When Age of Conan came out last year it brought something new to the MMORPG genre – blood, guts and breasts. I remember there being some controversy as people divided into two camps about it all. Some deplored the idea of grotesque combat and nudity, arguing that it glorified violence and objectified women. A highly censored version of the game was even released in Germany and Austria, forcing many gamers to import copies of it from the UK if they wanted the full-on gore and frequent nipples. Of course, others applauded Funcom for taking such a firm stance and not comprising their vision of Conan. They also enjoyed the refreshing nature of the content and the “maturity” that it offered. We can watch violence and nudity on television, what’s wrong with a bit of blood and boobage in our games?
Funcom’s take on it all was that they wanted to stay true to Robert E. Howard’s vision of Conan. He is a barbarian after all, living in a barbaric world. Every medium that has depicted the character before has always emphasised the violence and nudity aspect of it and the MMORPG was to be no different. Ironically, although many have criticised Conan over the decades for it’s violence, REH’s meaning has always been to show that humanity has become corrupted and lost with it’s attempt at civilization; we are now living unnatural lives, far removed from our genetic pre-dispositions and nature.
Personally I welcomed Age of Conan from bringing something new to the MMORPG genre. It’s the only MMO that I know of that actually has a high degree of blood, fatalities and nudity in it. Yeah, it wasn’t enough to make up for the appalling lack of content but it did provide a solid degree of immersion in the world, very appropriate and suitable to the game’s lore. Aside from anything else, it just made the game a little different from anything else out there on the market and I enjoyed that.
Now we have games like Dragon Age Origins which have a similar level of blood and guts to Conan and a mature certificate rating to go along with it. Again, the violence doesn’t make or break the game for me (or anyone else I think) but it does add a refreshing aspect to everything. No longer are RPGs and MMORPGs the realm of happy little smiling elves and scowling goblins with a gentle pat on the head by an old wizard as a quest reward. Nope, now you can decapitate your enemy and laugh in the face of their severed head before you head off into the woods to perform bizarre sexual acts on your party members.
I’ll end with two questions for y’all. Mature MMORPGs, good or bad? And how long do you think it will be before we see the arrival of the sexual intercourse mini-game (Grand Theft Auto style) in a MMO?