Why don't they make non-violent, realistic sandbox games?


I’ve been wondering something for a while. Why doesn’t the gaming industry ever make a non violent GTA, or a non violent Assassin’s Creed?

I love these games but they are basically impossible to play around kids. Not only that, sometimes I just want to lose myself in a virtual world, travel around, see the sights, etc. Imagine GTA without the guns or Ass Creed without the killing. Just driving, racing, parachuting, climbing, running, swimming, etc.

The problem with GTA or Ass Creed is that you can replicate that experience somewhat, but the citizens of Los Santos still curse at you, the guards in Egypt still attack you, etc. Sometimes I’m in the mood for this, sometimes not. Sometimes the constant violence is a little draining or gets boring through repetitiveness or I’m just not in that mood.

Just Cause 3 can do this a little bit when you take over territories completely. The freed areas then become enemy free and are just a big playground. No one yells at you or curses at you, in fact the opposite, they always have something nice to say. I know this exists in Mario land, but I want to see modern LA, old Shanghai, and ancient Babylon without all the violence. I want a realistic looking game with real characters that don’t just kill everyone.

Let me peel back the jaded, cynical gamer face for a moment and ask: Why do these games not exist? Has anyone tried a big AAA one and failed? Is it laziness, because physically conflict is such and easy dramatic hook? Why can’t I play Nice GTA?


AC Origins is getting a discovery mode early next year! :)


Lego City Undercover? (Don’t know, haven’t played it, but that’s how I’ve heard it described)


Look into Simpsons Hit & Run and Burnout Paradise. Last gen stuff though.


Good to hear about Origins! I heard that. Like a guided tour, huh? It would be simply awesome if it’s like an audio tour where it explains things as you look at them or get near them.

LEGO City, Simpsons Hit and Run, and other games are absolutely great, but I’m kinda thinking realistic setting here, real places. Or maybe just a real style in a peacefulish place. I think Burnout is awesome but disqualified because I was thinking something you walk around in rather that drive a car you can’t get out of.


I think violence is the easy go-to for a crunchy gameplay core/loop. A ‘real’ sandbox like our world would involve a lot of verbal interaction with humans, which is harder to model than shooting things.

You technically could play GTAV nonviolently, couldn’t you? Just don’t do the missions and don’t hit anybody. Not sure if you can make money then, though.


My take would be that people are jerk, and game designers are people. Maybe I am the jerk, though.

It isn’t only kids : I can’t stomach the casual violence of all those open world games (excepting Saints Row’s and Just Cause 2, of course). I think that violence actually may hurt the narrative of some of those games : in GTA IV, I was abashed by the gap between the tale of Niko the depressed sociopath and his daily routine of mass murdering bystanders when driving because the cars are near impossible ot control in this soapbox of a world.


I do find myself tiring of the constant violence and combat that it seems nearly all video games require in order to introduce conflict. I tolerate it mostly because what are you gonna do? But I do seek out alternatives.

I remember a long time ago, I was on Tom’s podcast with him and Jason and the topic came up, what if there were open world games that involved helping people rather than harming them? For instance, a game taking place in New Orleans during Katrina. You would have to deal with rising waters, environmental hazards like wind, downed trees and power lines, and your goal is to get people out. I don’t know exactly how that would work but I know I’d play it.


Hey, it worked for Choplifter!


Man, that’s a great idea. Disaster recovery. All of the drama and conflict, except it’s with nature.

Maybe a good firefighting game? Or maybe the disaster game could incorporate that. Maybe you can drive a cherry picker and fix power lines, or fly a helicopter and rescue people, or rescue people on a boat, or all those things in one game. Almost like your character is a general do-gooder with access to all the services/toys (maybe you unlock them through story missions like a regular game and then they unlock for free play) that do-gooders have.

I’d play the hell out of that game. And helping people can be gamed too, with points and outfit unlocks and all of the other gaming tropes. It would have to look FANTASTIC to catch on though. Like the fire part of the game would have to have awesome fire effects and move/act like a fire. Great idea!


Mario odyssey


I think there was one of these actually, Burning Heroes that came out on the Saturn I think? Not open world but same general idea. And there are some cheap (and not very good) games on Steam like 911 Operator and an airport rescue game whose name I am blanking on. Definitely not but budget and quite rough around the edges, but I kind of like them for what they are.

Edit: I’m mixing up two games, there was an SNES game called Burning Heroes but I was thinking of Burning Rangers as the firefighting game.


I really wish they’d make a Tomb Raider game that had the same balance of combat vs exploration that the first one did. I’ve been sick of endless waves of enemies for about 2 decades now.




I lust for a huge open world 1940s Phillip Marlowe game. Sure, there might be the occassional gunfire, but if you read the series by Chandler, Marlowe rarely used his gun or fists. Give me that 40’s LA that Marlowe lived in, filled with all of the morally ambiguous characters, cops, criminals, etc. Let me explore, pick up cases, have my relationship with cops, crime bosses, bartenders, casino managers, etc. vary based on my actions (and thus their willingness to help me or hinder me,) etc.


My thought as well. Steep is pretty close to that.


I mentioned this in the dream game thread we had a while back, but one of mine is essentially Star Trek. You’d have a massive galaxy to explore, strange worlds full of ancient civilizations, interesting aliens to meet. And only rarely, in fact only as a last resort, would the weapons come out. My game would prioritize diplomacy and finding common ground to resolve disputes. Not always possible to be sure, but way more viable and frequent than in other games. But I know, it would bore most folks.


If the fourth Disaster Report ever ends up coming out, it may kinda sort of be what you’re looking for:



I played one of the Disaster Report games back on PS2. It was … interesting.


SimCopter is super not violent. And awesome.