Dishonored Creative Director on Violence in Games

July 22, 2012 Written by Zak Islam

Arkane Studios’ Harvey Smith, the co-creative director of Dishonored, has offered his opinion on violence within video games.

Speaking to Gamasutra, Smith explained that games offer a “safe environment” to carry out violence.

Almost part of the definition of games at a formal level involves artificial conflict. Games are one of the ways that people, throughout thousands of years, have engaged in some sort of mock conflict in a safe environment. Violence and conflict are a huge part of the world. When you entangle with them in real life, the consequences are usually severe. So people, I think, have devised this thing called “game” as a way of exploring conflict and exploring their relationships with conflict in a completely safe, abstract way.

We all find conflict fascinating. If you’re playing poker with your friends, someone crushes the life out of everyone else. It’s absolute. There’s not even a soft way to lose poker; you are crushed out of existence. So I don’t think it’s endemic to video games, or exclusive to video games.

If you watch lion cubs bite each other and roll around on the ground, they’re not trying to kill each other; they’re engaged in some sort of conflict-based play. That’s the same thing I think we’re doing.

Fellow co-creative director, Raf Colantonio, added:

It’s just easier to model physical things or actions than it is something very intangible. How do you model love in a game, without it just being a timer-based game or something? I think the industry is still figuring these things out over time.

Dishonored is currently scheduled for a launch on October 9th 2012 in North America and 12th in Europe.