News

Spector worries about games getting too ultraviolent
Posted: 15.06.2012 07:09 by Comments: 24
Epic Mickey 2 designer Warren Spector is concerned about the escalating level of violence in videogames, especially after his experiences during E3 2012, calling it the most brutal and bloody convention yet.

Spector complained, "This is the year where there were two things that stood out for me. One was: The ultraviolence has to stop. We have to stop loving it. I just don't believe in the effects argument at all, but I do believe that we are fetishising violence, and now in some cases actually combining it with an adolescent approach to sexuality. I just think it's in bad taste. Ultimately I think it will cause us trouble."

"We've gone too far. The slow-motion blood spurts, the impalement by deadly assassins, the knives, shoulders, elbows to the throat," he went on to say.

He acknowledge that some of the games he'd worked on such as Thief: The Dark Project, System Shock and Deus Ex had some brutal violence, but they were intended to evoke a negative reaction, instead of fetishizing it.

"You know, Deus Ex had its moments of violence, but they were designed - whether they succeeded or not I can't say - but they were designed to make you uncomfortable, and I don't see that happening now. I think we're just appealing to an adolescent mindset and calling it mature," he related.

Violence wasn't the other thing bothering Spector, either. Spector believes that E3 is becoming more like CES. "The second thing I noticed was that the most interesting part of the press conferences had nothing to do with games. When the games are the least interesting part, there's a problem," he stated. "When did the game conference become about interfacing with Netflix? I just worry a little bit."

However, despite his concerns, Spector is enthusiastic about this era of gaming, which he considers a Golden Age.

"The thing that's ironic is that I feel like we really are in a golden age, in a weird sort of way. Nobody knows what the future of games is. Nobody," he enthused, "At a time like that Notch can come along and do Minecraft, and Chris Hecker can finally do his incredible party spy game, and Jon Blow can do Braid, and I can do a triple-A Mickey Mouse game - anything is possible."

He then pondered, "Is the future... indie games distributed digitally made by four guys in a garage? Is it 800 people working on a triple-A game for Disney? Is it a social game on Facebook? Is it a mobile game on iOS and Android? Nobody knows. What that means is, if you have an idea you can reach an audience with it."

"Pretty much all I saw at E3 was, 'Well, we're going to do what we always did, but bigger and bloodier! And we're gonna talk about Netflix!' I just don't get it," he concluded.
Source: Eurogamer
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Comments

By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jun 15, 2012
SirRoderick
Escalating level of violence?

Mortal Kombat? Carmaggedon? Duke Nukem? Doom? GTA? Any of these ringing a bell yet?

Just because the violence is in HD now, doesn't mean we weren't doing it all along you know. Not that I endorse JUST making violent games, but who doesn't like a little blood splattering all over the place now and again? We have plenty of games, new and old, that do very well without focusing on gratuitous violence.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jun 15, 2012
nocutius
Perhaps he meant that proportionally there are more games that glorify violence now than there were in the past.
And the HD part does have an effect on perception, for a similar reason a horror anime will never be as scary as the same horror movie would have been, we are mainly visual creatures after all.

But it's hard to accept any gaming violence arguments, even when valid, until movies and TV shows get the same treatment first.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jun 15, 2012
SirRoderick
But I'm saying there isn't a difference. At all. Do I need to list a load more old, violent games and a load of modern non-violent games? It ENTIRELY perceptual and that's just not relevant.

I just completely disagree with him.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Jun 15, 2012
nocutius
Sure the content was always the same but the presentation is different, it does matter at least a little bit. A couple of red pixels is different to blood squirting from the bowels realistically while the guy is getting sawed in half.
I agree that the perception of those few red pixels was mostly the same then as today is to HD gore but there still is a difference.

