Those with even a passing awareness of Greek mythology and its gods will have the understanding that their world was a very violent and tumultuous one. But did the ancient Greeks debate — as they debated everything else – the wisdom of writing down these legends, for fear of what all of this gruesome violence might do to the tender young minds of their communities?
Alas, history reveals no clues.
One thing is sure, however: these days, now that such legends can be told in the more interactive medium of video games, occasionally a particularly violent or disturbing game manages to shock a few parents whose children were never supposed to see it in the first place. When this happens, the squawks from the lofty perches of moral judgment rise to a cacophony of ill-informed opinion pieces in newspapers and blogs, alarmist segments on the evening news, and Sunday sermons from one end of the world to the other.
Like its two predecessors, this game is extremely, unabashedly violent, and now that it has graduated to the PlayStation 3, the “God of War” franchise’s violence is being painted on a larger and more detailed canvas than ever thanks to the glories of high definition.
Some might argue that violence in video games is as unavoidable as it is in any other medium of storytelling, from movies all the way back to Shakespeare and beyond. After all, we’re dealing with monsters and Greek deities in “God of War 3;” with cyclops and undead skeleton warriors; and half-man, half-horse centaurs; and sometimes these beasts don’t exactly listen to kind words and reason. No, there are no depictions of puppy dogs in this game, nor any of rainbows, because sometimes a giant Chimera – a deadly combination of snake, goat and lion – can only be stopped by having the horn that was freshly snapped off of its forehead plunged directly into its eye socket. That’s just the way it goes.
Extreme violence in movies is usually overlooked these days, as many of the boo-birds have moved on to the more interactive world of video games. But while “God of War 3” director Stig Asmussen bemoaned the double standard in an interview during the game’s final development stages in 2009, he certainly wasn’t advocating his game as anything that children should be exposed to.