The Death of Gritty

Over the last five years or so, there has been a very noticeable trend going on:

Both movies and video games have  strove to be as dark and edgy as they can. To name a few examples from the gaming world, both of the previously-T-rated series Call of Duty and Medal of Honor have taken a turn for the grittier. And remember all the pre-launch hype about The Twilight Princess being “the darkest Zelda so far”?

To me, it seems to have started when Christopher Nolan made Batman groan like a leopard and break people´s bones, followed by James Bond drowning a dude in a sink during the opening moments of Casino Royale. And while both Batman and Bond have made the switch to gritty quite smoothly, the pile of imitators continues to grow.

You see, edginess and grit is good when it fits the story. The Dark Knight, for example, has genuinely dark subject material and social commentary, and thus, the gritty style of the film is called for. But most of the products following this trend completely misunderstand the concept. Last year I played F.e.a.r. 2, which I – for the most part – really enjoyed. What I did not enjoy however, was how much the game tried to force it down my throat how “DARK AND BRUTAL!!” it was. I found precisely zero mature or cynical messages in the game.

What I did find was that there were unnecessarily elongated scenes, the only purpose of which was to cheaply disturb or shock me. And often, these scenes were not even done in a way that seemed to try to scare. And I´m not really knocking Gears of War, God of War, Madworld or other games that sensationalize spilling blood n´ guts everywhere , what I have a problem with is games/movies that seem to hide these immature shocks under some pretension of depth and maturity. It´s silly, it´s unnecessary, and it´s getting pretty old.

Studies have shown that dark and realistic movies are more popular during times of economic well-being, while more adventurous, escapist movies do better during economic recession. Does this mean an end to this trend, with todays economy not quite on top?

I´m hesitant to say “hopefully”, but I do wish Bad Company 2 shared the jollier tone of the first outing.

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Author: Magnus Risebro View all posts by
Magnus Risebro lives deep in the bowels of Norway. He writes about videogames for Vagary.tv.
  • http://vagary.tv RyanK

    Great first post Magnus!

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  • http://www.mmovoices.com Jeremy G.

    I had never really given this particular theme in games much thought before. Looking at the releases over the past couple of years I can completely see what you’re talking about. Everything does seem to have a darker, edgier tone to it. This really got me thinking. Good first post there Magnus! i look forward to reading more.