'The ultraviolence has to stop' - Warren Spector

Epic Mickey producer says he left Eidos in 2004 because of proliferation of violent titles at publisher, believes industry is "fetishizing violence."

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Scenes of serious violence were a staple of the 2012 Electronic Entertainment Expo last week. And while Sony said these moments could be beneficial for spurring stronger narratives, Epic Mickey producer Warren Spector has a different take. Speaking to Games Industry International, Spector bluntly said, "The ultraviolence has to stop."

Don't expect to see a scene like this in Epic Mickey.

Expanding on his thoughts, Spector said he believes such violence in games could have negative implications.

"We have to stop loving it," he said. "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."

Spector went on to explain that his decision to leave Eidos (where he was instrumental in the production of the original Deus Ex) in 2004 was spurred by the violence he witnessed from the publisher's lineup, specifically games like Hitman, 25 to Life, and Crash 'n Burn.

"We've gone too far. The slow-motion blood spurts, the impalement by deadly assassins, the knives, shoulders, elbows to the throat," he said. "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."

Spector and Junction Point are currently working on Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and Wii. A sequel to the 2010 Wii-exclusive Epic Mickey, the game boasts co-op, full-voice acting, and a tilt toward music, according to lead designer Warren Spector. For more on The Power of Two, check out GameSpot's stage show demo from E3 2012.

Discussion

377 comments
Permafry_42
Permafry_42

The comments section makes me disappointed in the future of games. If people won't even understand why games like mario continue to outsell ultra violent games, it is because they have grown so accustomed to ultra-violence in video games that they forget that violence and sex are 2 of the millions of types of themes people can create in video games. He is not saying viloence is bad; he is saying that it is used without any meaning or purpose. It is that meaningless violence he is criticizing. As a future game developer who intends to make games based on a similar philosophy, I whole-heartedly agree with him. I wish more game developers would be willing to take his advice before gaming has another crash and we see the death of AAA games in exchange for download-only games filling the void.

CLOCKWORKIAN
CLOCKWORKIAN

I wouldn't want little Alex reading this when he's on the moloko plus.

hippiesanta
hippiesanta

Warren spector is getting old family man... I will boycott his product

R3V3RS3D
R3V3RS3D

Booooo!  Get a grip, Warren.  Or, hang out with Jack Thompson and get out of the industry.  We've got too many issues (DLC, F2P, etc) to deal with right now to also have every game turn into a Disney clone.  Thanks for Deus Ex.  You may go, now.

speed45823
speed45823

come on Warren Spector, don't be a yellow bellied 5 year old sissy.

wes4mu089
wes4mu089

I don't think the issue is that 'mature' content in games is 'juvenile'. I think that the issue really is that 'video games' is stereotypically seen as Juvenile. But its more and more commonly becoming a form of entertainment accepted by all ages. And Parents need to get that through their darn noggins. The games aren't the issue, the ultra-violence isn't the issue. We ALREADY live in a society that fetishizes violence in our mainstream media, so singling out video games is really just the pot calling the kettle black. What we deem acceptable is all in the eye of the beholder, and I think if anything, game ratings actually need to be taken seriously now by parents. They are there for a reason yet are largely ignored because in the past and in the beginning of the industry, it was often reflected as, "...its a game. How bad can it be?"

 

Violence, is going to be fetishized in a tasteless manner in media, and its going to be done so in games all the same. Thats not going to change. Our world has turned that way since ancient times (consider the gladiatorial games in rome). If you ask me, people just make a bigger deal out of this then there need to be. Its... A GAME. And shame on YOU, the PARENT, if you're children can't handle these kinds of games, and you give them to them anyway at your OWN IGNORANCE for not heeding the warnings of the rating systems.

LE5LO
LE5LO

Amen Warren! Now go back to Eidos and Make Deus Ex 4 (please)! Though I agree with him I feel an odd feeling now as I can't wait for Hitman: Absolution, or any of the other slightly more mindless violence filled triple A sequels that'll be gracing us later this year and early next. Bring on BioShock: Infinite, Halo 4 and Crysis 3 and AC3! All those games contain such glorious violence and gameplay that I will have trouble keeping away from them!

