”I wrote Mortal Kombat and I hate violence” - a pacifist screenwriter thinking about the violence he invented (Topic)

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”I wrote Mortal Kombat and I hate violence” - a pacifist screenwriter thinking about the violence he invented


Concerns about video game violence are nothing new. Sean Kittelsen - Mortal Kombat screenwriter decided to speak on this topic. He considers himself a real pacifist, but he is the author of the script for one of the most violent games in the world. We have translated the most important of his thoughts.

In the 90s, I came of age. The decade that brought us a congressional hearing on violence in animation. Then Senator Joe Lieberman and other concerned politicians, squeezing their hand on their chest, tried to convince my parents from screens that violence in games and cartoons would force me and my sister to decapitate our dog or commit other immoral and illegal acts. Fortunately, my parents did not listen to Lieberman. However, if they had succumbed to his words, I probably would have never got a job as the lead writer and co-writer of Mortal Kombat 11.


Since I grew up playing the brutal Mortal Kombat, and now I make a living by writing the script for this game, you can assume that I enjoy, thirst and even indulge in violence myself. This assumption is far from the truth.

Tablet in pudding

I am a pacifist who believes that violence cannot be justified except in cases of self-defense. I am a parent who fears for the safety of my child in a country engulfed in the senseless use of weapons. I am a law-abiding American concerned about the growing levels of authoritarianism and police brutality around the world. I study history and mourn the millions of ruined souls of those who died in the industrial wars of the last century. I wonder how necessary it was to drop nuclear bombs on Japan in 1945. I hate the reality of violence.

When it comes to media or violent games, I think people are naturally attracted to describing violence as a hypothetical means of contemplating real-life horrors.


But this does not mean that I agree that the media are exploiting this topic to attract attention due to laziness in the search for more interesting information. This also applies to games, because as Chris Plante [founder and editor of the portal Polygon - WorldOfTopics] said: "Many games are expressed by shooting and killing revealing their hero, and do not even try to give him the opportunity to resolve the conflict in a more peaceful way."

Given all my moral convictions, how the hell can I justify my work on MK11, a game that's so much violent? From my point of view, Mortal Kombat is more than a well-detailed picture of violence. This pudding has a pill in it, as rapper Dani Brown would say.

Brown is a Detroit icon whose work is filled with cool imagery [pudding] and social commentary [pill]. At first glance, his entire album may seem like typical dirty hip-hop, but the main idea is the struggle for the potential lost in drugs and lack of economic stability.


Mortal Kombat 11 mixes this pill and pudding in its own way. In the game, you have a concentrated mix of violence, thrills, cool characters, recreated martial arts scenes, in a setting on the verge of fantasy and science fiction. This is all pure pudding. He makes you horny when you play. However, all this emotional pudding will not be of any value to be useful to you in life or make you think.

The most nutritious aspect of MK11 is its combat gameplay. It's fairly simple for beginners, but deep for professional players. The main way of expressing the game is "fight" and "kill". However, the fight in it is a complex and multi-layered eSports that opens up huge spaces for competition and achievement, attracting millions of players around the world.


Gamers will come to MK11 for the sake of brutal entertainment, but they will remain because of the spirit of competition, the opportunity to express themselves creatively: combine movements, find strategies that even the game designers did not foresee.

Not all players can hone their skills on every character, which makes the choice of one more meaningful. By practicing for hours playing for him, the player thereby builds a relationship with him, understanding not only how he fights, but also what the character thinks, says and feels.

I believe this is why players became so attached to character short bios in the MK arcade era. And as the co-founder of the series, John Tobias, once said: “We entered the arcade hall where our testing machine stood, and no one was playing the game. Gamers just crowded around the machine, not allowing anyone to play, as everyone read the biographies of the characters. ”


Over time, new characters appeared, and short biographies turned into cinematic tours with dozens of hours of plot. So, after 25 years, the game has accumulated a whole mountain of familiar characters, from the relationship of which you can build plot paths.

The same can be said for the character rosters in Takken, Street Fighter, but their story lines are less popular.

Why? Come for the kill, stay for the feelings

Stories in Mortal Kombat are different in that they try to introduce emotional motives as an excuse for combat.

Emotions are the pill. Mortal Kombat 11 heroes fight in a fantasy world of gods and monsters, but their hearts operate according to the rules of our emotional reality, which we all understand. Many games involve fighting and have powerful effects, but not every game moves you.


This brings me back to my original question: "How can I justify working on a game where the main goal is murder." Telling personal stories of heroes who overcome anger, fear, selfishness, stereotypical and dogmatic thinking. These human feelings are often the cause of so many real conflicts. Our heroes sit side by side with villains who deliberately accept such destructive things. The contrast between heroes and villains expresses the value of my pacifism: villains provoke conflict; heroes decide.

Conflict resolution in the eleventh part of the game is often something you kill or fight. But thanks to the magic of the story, we can imagine other ways of resolving conflict, such as acts of mercy and compassion that highlight the most critical moments of the game.


Similar is shown in the story of Raiden and Liu Kang in the last game. Fans of the original fighting game and the 1990 film adaptation remember and love Liu Kang, who was chosen by the merciful god Raiden to protect the Earth.

Alas, over time, they both lost their kindness. Liu Kang died in the events of MK: Deadly Aliance. And in the next game, Raiden switched to the dark side. They got the opportunity for redemption in the rebooted ninth part, however, all led to the fact that Raiden killed Liu Kang. In the next tenth game, the latter was resurrected as the king of the undead, and Raiden himself turned into a dark version of himself.

In MK 11, the goddess Chronicle brings together past and future events. So, Raiden and Liu Kang from the past see their dark future and want to change it. Alas, soon everything gets out of control, and they again clash in battle, driving themselves into a time loop. At one point, Raiden sees fragments from the future, where he constantly kills Liu Kang.

As a result, in order to interrupt this vicious circle into which the Chronicle drove him and save Liu Kang, he commits an act of self-sacrifice. He learned a lesson that life often teaches us, but humanity ignores it - enmity ends when we humble ourselves that we need to make peace. The war ends when you want it.

I don't know if everyone will get that idea playing MK11, but I hope people will feel it.

The Topic of Article: ”I wrote Mortal Kombat and I hate violence” - a pacifist screenwriter thinking about the violence he invented.
Author: Jake Pinkman