The Mortal Kombat franchise is no stranger to controversy. It caused a furore for its ‘realistic’ depiction of violence when it first appeared in the arcades back in 1992 leading to the creation of the ESRB a couple of years later. Mortal Kombat X, the tenth installment in the series, has been released to critical acclaim and once again its release has caused a stir in the gaming community. However this time the blood and gore have nothing to do with it. Mind you, the game has both by the bucketfuls. In fact I would say that its the goriest game in the series and one of the most deliberately violent videogame I have ever played. However it is 2015, and most people are unruffled by virtual blood. After all we regularly get to watch horrific executions of innocent people by ISIS on the news. The cause for the commotion this time? NetherRealm/Warner Brother’s decision to monetize the game post launch, hide characters behind a pay wall and offer DLC which is already on the disc.
For some time now many industry insiders have been wanting gaming to grow up in order to cater to a more mature audience. This goes beyond having R rated games due to the inclusion of nudity, violence, alcohol consumption and what not. It means having more titles which directly or indirectly tackle issues such as politics, philosophy, human emotion and difficult life experiences. To do this developers and publishers need to move away from catering exclusively to the (admittedly large) crowd who is only interested in mindless fun. Of course this is easier said than done. As much as I wish it was otherwise ‘provoking thought’ will likely never be as popular as ‘providing fun’ and successfully combining the two is a tall order.
Unlearning a skill is much harder than learning it. League of Legends has taught me that. I used to play the game some years back. I cannot claim that I was ever ‘good’ at it but I can safely say I was adequate. Despite there already being a vast selection of characters back in 2011 I played virtually all my games using Nunu, a snowball throwing boy riding his yeti friend (or at least one assumes they are friends). Moreover I played The Twisted Treeline almost exclusively. This is a 3v3 match played on a smaller two lane map. My hardcore friends back then used to point out that this was, in fact, a ‘fun’ diversion to what should have been the meat of the game – The Summoner’s Rift – a 5v5 game taking place on a much larger and more complex map. They would argue that competitive tournament play was 5v5 so any other mode was not ‘real’ LoL. I often shrugged off their hardcore sensibilities and soldiered on with a couple of friends who used to play as casually as I did. Continue reading