GameAdvisor
GameAdvisor

I think the point here is that "Mature" content in games is coming across as "juvenile". That in turn is demeaning the industry and how people view it.

zowbaid
zowbaid

I agree with this article. The violence has gotten out of hand in games and now they're just pushing violence so far that it's getting ridiculous as well. Take a look at God of War with it's insane gruesome takedowns, do we really need that? I think that it is in fact being fetishized and completely desensitizing teenagers into thinking that violence is normal. I do appreciate that there are companies and games out there like Nintendo that still keep a leash on their violence in games. Sony is doing that as well with their eye pet, wonder book and so on, and microsoft with kinect. Just cuz a game is violent doesn't mean it's a triple-A game.

jsmoke03
jsmoke03

video games only is a reflection of the culture...how about we tell michael bay to stop producing movies 2

Hurvl
Hurvl

I like violent games and being able to kill the enemies in several different ways, but that's not the only thing that makes a game worth playing. Voice acting, dialogue/dialogue choices, music, atmosphere and plot are just as, if not more, important than violence in a game. You know, the stuff that doesn't degrade over time and always has been/always will be a way to infuse quality in a game. Not every game wants to be a Citizen Kane or the Godfather, though, and that's fine. Variety is the key thing, not every game needs to be the same and that applies to everything, not just violence.

GryphonICD
GryphonICD

We're starting to mix violence with an adolecent approach to sexuality? Did he not play Duke Nukem before or something? And games like Splatterhouse were popular over 20 years ago due to its gore and violence. It's not fetishizing really. Humans are by nature violent, it's only the clamps of society that leash people into being otherwise.

 

Dopey2400
Dopey2400

Why does everyone keep associating his opinion on ultra-violence with minors. He's not talking about it corrupting minors, he's talking about society as a whole. We get it already, games have a rating system (which I think a lot of people still need to be educated on), and we get that parents should be monitoring what their underage children should be playing. The thing is that those two things are not what he is trying to convey. So please re-read the article, get those two ideas out of your head, and then post. Please look at the bigger picture.

staring_death
staring_death

anything that surpasses the limits might become frustrating. When you think about how much time video game makers put into making the murders realistic (or at times truly ridiculous!) and less time they spent on making a better gameplay, you realize that this amount of time dedicated to violence and sex is killing the art in games!No matter how much you love nickelback, you won't still find art and freshness in their music. because they spent all their time shaping something that will make the masses go "ooh! Aah! holy Shit!" and the rest that you know!

THEY'RE SKIING ON PROVEN FORMULAS! AS THE GAMING INDUSTRY DOES THESE DAYS!

mikethemonkey
mikethemonkey

Have you lost your taste for a little ultra violence,Warren Spector? Well, have you?

hitechgraphs
hitechgraphs

I find in this article some kind of irony.Much ppl care much about videogame violence when they are already rated and prohibited to minors when are mature labeled most the time.Meanwhile nobody gives a dime whatever is happing on the darn tv.For me a violent movie is more harming to a younger audience mind than a violent videogame.You can see a very violent movie early from 9:00 p.m. and even at earlier time and nobody cares.I can't really remember many disturbing violent games that I really dislike but for movies o well I simply just don't want ot remember.If there are people who cares about violence to minors begin with the darn TV the worst media for younger people, meanwhile this is only an absurd topic.x(

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

I somewhat agree, while I do like violence in my games I think the Ultra-violence and sex is just lame and a cheap tool to try and sell games. Did Sniper V2 really need the xray cam showing someones brains exploding inside their skull, or would the game been just as good without? Did the Witcher 2 (one of my fave games I might add) need the full nudity to tell its amazing story? Mass Effect did fine showing a little sex without going pornographic, and seriously what purpose does renting a whore in the brothels serve, it cost gold but you dont get any stat buffs or anything just a scene of you having sex with a fully naked girl. Oblivion didn't have decapitations and it was very well recieved so why throw exploding body parts into Fallout or Decaps in Skyrim.

criticfromhell
criticfromhell

I couldn't agree. The level of violence on display is beginning to feel insulting, like developers think we no longer care about fun and good stories, and instead want simulated murder.

alexLmx6
alexLmx6

I agree completely with him.

