Games That Don't Require Violence

I will start this by saying, THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL DEBATE and I enjoy lots of games with guns and other sorts of violence. It's just that recent posts/podcasts/etc. got me thinking that even games like Mario require you to use some sort of "light violence" to complete the game. What kind of games are out there, or games we would maybe like to see out there that don't require us to attack/kill enemies? Obviously there are sports titles out there and various puzzle games, but what would it take for something to have Fortnite/CoD success and still be non-violent? I'm also not sure where certain sports fit into this such as boxing or MMA.

Personally, I'm still waiting for someone to create some sort of fake sport that uses sort of a class system or at least supports different stats to complete some sort of goal. Rocket league is the closest, but if it had heavy cars that moved slower, or fast cars that were easy to fling across the map...maybe.

Most simulators (farming simulators, trucking simulators, train simulators, flying simulators), Spintires, Tony Hawk games, most racing games, a lot of the "walking simulator" type adventure games. There's honestly a pretty large catalog of non-violent games already. They may not be making billions of dollars like Fortnite but they're still pretty popular.

I've been on a management sim genre kick of late.

Titles that involve developing and maintaining various applied infrastructures. Two big hits for me this year have been Overcrowd and Project Hospital. They've been great fun.

Then there's that old standby of Mundane Vehicle Sims. My all-time fave being Farming Simulator, with the more popular variant, Euro Truck Simulator 2.

I've lost most of my taste for violent games over the past number of years. I'll still dabble with the likes of Doom (2016) and Fallout 4, etc. But for the most part I enjoy more benign forms of digital entertainment.

The first half of Portal?

A game like Subnautica was, as I understand, made because the developers wanted to show you could make a game without having to shoot anyone, a great game!

Football Manager is possibly the most successful series that falls into this category?

There are definitely a lot, but I'd agree that the majority of games (especially action-oriented ones) use it. Enough that avoiding violence is a specific point of a number of games: the stealth genre generally offers it as an option, but encourages you to avoid it.

Undertale is famous for being an RPG that does the same... but it's telling that "avoid violence" is an important part of the game's conversation, because that's so rare.

"[W]hat would it take to have something to have Fortnite/CoD success and still be non-violent?," you ask. We can look at what these games have in common, and look at the least violent alternative (Minecraft) to make a guess.

Mindshare seems to matter; young people follow bandwagons, so you've got to get enough people in for it to snowball. It's got to be something streamers can run and get views. Lacking high action, there probably needs to be a lot of depth, so there's a reason for people to immerse themselves in a culture around it, discussing strategies. Some level of action is probably good, as is a low barrier to entry.

Of course, if we could answer the question of "how do I get Fortnite/CoD success" easily... somebody would probably be doing it. And the mindshare is partly just luck, lightning striking, I think.

Yeah, lots of simulators out there that don't revolve around combat. I think we need to find more of those that are fun to watch/talk about. I remember when Kerbal Space Program was a big talking point.

Kerbal Space Program is the number one game that comes to my mind as an amazing non violent game that isn't a car or flight sim.

Think about what really makes games hugely popular though and I believe it's the ability to "show off" and/or the ability to socialize. Best is showing off in a social game where you're forced to be around folks so you CAN show off.

What makes billions for fortnight? Selling skins? Why is that? They don't just make billions selling skins because they sell skins. People WANT to buy those skins; that's why they buy them, so they can show it off dancing on your corpse or in party with friends or whatever.

So to me, a huge success of a game on the fortnight COD scale is going to have to be social and allow showing off and still entice people to have fun playing together in a social setting, without violence. I'm not sure such a game can ever achieve fortnight success without violence because non-defensive violence is too revered and ingrained in society since before computer gaming even imho. Cinema and books quite established the glory and entertainment of violence in future media and before that we can look all the way back to the Roman gladiator games and beyond into ancient history. I just don't think you CAN achieve the same level of success without it.

Nevertheless, you can have very successful non violent games, if not AS successful as fortnight.

A possible argument could be made that Sports games is the only thing we've seen that fits the bill (for non violent sports). Forza series and EA's baseball and soccer games? Those are all I can think of and they all 3 fill the 3 areas I think a game has to master to be successful without violence: social, enforced visibility of self and goodies to others to show off, and it's an activity people consider fun. They are all 3 quite successful even though they may not qualify a fortnight level event.

You can build a merchant empire in X3 and X4.

