Can there ever be a big-budget action game without violence?

Game worlds are becoming ever more beautiful, and the appeal of photo modes and enemy-free mods shows we are keen to interact with them without guns and fists

Watching all the enthusiasm about the newly released Marvel’s Spider-Man game on social media last week, one of the most interesting things is how much people enjoy the parts of the game that aren’t about fighting bad guys. I’ve lost count of the number of tweets along the lines of: “I just like swinging through the streets; I like the sense of grace and freedom; I’d do that all day if I could.” But they can’t, of course, because there are bad guys to punch.

The game does, however, have a photo mode and that has proved immensely popular. My Twitter timeline is awash with images of Spider-Men taking selfies in front of the Statue of Liberty, hanging out near pride flags and somersaulting past the Chrysler building in the glorious sunshine. As with GTA V, Tomb Raider, Horizon: Zero Dawn and a dozen other big-budget adventure titles, people love photo mode because it gives them a chance to be creative on their own terms within the game world, and it allows us to exercise our now almost instinctive desire to share imagery online.

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