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Spector On Violence In Games: "We've Gone Too Far"

Violence and video games go hand in hand. Some see this as unnecessary and unfortunate, at least in regards to extreme, unnecessary violence.

One of those people is industry design icon Warren Spector, who will help deliver Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two to the PlayStation 3 later this year. In speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, Spector said the "ultraviolence has to stop," and he worries that things have just gone too far.

"I left Eidos in 2004 because I looked around at E3 and saw the new Hitman game where you get to kill with a meat hook, and 25 to Life, the game about kids killing cops, and Crash & Burn the racing game where the idea is to create the fieriest, most amazing explosions, not to win the race... I looked around my own booth and realized I just had one of those 'which thing is not like the other' moments. I thought it was bad then, and now I think it's just beyond bad.

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."

Perhaps this is the most important part of Spector's statement; where he says we're basically only pandering to an adolescent mindset and calling that "mature." We touched on this when we spoke to Dr. Bruce Bartholow, although it didn't make it into the published interview. This idea that extreme violence somehow passes for maturity is something that has infected the entire society; it goes well beyond video games.

That being said, action will have to remain a part of a genre that is primarily interactive. The only question is whether or not there is a line, or if there should be a line...and yes, there probably should. But who draws it?

Tags: warren spector, violent games, violence in games, epic mickey 2

6/14/2012 8:58:26 PM Ben Dutka

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Comments (39 posts)

LimitedVertigo
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 9:54:14 PM
Reply

I like everything and that includes extreme violence and gore. What's the big deal? It's entertainment, not real.

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AcHiLLiA
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 12:39:03 AM

Well I hate the saw movies, saw up to 3 years ago and I thought that should of been the end.

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berserk
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 4:58:10 AM

Same it make the game so much better for me but it don t mean i can t have a blast with games like little big planet and mario .

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___________
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 5:21:17 AM

saw is actually a really good example of the point hes trying to make.
hes trying to say violence is fine as long as it has a purpose, which so many times it does not its just gratuitous gore for the sake of it!
the later saws compare to the original.
the original was such a fantastic movie, it really had a story and a motive it was not just gore for the sake of gore.
the later ones though are exactly that, just torture porn for the sake of torture porn!

this remind me of the whole rape debacle from tomb raider yesterday.
there not including that controversial scene for the sake of string the pot, there adding it for a purpose, to make people feel uneasy.
thats what spector is trying to say, not that oh no todays games are too violent, but to say that far too many games are adding gore for the sake of gore.
GOW3 for example why does it have to be so graphic?
that was the exact reason why so many did not enjoy the game, the developers put so much time and effort into developing the zippier technology and if you watch the making documentary they even spent months researching different types of blood!
now that is over the top!
that is what spector is trying to say, far too many games these days just are extremely graphic just for the sake of it!
violence and graphic natures, mature themes have their place and that is to be used for a reason, for a purpose!
not just so people can exploit them for the sake of sales!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 10:21:23 PM
Reply

What a wuss. He has a point about an adolescent mindset being called mature, but intelligent folks know the difference between mature themes and gore that isn't for kids.

I don't think we've gone far enough. I want Manhunt 3 with the most brutal executions ever known to man.

And guess what? I'm a totally peaceful do-gooder in real life. Big whoop.

Disney fills animation with penises.

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fatelementality
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 10:27:25 PM

That works on so many levels. Ok, maybe just two, but LMAO.

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Trixta09
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 11:23:44 PM

not to mention for manhunt 3 we dont need those stupid blurring animations like they had in manhunt 2 ruined the whole experience for me.

and disney can stay out of this. their sole purpose is to make things for kids. others make games specifically for "adults". theyre probably gonna start filling their games with hidden dicks

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 2:01:55 AM

Through the internet I managed to finagle Manhunt 2 without those blurring effects. It was a much better experience.

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Kevin5
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 3:35:38 AM

@WorldEndsWithMe,

I seriously love this guy. Here's hoping the world ends with just me & you. :p

...................

+1 on your comment good sir.

I too am a good Samaritan in real life & at my job (although on here you probably wouldn't pick it ;))& I play plenty of violent games such as Hitman which has you running around a Xmas party as a slap headed bloke garrotting everyone in sight with a fork. It's violent, sure it is but i have the brains to realize it is nothing more than virtual entertainment, i know the difference between pixels on my screen & whats outside my window. I'm not going to shave my bonce & nick a kitchen utensil after dinner is over & start cutting people up down the road.

