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Ken Levine Clarifies Realistic Violence Quote

Posted on December 5, 2013 AT 07:11am

Creative director and co-founder of Irrational Games Ken Levine has clarified a recent quote that he made regarding art not hiding the gory reality of violence.

The quote in question reads: “One of the responsibilities of art is to actually show this is what it looks like when someone gets shot, because it’s really obfuscated [in media reports]. War is about sending pieces of metal very fast at people and tearing them to bits on the most primal level.”

Levine took to Facebook to state that his point wasn’t “made as eloquently or comprehensively as it should have been.” Adding that art shouldn’t have to “fulfill a particular agenda.”

The portrayal of realistic violence in video games has been a major talking point for mainstream media for many years, with developers condemned for including it in their games. The main issue with video games compared to other forms of art—if you class games as art—is that you are in control of the action, not just viewing it. Examples include Call of Duty‘s “No Russian” mission or more recently Grand Theft Auto V‘s torture mission.

“What I was trying to say is that art, as a whole, has a number of responsibilities: to entertain, to educate, inspire, to question the status quo, to infuriate, to challenge, to make people want to bang their heads, or just to make things kinda awesome,” Levine stated.

“One of those responsibilities (for art as a whole, not for every example of every art ever produced), should be to show things as they are,” he said. “For every Rom Com, there are devastating movies about the pain of love, whether that’s Eternal Sunshine or Amour. For every movie that portrays valor in war (Saving Private Ryan), there are movies that focus on its most dehumanizing elements (Full Metal Jacket).

“I wasn’t trying to imply violence should always be realistic in art. I was primarily questioning the notion that ultra-violent images have NO place in art,” he added. “As I’ve always thought, not all art is or should be the same. But I don’t believe any topic should be off limits to art as a whole.”

Matthew Bennett, Associate Editor
Matthew Bennett finally got his big break with EGM three years ago, following years of volunteer work for various sites. An ability to go many hours without sleep and a quick wit make him ideal for his role as associate editor at He often thinks back to the days when the very idea of this career seemed like nothing but an impossible dream. Follow him on Twitter @mattyjb89. Meet the rest of the crew.

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