Do first-person-shooters HAVE to be shooters?

Editor:  Jonathan Bester

­An interesting thought crept in this morning as I was traversing the interwebz. We are overwhelmed by the sheer amount of shooting/violence driven games. Especially First-Person-SHOOTERS.

Halo Dog

But let’s take a step back and evaluate this for a second. When was the last time you saw a game that did not involve the main character having to shoot at objects/enemies to progress in a first/third person game? Violence does not just exclusively belong to the shooter genre of games either. It can be found in fighters, adventure games, and even real time strategy.

But for the purposes of this article today we will focus on First-Person and Third-Person titles.

Non-violent First-Person and Third-Person titles are extremely rare, and it would seem that they are becoming an endangered species, because not enough people are interested enough in the titles to ensure further evolution for these titles.

I’m not saying “let’s take away violence completely”. I’m just saying tone it down to a level where it doesn’t desensatise the gamer to a point where he/she sees violence as a normal everyday thing. Believe it or not, there used to be a time when violence in any form of media had a shock/horror element to it. Not so these days. Shoot a guy in the face, or chop his head off and people point and laugh as if it’s the funniest thing in the world. What happened to that feeling of revulsion and fear that it’s supposed to instill?

Let’s take a look at some of the few non-violent First- and Third-Person titles that have been released.

1. Mirror’s Edge


Mirror’s Edge is a pure parkour title. Meaning your character is a free runner. Putting this in a first-person view, only served to add more of an adrenaline rush. Sure there are some hints at violence, but the game is all about survival. Instead of running into battle, your character is running away from it, which is a fresh perspective.

2. Minecraft


Imagine Lego, but with mining involved in order to get your building blocks. Yes, Minecraft is the translation to screen that most Lego-lovers have been waiting for. With millions of sales garnered in just the first few months after launch, Minecraft is one of the biggest commercial successes in the history of the Xbox 360. And little to no violence!

 3. Portal 1 & 2

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Yes, I know this game involves shooting, but it’s not violent! As with Mirror’s Edge, Portal has the violence directed towards the player, and not at the enemies as with traditional shooters. As most of you will know, Portal is a thinking man(or woman)’s game, requiring the player to use a clever mechanic, in the form of a portal gun,  to traverse puzzle rooms, to ultimately escape an underground facility.

 4. Amnesia: The Dark Decent


A First-Person Survival Horror par excellence! Survive a beautifully crafted world in which you must solve puzzles and stave off the encroaching insanity by means of fleeing from those scary monsters in the dark.

 5. Slender The 8 Pages/Slender: The Arrival


While we’re on the topic of Survival Horror, let’s talk about Sle….OMG he’s right behind me. HEEEELP! Sorry, as I was saying, the object of this game is simple. No guns, no weapons, just fear. Run away. Don’t let the boogie man catch you and all in glorious first-person view.

I guess, what I’m trying to convey with this opinion-piece is the fact that you don’t need guns and blunt objects to immerse yourself in a gaming world. Sometimes just the ability to control your character and do normal mundane things like running away, and solving puzzles and building things are enough to satisfy the gaming hunger inside each and every one of us.

The goal of a game shouldn’t always have to be kill enemy after enemy, until you reach one final big boss, and kill that one too. Sometimes a game’s story can be far more fascinating and satisfying when you have performed tasks by using your brains instead of your brawn. Oh and your legs too.

Know of any other First-Person Non-Shooters that you think is deserving of this list? Pop ‘em in the comments below. Oh crap he’s behind me again isn’t he?

Freelance reporter for ITF Gaming. Quirky and concise. Strange and precise. Awkward hugger extraordinaire.

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  • CataclysmicDawn

    “I’m just saying tone it down to a level where it doesn’t desensatise the gamer to a point where he/she sees violence as a normal everyday thing” – This may be redundant, but it all comes down to being able to recognise the blatantly obvious differences between reality and videogames. I’m perfectly fine branding someone’s face in Dishonored, but I’m never going to do that in reality. I don’t feel I’m desensitized to real violence by playing horrifically violent videogames – I’m still going to cringe at, and be averse to, people attacking one another.

    Other than that, I feel Dishonored is about as violent as Minecraft is, if you play Ghost. Other than the aforementioned face-branding, the rest of the game can be played hurting nobody with the use of the correct powers. Minecraft does have some violence in the forms of attacking monsters and hordes. However, Dishonored does have the potential to be very violent, so I can see why it wouldn’t be mentioned here.

  • Nicola Dee

    I love the article and I also agree with CD. I would like to add Phantasmagoria onto this list. It’s a point and click, but with such hectic scenes, instead of laughing at the violence, it sickens you. Some serious adrenalin at the end where if you don’t do the right actions you’re dead and there aint no shooting!

    It’s like LA Noir as well. While still shooting and the like, if you didn’t use your eyes and your brains, you couldn’t get anywhere. That’s my kind of game.

  • Darryl Linington

    I must admit that I enjoy FPS titles; however, I also enjoy using my brain… It would be nice to come across a FPS that not only tests your trigger finger, but your brain as well. Really wish there were more survival-horror titles on the market… Old School Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark… you know, games that actually made you think.

