My Opinion on… Profanity in Games. Is It Really Necessary?

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It’s a commonly known fact to gamers and non-gamers alike that Teen and Mature rated video games often have a fair amount of profanity. Some of this profanity is acceptable, or at the very least, understandable. I think that when your leg gets blown off by a grenade, you probably have the right to drop a swear word or two.

     On the other hand, many games feature extensive profanity, and it is quite unnerving. I’m not an overly sensitive person; I play violent video games, and the violence doesn’t disturb me. The excess profanity, however, grinds my gears like no other. When developers cause their characters to swear just for the sake of swearing, it makes me wonder what the purpose is. There seems to be no reason for it.

          So here it is: my first opinion based article. Let me know what side you take in the comments below.

     As I stated before, some profanity is acceptable, as in times of crisis. When used sparingly, profanity can quickly and efficiently relay the despair and anxiety of a character in a bind. With a simple four letter word, all of the hurt of that character can be transferred to us, the gamers. When profanity is used infrequently, it makes each use that much more powerful.

     However, when every other sentence drops the f-bomb, we tend to become numbed to the language. It means nothing to us, and we tend to wave it off as such. This can severely damage the effectiveness of a script and oftentimes dampens the emotional ties we feel toward a virtual character.

     Take Call of Duty: Black Ops II, for example. (I know; it’s the scapegoat of all gamers, but it’s also a reference that many will understand, as it is one of the most profitable and popular games in history). In the futuristic half of the game’s setting, Woods is in a nursing home, reliving his horrors of war. He is very angry at his enemies; he holds much hatred for the way they tortured him.

     In his dialogue, Woods is extremely profane. Hardly a sentence went by in which he didn’t curse. Rather than adding to the flurry of emotions that he felt (and should have been conveyed to me), it detracted to the level of engagement I had with Woods and with the game as a whole. I like to relate to the characters; it was hard to relate to Woods because he used a mind-numbingly large amount of profanity in his speech.

     Of course, each scriptwriter has their own opinion; they have the freedom to write what they want. If they want to write an extremely profane script, then I’m okay with that. I only have one request, in that situation. At the very least, offer a decent censorship feature. The censorship feature in BLOPS II was a piece of junk. There were portions of the script that were blanked out entirely; many non-profane words were eliminated in the audio because they were surrounded by nasty language. Rather than cutting only the profane word out of the audio, chunks of audio were sometimes eliminated. Come on, guys; you’re the most profitable video game studio in the world. You have the money to hire a decent guy to fix the censorship feature; do it for Ghosts.

     Of course, this excess profanity carries over into the multiplayer sphere. I don’t appreciate being cursed at because I’m better than you. Yes, I’m a “hardscoper.” Yes, I will kill you if you walk in front of me. There’s no reason to throw a string of expletives at me because I’m doing legitimately better than you. This is why the non-gaming community looks down on us; our minds have become numbed to the thought of using profanity as an efficient way to convey extreme anger and pain. If you have so much anger stored up inside of you that you need to curse every time I shoot you, I think it’s time to stop playing the Xbox and head to an institution. This is why we can’t have nice things.

     Again, I must reiterate: I am by no means an overly sensitive person. If I’m offended by something, I can keep it to myself; I’m not going to put somebody down because of something they said that was questionable, unless it really struck a nerve with me. I just feel that as a community, we can do better than stooping to strings of curse laden sentences to convey emotions. If this is the route we’re taking, then there will never be room for me as a scriptwriter when I graduate.

     Rise above the immaturity, guys. We’re better than that.

     What do you think? Am I overreacting? Is extensive profanity alright? Is there a place for it in video games, or should we use it sparingly? Sound off in the comments below.

     If you’d like to see my opinion on other topics, reviews, thoughts, and more, consider clicking the follow button for future updates.

     Also check out my friend’s YouTube channel; he posts gaming commentary and could always use some viewers.

Peace Out,

Matt Shiflet

3 thoughts on “My Opinion on… Profanity in Games. Is It Really Necessary?

  1. To be honest, I think that swearing and profanity is part of every day life and by not including it in games it makes them become less realistic. It really depends on the character that they are portraying, because if that person does swear with every other word then so be it if it suits their character. The major issue is more that swearing when used too much in a game can lower the effect it has (like you said) when it is then used to convey an extreme situation.


    1. I suppose that is true; I know people in my life that swear excessively. Then again, I look at them and wonder why they feel that need, but, of course, I don’t know what their lives are like. So I understand that some characters must be made to swear excessively to keep realism; not everyone is squeaky-clean haha.


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