One of my favorite things about art is the fact that anyone can create it.
One of my least favorite things about art is the fact that anyone can create it.
As I’m sure I’ve already made quite obvious at this point, art, and specifically the critique of it, has been an important part of my life for quite a long time. At the risk of sounding pretentious, I’ve always been impressed by the amount of granularity that exists within that short little word; how much ground it seems to cover. I think most of us like to associate it with something good, something to be admired, but it also accounts for just about anything we create, good, bad, or indifferent. Granted, “work of art” is a compliment, and I surely wouldn’t be offended to ever hear that used to describe something I’ve done, but at the same time we recognize film as an art form no matter how many movies the Wayans brothers make. There is room for distinction and I’ve always felt that an absence of that distinction has been the primary roadblock for the people still unable to include video games in that conversation. There is good art, great art… and bad art.
Hatred is undoubtedly a piece of art. It’s also a terrible video game.
Make no mistake, the only reason Hatred was made was so that people would talk about Hatred. In that respect, I’m rewarding that effort by even typing this, but I also realize I’m in no position to change anyone’s mind one way or another. If you’re aware of it, you’ve likely already formed an opinion. Critics, on average, saw it as a cheap attempt at creating controversy wrapped inside of a bland gameplay experience. Consumers, if Steam reviews are to be trusted (no comment), were generally more positive, praising its bravery for speaking out against the evils of being PC and SJWs and other pejorative acronyms that have been overused to the point of losing their meaning, if they even had one in the first place.
In the interest of objectivity and… morbid intellectual curiosity, I tried to give Hatred a fair shake. Maybe it was being misrepresented or even had something to say underneath the attractive yet ever-so-thin veneer of something forbidden and dangerous. Within seconds, I was assaulted with exposition delivered in the cringe-worthy tone of a 9th grader’s Livejournal posts before being thrust into a world full of nameless people to maim and destroy. What is supposed to feel offensive and mean-spirited comes off as hackneyed and dull, an attempt to recapture the spirit of Postal without seeming to understand that Postal recognized itself as a parody. Hatred is either self-serious to the point of comedy or a failed attempt at satire so extreme that its derisive message is as biting and caustic as a book of insults written by preschoolers.
As someone that can find value in schlocky and disturbing media, it wouldn’t have been difficult for Hatred to have made some sort of impact on me. Considering how many guys (I would say “people”, but let’s be honest here) I saw championing it for being so “real” and “edgy” in the face of critics that were seemingly unable to handle it, I figured there would at least be a genuine attempt at disturbed catharsis or a self aware practice in bad taste. It somehow manages to be neither. As a piece of art, the only value it appears to offer is a commentary on just how effective marketing can be, independent of quality.