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This year’s E3 “crossed a line of taste”, says Deus Ex and Epic Mickey dev Warren Spector

Legendary Deus Ex creator Warren Spector has told GamesRadar how this year’s E3 left him frustrated: “What I saw at E3 this year crossed a line for me of taste”. Talking about the content of the recent game expo, the Epic Mickey developer lamented how E3 missed a chance to better  reflect what gaming is about. “We didn’t show the breadth and variety of the content that we offer.”

Spector - whose past games also include the Thief series - explained his view by highlighting the ultra-violence of this year’s show and how it hid some of the industry’s creativity: “Just to be clear, I’m not saying people shouldn’t make that kind of game and I’m not saying people shouldn’t like them… But I want the guys making those games to think twice about it. I mean, do we really need slow-motion blood sprays? Do we really need characters defined by rape? Do we really need that? Come on, guys, we can be more creative than that.”

 Above: Warren Spector and the game he created Epic Mickey

Were the showcase games highlighted at this year’s E3 too violent? Warren Spector isn’t the first person to call out the graphic violence on display, our own Dave Houghton wrote about the embarrassing reaction to some of the more brutal scenes from the press conferences. So while violence has become an easy thing for developers to lean back on, as Spector points out “doing things because they’re easy doesn’t seem like a good reason to keep doing them.” 

Click to read the full Warren Spector Interview

This article was written by Ben Tyrer who is with GamesRadar on Work Experience from Bournemouth University  

31 comments

  • noblehouse - June 30, 2012 4:49 a.m.

    The guy hasn't made a decent game since 2000. He has become out dated and irrelevent. His opinions just don't hold the same weight they use to.
  • forestfire55 - June 29, 2012 9:29 p.m.

    It is impossible to make a game without conflicts, and conflicts tend to lead to violence.
  • forestfire55 - June 29, 2012 9:26 p.m.

    And hes creating a game about a 100 year old character
  • Tjwoods18 - June 29, 2012 9:11 p.m.

    Why is he to assume that society (developers) just now crossed that line? I mean, video game developers crossed the line when they released Custers Revenge (where you complete a level to get the reward of raping a native american), and that playboy game on the regular xbox.
  • Tjwoods18 - June 29, 2012 9:03 p.m.

    First rule in creating somthing is to make a product that society finds interesting or takes part in from curiosity. So what if a damn game has allegorical references to Rape. Society fails to realize that the real time imitation of video game violance is prevelant among isolated evidents. Often they are because of a much broader defination of violance then that to which individuals view from a T.V screen. Parental violence, in fact, contributes equally or more to the effects of violent behavior.
  • Viron - June 29, 2012 4 p.m.

    Do we really need to keep Mickey alive Mr. Spector? Can't you just let him die in peace?
  • NullG7 - June 29, 2012 1:05 p.m.

    I think alot of you guys are missing the point, its not that violence in videogames is a bad thing, far from it viloence is a major defining aspect for plotline conflict; that and it can be just plain fun. The point Im drawing from this is that ANY THEME NOT JUST VIOLENCE CAN, WHEN USED TWO MUCH, can become boring repetive and just plain embarising like a child who throws a temper tantrum on a plane no one minds if its just a couple of minutes in fact its almost cute... but three hours later no one is benifiting.
  • Marcunio88 - June 29, 2012 12:32 p.m.

    Some of the most critically acclaimed films and TV shows of all time have much more graphic violence than any video game I'm aware of. Normally that violence is in there to shock you, to provoke emotion and make you think about what you're watching. Take for example the "Marcellus Wallace rape scene" from Pulp Fiction. I remember the first time I saw that it was shocking, and in my head I was thinking "holy fucking shit!" on a loop. But because it was so over the top it's also kind of funny, or at least absurd. This is the kind of scene you get in a game like GTA, over the top semi-comedy violence perpetrated by bad ass motherfuckers! In contrast to this you could put a scene such as "Combo beating Milky" in This is England. Similar extreme violence, similar tense build up, still "holy shitting" in my head the whole way through. But because it's so horribly gritty and real there is absolutely nothing funny about it, it's just plain shocking and upsetting. And that's great too, it's exactly the effect it should have and it's a fantastic scene. So what's my point and how does it relate to games? Well, it's that there and very few games that portray that kind of shockingly gritty "This is England" style violence. The closest I can think of now is the "nuke death" scene in COD 4, it's shocking, it's real, it makes you think about what just happened. But now that technology has got to the point where we can show realistic violence in a game, these kind of scenes and the gameplay that revolves around them are going to become much more common. Personally I think this is a good thing, taking The Last of Us as an example, the violence in that is the kind of gritty and disturbing stuff you see in films like Saving Private Ryan. It woks for the setting, Jake has no choice but to beat some guys brains out because if he doesn't he's going to get killed in the same brutal manner. Having said all that I do think the industry needs to be careful not to glorify this kind of extreme violence. I think the Splinter Cell Blacklist demo was probably the worst example of this at E3, it was full of up close and personal executions and very realistic death animations. And it's fine to have that in the game, I'm 24 years old and if I'm playing a realistically styled military game I want it to look real. Just don't focus you're whole E3 demo on it because it's going to draw negative attention. Too many parents still think all games are for children, and until that situation resolves itself the industry needs to be a bit more careful about what it shows at major press events. Violence in games is fine, and it's great to see games like Watch Dogs that look like they might have a crack at more mature themes, but it's a good idea to put the spotlight on a wide range games. Variety is the spice of life after all.
  • Sinosaur - June 29, 2012 9:50 a.m.