Like I said I can watch gore anime without a problem no matter how brutal they are but show me a similar live action movie and i'm gonna look away in tears. The presentation does have an effect, how strong that effect is is debatable, even subjective, but it can't be denied that it does exist.
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Jun 15, 2012
unsilviu
True, and it's also the fact that they use the gore as a selling point (see the Dead Space "Your mom hates this" campaign). Gore and generous amounts of bodily fluid should have a reason for being there, not just put in there for shock value and age group appeal- I think The Witcher does this well. The American obsession with censoring sexual content but reveling in violence is quite disturbing.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jun 15, 2012
SirRoderick
Again, MK, GTA and Carmaggedon immediately spring to mind as shamelessly peddling the violence aspect. I'm not saying it doesn't happen, I'm saying it always happened. Ever since graphics have been advanced enough to show blood, there's been blood.
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Jun 15, 2012
FoolWolf
I can understand him, and to some content I would also like to see more focus on story rather then graphic power. If you have violence it should be either mindless dumb on a sort of fun level, and not to be taken serious (by sane people). For violence to work best - I believe it should actually be part of the story, the setting and the atmosphere. In a WW2 game, you should see grisly shit simply because war is hell.
In a game like Carmageddon etc violence is the thing - either you like it or not - and sure there should be a genre that could use this - but let it be a genre on its own.
Common games should keep some moderation and it doesn't have to be so over the top video gore. I mean, if games actually portraid the reality a bit more - that would make for a scarier and more mature experience.
Violence seems to be ingredient number two after graphics when the story is severally lacking...

In DeusEx HR you could be brutal and you could even execute key characters etc - but you could CHOSE not to kill anyone. Take Batman, he doesn't kill anyone - but he would most certainly fill up the ER pretty quickly...

As long as they have violence, start working at choice because that means you have at least thought about a story.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 15, 2012
herodotus
I have to agree with Spector in the sense that games are now expected to push the envelope in terms of graphical violence. When will enough be enough? I remember being mortified when I played the "Syndicate" demo and mowing down all the cinema patrons. As a new Dad I was shocked, and sent an angry letter off to the British gaming magazine that promoted it, citing gratuitous violence as an ugly approach to videogaming. I'm old enough to laugh at all the over-the-top stuff these days, but if I was young and very impressionable - whole other matter.
Remember, the console is the new babysitter these days for many a working parent (or ones addicted to "Second Life") and videogames are not as strictly regulated as television was and to a great extent still is.

"MK" and "Carmageddon" - there was a unique black comedy to the violence in these that is lacking in many of the games today. Look at "Sniper Elite V2" - do we really need to see a bullet crashing through a guy's skull in x-ray mode? No, we don't is the answer. What happens then when we become so jaded with graphic violence that even the real thing no longer has any effect on us, for that is where we are headed?
By JonahFalcon (SI Elite) on Jun 15, 2012
JonahFalcon
The point is that we're fetishizing violence, much like pornography. It's intended to excite and stimulate instead of show the consequences.

It's essentially like sex. You have movies and games with sex, such as Dragon Age, and then you have pornography.

In film, there are some films that are called "torture porn" - just showing gory, disgusting stuff just to get the audience off on just how far they're willing to go.

It requires people to become numb to violence, and while that's necessary in some countries where violence is an everyday occurrence - real violence, with real consequences and real suffering.

However, extreme violence with no consequences becomes a grisly cartoon, and people become numb to real life violence. A bad combination.

Sniper Elite V2 at least evokes a reaction because it's realistic in a flat, naturalistic, nonjudgmental way. It shows you just as Three Kings did just how horrific a single bullet can be.

Mortal Kombat 9 on the other hand has disemboweling, dismemberment, etc. with a gleeful renderings. I don't think there's any comedy to be had in MK9. At least the original MK was cartoonishly over the top in its humor. MK9 gets medical in its joy. Again, medical torture porn much like Hostel.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 17, 2012
herodotus
I was actually going to add that the reinvention of the franchise that is simply known as "MK" is the one stand-out departure from the franchise, where it is not not comical nor cartoonish. That's why it was banned here, and with good reason. As for "SE V2" - well apparently the skull shot gets pretty dull and boring after doing it a few times anyway.

