E3 has brought about the announcement of many new games. One of the standout games of the event was Sega’s MadWorld for the Wii. Created for a console that is known for reaching causal gamers and families, MadWorld is an ultra-violent brawler where the player mercilessly kills other characters in order to win a game show. The following is a special CAPC Dialogue on MadWorld.


“Should [MadWorld] really be the sort of thing that is universally embraced by hardcore gamers everywhere?”

I just stumbled upon a trailer for a game at E3 that makes Grand Theft Auto look like Barney’s Hide and Seek Adventure: Mad Men. Go here to view the trailer (But ONLY if you can handle extreme violence and are over 18) and see for yourself. Basically, it’s 1 and a half minutes of various different ways to sever your enemies body parts. People are split in half, decapitated, stabbed in the face with sign posts… it’s all very horrifying.

But apparently, only to me! Wii Fanboy gushes:

“It was revealed that the chainsaw will be the default weapon, and we couldn’t be happier. Inaba used it to cut people in half, push enemies to the ground and behead them, as well as just slice everything in his path. He then revealed that while killing all of these people was fun, it was only to accrue points so that he could challenge the level’s boss. Sadly, this is when the demo ended.

Overall, the game blew us away. It had amazing visuals that didn’t show off a single flaw, with gritty urban environments and dilapidated buildings surrounding Jack. If you weren’t interested in MadWorld after reading that, you should have your head examined — perhaps by the business end of a road sign.”

Not that I think this should be outlawed, but should it really be the sort of thing that is universally embraced by hardcore gamers everywhere? Is the difference between casual and hardcore gamers truly whether or not you possess a soul?


“Personally, I’m excited to see a game take on this issue. . . in a way that so masterfully uses visuals.”

The aptly named “MadWorld” looks to me to be another stunning title from ex-Clover Studio developers. Clover Studios was known innovative art styles and gameplay, particularly in Okami and Viewtiful Joe. After the studio was closed, many of the team members went on to work for Platinum Games, the developer that is making MadWorld for Sega. As at least one preview has already noted, the premise of MadWorld is really centered on an aesthetic rather than a gameplay mechanic or a plot.

The “plot” of MadWorld is that you are in a game show which forces contestants to kill each other. The more gory (read bloody) the kills, the more points you get in the game show. As the trailer shows, the game looks like it will feature an sports announcer giving play-by-play descriptions of your kills. Part of the way Platinum Games makes the killing stand out in the game is that red blood is essentially the only element of color in the world. The art style is very Sin City-like, with the characters and world drawn in black and white, with almost no shades of gray. When you kill someone in the game, their red blood spills (or splatters) onto the screen, giving the player a vivid yet satisfying visual of the death. It is this visual that is the real premise of the game.

I agree with you that it shouldn’t be outlawed, but in general I have mixed feelings about this title. If I set aside the fact that your goal in the game is to mercilessly (and pointlessly) kill people in the most gory manner possible, I think I’d say that the visuals are stunning. I love the fact that this game is built around colors and what those colors often represent. We are given a black and white world were the only thing that is vivid (important? meaningful? significant?) is blood. Unrestrained violence is the lust of the world, in MadWorld. Both the plot and the visuals seem to be suggesting that in our own world, violence has become something lovely, thrilling, commercial, and entertaining. Personally, I’m excited to see a game take on this issue (not that it is a new theme) in a way that so masterfully uses visuals.

However, as with the satire of Grand Theft Auto, I can’t help but think that any commentary on the American lust for violence is utterly drowned under the visceral thrill of playing the game. And I think Wii Fanboy’s preview demonstrates this problem. The use of the sports announcer also seems to trivialize the action to me. There’s no sense that what is happening is wrong, or that you should feel that it is wrong. It’s just a game about a TV show. Violence is shown to be so banal that it must be absurdly exaggerated in order to regain its force. And this aspect of the game deeply troubles me.

At this point I’m very curious about the plot of the game. So far we only know the basic idea of the game. If the game never goes beyond this gladiator motif, then I would agree with you that this is a game hardcore and casual gamers should skip. If, however, Platinum Games toys with the player’s emotions–teaching us to love the ultra-violence before exposing it as the horror that it truly is–then I think they might have a great game on their hands. An extremely mature game, but a great one nevertheless.

