New video game ‘Hatred’ takes ugly aim at the industry’s progression

Dec. 19, 2014 | 4:36 p.m.


There's nothing to love about the early looks at "Hatred." (Destructive Creations)

There’s nothing to love about the early looks at “Hatred.” (Destructive Creations)

Congratulations, video game community. You have graduated.

Like film and television before you, you are now mainstream. In the same way there are those who see lots of films and those who only see a few films, there are those who play lots of games and those who only play a handful.

Some play more, some play less, but the video game community now belongs to us — all of us. Resistance is futile, but that isn’t stopping purists from trying, desperately, to fight back.

They long for a time when video games were underground and playing itself was an act of rebellion, and no doubt the past year in games has been a tough one for them.

LIST: Todd Martens’ best video games of 2014

Changes are not just afoot, but are in fact galloping over long-held tropes. This year proved that technology is no longer the primary mover — characters and plot are. This is, after all, the post-“Last of Us” era, wherein an adolescent girl can be a star of the show. If gruff white men haven’t been replaced (far from it), there’s certainly others dining at the table.

As a result it’s been relatively common in 2014 for unsavory yet almost always anonymous voices in the video game universe to rage against the maturing medium in the form of ugly screeds and threats against women, developers, critics or anyone else who threatens their fragile universe.

This brings us to “Hatred,” a relatively small game from a Polish studio dubbed Destructive Creations that became the talk of the video game world this week. “Hatred,” which seeks to simulate the act of a mass shooting, wants attention, if that wasn’t clear by its  very plot. Thanks to a defensive media campaign the company’s been running, “Hatred” has been getting it.

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When the developers of “Hatred” argue that their game, one in which the main character wants to commit genocide, is “promoting equality” because “everybody dies,” it’s funny in a way that may have passed for a chuckle in 1995. This, remember, was a time when the likes of Eminem and Marilyn Manson were turning violence into a macabre joke. This was before civilians armed with cellphones could post their footage of a man being choked to death, or show parents grieving over yet another school shooting.

Yet in “Hatred,” a trench-coated shooter accosts a black man on the street — a victim who is shown screaming “nooo!” as a bullet blasts his brain over the sidewalk. And there’s the woman who’s being held by her collar, begging “please, please” while a gun is shoved into her mouth.

Developers of "Hatred" say the video game industry is overrun with "higher art" games. (Destructive Creations)

Developers of “Hatred” say the video game industry is overrun with “higher art” games. (Destructive Creations)

Where there was once a shock value in this kind of outrageousness in games — “You can do what in ‘Grand Theft Auto: Vice City’?” — today, at best, it leaves the nagging sense that your creation looks outdated. At worst, it appears as if you are frantically holding on to an era that no longer exists, one in which the mere act of presenting something new in a game, be it prostitutes or Middle East wars, gave it a pass. The medium was young, after all, and the graphics were crude. No one would consider them reality.

Thus, a game like “Hatred” is late to the party — a couple decades too late, in fact. And though it’s too late to stop progress, that hasn’t stopped the game’s makers from vying for much-needed attention in a field crowded with far more interesting offerings.

The publicity-seeking title was in the news this week (of course) when online distribution firm Steam rejected the game for a developer-submitted “greenlight” program, which seeks to help independents get their games onto the platform. It was later reinstated, but not before publishers proudly bragged of the “ban.”

From the game’s manifesto on its website:

“These days, when a lot of games are heading to be polite, colorful, politically correct and trying to be some kind of higher art, rather than just an entertainment — we wanted to create something against trends. Something different, something that could give the player a pure, gaming pleasure.”

This is online trolling in place of creativity, and it’s coming at a time when the growing complexity of the video game medium is presenting opportunities for developers to challenge themselves. It also indicates that there are those making video games who believe the medium holds no accountability toward culture at large, as if unloading bullet after bullet into the face of suburbanites pleading for their lives is “gaming pleasure” for the sake of “gaming pleasure.”

LIST: Todd Martens’ best video games of 2014

The language gets even coarser, and more goading, on the Steam site. “Hatred” is described as a game in which you will “have the full control over lifes [sic] of worthless human scum.” Even for a society obsessed with sociopaths — just look at any of the evening crime procedurals on network TV — “Hatred’s” marketing offers little more than over-the-top bloodlust and the sense that the world is moving backward.

