Do futuristic games have 8-bit beat?

I lay there bleeding from the sizeable hole on my chest, just before my left shoulder. I knew that the end would come soon. A rush of feet sprinted past me, trying desperately to reach the objective, and all I could do was bleed there on the concrete and watch from afar as my team is gunned down only a few metres from our goal.

I didn’t think that I had been hit by anything, but apparently one of my brothers in arms had thrown a grenade that was run over by a Jeep, which went spiralling through the air due to the blast.

One of the Jeep’s tires had been knocked loose and it knocked a sniper off of his perch and down to the street below. The clatter of his rifle hitting the pavement frightened a young man who was driving a tank and he inadvertently steered the hulking machine onto a sidewalk. The tank then ran over a chair and the chair was spit out the back as though it were the projectile in a pinball machine. It ricocheted into a back alley where I had just respawned and took a chunk out of my shoulder and chest.

I then threw down my controller and made a sandwich, cursing the day that the Nintendo and Sega became obsolete.

As I ate the tomato and mozzarella masterpiece that I had just created, I couldn’t help but think, “Why is realism the so very sought after goal in the production of videogames?” I don’t mean realism in the sense that this could really happen in real life; I mean realism as in true to life character reactions and scenarios.

The Halo series is an obvious piece of science fiction, but the characters act as if their reality is true reality and that is the way it has always been.

It is gritty and dark. Many, many people die. And when I refer to people, I am referring to sentient beings, not just humans. When you shoot an enemy Grunt in the knee, he will ask you why. When you stick a grenade onto the face of an Elite, it will usually scream, much like you would if a nine-foot space marine taped a grenade to your face.

Things weren’t always this way. There was once a time, in my youth, when the grittiest thing that came through the game system was some guy in a red shirt and overalls who seriously hated mushrooms and turtles.

While I could, somewhere deep down, feel some guilt for the plight of the turtles, the minute their occupied space was off screen, they were magically revived. It was as though the game’s creators were trying to tell me, “It’s ok! Don’t worry! The turtles like being jumped on.” This was a revelation that had some serious real-world consequences that will not be mentioned in this article.

What I suppose I’m trying to understand is the slow but disturbing descent into true-to-life video game violence. I’m perfectly fine with violence in my video games if it is nonsensical, like jumping on top of a robot to free the bluebird that was trapped inside, but I draw the line when those robots begin to leak hydraulic fluid from their newly compacted neck-units and cry simulated tears until their systems crash.

If the world of Super Mario Bros. operated much like the worlds of Call of Duty or Halo, I am pretty sure that Bowser would have been bludgeoned to death by the disembowelled shell of some poor Koopa by castle two. I don’t know about you, but that’s just a little too realistic for me.