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

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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  

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32 comments

  • Cyberninja - June 29, 2012 4:58 a.m.

    This man has earned more respect from me then ususally.
  • MasterBhater - June 29, 2012 5:57 a.m.

    And STILL we have people thinking Lara Croft is "defined by rape" in the Tomb Raider reboot. For god's sake, how many times do we have to drill it into your skulls (Oooo, violence! It's a Mature Rated comment!) that she isn't? Please, Mr. Spector, you can't try to act like you know everything about E3 just because you watched a highlight reel.
  • Bloodstorm - June 29, 2012 6:20 a.m.

    "Do we really need characters defined by rape? Do we really need that? Come on, guys, we can be more creative than that" So a character can't be defined by a traumatic experience? Spider-man and Batman are defined by murder. Superman is defined by mass, planetary genocide. It is what gives a character depth. Was it more creative when what defined Lara were her tits? Don't think so. And there really wasn't an over abundance of violence. most of Microsoft and Sony's conference was boring crap no one cared about (and you know this because no one is talking about any of it), and so all you remember is those other 30 minutes of things that kept your attention. It was same at the publisher conferences as well.
  • archnite - June 29, 2012 7:40 a.m.

    But its still the same thing. You pointed out Batman, Superman, and Spiderman who are all defined by deaths of various scales. Lara was defined by BOOBS changing that to rape would be the the same thing. She is a woman, in media women get raped, its part of the same small girl only tool set which includes BOOBS.
  • H2A2I00 - June 29, 2012 6:26 a.m.

    I must admit that the level of gore and violence in this E3 was slightly excessive, especially since it is plain obvious that some of these gory details were purely meant for people to squeal over, rather than to prove a point. Last of Us was a proper form of violence as it was dark, but you can tell there was a purpose behind the brutality. If there is a solid need for the violence then go ahead and I too will probably enjoy it, but putting violence in as crutch to make the process easier should not be done. Unless you are making Mortal Kombat, that franchise was branded as excessive gore material and is the only thing that makes it stand out to a degree when compared to other fighter.
  • 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.
  • ParagonT - June 29, 2012 7:19 a.m.

    Games become blindingly more grotesque and action packed every year, yet we can't allow a mature theme into a game. Your right, it sort of bugs me how immature some are.
  • Redeater - June 29, 2012 7:28 a.m.

    Take a look at Law and Order SVU. This show is syndicated on local television channels every damn day. Hell, here it even runs as early as 4 PM. Almost every episode deals with rape or shows a dead body. Bravo developers/journalist/gamers for showing how mature we can be. *insert slow clap here
  • KnowYourPokemon - June 29, 2012 7:45 a.m.

    It's not just about the fact that rape is a part of the game, it's how the devs went about explaining it. They talked about Lara Croft like the only way to define her character was to turn her into some helpless little girl who gets the shit beaten out of her with the possibility of becoming a rape victim if you can't do a little quicktime event. Since when was that needed to define a character and since when did Lara Croft need that at all? Look at Master Chief from Halo. Do we really need him to have some back story where he gets beaten up constantly and, as the devs would say "whenever he thinks he's rising up from the darkest parts of their life that's when we knock em back down again!" That is the problem I have with this Lara Croft reboot, not that rape is something that's not already part of every other form of media, just that it has no reason to be in this particular story. Seriously whenever the devs talk about this game I can't help but think of them as people with some very sick masochistic thoughts in their heads and the Lara Croft series is where they decided to go to let it all out.
  • ParagonT - June 29, 2012 9:09 a.m.

    "It's not just about the fact that rape is a part of the game, it's how the devs went about explaining it." -This article is not the one that this is brought up on. Although I agree that they explained it badly, it does not mean that just because he explained it horribly means they should back down. The issue is just "is rape needed?" "Since when was that needed to define a character and since when did Lara Croft need that at all?" -It's always needed to define a character, or you have to attachment to them. Lara is being rebooted, so she needs that now more than ever in my opinion. "Look at Master Chief from Halo. Do we really need him to have some back story where he gets beaten up constantly and, as the devs would say "whenever he thinks he's rising up from the darkest parts of their life that's when we knock em back down again!" -Master Chief was taken from his home planet, forced to become a child soldier, since, what was it, six? Then he watched as the other friends/"family" he knew growing up died from augmentation and missions while he has the sole ability of "luck". So yeah, Master Chief has much more added to that as well. Traumatizing? Heck yeah. Here's a quote from someone else's post: "So a character can't be defined by a traumatic experience? Spider-man and Batman are defined by murder. Superman is defined by mass, planetary genocide. It is what gives a character depth." You may think it doesn't do anything for character, but I do disagree on that matter. I believe that those harrowing experiences makes them unique, shows why they act a certain way, and evokes more feelings in the story-line than to just say "Lara was a spoiled brat, thats why she acts the way she does." =/ Just the fact that we have to have this conversation proves how it evokes something within us.
  • ParagonT - June 29, 2012 9:11 a.m.

    *No attachment This is also why a EDIT button in needed as well.
  • Moondoggie1157 - June 29, 2012 10:15 a.m.

    I think a little variety at E3 would have helped quite a bit. to me, it seemed like every dev. was out there to compete for the most shock-worthy game... which in all honesty, proved to make a stale show. When we look at games like the original Soldier of Fortune, it's pretty clear that grotesque violence hasn't just recently exploded (blowing body parts off off of a corpse, faces and all?). It's a shame that they chose to highlight only the violence, instead of the interesting games that desperately need the publicity. Honestly, it just shows how easily most people are entertained, all it takes is a dude begging for his life, and slow motion blood spatter... I definitely want video games to be considered a form of art, at some point. But, I think that puts me and others in a minority. Most of gamers just really want to blow shit up, or pop heads... And that's cool, take from gaming whatever you want, but it's these people who are holding gaming back. Instead of wowing people with creativity and originality, a lot of gamers are content with a new CoD, or Halo, Crysis... etc. I'm not bashing these games, I'm just saying that most gamers don't want more than that, and that really bugs me. At the same time though, I guess games really can't be considered art until we pass a certain "maturity" threshold, and that's usually done through controversy.
  • 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.
  • 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".
  • 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.
  • 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

Showing 1-20 of 32 comments

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