If I was so pretentious as to try and ascribe themes to my random musings – and believe me, I am– then I’d have to say a growing theme in 2013 for me has been giving game violence weight.
No, wait! Come back! I’m not going to go all Jack Thompson on you!
Let’s be clear: this isn’t some moral objection to violent content. For the storyteller – and any game designer is a storyteller, whether or not plot becomes a strong element of the game – violence is a tool like any other. (Fictional) violence can be thrilling, harrowing, righteous, cruel, vicious, traumatic, self-destructive or futile, and all of these are well and good.
The one thing it shouldn’t be is filler.
And yet in many cases, that’s precisely what it is: rote, something included for the sake of genre or market appeal, detached from the story being told. Violence should engage the player with the narrative, but all too often all it does is occupy them between significant intervals.