    • heavenshitman1

      Using ur brain eh.. as I will post above..
      Have u played a Metroid Prime game. Get the Wii trilogy. Metroid Prime 1 was the most well balanced in terms of difficulty, environments etc..
      Try it if u haven’t it’ll rack ur mental skills in map progression.
      And if u still dont trust me, find
      GT (Gametrailers) Metroid Prime 3 corruption review

  • heavenshitman1

    As I mentioned in a reply below, Metroid Prime is an ace experience, shooting is secondary to exploration, and the violence is heavily animated Nintendo style

  • Axe99

    Mirror’s Edge is still violent – just because you take someone down with your feet or fists, it’s still exercising force violently! And you do occasionally use guins. And if you’re just taking guns out of the equation, then there’s Skyrim (plenty of non-violent stuff amidst all the dragon slaying), Dishonored (you can play the whole game without killing anyone), and the old Myst/Riven games.

    • NiteFenix

      At the end of the day it’s a choice of how you play the game, which is what makes the difference. 99% of games force you to be violent in order to progress, which is getting a bit much for me personally. If only more games were like Mirror’s Edge and Dishonored. Heck even Hitman has the option to go through a game without killing anyone.

      • Axe99

        You mean 99% of first-person games maybe – there’s plenty of games that aren’t violent, from racers to sports games to games like Heavy Rain (yeah, there was a tiny bit of violence in there, but it’s hardly a violent game). I agree that there are a lot of FPS games on the market, but they’re easily avoidable if you can handle a different perspective and keep your eyes open for what’s out there :).

        • NiteFenix

          True, but the primary reason for focussing on FPS titles in this article was because FPS is more likely the most popular genre in gaming at the moment. More people are likely to pick up a copy of a game if it’s FPS as opposed to a sidescrolling adventure title or even an RTS. The fact of the matter is, only people who really understand and see the value in other genres (primarily based on previous experience) will buy said genre titles. It’s just the mentality of the gaming world at the moment.

          • Axe99

            I reckon this is being a bit narrow. It may be the situation on the Xbox 360, but if you look at the top 10 titles on Steam, it leads with a MOBA, and includes Civ V and Football Manager 2013. Sure, it includes five FPS games (and four Counter-Strikes, lol), but it’s clear that gaming on PC is far from all about FPS’. Take it over to Playstation, and the most popular PSN and PS3 game in March was MLB 2013, followed by Journey, followed by The Walking Dead (the adventure game, not the woeful FPS), followed by Terraria (which does involve violence, but doesn’t revolve around it). Then you could go over to Nintendo gaming, and you’ve got heaps of non-FPS games without a huge focus on violence (sure, Mario jumps on Goombas, but it’s not the same ;)). There are also oodles of nonviolent games on mobile and tablet. There are even a decent range of nonviolent games on the Xbox 360, you just have to look a little harder for them ;).

          • NiteFenix

            I was just going by general concencus, not statistically speaking. But you are right, non-FPS games are on the rise as of late. But the only reason for that is because of the top notch titles being released in said genres. A few years ago, these were sorely lacking, but with the onset of these new A class non-FPS titles, there is only room for it to grow in the First-Person genre as well.

          • Axe99

            But when you say “general consensus”, what are you referring to? Unless you’ve done some kind of survey, is it you and your mates, or the websites you happen to check out? Don’t get me wrong, I know that FPS games are big, but there is (and always has been) a much wider range of games available – it’s just some people aren’t that aware of them. FPS games appeal to the core teenage and young adult audience, and so are easy to market broadly, and are picked up by people that might not otherwise play video games, but for people that play a range of games, there have always been quality platformers, puzzle games, third-person adventure titles (the Tomb Raider games, which have just as much exploration and puzzles as violence – although the latest title focuses more on the violence because it’s looking to hit that broader market). Give me a year, and I’ll give you examples :).

            Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great you’re speaking out for other types of games here – I just think it’s an issue of awareness, rather than them not being made.

          • NiteFenix

            General concencus as in my broader experience with web sites, talking to other likeminded gamers and just the general feel of the video games industry atm. This is purely meant to be taken as a personal opinion, I am in no way or form referring to concrete statistics or quoting from facts published somewhere on the internet. Most of my opinion pieces are based purely on my personal experiences and/or stuff that I have read about else and that got the gears grinding.

          • Axe99

            Fair enough – it’s deffo the vibe in the ‘mass market’ side of the games industry, but even industry bodies have been talking up non-FPS/violence games – the two games that featured most in GOTY nominations across the web last year were Journey and The Walking Dead (Adventure). There’s absolutely a large group of gamers who don’t just play FPS, or don’t play FPS at all, and devs making games for them. For other examples off the top of my head, check out Deus Ex: Human Revolution (which unfortunately forces violence in the boss fights, but they’re a tiny segment of the game – the DLC is even better), or games like Child of Eden and Rez, or if you’re feeling wacky, Datura.

          • NiteFenix

            Oh and one more thing, Indie Development is also bringing about the return of creativity in games that has been sucked out by the overly repetitive big game studios.