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I wrote Mortal Kombat 11, and I hate violence.



Concerns about violence in video games are nothing new.

I reached old age in the 90s, the decade that gave us audiences in Congress stimulated by the ultraviolence of cartoons of the glorious and notorious. Deadly Kombat. A nightly news segment, then Sen. Joe Lieberman (D-CT) and other politicians worried about the paroxysm wrung their hands, desperate to see my parents that my sister's overexposure to pixilated deaths would inevitably take us to the family dog ​​or commit any number of other morally degenerate acts.

Fortunately, my parents did not listen to Lieberman. If they had, he could never have gotten a job working as a storyteller and co-writer in Deadly Kombat 11.

Being that I grew up playing the violent Mortal Kombat. The games and, over the last few years, they have made their living writing the most violent game of Mortal Kombat of all time, one could suppose that I enjoy, crave or even occasionally indulge in violence.

That badumption could not be further from the truth.

[[[[Ed. Please note: This post contains important spoilers for Deadly Kombat 11.]

The pill in the pudding.

In a pacifist who believes that violence is never justifiable, except in cases of emergency defense. In a father who fears the safety of my son in a country because of violence with meaningless firearms. I am a patriotic and law-abiding American citizen who is concerned about the rising tide of authoritarianism and police brutality around the world. A history student who laments the millions of lost souls in the industrial-scale wars of the last century. The question of whether or not to launch nuclear bombs in Japanese cities in 1945 was a morally justifiable act. The realities of violence disgust me.

When it comes to fiction, games or other media, I believe that people are naturally attracted to the representations of violence as a hypothetical means of contemplating the terrors of the real world.

That does not mean that all violent media receive a free pbad from me. I often feel that contemporary creators are extraordinarily lazy in their dependence on violent acts. The range of possible human expressions is rich and varied and yet, as Chris Plante says, many games limit and reduce the modes of expression of their protagonists to "shoot" and "kill", leaving no room to consider others, perhaps More constructive, related ways to overcome obstacles and resolve conflicts.

Considering all this moral effort of my hand, how the hell I justify working in MK11, a game that is all about violence? From my perspective, there is more value in Mortal Kombat than what ultraviolet graphics ostensibly suggests. There is a pill in the pudding, as rapper Danny Brown explained to NPR in 2014.

Brown is a Detroit icon whose works expertly weave the stimuli of hip-hop clashes and fantasy realization (pudding) with layers of social commentary (the pill). For example, start with your instant clbadic album of 2011, XXX. The title of the album is undoubtedly a reference to badgraphic content, and is at the height of the promise of cunnilingus ("I Will") and party fans as "Blunt After Blunt".

But in its title, XXX It is revealed as Brown's meditation on turning 30 years without having achieved success with his 20 years. Far from a 24/7 club celebration, "Party all the time" is a parable about a groupie girl who does that, only to end up "lost in the fog, head in the smoke, laughing at the world" because here life is a joke ".

From track to track, what appears to be a holiday album is actually a rumination about the struggles of wasted potential, drug addiction and economic despair. It's possible that all that nuance does not resonate at a conscious level the first time it's included in a Danny Brown album, but feel that, and that's by design. As an artist and animator, Brown knows that fans come to his shows to dance at parties, but they will feel his message long after they leave.

Deadly Kombat 11 Mix pudding and pill in your own way. You have that characteristic hybrid of stylized ultraviolence, emotions of popcorn, kitsch and characters drawn from martial arts, fantasy and science fiction. That is pure pudding. It excites the senses and ignites the imagination at all primary and visceral levels. But all that pudding is to nourish you alone; You will not be mentally or emotionally dealing with the struggles of life as we know it.

The most nutritious aspect or MK11 It is your central fighting game. It is accessible enough for newcomers while providing an almost infinite skill curve for dedicated players. The main mode of expression is "fight" and "kill", but the struggle in MK11 it is a complex and layered sport, an outlet for competition and achievement that attracts millions of fans from around the world.

Players can come to Deadly Kombat 11 for violent shows, but they are maintained by the spirit of competition, and by the opportunity to express themselves creatively by joining their movements and finding strategies, just as the designers could not anticipate.

Few players have time to learn the ins and outs of each character in the game, which makes choosing the most appropriate is the most important. Spending hours training with a character is to build a relationship with them, to know not only how they fight, but how they think, speak and feel.

I think that's why the players were unexpectedly drawn to the biographies of short characters that are seen in the Mortal Kombat games of the arcade era. As the co-creator of the series, John Tobias, explained to Stephen Wilds: "We went into a game room in one of our test places and the players are playing the game. They were standing around the game without letting anyone play, because they were reading the game and reading the biographies of the characters.