    It would be super nice if this article had a link to, say, the article where it's officially stated that Lara Croft isn't raped and explained the situation. Please don't attempt to use controversies you've already covered to gain attention for your articles without bringing up the other relevant information.
  • larkan - June 29, 2012 9:38 a.m.

    Yes, heaven forbid they start attaching some drama to a storyline to make it more interesting. This is the type of guy who would say that rape is bad in person just to make himself look good, but probably owns movies that have some pretty disturbing rape scenes in them (Last House on the Left, Straw Dogs, The Hills Run Red)
  • onetimebuster - June 29, 2012 9:53 a.m.

    saw straw dogs and that rape scene really made me feel dirty it was just bad
  • bass88 - June 29, 2012 12:06 p.m.

    Did it's job then.
  • Moondoggie1157 - June 29, 2012 1:18 p.m.

    Drama, and ultra violence are two distinctly different things...
  • davidtravis - June 29, 2012 8:17 a.m.

    I think everyone is forgetting and overlooking the fact that crystal dynamics have categorically said that there is no 'rape' scene in the new Tomb Raider nor is she defined by it. My interpretation of the alleged scene from e3 is thus; Lara, a young girl is shipwrecked on an island, in order to survive she is forced to care for herself, hunt food and generally make like Ray Mears/Bear Grylls. But she isn't the only one on the island, there are other survivors and the others (the dangerous ones). At one point one does make advances towards her (if you were some testosterone fuelled man-ape living out island fantasies with other just as aggressive friends this is actually not just plausible but likely), which she shuns, and to which said man becomes violent and aggressive as his pride is dented. During the scuffle that ensues as the man attempts to subdue her and Lara struggles to escape she comes upon a gun and ends the man's life. Up to this point Lara was still the frightened and scared young woman coming to terms with her predicament. From that point onwards she is to harden into someone capable of doing what is necessary and killing if the situation requires. To me this scene is required because to push someone such as innocent, young Lara to the point where she could and would kill another human being it would naturally take a situation where she was pushed to breaking and forced to choose...her or him? Self preservation is a strong drive and one we all feel. I think it was not only right of crystal dynamic to include this scene it fits perfectly with what they are trying to do. They wanted players to not only care for Lara (hence the more brutal take on survival) but wanted them to also realise that killing shouldn't be easy (like in every other game). In my eyes this 'rape' debate is blown well out of proportion and serves only those that pick at every little thing in video games in an effort to censor and ban them. Video games are media and art in their own way, as much so as movies and books nowadays. The issue here isn't with the games content but the fear it will reach children that maybe shouldn't be exposed to it. In this case the issue lies with those that sell the game and those responsible for guarding, caring and protecting those young people i.e. parents. It's why games are rated in the first place.
  • archnite - June 29, 2012 7:25 a.m.

    True every game on display that wasn't for kids was bout violence but other media uses the other immoral crime rape in its stories (see: every. single. episode. of Law and Order SVU). If games are at least as artful as prime time television they should be allowed to use rape as a plot device. But since Lara is an woman and thus has a vagina it is the like one woman thing to do besides have a boyfriend and kids. So perhaps it is narrow minded of the developers to use "woman only plot tools".
  • bass88 - June 29, 2012 6:52 a.m.

    Regarding the "defined by rape" comment, I think what Spector means is that there is no real reason for it in Tomb Raider. The developers behind Tomb Raider state that this game will help us understand why Lara is the person we know her as. Not sure if you agree but I never figured Lara being groped was the reason she decided to explore Himalayan caves on her own. For the record, I'm not opposed to this. I'm very interested in Tomb Raider and perhaps it will be a complete reboot - leading to a sequel where Lara is no longer as naive in her perception of the world and humanity. Personally, if I were making the game I would just have Lara beating a bat with a stone and cooking it over a makeshift fire. That, to me, defines Lara.
  • ParagonT - June 29, 2012 7:17 a.m.

    I think that traumatic experiences helps define yourself and your views on the world. Rape is something that happens in our everyday world and one of the most traumatizing things that can happen to people, but I find it troubling that some gamers find it grotesque compared to almost everything else out there. Personally, I think people get bent out of shape over the most immature stuff. It's a mature game, so I would think people would be mature about it, but they're not. Rape is one of those things that is "taboo" yet it dredges up some of the most extreme feelings, depending on how they are using it is when I would cross that bridge, not before we fully understand why they may have it.
  • archnite - June 29, 2012 7:31 a.m.

    It is taboo -because- it rings up the most extreme feelings. And they are people are taking noticed because it is such mature subject matter and as media games are so much younger and haven't had much room to grow out into more diverse content and how its going to be handled is uncertain.
  • ParagonT - June 29, 2012 9:12 a.m.

    I hope it brings out the worst or best feelings. Makes it more worth it.
  • Redeater - June 29, 2012 6:46 a.m.

    "Do we really need characters defined by rape?" Jesus Christ has it even been confirmed that rape takes place in the game? It seems likely that they were hinting at it (which would be realistic) rather than it actually taking place. I am assuming that Eidos is using this "controversy" as free publicity. We all want games to be considered as art or at the very least a medium for "mature" stories and yet we all act like overly PC soccer moms whenever we are faced with anything that isn't bloody violence.

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