Resident Evil 7: Biohazard has been a hyper popular horror title recently. Its scenes of violence and gore lend a chilling realism to the game right from the beginning. A bit of a spoiler here, but if you've heard anything about the game you already know this. Main character Ethan Winters has to do battle with his previously missing wife Mia. She's gone a little crazy and comes after him with a chainsaw. While Ethan is trying to reason with her, Mia cuts off his left hand.
Apparently, this wasn't enough for Capcom originally. Now Loading recently reported that Capcom's initial plan had been for Mia to sever Ethan's entire lower torso with the chainsaw. The next step in the game would have had players crawling along the ground back to a safe room, with their guts trailing behind them. Resident Evil 7's director Koshi Nakanishi said that “bisecting the hero entirely was deemed a little extreme.”
The thought did cross Capcom's mind though, and that's the important part of what I'd like to talk about. They already had people witnessing their own hand getting chopped off. (For some it was even in VR!) Would a full bifurcation have been crossing the line? In a video game where the player character is forced to eat human remains and can potentially have their leg chopped off too, what could be considered too much?
Certain video game genres are bound to have violence. Action and horror games are considered great when they are realistic. A serial killer video game wouldn't be as effective if it didn't have at least some level of blood and gore. I mean, what's a killer to do? Run around slapping people with foam swords? I'm not saying that some level of censorship is unacceptable. There are ratings systems in place for a reason, and some games are better suited for those of a younger age, or those who simply don't want to/can't handle higher levels of violence. A great example I have is my dad. He faints at the sight of his own blood. Some people pass out at the sight of other people's blood. There certainly must be some out there that might lose consciousness in a video game seeing a part of their character's body severed. For those people, hyper realistic violence in video games would be a no-go.
For the rest of us adults that are looking for something more extreme, where do we draw the line? Were the entrails sliding across the floor potentially too much in Resident Evil 7? Or would that have been an optimal level of violence? Personally, I think with the video quality that exists in video games thus far, it's still pretty easy to separate them from reality. Even film quality can still be easy to separate from reality, because we know we're watching a movie. Intense sequences of violence are not going to be for everyone, but there is a place.
I wouldn't have minded seeing the lost sequence in Resident Evil 7. I think it would have been a chilling addition to an otherwise already intense game. Squirming through the Baker family's crawl space under their house was already creepy enough, but imagine looking back and seeing your intestines trailing behind you. I legitimately grimaced just thinking about it, if I'm honest. But isn't that the point of fictional media in general? To make you feel something? For those of us somewhat dead inside, or so desensitized that it takes full disembowelment to get a reaction, we could benefit from more intense scenes.
It's frankly the same reason that people go to ever increasingly scary “haunted houses.” My sister is an actor, so the run-of-the-mill ones don't affect her anymore. She was actually jealous when I mentioned going to an attraction that literally shocked its patrons and rubbed animal organs on us. It's this same sort of mentality that created the extreme end of the line services like McKamey Manor. (Google it if ye be brave!)
Will the future of video games go the same direction? Especially with the introduction of VR, it's possible that even further extreme and realistic violence will appear in video games. It's not for everyone, of course I admit that. But for the small part of the population that might be interested in this, it's a subject to consider.
Do you think there is a place for hyper violence in video games like the scene cut from Resident Evil 7? Would you want to play a game of a similar nature? Let me know in the comments!