Joe Huston, a former developer at Arkane Studios, believes that gamers should use the current discussion centered on violent titles as an opportunity to evaluate their own attitudes towards them and explore their impact.
Writing on Rock, Paper, Shotgun, the ex-Dishonored developer states that, “In light of the recent gun violence in the U.S. and the resultant anti-game talk that has stemmed from it, it’s important as gamers not to simply retreat to the easy reaction, that games aren’t a part of the problem. While I think that might be true…I think it’s a pity to stop there.”
Because censorship is always a possibility, both gamers and developers tend to deny that a problem exists with violent video games, but Huston says that more creative solutions are possible.
He adds, “I don’t believe that game violence causes real world violence, but I do believe that it does little to prevent it. And games with meaningful – and potentially distasteful – choice just might do better because they stand a chance of making the player think about what they’re doing on screen.”
The developer believes that context is very important to video game violence and talks about the decision made by the German government, which is notoriously restrictive when it comes to violence, to launch Dishonored without any modifications.
Huston believes that the decision was made because of the degree of freedom that the game offered, the fact that players were able to choose to go through the entire experience without killing anyone and were responsible for all their actions.
After leaving Arkane Studios, the developer began work on a new game called Unwritten, created by his new Roxlou Game studio, set to launch exclusively on the PC.
The success of Dishonored has prompted publisher Bethesda to declare it a franchise, which means that gamers could see a sequel soon.