If this were done tactfully, this could be the start to a decent project with a poignant message. Chances are that this won’t happen, so here is a random thought to create a video game wherein the fourth wall is broken through to present the only situation where mindless violence is acceptable.
Game Title: (TBA) ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
The game is a first person shooter where you don’t ever see your character because you are the character. We’re going to
borrow outright steal a few elements from other games as a means to exonerate those games from any blame that they ever caused violence.
First Level: Your character, the Badass Motherfucker, shuts the door of a station wagon and stands with his back facing a burning cabin as the car speeds off. A prompt appears congratulating you: “Hostage Rescued.”
Then another prompt. An objective on screen: “Now Go Back in There and Kill All the Terrorists.”
This is your 11th Hour Superpower. Your guns fire quicker, reload faster. You can send the enemy AI to their doom with ease. They are scattered throughout the cabin’s deceptively large interior.
In an On-The-Nose moment one of the baddies can be heard shouting to another, “Should I flank him?” which is met with the reply, “Go ahead, there are no consequences here.”
Another one channels his best Jesse Pinkman as he dies, “See you next round, bitch!”
This is a game. It plays the game tropes down to the letter. It is very self-aware that it is a game. The reward in the “prologue” before the Objective justifies your compulsion to go in and kill the remaining baddies. All we’ve done is skip the backstory and the primary battle. What is left is the cathartic “Killing Spree/Stress Relief” component. You’re merely finishing the job.
Level Two: We’re in outer space standing on the outside of the Alien Mothership as electricity crackles all over the side panels and debris falls off the sides. In the distance is Earth.
The Alien Rail Cannon (the ARC) once-aimed at Earth has shed layers of unnecessary metal bits. This reduction in size means it can now be handheld.
The Prompt appears, “Earth Saved.”
You have a jetpack, and a new toy: “Get to the Escape Pod. And Kill all the Aliens.”
And this is exactly what you do. At one point a message comes through the spacesuit: “You have full authority to execute with extreme prejudice.”
This second level once again plays out very similar to a video game. The battle is over, you’re cleaning things up, and it is justified because these Aliens nearly invaded Earth.
The first few levels are immediately designed to make you a badass and present you with a world of no consequences; where you require no forethought to proceed. Unlike life.
Level Three: You’re outside of a crumbling dojo. The Sensei smiles from the makeshift gurney, hands you his sword, and tells you what to do:
You get right back in there wielding the Level 30++ Sword. The enemy ninjas speak in poorly-translated subtitles. You dispatch them as you jump from rafter to rafter.
Level Four: Pays homage to the old MS-DOS games of yesteryear, playing out just like this, only with more robots, more sprite-based particles, and more of an emphasis on being badass. In this level you’re inside a burning factory, the scrapped monstrosities and failed robots have all rebelled against their creator. You, sir, are being hunted.
But you have all the bigger guns.
The Game Breaker: A later level has you in a school gymnasium in Anytown, USA — or alternatively a shopping mall in Anytown, USA. You stand with your back to the front door. A prompt: “There will be No Respawn.” (This, of course, is not true, but it instead tricks the player to play more cautiously and rationally.)
You place your Important Papers somewhere important. “Documents Secure.”
As soon as you turn around you unholster your weapon:
A water gun fight in a location with wreckless abandon. You duck out of cover and spray your foes. Your water gun is so extreme it shrinks the enemies clothes, incapacitating them. The water gun fight concept isn’t new, sure, but here’s where the game shifts — playing less like a Bioshock and more like the playstyle of Amnesia, where you are completely defenseless, and you need to escape the baddies with style, and the voyeurism from “No Russian.”
The water gun fight halts as real gunfire erupts; always starting somewhere random in the skybox — always at an unexpected moment. Yeah that is unfair, you think.
The details, which I am not emphasising, are as unsettling as you imagine, though I expect the most effective approach for the depiction would be more psychological than graphical.
What happens next is up to you. Do you want to lead everyone to safety? Or do you want to try and approach the shooter? “There is No Respawn” – that was funny preceding a water gun fight. Not here.
Do you secure the door? Can you hide somewhere for long enough?
Each path offers a new option, though typically if you chose to confront the killer you will either A) Most likely be ushered out by police for your own safety, or B) You will find the killer is dead. There is no climactic showdown.
This level exists to shift from a light and carefree reality to its complete opposite — no longer do you find yourself empowered. And yes, I’ll cast the first stone and say that a school shooting should never be a “game,” and a mass shooting is a disruptive event that leaves permanent scars.
And its presence in the game should be just as off-putting.
But even if you play through it once it should leave a lasting impact. Even if it reaches out to one person.
I’ll see you on Kickstarter.