More about inappropriate themes

I wrote about inappropriate game themes few days ago. I’ve been thinking about it a bit, and have something more to say. I drew comparisons to books, but I think it’s not a good comparison at all.

There’s a huge difference between games and books. In books, no matter how evil and disgusting the main character or narrator is, there’s always one meta level above where the narrator can be condemned (the level is either extradiegetic narrator or if that narrator is to be judged, the inner author — I suppose, I’ve read some Literature at the uni). I don’t see that happening in games.

If we take the example I think I used, Nabokov’s Lolita. The actions of the main character cannot be defended. I don’t remember for sure if he regretted them or not, but there’s definitely one level above him condemning him. The book doesn’t say you should molest little children, even though that’s what the main character does.

Imagine a game about child abuse. That’s a bit far-fetched, but I think one could make a game in which players would hunt down child abusers and that would be ok. However, place the players as the child molesters and the result is far from ok. If the game was such that the players could only lose, it would be "correct", but it would make a bad game and one that I would not want to play.

I’m fine with violence to some extent, macabre themes and so on, but there are things I don’t want to pretend to be. Playing child abuser is one of those things, I also disliked the suggestion that players of Lunch Money describe in graphic details how they beat up their opponents. I don’t want to.

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