Yet “Hatred” isn’t an example of a video game industry struggling to mature; it’s proof that game culture is maturing. “Hatred’s” stated existence is to fight against maturity.

There are always going to be some uncomfortable side effects of becoming part of the establishment. Why would the video game world be immune to its own little pack of survivalists, hunkered away in bedrooms obsessing over digital guns?

— Todd Martens | @Toddmartens | @LATherocomplex


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29 Responses to New video game ‘Hatred’ takes ugly aim at the industry’s progression

  1. Chris Katko says:

    You sure managed to write a lot of words to say nothing at all.

  2. kinderschlaeger says:

    lol, what a crock. SJW's like this "writer" are the very reason hatred came into existence….and the gaming community is loving it. "Hatred" is nostalgia at it's finest. reminding us of the bygone days where video games where entertainment first and foremost. don't like it? don't get involved wit hit, it's still going to make money. at least some companies still exist out there that refuse to bow to "trigger" bitches and make things for a specific group. games shouldn't all be open inclusive works of art, they should be allowed to appeal to whoever they want. and that is exactly what "Hatred does, and does well

  3. Bingo Bongo says:

    Nice posing as someone who wishes they had an intellect. LOL!

  4. Andrew says:

    You're PG and out of touch. People make things like this to directly oppose misinformed bubble dwellers like you by exposing violence in a direct and visceral manner. That being said, the violence depicted in the game is certainly not very true to life and exaggerated. Also the reaction to this game is totally unnecessary. Most people who aren't clouded by PC propaganda are aware that gun related violence has steadily declined and no amount of postal 2 or grand theft auto could bring on psychotic symptoms causing people to mass murder. You are going BACKWARDS, THE DIALOG ON MEDIA VIOLENCE HAS ENDED. Remember Jack Thompson you blinder wearing goldfish?

  5. J.F McGee says:

    Great job, LA Times. It only took you literally two months to catch wind of this game!

  6. cool141114449 says:

    Looks like a great game! Really unique and will allow one to explore there humanity.

  7. Russ says:

    Already been done, it's called Postal. I think for the most part, people have outgrown this kind of game. Personally, I enjoy a game with a decent storyline, where's the fun in simply walking around shooting everything / body? Postal didn't last long and neither will this.

  8. Tfish says:

    The thing that's interesting about the game, intended or not, is the reaction it has received and the kind of picture that reaction paints. The people mostly talking about how awful the game is aren't soccer moms or out of touch politicians, it's the gamers themselves.

    Just look at the game. There's not really anything happening in this game that doesn't occur in even the most mainstream titles. The difference is context. There's no context for the violence in this game, the protagonist just simply states that he wants to kill people. If you reskinned the characters to have zombie textures this game would be wholly unremarkable. If you made the main guy a soldier and the other people bad guy soldiers, this game would be completely forgotten.

    Somehow context, even the thinnest most cliche layer, for violence is all it takes to make people okay with extreme violence.

    • steam says:

      The context is the mindset for the player. There is something different about going on a rampage in grand theft auto and trying to survive as long as you can from the cops, you are aware eventually you will go down as a one man show bad guy wont win. Without even being part of the game gta simulates the cause and effect – do something bad and get shot by cops.

      In hatred you are doing what the developer wants you to do and obviously from reading about it the player will constantly progress on their killing spree and get rewarded for it, the abstraction is gone and now it feels like your some extremist taking orders from a top extremist "the developer" to kill americans. not cheeky fun anymore just falling into the raunchy sales gimmick.

  9. Grx says:

    Is this advertisement? It has to be. You know how the internet works, right? Now, because your panties are in a bunch, we have to get it. It's the law of the webs.

  10. james says:

    i have played many games….but this game…with all the horrible stuff thats happened with mass shootings…its just not my cup of tea….its not enjoyable. there is no shock in it, just like the author said…its just sad. I remember all the shootings that occurred for no reason, all the innocent lives taken..and for a game now…it just seems like mocking….so ill never play it.
    Ive played all manner of shooters from LoadOut to COD……but this does feel like its late to the part just like you said..its not only late too the party…but past the point to be called fashionable.

  11. Lemon Squeezy says:

    This isn’t really my kind of game, but the over-reaction by people like this writer show that it still strikes a cord somewhere in the world. That makes the game a piece of art, like it or not.