Good points, Jonah and important ones. I don't agree that in some countries becoming numb to violence is essential, however. This is a propagation of the killing to become detached from what is in every essence a horror. Things will never change but only get worse, as Libya is now proving with it's seeming inability to let go of the "revolution". Refugees from the Sudan and Somalia who come to Australia bring with them often this 'culture' of violence and has become a major problem here. It is an issue finaly being addressed, but only after several tragic and very violent events:
http://www.refugeecouncil.org.au/current/settlement.html

We Nurses are often accused of being "hardened" or "immune" to suffering and the most horrific of injuries one can imagine, but that's not true. We must detach ourselves from the situation by putting up a professional wall. It is one we must put up, for those that do not soon 'burn out'. Thereare some that do become quite hard, but their lives are generally a misery anyway.

HOWEVER, the danger comes if after all is said and done we do not remove that wall and resume our usual selves, sitting with our feelings. Therein lies the road to depression, substance abuse or worse...disengagement from out own humanity. This is how psychopaths are made, when they are not already born that way.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Jun 17, 2012
lichlord
well i remember seeing a terrible car accident once recently tbh it scared the crap out of me in games its all cool n well but it doesn't add up to what can happen really the only persons that can are monsters or murderers themselves a normal sane being can not deny the horror how many thimes they've seen it

i also believe then ive readed once in the newspaper soldiers of every country that has seen shooting action and killing people require years of mental help to get over everything

you have to be sick to get immune or "numb" to violence in anykind and their is a clear distinct diffrence to what is real and what not, what happens virtually stays their in its way what happens for real well they stays for life.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 17, 2012
herodotus
I agree, Lich. Trouble is Devs are really trying to make games far more 'realistic' so that the violence has more impact. That's when it starts becoming harmful, to my mind.
By HenoKutus (SI Elite) on Jun 19, 2012
HenoKutus
There cannot be light without the dark! Deal with it
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Jun 19, 2012
unsilviu
Huh?
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 19, 2012
herodotus
There cannot be shadows without light....how's that as a counter argument, Heno.
Anyway, back to the topic at hand.
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Jun 20, 2012
unsilviu
For someone who hates Game of Thrones, you sure seem to like it, mentioning quotes and making it your avatar, hero :P
By FoolWolf (SI Elite) on Jun 20, 2012
FoolWolf
That's because winter is coming... - to Australia ;)
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jun 20, 2012
SirRoderick
Well let's just say he's seen the light...
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 20, 2012
herodotus
Yeah you low life scoundrels:) I fell for it in the final episodes of Season Two. Let's just say that Charles Dance and the castle defence helped a lot. I take back most of what I said, unreservedly....but I still think Season One sucked a bit.
As for quoting it....that's an old saying I put up there.
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jun 20, 2012
SirRoderick
Charles Dance is one hell of a choice for portraying Tywin Lannister, spot on. Buy my personal favourite is still Tyrion, the cunning little Imp that he is.
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 20, 2012
herodotus
What is it with you and dwarfs, Roderick? But yes, he is a good actor and plays his character well. Dance is a seasoend pro, who hasn't yet succumbed to B-Grade flicks, unlike Ben Kinglsey, and who practices his craft splendidly (along with Charles Dutton he added something to "Alien 3" that for me saved the film).
By unsilviu (SI Core) on Jun 20, 2012
unsilviu
Sorry to do this, but Dance isn't exactly spot-free. What follows is what is known as NSFW(not safe for work):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g4qARHsCbIA&feature=my_liked_videos&list=LLWW1mQVJVGwrfiOmwLoQYVA
By herodotus (SI Herodotus) on Jun 20, 2012
herodotus
But what style and class. Better than most broads his age:)
By HenoKutus (SI Elite) on Aug 23, 2012
HenoKutus
Mr Clemens,my favorite actor in Alien 3!