Montageman: A dude who writes

January 28, 2007

Manhunt – Initial thoughts

Filed under: affect, Film, videogames — montageman @ 6:12 am

I started playing Manhunt tonight partially for my essay and partially because it has been a game that’s piqued my interest. Rockstar Games (well known for the Grand Theft Auto series) developed this game. In terms of gameplay (at least initially), play is very similar to GTA in that you are expected to roam around the city and complete objectives. The setting is the city streets – very dark & gritty, almost noirish. But before the game even begins, there is a suggestion and a choice to be made.

suggestionThe image on the left is a setup screen that tells the player how the game should be played. Not the game itself, but the atmospheric surroundings in the player’s room that will most emphasize the ambience. Notice the use of the word “experience” followed by the promise that the player will be killing soon. The instructions to turn off the lights and close the drapes could also be advice for watching a film at home. The darkness of the roon imitates that off a movie theater. Further, we usually want darkness for a horror and/or thriller film, which then lends a clue as to what type of game this may be.

Horror, according to Linda Williams, is a body genre meaning for the genres she focuses on the body is a spectacle and a point of (estatic) excess like sexual pleasure, fear and terror, or overpowering sadness (209). Williams is specifically talking about the female body in her essay, however, the formulation holds true for games as well. The viewer derives pleasure from body genres by seeing what is being done to female body – orgasming in a porn or being cut up in a slasher film – in these genres. For the player of a horror game, the pleasure is two-fold – not only does the player get to watch the avatar on screen kill his enemy, he also has helped in the act itself. The body in “body genre” is then multi-layered in the exmple of the horror game. fetish

Killing is immediately fetishized on the instruction screen as well – “Then get ready to kill!” – but this is taken further on the next screen (pictured right) where the player must choose the difficulty level between “fetish” and “hardcore”. Hardcore is more difficult, so the player begins with fetish and eventually graduates to hardcore. Interestingly, both fetish and hardcore are porn genres as well. So Manhunt is not only a horror/slasher game, but is also pornographic in nature. Not pornographic in the sexual sense, but rather in the gratuitously violent sense.

1 Comment »

  1. Hm… disturbing thoughts. The game seems pretty extreme in atmosphere and gameplay. Body genre is a odd way to categorize something, its really hard to imagine a person liking a body genre movie or game in the same sense someone likes a action or comedy.

    Comment by geoholyhart — January 29, 2007 @ 12:29 am

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