It's just a game, regardless of how violent or non violent it is. The people that struggle to find the difference are the ones that need examining before diving into a violent vidya game.

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Underdog15
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 8:57:45 AM

I'm with you as well, World. And the one thing I thought had merit with this guy was the same thing you picked up on as well.

I hope most adults know what they can or cannot handle, and if not, well, they're still adults and should be allowed to make their own decisions and be able to deal with the consequences and make adjustments if it turns out they cannot handle something. I think ultra-violent games are definitely intended for less-than-mature audiences but are then labeled as mature. I've seen youth at the centre I work at get really into some of the more ultra-realistic and violent games, and the mal-adjusted youth with sub-par parents and upbringings are DEFINITELY affected by it. Because the demographic we work with are often very violent youth, we do our part by simply not allowing any M rated games to be played in the centre. Simply too many vulnerable persons. Unfortunately, stores continue to sell M to minors and parents continue to not pay attention when they should. In fact, the parents that DO pay attention are usually the parents who's kids are well-adjusted enough to handle something beyond their years. (You can see the problem now!)

(Don't tell me GTA or CoD isn't loved by teenagers and only adults, for example. lol)

Anyways, it's a complicated topic and likely doesn't have a solution that works. But I think we all know that completely eradicating something just because it negatively impacts a small minority is a slippery slope to start getting into as a society.

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Axe99
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 5:16:40 PM

I'm a bit each-way here. I'm most definitely not violent IRL (well, unless there's a need, but I've very fortunately not had to do anything nasty to date), and I enjoy a good violent game with the next man.

However, I also think there's a focus towards violence and away from gameplay, that does nothing for me. Take Sniper Elite V2 - they've now taken the violence in that game _beyond_ anything anyone would have ever actually seen - I don't particularly want to see a slow-motion disembowling of someone I just shot half a kilometre away, and I don't need to know how many livers I've punctured. And there was a lot of OTT violence at E3 this year that made me think "we've stopped playing the game for the story, we've started playing the game just to see the next OTT disembowling/headshot/you-name-it animation". And personally I prefer contextual violence and a focus on story to something that's designed to appeal to teenagers.

So, for example, I don't mind the violence in MK at all, or God of War - those games were always about being brutal - and I'm really enjoying Space Marine at the moment, because while it's absolutely bloodily violent, it's in context, and all part of the story. But Far Cry 3, Splinter Cell and even to a degree Tomb Raider felt like part of the reward for playing was violence - and I like my violence as a means, not an end.

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fatelementality
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 10:22:10 PM
Reply

I saw the word violence..so I clicked. Did I just lose?

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Lanre611
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 10:29:49 PM
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If people start drawing lines here, then they need to draw lines in other entertainment, like books and movies. (though i hope not)

One of the lately popular series, George Martin's books, A Game of Thrones and etc, have some major violence and ruthlessness in them....

Violence and associated feelings are a part of the world.

I say leave it to the parents to shelter their children; Trust in the ratings and stop crying over it.

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homura
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 10:47:24 PM
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Human is a diverse species, some of us likes violence, sex and drugs even in video games.The world is always going to be imperfect and unbalance,that's what makes it more beautiful, there's always gonna be different kinds of people whether you like it or not.

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The CEO
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 10:52:54 PM
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That's his opinion. My opinion is more violence. That's what makes me American.

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matt99
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 11:30:48 PM
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What I don't like about people like Spector is they assume straight away that violence in entertainment is bad. In fact there is no conclusive evidence to indicate one way or the other, and everyone I know who plays violent video games understands the difference between entertainment and reality.

I'm not saying violence in games is good, but let's not indulge fact free rants.

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CH1N00K
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 11:34:16 PM
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No the problem isn't' the violence in the games, the problem is the parents who buy the M rated games to let their young children play them when they aren't mentally ready to process them, and then blames someone else when Little Johnny ends up on the over pass with a sniper rifle..


Here's an interesting question, How many young Disney Stars grew up to actually be functional adults? Miley is pretty much a stripper, Britney lost her mind, Lindsey's a washed up crack head, Christina..well I'm still not convinced she's back to normal yet...All those years of pretending to be squeeky clean (yes that is a mickey mouse reference) and look at what happened. All the years I've played violent video games, and I have never once felt the urge to shave my head, throw away my underwear, and go on a year long crack binge...But that's just me, and I've never felt the "pressures" of being rich and famous, so maybe I just don't understand.