While accurate sales figures are hard to pin down, I'll just point out that the bestselling games lists tend to have non-violent games liberally represented: Tetris, Myst, The Sims, and so on. FIFA has sales that are roughly on par with Call of Duty. For free-to-play stuff, Candy Crush Saga (17 million daily active users / 293 million MAU) beats Fortnite (10.7 million concurrent users / 78.3 million MAU).

So maybe the question is why isn't Fortnite as popular as The Sims?

Anyway, for listing actual games, I decided to poke at my library and see what options I've got.
While there are games that have no violence, and games that don't require you to commit violence, I'm skewing this list towards the first. That leaves a lot of benign things like Stardew Valley out (you fight monsters in caves sometimes). There's still a few things here with a bit of violence or one-off violent incidents, but mostly not things that the player instigates. (e.g. the Blackwell series has a lot of murder mysteries and ghosts.) But violence isn't part of any of the core gameplay loops.

Adventure
Black Closet
Blackwell Convergence
Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor
Heaven's Vault
Her Story
Kentucky Route Zero
Sunset
Where the Water Tastes Like Wine
VA-11 Hall-A: Cyberpunk Bartender Action
The Beginner's Guide
Dear Esther
Samorost 2
The Stanley Parable
Eastshade
Night in the Woods
Oxenfree
That Dragon, Cancer
Event[0]
Tacoma
80 Days
Outer Wilds

Sports
Behold the Kickmen
Videoball

Sim and Sim-ish
Catalateral Damage
Cities: Skylines
From Dust
Banished
Mini Metro
Cities in Motion
Euro Truck Simulator 2
Offworld Trading Company

Puzzle
Stephen's Sausage Roll
Antichamber
MirrorMoon EP
Starseed Pilgrim
Infinifactory
SpaceChem
The Witness

Other Things
Audiosurf
Journey
Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Poker Night at the Inventory
Proteus
Subnautica
Race the Sun
Uplink
Pinball Arcade
Gorogoa

I agree that for a non-violent game to be "popular" it has to be "streamable." Kerbal was good because all the times you mess up can lead to pretty funny situations. Also, the suspense of seeing whether or not something will work helps.

I also think things that allow you to be super creative could be very "streamable" depending on what you can build and what goals are laid out for your build. There were quite a few of these at some point in the mobile market. Build some sort of contraption and see how far it goes or something like that.

Tetris Effect
Snakeybus
The Gardens Between

Slime Rancher

I still wonder... there are a lot of non-violent games that can be turned into volatile violent games (... and I must admit.. made me giggle).

To mind comes rollercoaster tycoon... where you can drown all the peeps by railroading them into a single spot and build water in it, or lure them into a gigacoaster that you crash on purpose.

Same goed for Cities: skylines. wreak havoc with floods of poo and the like.

Railroad Tycoon, San Juan and the aforementioned Football Manager are the best examples. Agricola, Wordfeud, Chess, et cetera.

Would you think Plague inc. is violent? It is so abstract that I see it more as a puzzle game.

^^^ Well The Sims stands out of one of the best non-violent games on the market, but then again people have been trolling & torturing their Sims since the very first one released almost 20 years ago. It was all over the moment people realized to could direct a Sim into a pool and then remove the ladder or put them in a room and remove the door.

I guess it's all in what you bring to the table regarding personal play style, lol.

The first sims - and the only one I played - let you more or less create your own snuff movie, even with aliens involved.

I would consider FIFA etc. somewhat violent. Not deadly of course, but most contact sport is kinda a substitute for violence. You are not killing anyone, but you surely are attacking them. It tend to attract violent fans too.
I have never played Kerbal, sadly, but aren't you repeatedly sending those creatures into certain and violent death? It is violent in the sense Lemmings is.

Looking at the game I have played this year, pretty much all of them have some direct (and deadly) violence in them, even if some of them might be debatable; like Obra Dinn is a very violent game with lots of brutal murders. But you are not participating.

The only really non-violent games I have played this year are
Surviving Mars - as long as you dont count randomly causing mass-suffocation a violent action.
Outer Wilds - as long as you don't count

Spoiler:

indirectly participating in the death of literally everything. They were going to die anyway...

Clusks wrote:

Football Manager is possibly the most successful series that falls into this category?

What, your defender never got a red card in the 69th minute for kicking a Man U player while still holding on to a draw at Old Trafford, after which you lose 3-0?

#notbitteratall

Gremlin wrote:

While accurate sales figures are hard to pin down, I'll just point out that the bestselling games lists tend to have non-violent games liberally represented: Tetris, Myst, The Sims, and so on. FIFA has sales that are roughly on par with Call of Duty. For free-to-play stuff, Candy Crush Saga (17 million daily active users / 293 million MAU) beats Fortnite (10.7 million concurrent users / 78.3 million MAU).

