It’s Not ABOUT The Zombies
I thought this was going to fly under the radar, but apparently it’s only just begun.
The Dead Island trailer. If you’ve seen it, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t seen it…well, life is about choices, and you’ll have one to make.
It’s difficult for me to talk about this trailer; really, I don’t even want to think of it. After watching it — something which I realized I should stop doing about one minute into it — I was angry. Angry and terrified. For those who don’t want to view the trailer (meaning those who are still here, because I’m not linking it or embedding it), here’s the short: The trailer plays backwards, starting with an image of a young girl — maybe 10 years old — lying in the grass. Her face is bloodied, and in the background, a man is dancing around while engulfed in flames. The trailer then proceeds to work backwards. We see the girl fly upwards, and back through a plate-glass window which re-forms behind her. The ensuing narrative paints an incredibly grizzly picture: a husband, wife and their young daughter are vacationing on an idyllic island paradise. We eventually see video of them enjoying themselves as they arrive at their hotel, including a family snapshot of the start of their vacation. But the trailer itself is focused on one singular event: the young girl, running for her life down a long corridor of the hotel, chased by zombies. Just as she reaches the door, her father reaches out to her, but it’s too late. She’s been infected, and the other zombies fight their way into the hotel room. It’s the father himself who throws his zombified daughter out the window as the other undead tear the family to pieces.
MVC and Destructioid have dueling opinions on this trailer. MVC’s editorial believes that the developers have gone too far with this trailer by making violence towards children to the focal point of the trailer in a move that was planned to evoke strong emotions. Destructiod praises the developers for having the balls to tackle taboos and to elevate the industry to a level which movies and books have enjoyed for a while. I have to side with MVC, however, for a few reasons. First, they point out that the trailer is nothing more than sensationalism. There’ s no gameplay shown, no purpose except to get people talking about the trailer. When we hear about “yet another zombie game” later on, we’ll remember Dead Island as the game “with the little girl zombie” and it’ll stick emotionally. It won’t be a memory based on kick-ass gameplay, unique settings or original mechanics. Instead, it’ll be a bait and switch. They hooked us with the horror of violence against children, and will be delivering gawd knows what. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m guessing it’s a Left 4 Dead meets Dead Rising zombie basher. In otherwords, B-list material that would otherwise end up in the bargain bin.
Destructoid’s position itself makes me sad:
Parfitt [author of the MVC article] argues that we need to choose our battles carefully, that we should be more selective when it comes to defending videogame controversy. The implication is that this is one thing we should not defend, and I completely, utterly disagree. This is exactly the kind of stuff we should be encouraging from the videogame industry. Something with some bloody spine.
I can understand the underlying point: movies and music and books get away with elements that the games industry is frequently called out for, and the industry needs to show that it can — tastefully and powerfully — compete on a level that’s more then just blowing shit up and creating big-breasted mascots. The video game industry needs to prove that it, too, can pump out real, serious, mature content that is intended to be consumed by thoughtful, mature gamers.
Some comments from these articles:
I hope everyone offended by things dies, then burns in a hell worse than those Freddy Krueger brought about in the Final Nightmare.
Also who does this “offend” Parents of children bitten by zombies? Rabies victims? Parents of children who have fallen out of a window?
THOSE FUCKING FAGGOTS
GET OVER IT
It makes sense that the video game industry wants itself to be taken seriously. There’s a lot riding on it, for legitimacy, to get people like Fox News off it’s back, and to be seen a peers of more respected media, and not as kids toys or the sole domain of nerds and anti-social losers. A lot of people in the industry remember how it was when the video game industry really was the sole domain of nerds and anti-social losers, and want to prove that it’s come a long way since then and that it deserves to be taken seriously. The problem is, many of the consumers aren’t smart enough to really help, and that’s a sad footnote to any attempt to further the respect.
I am not a fan of censorship, so I can’t say that this trailer should not be shown. I’m opposed to it for two reasons: first, it’s obviously an emotional gut-punch designed specifically to mask a product which will probably be otherwise lackluster, and second, I have a 10-year-old daughter. When I saw this trailer, I became so terrified and so enraged that I started to scream and cry. Zombies aren’t real, but what it did was evoke a feeling in me of my own daughter in peril, what lengths I would go to save her, and the ultimate feeling of utter failure I would feel if I had to watch something horrific happen to her that I was powerless to prevent. I’m not trying to draw a line between those with kids and those without, but I do realize that since becoming a father, there are things in this world that used to not bother me at all, that now bother me a great deal. In other words, it’s not the zombies, it’s the thought of losing my little girl to circumstances beyond my control.
So yes, the trailer worked on me. It evoked feelings that no other trailer has ever done. But it also galvanized me: I won’t be playing this game ever, nor will I ever buy any game created by these developers. They can push whatever bounds they feel they must, and tell people whatever they want them to believe, but I’m not going to support anyone who thinks it’s a good idea to manipulate someone in order to sell a fucking video game. I think that by creating such a potentially polarizing trailer, they’ve also drawn a battle line that has caused the consumer to self-align. This doesn’t help Destructoid’s point that the trailer is good for the gaming industry when its other supporters are such douchebags.