Someone I like very much and respect posted to her Facebook over the weekend about her upset in viewing the Dead Island Trailer, which I am linking out to rather than embedding in my blog so that you can choose whether or not you want to see it. You might want to read on a bit more before you decide to click.
Dead Island is an upcoming video game, and like many video games, it generates buzz by releasing a theatrical style trailer. This has been going on in the video game industry for quite some time now. It's in the zombie/apocalypse genre, and it looks to be a first-person action game, which are not my particular favorites, but I digress.
My friend was upset because she felt that children should not be viewing these kinds of games. I completely agree with that, but I disagree that "video game" automatically equals "children." It doesn't. Not by a very long shot. In fact, according to The Entertainment Software Association, the average age of a video game player is 34. That's a far cry from impressionable child. Nor was Dead Island ever presenting itself as a game suitable for children, so the upset and censure to my mind was unwarranted.
The first thing you see when the Dead Island trailer begins is the pegi 18 visual, which stands for the game's age rating in the Pan European Game Information system. Right at the start, you're told that Dead Island is a game developed for and targeted to adults.
So what's so bad about this trailer? Well, it's a child. The death of a child, as a matter of fact. The death is used as children and pets often are in horror films - as a sucker punch to the viewer. On an emotional level, it's very effective, but it's not new. Zombie children have been used since the original Night of the Living Dead.
So, bottom line, while I understand someone not liking the subject matter of Dead Island, I can also appreciate it for what it is - an adult trailer, made for an adult game, created for adult players. I don't doubt that some kids will be exposed to the subject matter, but I also feel that it's the game buyer's responsibility to use the evaluation tools available to them before making that game purchase. For my money, Dead Island isn't a game I'll purchase or play, but it's because I don't particularly like first-person games. And to make sure that this post doesn't end on a downer, I hereby present to you Jonathan Coulton's Re:Your Brains. Enjoy.