Last edited by CH1N00K on 6/14/2012 11:45:24 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 2:02:52 AM

Don't forget Justin Timberlake, currently one of the worst actors of all time. Shame on him for ditching his N'Sync pals.

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Underdog15
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 8:58:29 AM

I kinda like him when he shows up on SNL. Just sayin'. I mean, he's no Kristen Wig, but still!

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 12:54:17 PM

I give him a little credit for boffing Cameron Diaz and Janet Jackson. Those are some strong headed women.

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cLoudou
Thursday, June 14, 2012 @ 11:59:39 PM
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I thought gaming went to far when Mario was jumping on goombas heads and kicking turtles. Blame animal cruelty on Mario.

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Underdog15
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 8:59:42 AM

I know... it affected me terribly as a kid. I got a lot of big lectures from my teachers for stepping on goombas and turtles walking on hind legs with boots on in the school yard. Apparently, it just isn't acceptable in the real world.

Last edited by Underdog15 on 6/15/2012 9:00:09 AM

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Kevin5
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 3:01:17 AM
Reply

It's not real, it's just a game. Get over it & get a life. Maybe take a holiday or kick a ball around outside or something?

Books, movies, sport & daily news can be violent too.

Don't like violent books, don't read them.

Don't like violent movies, don't watch them.

Don't like watching violent news then switch off the box & watch a cartoon or a comedy.

The same applies to games, if you don't like the overly violent ones you simply do not play them. It's pretty simple & far better than complaining about them like they're the only medium on this globe that is violent.

This whole world is violent, personally i would be more concerned about real life violence rather than virtual violence. Worry about the real criminals out there who are causing real violence to real people other than the polygonal avatar on my screen who has a polygonal gun shooting polygonal un-human flesh people.

Seriously now, grow up.


Last edited by Kevin5 on 6/15/2012 3:03:10 AM

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Underdog15
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 9:02:12 AM

Good point about the news. The most disturbing thing I've seen in any form of media this year was the violence and body bags of children in Syria...

That sh!t's worse than any video game I've ever played. And it was even on the front page of a local newspaper for any kid to see.

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Kevin5
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 9:20:03 AM

@Underdog,

Totally agree with you mate on the Syrian travesty. Some of the footage you see from there is so disturbing. Really do feel for the children & innocents amidst all the carnage happening over there.

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Shams
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 10:34:40 AM

Be sure to check out ALL major global media outlets. The truth of the matter is even more disturbing.

But, I agree: Blood in video games is a first world problem.

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DarthNemesis
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 4:17:17 AM
Reply

I feel the exact opposite.When I saw Kratos open up that elephants head I drooled.I dont like games like epic mickey so I am glad that games like gow exist for me.

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___________
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 5:26:25 AM
Reply

oh god i can see this being taken the wrong way.
hell it already has!
hes not trying to say that todays games are too violent, hes trying to say that todays games use it too lightly.
violence like all themes are suppose to be used for a reason, to produce a impact to the audience!
and to be honest violence just has lost its impact because of its over use!
talk about being desensitized to it.
far too many games these days just use gore for the sake of using it, not to put out a point or make the audience feel something.
its like the "rape" scene in tomb raider, there not using it to stir the pot and gain sales, there using it to portray the dangerous and unknown feel of the island and the vulnerable nature of lara.
most games dont do that though, they do the opposite.
instead of using it to portray something, they use it just for the sake of gaining a quick buck!
and hes right, it does have to stop!

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Lotusflow3r
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 5:56:49 AM
Reply

He is absolutely spot on.

He's one of the biggest legends in the biz, he knows his stuff.

"saying it's mature, but catering to adolescent teens" SPOT ON.

I watched the gameplay Dishonoured trailer from E3 expecting to be blown away and all the trailer was was slow motion assassin kills over and over to children singing the drunken sailor song.....nonsense.

Then i saw the Sleeping Dogs combat trailer....

Now, don't get it wrong. The game and how good it is probably won't be effected, i'll probably still get Sleeping Dogs or Dishonoured and, hell, i love some violence myself, but if it's going to be too much, it needs to be done in a B-Movie fashion. Sorta like Duke Nukem, i think.

Admire Warren speaking out and highlighting the fact the so-called move to maturity is nonsense when you use insane amounts of violence to sell a game.

