggest upcoming titles with scenes of violence towards women.
The trailers for both The Last of Us 2 and Detroit shown at Sony’s Paris Games Week showcase earlier this week depicted scenes that have upset some observers.
In the first, a woman is violently pinned while a noose is placed around her neck and she is strung up, while a second woman is beaten with a hammer and a third takes an axe to the head. In the second, one girl is grabbed around the throat by an older man (her owner, in this instance) while a younger girl (the man’s daughter) is threatened pursued by her weapon-wielding father up the stairs. She is then heard to scream, and is later shown to be terrified.
Use of such imagery as marketing tools would be questionable at the best of times, let alone in a period when women across the world are bravely standing up to sexual abuse.
“The Last of Us obviously is a game made by adults to be played by adults. I should never prejudge this but it will probably be rated ’18’, I think it’s fair to say,” Sony Interactive president Jim Ryan told The Telegraph.
“And there’s that market for those people who like that sort of game. And I think we cater for that, and at the other end of the spectrum there was Concrete Genie, which my eight year-old decided was the game she would like to play very much… I thought The Last of Us Part 2 was a great way to end the show and I feel very good about it.
“It is difficult when you have a clip of four or five minutes to synthesise a gameplay experience that can be measured in the tens of hours. And, again, the studio was seeking to portray a game that will be rated as suitable for adults to play and that’s what we did.”
Elsewhere, Detroit creator David Cage told Eurogamer that he had not seen any of the reaction to the trailer, but defended his choices under questioning.
“Would I be doing my job as a creator if I was making the game you want me to make? I don’t think so – I’m creating something that I find moving and meaningful,” he said. “And I think people should see the scene, play the game and see it in context to really understand it.
“The rule I give myself is to never glorify violence, to never do anything gratuitous. It has to have a purpose, have a meaning, and create something that is hopefully meaningful for people.”
When probed about the decision on creating a trailer about domestic violence, Cage asked if the interviewer would ask the same of a film director or novelist.
“What’s important to me, and what’s important in Detroit is to say that a game is as legitimate as a film or a book or a play to explore any topic such as domestic abuse,” he added.
“You don’t choose to talk about domestic abuse. It’s not like I was like ‘oh, let’s write a scene about domestic abuse’. It’s not how it works… You go into dark places, in order to create something positive about it. It’s never a conscious decision to say let’s talk about something cool and violence – no, I want to talk about something moving and meaningful, that’s my job as a writer.
“This medium shouldn’t condemn people trying to explore these aspects, as long as they’re honest and sincere and have an honest attitude towards it.”