So what’s your take on MadWorld? Is this the kind of game Christians, or gamers in general, should be praising or playing? Is this game a triumph of style or merely another way to glorify violence?  [If constructive and helpful, we may use some of your comments as the basis for the second half of this E3 dialogue on MadWorld].


  1. Is this the kind of game Christians, or gamers in general, should be praising or playing?

    Well, if they plan on praising it, they had better the heck play it. Nothing worse than praising or damning a game/film/book without having any real experience of it.

    Is this game a triumph of style or merely another way to glorify violence?

    It’s clearly something of a triumph in style. Especially for the Wii, which has for the most part ghetto-ized itself in terms of style. Is it another glorification of violence? I can’t judge the game (having not played it), but the trailer would suggest both yes and no. Overtly, the game certainly glorifies violence. You’re a participant in a gameworld whose sole intention is to pit human against human–kind of like a Running Man/Smash TV lovechild–in a veritible orgy of violence and death.

    On the other hand, the world presented is meta-commentary in itself. It’s a pretty well-trotted trope of speculative fiction, but the irony of the fiction presented is that here you have a plausible future for our society (based on a mix of contemporary views and the indictment of human history) that is prima facie repellent. A society that devours human death to the point of massive televised death-games is a chilling future. Yet the interactive, gaming aspect of the world encourages participants to inure themselves to the repulsiveness of it. Yet while the announcer chatters on, the waves of revulsion and glee will continue to collide, turning the game into the moral morass it should be.

    Well, for those who feel those things. As stated in the GTA article, it would be very difficult for me not to approach the game as mechanic. Videogames are not yet artful enough for me to empathize with their inhabitants. Bioshock told a great story, but I never felt anything for any of its characters; videogames still have a long row to hoe.

    The Danes last blog post..20080716

  2. Wow, I’m embarrassed for your site that this is the last post on videogames. This was forever ago.

    Anyway, just wanted to let you know that for the next day, you can pick up the original Half-Life off Steam for 98 cents. That’s 98 cents for one of the best-reviewed games ever made. If you’ve already got the game, no worries. But if not? Here’s your chance!

    P.S. I know this is totally off-topic, but when I asked myself whether I should do the right thing or the correct thing, doing the right thing won out. You can thank me later.

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

  3. Dane,

    Yeah, I saw that too. Unfortunately, I run a Mac, so Steams not an option for me until I use bootcamp or parallels to run Windows, and I’m to busy to get through all that right now. But since I played HL several times and TFC for probably hundreds of hours Back In The Day, I don’t think I’m missing too much.

    As for your jab out our video game postings, if Fallout 3 was soooooooo awesome and soooo long I would have my post up on it by now.

  4. I have gotten to play F3 myself much sooner that I anticipated and am just blown away by it. Really, I would say that so far, it’s everything Oblivion wanted to be.

    The Karma dynamic is pretty interesting as it’s the first time a game has driven me not to behave as I would normally behave in a game world. Typically in these sorts of games, I enjoy playing stealth-type characters, sneaking here and there, defeating opponents before they see me. But a large part of my stealth characters in the past has been theft. In Morrowind and Oblivion, I stole—well—everything. There was only a consequence if I was seen and being incredibly stealthy, I could not actually be seen, so there was no reason in the game worlds not to thieve or to pick pockets.

    In F3, my standard operating procedure has been changed drastically by the simple fact that if I thieve, I cannot be considered by the game a “good” character—and since on my first run-through I’m trying to be a nice boy, I therefore cannot thieve. At least from the standpoint of a game creating a moral system, this is the most effective I’ve personally run across.

    But, oops, I should really wait until you post on the game, huh?

    BTW, last January it was time for me to buy a new computer and since I’m a graphic designer by trade and contract, I thought hard about getting a Mac. But then I looked at my game collection and said, “Nah.” It would just be too big a sacrifice for me. Plus, I’d have to re-purchase all my graphics and design programs…

    The Danes last blog post..20081119.ChurchLies

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