We present the following without further comment.
Shooting things in games is intrinsically compelling. Firing, watching something blow up, and then seeing our score ping higher on the screen creates an exciting feedback loop that gives us immediate agency and power. Shooters are the most popular genre of video game in the U.S. and account for 25% of all games sold. The defining titles of our era are battle royale mass brawlers such as Fortnite and Apex Legends, and epic narrative adventures (with plenty of shooting) such as Grand Theft Auto, Far Cry, and Uncharted.
But after years of playing games like these, I’ve started to ask myself: Would it be possible for any of these mainstream blockbusters to exist without guns? Have developers overlooked other ways to explore stories? Are there more interesting dynamics we could play with in games, designs that could encourage a different kind of feeling in players?
The obvious answer is to swap out guns for something just as intuitive and rewarding, but without the lethal force. Nintendo’s brilliant Splatoon is a multiplayer online shooter with paint guns rather than assault rifles, and in the excellent Marvel’s Spider-Man, our hero webs enemies to walls and hangs them from threads, rather than murdering them. “You can imagine a get-hit-and-you’re-out version of Battle Royale, but with a Frisbee rather than guns,” said game designer Mitu Khandaker. “There’s a rich wealth of mechanics to explore when we draw inspiration from playground games.” …
TRU LUV’s first app, SelfCare, is a series of mini-games in which you lie in bed, cuddling your cat, consulting tarot cards or sorting laundry into colors. “There is a reward structure,” said [game designer Brie] Code, “it’s just that it’s based on connection rather than challenge. Almost anything that humans find rewarding could be put on a design curve — gardening, decorating, fashion design, throwing parties, knitting, cooking. These experiences are about deepening connection rather than [increasing] tension.”
Keith Stuart in Designers Are Imagining Video Games Without Guns