As the list of characters expanded their game and those lyrics, the tantalizing biographies evolved into a series of hours of cinematic tours of the universe in the game. Approximately 25 years later, Mortal Kombat has a deep bank of well-known and iconic characters, which provide a solid foundation for new stories.

The same could be said of the iconic lists of the Street Fighter and Tekken franchises, but their story modes are much less celebrated by fans and critics. Why?

Show for the dead, stay for the feelings.

What differentiates the stories from the Mortal Kombat games is their commitment to the development of emotional motives to drive and justify the fights.

"The story also stands out in smaller moments," Eric Van Allen wrote in his review of Deadly Kombat 11. "There are genuinely poignant rhythms of history." The heroes of Deadly Kombat 11 Fight in a fantastic world of goods and monsters, but their hearts are based on the same emotional reality that we all share. That is the hook. Each game has fights, each game has high impact action, but not all games move you.

Which brings me back to the initial question: How do I justify working in a game that is about killing? By telling personal stories about heroes who overcome anger, fear, selfishness and dogmatic thinking, the root causes too human of so many conflicts in the real world. These are juxtaposed with villains who voluntarily embrace such destructive tendencies. The contrast between heroes and villains expresses a central value of my pacifism: the villains provoke conflicts; The heroes solve it.

Resolving conflicts MK11 For the most part, you "fight" or "kill". But thanks to the magic of history, we can also imagine other means of resolution, such as acts of compbadion and mercy, that mark the most critical and epic moments in history. MK11 saga.

This is exemplified in Raiden's story in Chapter 11, a climactic confrontation between him and Liu Kang, with roots that go back decades. And we are going to have you to discuss the end.

Fans of the Mortal Kombat games and the successful film adaptation of the 1990s knew Liu Kang as the hero, the Chosen One, appointed by the benevolent Thunder God, Raiden, to defend the Earth Kingdom from conquest.

But Liu Kang and Raiden fell out of favor in the 2000s. Liu Kang died in Mortal Kombat: Deadly Alliance, that came out in 2002. Raiden exchanged benevolence for anger one game later to become Dark Raiden. Liu Kang was resurrected, not as a hero, but as a killer zombie villain.

Both characters found opportunities for the trade when the MK timeline was restarted in the ninth game, 2011s Deadly Kombat, but those opportunities were wasted. Liu Kang defended Raiden's orders, which led to a fight in which Raiden himself killed Liu Kang.

of 2015 Deadly Kombat X Once again, Liu Kang was resurrected as an undead villain and turned Raiden into a dark and dark version of himself. That ended with Dark Raiden declaring war on Revenant Liu Kang, who had become the Emperor of the Dead.

What brings us to Deadly Kombat 11. Chronicle, a powerful deity with control over time and destiny, is on a mission to restart the timeline once more. In the process, she confronts the past and the present one against the other pulling the characters from the past to the present. Previous and honorable versions of Raiden and Liu Kang face their tragic futures, and they do not like what they see.

The past Raiden has every intention of changing his future for the better, but soon, the events revolve beyond his control. His desperate drive to defeat Chronicles leads him to another battle against the past Liu Kang. History repeats itself. They fight, as they should. It seems that violence is inescapable, and locks these characters into a horrible loop.

Until he does not. The past Liu Kang repeats a key phrase of 2011 if they prepare to fight: "Enough of your madness, if you must, so be it." At that time, the Past Raiden sees a vision of multiple past timelines. and kill Liu Kang in each one.

Raiden is now fully aware that he is essentially a character in Kronika's fighting game. Your literal destiny is to fight, and fight, and fight. He refuses to fight against the past Liu Kang, but even then, Kronika forces him to fight the evil Revenant Liu Kang from the future. The only way to end that fight, declares Revenant Liu Kang, is to kill him for Raiden.

But now Raiden is aware of this cycle of perpetual violence, and breaks with a spectacular act of mercy and sacrifice. Raiden has learned the lessons that history has taught humanity again and again, but which we often ignore conveniently. The fight leads to the fight. Celebrate only when we humble ourselves to make peace.

The war is over, if you want it.

They will be all those who fight through Deadly Kombat 11 derive these same morals from history? Maybe not consciously. But I hope that they, and you, feel she.

Disclaimer: Shawn Kittelsen is an independent contractor and does not represent NetherRealm Studios or Warner Bros. Games. All the views and opinions here are yours.


Shawn Kittelsen is a freelance writer and narrative designer. More recently, he served as a narrative leader and co-author of Deadly Kombat 11 for NetherRealm Studios / Warner Bros. Games.


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