MasterOfSprites
MasterOfSprites

Wow, between this and the other guy standing up against violence recently, it appears we actually have an argument.  I can't say I blame the people who are against the violence, I feel the same way about comics.  A lot of them have turned from fun into shock and murder.  I don't think we should stop making violent content.  However, I do think there could be a lot less of it.

Seano1988
Seano1988

He can go play barbie dolls with a few girls. Violence makes the game realistic and awesome.

 

People need to simply acknowledge the fact that there is a difference between real-life and fantasy. I don't see him complaining about pornography. He can go fly a kite.

 

Violence and sex make games extra interesting and add character, tone and depth to the game.

 

When you play a game you want a break from reality, you wanna be the bad-ass, ho-banging, pistol-whipping titan that you have always wanted to be. Who wants to shoot someone and say hey look he fell over. We want effects, we want it to look cool and 9/10 that's what helps to motivate the games to sell. Max Payne 3 is filled with violence and lovely effects of the bullets shredding their human targets, what brings me back to play that game over and over is the realistic effect of the bullet hitting the target. The way it rips through them, the effects are so good it is almost as if you can see the impact it delivers. Without that the storyline is made weaker as their feels to be no authenticity to the excellent storyline.

nyran125
nyran125

the violence i couldnt care less about really. Where i draw the line is having fictional scenarios and scenes are there just for shock value. Just for a "man look at this" reaction. Modern warfare 3 the kid getting killed with her mother. It didnt work because the game itself Doesnt feel realistic at all.  Theres NO intent whatsoever to be authentic in the first place in its gameplay. However in COD4 theres some pretty believable scenarios, the bridge crossing at night in COD4, was pretty believable, so maybe a scene like that might work in that game.. But in MW3 none of that works because its SO over the top..So the scenes where people like the mother and daughter get hurt, doesnt even have shock value, it just comes across as a freakshow.

nathangray
nathangray

Actually, I sort of agree. I can't believe I'm saying that.

 

Here's the thing, I LOVE gore. Love, love, love it! But just like horror, it can get to a point where it's over the top and loses its impact, because it's just everywhere. It belongs in games like Mortal Kombat where that's expected, it belongs in games going for realism like a really good war FPS, etc. Basically, gore has a place, but that place isn't in EVERY video game, ever. It's just not. Has anyone ever actually seen a gunshot wound? Like, a real one? Unless you're nailing someone in an artery, you're not going to see fountains of blood splash out all at once, and even then it doesn't happen as fast as portrayed. 

 

I liked the days when gore made me go...OMG! Did you see that!?....now I just sort of yawn and wait for the cinematic to finish so I can move on. I'd prefer a much more realistic amount of gore in a game; don't hide from it or censor it, but don't over-dramatize it, either.

jackbrazil
jackbrazil

Its turning in to a excuse to do a game in my opnion, just put heavy gore in it and it will succed.

They are overdoin it, i mean its welcome in a game like god of war, Wolverine or even the fallout way( ur killing monsters, bandits savages in a world that means nothing.)

Now what they did in Max Payne for example wasnt necessary , so u stop the camera just to unload ur gun and see blood, is that really necessary? kill the guy and go on Max, u r not a butcher!

 

Its a complement , a realistic touch, but not main feature of a game.

 

armedvigilante
armedvigilante

i dont mind violence but i just dont like sex in video games. like that really in depth nude first person scene in Far Cry 3... the game doesnt need it and isnt the main characters motivation to save his girlfriend? that wasnttttt his girlfriend

Pink_Troglodyte
Pink_Troglodyte

Good. I'm glad someone invested in video games can actually say this (not that I really care for epic mickey games).