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ProfPlayStation
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 12:01:22 PM

Couldn't agree more. I've become very burnt out on the games industry lately, with its constant pandering to the lowest, most degenerate elements of entertainment and calling it "mature," as though hyper-violence, gore, sex and profanity are what makes for an enlightened state of mind. It's like people are willing to excuse absolutely anything as being desirable and normal, as long as it's touted out with the most state-of-the-art graphics and high-budget production. Sometimes I get the feeling that a developer could even come along with a game about child rape, and as long as the graphics and control scheme were developed really well, people would praise it for its artistic message and bringing gaming to a new level of maturity.

More and more I'm finding myself turning back to previous generations and finding new things to play there. Today's game scene is scant pickings if you're not content to swallow any and every kind of debauchery that developers hauling out.

(let the thumbs down commence)

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 12:56:49 PM

The Dishonored trailer did focus on that in a couple areas, but the info suggests there's a lot more to it.

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Robochic
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 7:22:09 AM
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I agree with him to an extent, i do think movies play a bigger role in violence then video games to be honest though for example, hostle i couldn't even finish watching without being emotionally distraught i had nightmares sad for at the time a 26 yr old being afraid to go to bed, same with the SAW movies i could go on but these two are by far the worst for it. I can see his point with some games, i do love epic mickey it's a fun game but i do love some violence in my games :)

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Temjin001
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 10:04:27 AM
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I think with video games the real concern over extreme violence, porn, or any other entertainment that appeals directly to our basest of instincts has more to do with the orientation of our desires and appetite for carnal fulfillment than it does having any real infleuance over reinacting such behavior in day to day life. Entertainment that can create such an appetite for itself and if left unchecked or unconstrained can supress or dam any real personal progress for the greatest capacity each of us possess. Personally, I think TV shows or media that pervert or subtly alter public perception of social norms, like infidelity, casual sex etc., have a greater negative impact on society because it skews public perception of social norms.. but that's a different topic.

Anyway, I really don't think it's blood and guts that's bad.. it's just all biological cells like every living thing.. i get grossed out looking at animal meat for cooking, it's how unconstrained stimulation may infleaunce prolonged idleness or lack of reaching our fullest potential in life because we're too preoccupied with feeding our appetite and not heeding to the responsibilities everyone has for themselves.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 12:59:47 PM

I would definitely be much more worried about the subtle social engineering that pop culture does. No matter how you slice it we still live in a world where television and movies tell society what is okay to say and do (and how to behave in general) whereas video games offer an alternate world in which to do stuff we normally know better than to do.

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DeusExMachina
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 4:20:58 PM
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I really dont mind violence in games at all (no matter how ultra violent) its an extremely good way to relieve stress and have sum mindless fun and I always want that experience available to me in new games but I agree with Spector on a level.

I feel that violent video games has taken up a huge majority of the industry. So much so that other experiences arent in equal supply or of the same techinical quality (yes there are a few, but the unbalance in the industry is stark and very apparent). Besides Ive noticed that a lot of titles aiming for the ultra-violence route lacks a decent narrative usually.

Sorry I just enjoy a good story more, with detailed, developing and relatable characters. I like to enjoy adventure, puzzle solving and item finding, platforming and many other gameplay styles but I dont mind violence at all it makes the game exciting but it shouldnt take such a precedence that everything else gets left behind (which has been pretty common this generation).

Last edited by DeusExMachina on 6/15/2012 4:22:54 PM

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Axe99
Friday, June 15, 2012 @ 5:18:58 PM
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PS - Obviously, there are people that like to play for the violence as an end, and I'm not saying there shouldn't be games like Manhunt and Bulletstorm - just that there does appear to be a trend in the industry for a bit more structuring of the game away from story and more towards violence as a reward, to cater to a certain mindset. Also, this clearly isn't in every game ;).

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Gheta
Monday, June 18, 2012 @ 4:49:54 PM
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"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."

You're glad you work for Disney, a company that is racist all over its tv network and hates gays and treats its employees bad; I wouldn't talk.

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Gravelight
Sunday, June 24, 2012 @ 12:59:17 AM
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I want a game with lots of blood, gore, hardcore sex and drugs, intense language, life-like graphics, and themes of stealing, robbing, explosions everywhere and FIRE! A badda** lead character that smokes dope and rides a motorcycle with a pistol grip shotgun at his side. Killing cops and taking down the evil government to bring peaceful solitude to the world. Has extreme metal music to back the atmosphere, smoky stripper rooms and/or bars, deceitful lies, hilarious pranks, and deals with modern day situations of a lone wolf. Yeah, Manhunt 3 sounds awesome too.

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Gravelight
Sunday, June 24, 2012 @ 1:06:03 AM
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Oh, and on that subject, Disney just dropped all their dicks, ha ha!

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