• An anonymous developer for Mortal Kombat 11 told Kotaku working on the game gave him PTSD
  • Developers spend countless hours studying and recreating acts of violence to ensure the game is as realistic as possible
  • The developer believes the end product is less harmful than people claim but does believe those creating the end product are at risk

When it comes to video game violence, Mortal Kombat has caught backlash for having some of the most brutal games since the creation of the game over 25 years ago. As technology has evolved, so has the gruesome end of fight deaths known infamously as “fatalities.”

Most recently, NetherRealm Studios released Mortal Kombat 11, by far the most graphic game in the collection yet. For years people have debated over the impact of video game violence on the players. Less talked about is the possible repercussions for the people creating the games.

An anonymous developer for Mortal Kombat 11 claimed to Kotaku that working on the game throughout 2018 gave them PTSD. The developer wished to remain anonymous to protect their employment prospects. During the developer’s time working on the game, they were constantly reviewing violent animation then discussing it with leads and sharing feedback with the animator. For the most part, developers for a Mortal Kombat game basically engulf themselves in horrifying violence in order to ensure the game’s violence is as realistic as possible.

I’d have these extremely graphic dreams, very violent. I kind of just stopped wanting to go to sleep, so I’d just keep myself awake for days at a time, to avoid sleeping.

Anonymous Mortal Kombat Developer Via Kotaku

Warner Bros. Games paired up with NetherRealm to release the latest installment in the Mortal Kombat franchise. While neither company responded to a request for comment from Kotaku in regards to the developer with PTSD, in a separate article NetherRealm’s art director Steve Beran gave Kotaku a bit of an inside scoop on how the game’s brutal fatalities are born. The fatal ending moves for a fight are not just thrown together. According to Beran, those working on the game do tests to see “how liquid will land on carpet, how it’ll react on dirt.” Once again, the goal is to make the death scenes as real as possible.

Along with captivating brutal skull smashing violence, the team also makes sure fatal moves within the game move in a pattern that does not break the flow of the fight. On top of keeping a good flow, and making sure the more serious injuries are realistic, artists also make sure even the smallest details look correct. From windows to the background to leather on a character, Mortal Kombat artists do their best to deliver a realistic game. But obviously in order to know how a body will realistically react to these strong acts of violence the developers have to watch some pretty fucked up stuff. The anonymous developer goes into a bit more detail.

You’d walk around the office and one guy would be watching hangings on YouTube, another guy would be looking at pictures of murder victims, someone else would be watching a video of a cow being slaughtered. The scary part was always the point at which new people on the project got used to it. And I definitely hit that point.

Anonymous Mortal Kombat Developer Via Kotaku

The anonymous developer claimed to find other coworkers who had similar problems. Some of the developers allegedly began having issues with continuing to see horrible images in real life, such as one man who couldn’t look at his dog without seeing “the guts inside it.” The developer stated he does not believe the end product is as harmful as people have claimed over the years. However, the developer did say they believed the process of making the end product can be harmful for people.

I would hope that something, at least, that developers can do with their coworkers is just start talking to each other about these things. If we’re not solving things, at least having supportive people around, I think, is really crucial.

Anonymous Mortal Kombat Developer Via Kotaku


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