 

The moral and social arguments aside, when video game characters explode into a mess of blood and ground meat every time they're shot with a bullet or poked with a knife, it usually doesn't make for a very artistic experience.

 

Sometimes I feel like I'm watching "ouch my balls" from the movie Idiocracy when I try to play certain games.

Elite_Bushido
Elite_Bushido

whats funny is that the gore in games isnt even close to how gruesome it is, in real life

kingotnw
kingotnw

Strangely, I don't full on disagree with him. Some of the violence in games is getting to the fetish level, and it's just a bit too much in a common game. There's really no need for me to be splitting open someone's but and strangling them with their own intestines in a God Of War game. I would hope that people could be a bit more creative than that so the violence didn't have to approach that level in a AAA game. When the next consoles come out next year, and already on PCs to a degree, games are going to be hard to distinguish from reality. I think people will feel a little different about it when that time comes. Not every game can be a "gore" genre game, just how not every movie is a movie where people are sliced into tiny pieces.

 

Don't get me wrong. I love my gory games, just like the rest of you. But it does seem a little much at times.

Dopey2400
Dopey2400

I don't understand why it's so difficult for people to fully grasp at what Warren Spector is saying. It's not rocket science and it's not as bad as most people want to believe it is. Please read the article then post, not read the title then post.

gMcR
gMcR

I'm sorry Warren, but you're wrong.

gameking5000
gameking5000

Thankfully the best games out there don't have this ultraviolence. Developers should realise that. 

RockySquirrel
RockySquirrel

Sam the Eagle says:

 

"We need more decent, cultural, healthy games, and less ultraviolent games designed by WIERDOS!... Now let's all enjoy a performance by Wayne and Wanda..."

Yakol
Yakol

Humans have always fetishized violence since the dawn of civilization. In fact the argument can be made that having a tool like this a video format can lower physical tendencies due the fact that occasionally after I've had a very tough day at work cause my boss is an ass instead of killing him i go home and shoot a ton of people in GTA and actually feel better and laugh at the people i just set on fire. Yes we worry about the children, but lets say this here and now that is not the responsibility of a video game company. It is a parents job to tell the child that it is not really an you cannot do this in real life or just not buy the game for them at all. Can we quit it with the video game violence thing? It's simple really if you don't like it don''t play it, if you don't want to see it don't look at it, and if you don't want your child to be influenced by it THEN DON'T BUY IT.

 

This message brought to you by the Are You Really That Stupid Foundation ( or A.Y.R.T.S.F as I prefer)

 

Yours in Madness 

Dimitri Yakol

zeroking420_666
zeroking420_666

don't be mad Warren Spector just because Epic Mickey was horrible doesn't mean that you have to hate it just make you look silly.

Dopey2400
Dopey2400

 @Permafry_42 This is exactly what I have been saying. Thanks for actually reading the article and not just reading the heading and jumping to silly conclusions. 

 

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

 @LE5LO While hitman is violent, its not ultra violent, you don't have fountains of blood and when you pop someone with a pistol their head doesn't explode etc

damnstraight003
damnstraight003

 @GryphonICD Indeed, how hindered we are by the shackles of our inhibition. Alas, how my ancestral DNA longs to hold a warm clump of feces in my hand and hurl it at unsuspecting passers-by in good sport! Curse these notions of "decency" I say! Let us live how our cousins the apes do, the pure and honest way!

wes4mu089
wes4mu089

 @stan_boyd Yet all of these have and can be seen in movies. Video games are simply a form of interactive media, and personally I am glad that they are now reaching out to mature audiences. Games aren't just for kids anymore and I'm glad that these companies have the balls to really push the limits. If you ask me, people are just making a bigger deal about it than need be. And guess what? If you can't handle the nudity, or the violence?... don't play it. Believe it or not, there is a rating label on the box that tells you that all of these are in the game you're playing. Does it have to be there?... no. But really, does all the shit we see on TV need to be there either? Its not gonna change... and I think if anything this all comes down to consumer censorship... leave it at the choice of the people purchasing the game, what they can handle versus what they can't. And for god's sake, if you can't handle it?... and buy it anyway?... you're simply suffering from your own ignorance. -_-

exarkuniv
exarkuniv

 @kingotnw  Yea i feel you on that.  It is getting to be a little much when almost every game that come out now seems to be pushing the violence card.... and anything else that i would have to add you already said perfectly.

