Dead Island trailer creator speaks to dead girl controversy

Dead kids are typically avoided in videogames, but if the massive response to the Dead Island trailer is any indication, tossing a zombified preteen from a hotel window is also an excellent way to get a crap ton of free press.

Since dropping last week, the three-minute CGI teaser for Techland's upcoming title has amassed millions of views on YouTube, significant media exposure and serious Hollywood attention. No doubt, the trailer succeeded in creating massive buzz for a relatively unknown title, but for some, it's also raised the question of whether or not its animators at Axis Productions went 'too far' in doing so.

Recently, Develop asked Axis co-founder Stuart Aitken for his take on some of the controversy surrounding the Dead Island trailer and it's unflinching depiction of a deceased little girl. In the interview, Aitken defended the studio's creative vision, explaining, "On the subject of the Daughter character specifically, we were aware that there was an impact about that choice for sure, but I think that choice fitted the narrative we wanted to tell and was appropriate in that sense."

According to Aitken, early concepts for the trailer featured the mother as the main source of zombie food, but Axis felt it needed to raise the familial stakes even further. This meant good news for mom, but a horrible fate for her daughter.

"Her actual death isn%26rsquo;t especially graphic or gory. The real shock is more about the relationship between parent and child and how that is perverted when she turns on her dad even after being saved by him," noted Aitken, adding, "If someone found it a little unsettling then I think that was what was intended. We didn%26rsquo;t set out to offend anyone - just rattle them a bit."

Over and above playing fast and loose with taboos, Axis' trailer also blurs the line between effective game marketing and misleading eye candy. Elsewhere in the interview, Aitken admitted that the characters in the video aren't necessarily based on anyone in the game, and that the studio's depiction of the Island is more or less an close interpretation of what gamers can expect.

Justifying the trailer's loose ties with Techland's actual title, he said, "To an extent a full CG trailer is always a different experience to actually playing the game. It isn%26rsquo;t trying to pretend to be game play, like a lot of CG trailers do, at all. It%26rsquo;s more trying to tell a story in the same world but in a different medium that describes an event that is illustrative of the type of interactive experience you might have when playing. All we have tried to do is tell that story as effectively as possible."

Axis has also worked on high profile titles including Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, Mass Effect 2 and Crackdown 2. You can browse its complete portfolio here, and Aitken's full interview with Develop here.

[Source: Develop]

Feb 24, 2011

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Matt Bradford wrote news and features here at GamesRadar+ until 2016. Since then he's gone on to work with the Guinness World Records, acting as writer and researcher for the annual Gamer's Edition series of books, and has worked as an editor, technical writer, and voice actor. Matt is now a freelance journalist and editor, generating copy across a multitude of industries.