Warren Spector has long been a well-known name in the videogaming scene, from his work on classic titles like System Shock and Deus Ex, to his recent string of Epic Mickey projects. That work on Epic Mickey, however, connects with an opinion Spector has on the industry’s current state: That games glorify ultra-violence to a disturbing degree at this point.
In a conversation posted by Steve Peterson yesterday over on GamesIndustry, Spector has these thoughts when discussing his feelings coming out of E3:
“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 fetishizing 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. 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. It’s time to stop. I’m just glad I work for a company like Disney, where not only is that not something that’s encouraged, you can’t even do it, and I’m fine with it.”
Knowing those who love video games and the differing opinions such people have, I’m sure some of you agree with Spector, while others of you are thinking he’s crazy.
Personally, I agree with him in a lot of ways—even though I know my doing so will probably draw the ire of more than a few of you. Luckily, here at EGM, we have a pretty diverse staff. So, while I sit here saying how I’m not a fan of violent video games, we have people like Brandon and Ray who can appreciate them for what they are, and for what they bring to those players who want them.
What I know is this: More and more, I’m getting tired of games that are ultra-violent, as well as games that put a heavy reliance on killing. This opinion may seem a bit hypocritical, given one of my favorite franchises is Silent Hill—a series based around blood-soaked horror—and one of my most-played multiplayer games is Resistance 3—a game where you kill as many people as you can.
I’m not saying I can’t appreciate such games—what I’m saying is that my ability to appreciate them lessens every year. Though I know the God of War series is of high quality, I don’t play the games because I just can’t enjoy controlling Kratos as he dishes out brutal revenge on his enemies. I play Resistance 3 because it isn’t uber-realistic, and because it connects with me in other ways beyond just killing people.
However, there’s an important point I want to make in all of this: I don’t want to take your violent videogames away from you. I think there is a place for all types of games, and I’d never believe that my opinions should be the only deciding factor on what gets released. One of the things I’m always fighting for is diversity in the games industry, and one factor of that is games existing that I personally have no interest in.
What I do want is more thought given to the idea of creating games of value that don’t rely on violence. Where is an Uncharted or Tomb Raider that features no killing of other human beings? Where is a game like The Last of Us where the goal is to help all of the people you find, not defend yourself against them? Non-violent games do exist, but when you look to the big-budget blockbusters, they feel so few and far between. Nintendo has their games–but we can, and should, have more options than a few select companies.
I’d also love to see more games offer us a choice in how much violence we’re given. The beauty of games as a form of entertainment is that they can modify themselves to suit individual tastes better. What if I could turn off the ultra-violent sequences in the next God of War? That way, those who love that stuff wouldn’t have their game watered down, but those who want to enjoy the gameplay without such extreme sequences could do so as well.
So, I find myself both agreeing and disagreeing with Mr. Spector. Extremely violent videogames are not my cup of tea, and I wish this industry could find more confidence to produce games of quality that don’t rely on such elements. At the same time, people out there do enjoy such games, and I don’t want to see their choices taken away in the process.
What are your feelings on the topic? Let me know in the comments below!