Scholar_Of_Time
Scholar_Of_Time

 @Yakol Same can be said about a couple of governors who blame videogames for "potentially bad behavior" an-..you can see where this is going..

LE5LO
LE5LO

@stan_boyd Yeah but I think Spector was getting at that kind of game. i don't think Spector was specifically pointing at games like Thrill Kill, Madworld and Manhunt. I think he was pretty much generalizing the majority of AAA games this generation ;)

GryphonICD
GryphonICD

 @damnstraight003 BTW just read your very interesting blog on here. Have you tried Binary Domain? May not break many boundaries but did feel the acting was very good and I actually wound up havng different thoughts and feelings towards each character which I thought was rather well done.

GryphonICD
GryphonICD

 @damnstraight003 It's not so much that although I do like your reply. I'm saying more that we are violent beings through nature and it is through nurture that we learn to shackle down those feelings usually through demonstrating severe consequence (usually via punishment from parents, schooling, law etc.). Takes a village to raise a child as they say. Gaming doesn't so much create violence, it merely taps into what is already there, albeit more innate, to create an arena where that aspect may be released in a safe and non repurcussive environment. I enjoy violent games, but I do not feel the urge to go out and lamp the next person I see. Instead my aggressive steam is blown off through shooting pixels or whathaveyou. This is not really a new thing, it has been inb evidence for decades now. 

stan_boyd
stan_boyd

 @wes4mu089 so gratuitous nudity and over blown gore is for mature audiences? Wow I must of become more immature as I aged cause that was the kind of thing that would have excited me when I was 13.

GryphonICD
GryphonICD

 @damnstraight003 True enough on the hardwire front, although kids do start out slapping each other without the need to be shown. Then as parents we tell them 'no, that's not acceptible' and they slowly learn not to as it is wrong to do so. Screaming, shouting, fits etc. also aren't picked up so much as become frustrated reactions from the younger mind. I also like the repurcussive elements of some games. Deus Ex was really good at mastering that aspect, so much so I ended up trying to be the good guy. Besides, I like the sneakier aspects anyhow. It makes games more challenging if you try not to kill but stealthily disable. All too easy to just shoot someone and go ballistic. Hitman is another good one for making you make that choice, although it's less about morals. And no worries. Your first reply caused me to think you and I have mental similarities (as it's the sort of sarcastic thing I'd come up with) and the intelligent blog only cemented that fact further. I enjoy a good well thought out discussion over 'no u smell of wee, noob' which is frankly pointless. I also really need to leanr how to make paragraphs on this site. They never seem to seperate!

damnstraight003
damnstraight003

 @GryphonICD  Well thanks for explaining (and checking the blog!). I disagree that we are violent by nature, I think human nature is a little more nuanced than that. In fact neuroscience tells us that empathy is hard-wired into our brains, not necessarily learned. I also enjoy violent video games without feeling a need to carry that virtual violence into reality: to me, the "fun" of killing virtual enemies just comes from the very obvious indication that I've "won" by killing them. In games like Metal Gear Solid or Deus Ex, for example, I'm just as happy knocking my foes unconscious as I am killing them. Sometimes the kills can be more cinematic though, and in games with blood and gore it really drives the point home and makes it spectacular.

 

I'm not concerned with violence in games, but I am concerned that the technology which allows us to put on this spectacle of violence distracts us from whether or not the gameplay is actually any good. I am inclined to agree with Spector though on the notion that violence should have some gravity, that when in a game the player ends a life, they understand the impact of that.