    I will probably get it when there I s team sale, just to check it out.

    The PC Police, just like Jack Thompson, make us gamers want to play it even more.

  12. Sk02 says:

    Yeah dude, no culture has any responsibility to you or your community values; that would make it *your* culture, which it isn't, and especially not an art medium. Authors explore human ideas often with deplorable characters and all the time. You can't have art. *shoo*

  13. Ray says:

    A game for snuff crowd. The same people who enjoy watching executions and horrific accidents online, a sadist's wet dream. It'll probably sell a few copies the studio will get some headlines and cheap publicity. I personally get my "gaming pleasure" from a compelling and challenging plot with equally well developed characters. A good multi-player component also helps. Where's the challenge in killing a bunch of unarmed people? How can this game have any kind of replay value? This is just a lazy game company who is substituting substance for shock value in order to get dumb 14 year old white kids money, and the money of those 40 year old white dudes who used to play the racist version of Doom in the 90's. It's whatever it'll be forgotten two weeks after release. Hopefully the developers of this "game" can grow creatively or we'll be reading about their new ISIS project.

  14. Guest says:

    Not everything can cater to you, SJW.
    Free speech. If you don't like it, don't play it. This is progress.

  15. Sally says:

    I've been looking for a game to play while I check out more Black Metal artists. I can think of nothing that would be more suitable than this, really.

  16. Recondite says:

    This article's tone and focus tell us everything we need to know about both the author and the game in question. The author clearly had an emotional (irrational) reaction to the game – and that's evidence that the game is already artistically successful in the most fundamental way. The real interest piece here is written between the lines: how a writer for an arguably non-trivial newspaper could be so horrifically oblivious to profound irony.

  17. nonyam says:

    I just came for the comments. Enough SJW articles on the subject already.

  18. nonyam says:

    It seriously has to be a marketing strategy. I didn't even want it until I saw all the anger about its existence and Steam's knee-jerk take down.

    Now I want it. So if it was a giant ruse to get us to buy it – you good at rusing, bro.

  19. wattookee0 says:

    Didn't I read this exact same article around this time LAST YEAR? Just like not everyone wants to watch a movie like "Oldboy" or "Hostel", not everyone wants to play a game like "Hatred". But, those sorts of films and games are still made. Why? Because there is an audience that wants to see it.

  20. Tony says:

    It is good to see that I am not the only one who sees the (Pardon the comment) "Hatered" This game spreads. It is a game the glorifies Hate, Suports Violence, Spreads an enjoyment of killing. And for WHAT? To "Stick it to the man"? Show Mankinds "True Nature"? Or do the same thing "The Purge" Did, Complain about that fact that the world does not work the way "you" wish it to? This is the Biggest cause of "Missing your own point" I have ever seen. It is a case of "hatred is mankinds True form, Violence is its greatest gift, You are NOT a GOOD PERSON, You are a sociopath waiting to happen. And don't anyone DARE give me the standard "Well, it's not Real" thing, If I made a Game about Raping and murdering kids, would you stand beside me telling me "I'm doing the right thing" If I made a video of explaining all the good things Rape does, would anyone here call me the Hero? I sincerely doubt it. And I am Ashamed that I live in a society that tells me because I enjoy games I am basically A hypocrite for protesting the games I do not like. But go ahead, throw your insults in my face, call me whatever you wish, I have heard it all before. And keep one thing In mind, If this logic is true, I can wish for the death, mutilation, violation of Anyone of you, Just because "It's Not real."

    Signed Hanyoumaru

  21. Eric says:

    I love the butt hurt this game has caused among the journos, who just yesterday were saying gamers were man children and gaming is dead, but no, now in the light of Hatred, they're high art and should not stoop to this level. Make up your minds already.

  22. Zed says:

    Did the writer of this article just mention the woman and black man getting killed in the trailer? OMG, you can't make this PC stuff up. 100 people die in that trailer and he gets all wadded up over the woman and the black man.

    But seriously, this game isn't nearly as satirical and humorous as the Postal series, which was awesome. This game is really just for the malcontent, mass-murderers in waiting.

  23. ChickenB says:

    Oh look another crybaby SJW writing about how his views are right on everything and disagreeing with him makes you a mansplaining sexist woman hater. Also you're veiled threats at GG are pretty adorable little blogger trying to pose as a big boy journalist.

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