So maybe the question is why isn't Fortnite as popular as The Sims?

You make a great point. Maybe the question is, why do we perceive Fortnite as more popular than The Sims? Besides us being more in "gamer culture" than most, I'd point to:

KozmoOchez wrote:

I agree that for a non-violent game to be "popular" it has to be "streamable."

So maybe what you're looking for is a non-violent game that is "streamable." For that, I'd go back to it having to be complex and deep, so that there is a learning aspect. Or you have to find a way to include a lot of action, and antics that can turn really funny at random. There are a lot of fantastic non-violent games, but you watch them (or play them) once, there's not a lot else to discover. You want to build something you can play over and over and get different results.

I'm shocked that Journey is only mentioned once. Another favorite of mine, which is not mentioned, is Unfinished Swan- which I do not believe had any elements of light violence (though it has been a while- so, maybe?).

Peoj Snamreh wrote:

I still wonder... there are a lot of non-violent games that can be turned into volatile violent games (... and I must admit.. made me giggle).

To mind comes rollercoaster tycoon... where you can drown all the peeps by railroading them into a single spot and build water in it, or lure them into a gigacoaster that you crash on purpose.

Same goed for Cities: skylines. wreak havoc with floods of poo and the like.

Railroad Tycoon, San Juan and the aforementioned Football Manager are the best examples. Agricola, Wordfeud, Chess, et cetera.

Would you think Plague inc. is violent? It is so abstract that I see it more as a puzzle game.

I am guilty of drowning anyone who wasn't happy in roller coaster tycoon to keep my rating up. I never killed anyone in sims on purpose. I do remember recently visiting a friend for a bbq and my character ran around like crazy so I couldn't save her from burning to death. Then I had a long conversation in her livingroom with the grim reaper before he finally had to leave

Point and click adventures used to be some of the biggest titles around and didn't require violence. These days they are kinda niche though.

A more current title that comes to mind is Renowned Explorers: International Society which is a strategic rogue-like where you fight turn-based tactical battles by being friendly, charming, insulting etc. You have the option to be aggressive but it's mostly about being friendly or devious and moods in general.

Inside and Limbo mostly don't require you to use violence.

Then there's some meta games like The Stanley Parable and The Beginner's Guide which are non-violent.

Lastly there's Dishonored which doesn't force you to kill anyone but kind of punishes you because it makes the killing options ridiculously fun. For the record I always do a non-violent run first because it feels thematically coherent.

I've been thinking about this while playing Supraland. The game is fantastic, but would so much better without the violence. There's monsters to shoot & stab, but it controls kind of poorly and there's no real purpose to it. Combat is just a hindrance. That's especially annoying given how much purpose there is to the rest of the games mechanics.

Eastshade came out earlier this year and is specifically designed to have no violence. It's about exploring an island your departed mother enjoyed, painting pictures in her honour, helping out the locals, and riding your bicycle around. It's a wonderful little game. Was a great change of pace after murdering so many people and creatures in AC: Odyssey and Anthem.

I put over 90 hours into My Time At Portia and the worst parts about the game were the dungeon crawling areas. Given the backstory of the world, those should have been completely reworked to be non-violent. They also sucked to play.

Played quite a bit of Outer Wilds. It does have overtures of indirect violence, it's not an inherently violent game. My 3 year old loves playing it with me even though I can never make any progress with her. Like Eastshade, it's a 1st person puzzler.

A Short Hike that just recently came out on steam fits the bill of this thread, exploration adventure game where your goal is to hike/climb to the nearby Hawks Peak in order to get cell reception to call your mother who recently had surgery, and to see the pretty view.

Double

Vector wrote:

I put over 90 hours into My Time At Portia and the worst parts about the game were the dungeon crawling areas. Given the backstory of the world, those should have been completely reworked to be non-violent. They also sucked to play.

I stopped putting in time into Portia when it came to that stuff. The weak dungeon crawling and the long trips back to return quests put me off - the game moved too slow for that.

I am now looking into Eastshade though. Looks really nice. No Man's Sky could also kinda be played non-violently.

I was going to start Soma last night and was googling advice on whether to use Safe Mode. I don't think you can actually kill monsters either way but it's interesting how divided opinion is (and I don't think it's just the usual internet contrariness). Some feel the threat of violence was essential to their experience of the game, others found it a deal breaker. Then there was another group that thought the violence actually detracted from the atmosphere because you saw the monsters close up and had to repeat sections when you died.

Soma felt like a violent game to me, may just be my two cents.