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Several pundits, including us at VideoGamer.com, have commented on the trend for extreme violence among the games at E3 2012. Now we can add Warren Spector to the list of concerned parties.

"This is the year where there were two things that stood out for me," the Deus Ex creator told gamesindustry.biz.

"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."

Spector explains that the the growing trend for violent game design was one of the reasons why he left Eidos back in 2004. And now he feels that things have gotten worse.

"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."

Disney Epic Mickey 2: The Power of Two screenshot

As for the second thing Spector noticed, he's also worried about the way console-makers are increasingly turning their attention away from games:

"When the games are the least interesting part, there's a problem. When did the game conference become about interfacing with Netflix? I just worry a little bit.

"The thing that's ironic is that I feel like we really are in a golden age, in a weird sort of way. Nobody knows what the future of games is. Nobody. At a time like that Notch can come along and do Minecraft, and Chris Hecker can finally do his incredible party spy game, and Jon Blow can do Braid, and I can do a triple-A Mickey Mouse game - anything is possible."

Spector is currently working on Epic Mickey 2, which is due for release this September on all leading formats. Apart from the Vita and the 3DS - the latter is getting Disney Epic Mickey: Power of Illusion.

VideoGamer.com Analysis

Someone please buy that man a drink.

Most gamers will agree with Spector's second observation, but I hope a few people see where he's coming from with the first point, too. I'm someone who has always gravitated towards violent games, and even I felt that a lot of the stuff on show this year was a bit gratuitous.

When the blood-letting becomes the main attraction – or the only one, for that matter - we've got to ask ourselves serious questions.

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User Comments

altaranga's Avatar

altaranga@ munkee

You are correct. I take it back.
Posted 22:12 on 17 June 2012
Batmamerc's Avatar


It was announced this week that age ratings will be treated the same as age ratings on alcohol, cigs and gambling and vendors will face the same laws and punishment for selling games to persons under the age rated. I do agree there is too many violent games I wouldn't say there is too much violence in those games though. Making games more gory I think makes younger players distinguish right and wrong and effect violence has on people. Older games where you could shoot someone in there head and they would just fall down shown had no cause to there actions where as I think seeing blood and guts when doing the same action has more of an effect and is certainly needed in games which are violent. But I do think the slow mo glorifying of brutal kills needs to be kept in the movies and not provoke people to try and get the most brutal disturbing kills unless the aim of the game is to just get the most adventurous kills like in bulletstorm. There needs to be higher ratings in games too to 18 isn't high enough I wasn't mature enough at 18 to play some of the games of todays 18s.
Posted 15:25 on 17 June 2012
guyderman's Avatar

guyderman@ Wido

You have a good point with the character development Wido, but it does feel like the reason the characters have been moved in this direction is to cater for a wider audience - it is certainly a lot more understandable in Splinter Cell as Sam's role has changed drastically and he has been through a lot especially over the last couple of games. The change to Ghost Recon though has nothing to do with Character development - it was blatant that they wanted a different pace to the game and to aim it at a different audience.

BTW please don't take this as me putting the games down as I LOVED Conviction and FS is a solid modern day shooter - although it has lost it's identity slightly.
Posted 21:04 on 16 June 2012
thedanyrand's Avatar


I can say Im 100% with the the second point, Its really annoying that the biggest announcements from "gaming" seem to be how to watch your movies or go online. As far as the ultra violence I can say I see his point but for myself I dont see it that way.

Games have always had violence but with as advanced as the graphics are now it looks much more realistic so it effects people more. Seeing someone get shot on a SNES game compared to a PS3 will seem a lot less graphic just because youre not seeing it as clearly which I think does impact how we take it in.

The other point Id make is you have to look at it for a story sake. In The Last Of Us the kills seemed very realistic and brutal more so then I think Iv seen in most games. If you take yourself out of the mindset of just how violent it is in a game and look at it as what would or could happen if the world was in that kind of apocalyptic setting then things could get that rough and it makes sense.

This is just me speaking for myself though I dont have kids to worry about being desensitized and I know what Im playing wont effect how I at or behave, so just as far am Im concerned I dont see it being a huge problem. At least not anymore so now than its ever been.

Thus ends my novel of a post lol
Posted 16:26 on 16 June 2012
Wido's Avatar


It seems people have forgotten what Splinter Cell has now become. Double Agent was trying to phase out the old Fisher and bringing in the new Fisher, because of character development. I liked Conviction very much and Blacklist is making you feel like a Fisher who will get the job done by any means than rather sneaking around doing the 'Ghost' option.

Of course opinions will clash, but I have been a Splinter Cell fan since it first arrived. I like the new direction they are taking Splinter Cell, and many others agree. I disagree with this:

Splinter Cell is again is the signs of another Tom Clancy game losing everything that was GREAT about Tom Clancy games and instead catering to the CoD audience in hope to take a bite of that big fat money pie!

Not being funny Guy, but that is a load of bollocks right there. Again, like I previously said, character development over the series games, which we don't normally see. Does the Master Chief act any different from Halo 1 to 3? Not one bit in my opinion. Splinter Cell we see one man who sticks by the code, Double Agent we saw a man who didn't know what to do with the decisions and choices made by the player. Conviction we see Fisher a complete mess, yet hellbent on revenege and with Blacklist.... A man with stability from the events of Conviction and Double Agent, yet still ruthless to get the job done.

Still love ya Guy! :laugh:

Ultraviolence? Pfft! I agree with Lee on what he said, we won't be seeing any violence moving away at any time at all. Just because action games is the top dog at the moment for gaming doesn't mean the whole industry is that way minded. Hell, look at the films and music! Didn't what's her face come under some criticism because of her music videos being a bit raunchy for children? People are way too fecking sensitive!
Posted 15:54 on 16 June 2012
munkee's Avatar

munkee@ altaranga

Just to clarify Lee's comment. He doesn't refer to us as meatheads for wanting to play the game.

Originally Posted by CheekyLee
because some meatheads still think that it is all that people want from games.

Back onto what you're saying, I think that you're right in stating that violence is in the eye of the beholder. You refer to the violence in Last of Us as the shotgun/head scene. Whereas the scene that sticks in my mind for being violent is the dude getting his head smashed against the cabinet. Interestingly, the section that made the NPC squeamish was watching the enemy set on fire by a molotov cocktail.

Even in my own tastes; I don't enjoy Saw, or Hostel, because I don't enjoy the concept of watching a film for the sake of violence, rather than watching violence because it contextually fits within its setting. Yet, I love Manhunt (game) and find it to be one of the most memorable and enjoyable video game experiences I've had. Perhaps realism is a factor in grading violence. Tom and Jerry cartoons are violent as hell, but kids can be sat in front of the tellybox without fear of mental grief. I find films like Tokyo Gore Police stupidly entertaining, but I can't watch telly programmes about human operations.

I don't really have a problem with the violence in games. In fact, I quite enjoy being brutal in games and on occasions torturing NPC's. What I have a problem with is the industry marketing games based on violence. I also have a BIG *****ing problem with the industry glorifying and marketing these games to minors. That (18) on the box doesn't mean ***** and publishers know it.
Posted 13:50 on 16 June 2012
altaranga's Avatar


I will go out on a limb here and say that the ultraviolence does NOT have to stop, but we should be careful with how it is used.

First off I'm not entirely sure at what point violence becomes ultra; I guess it's in the eye of the beholder. For me, personally, it implies too much. But too much for what? Surely a lot depends on the type of game. I'm not a big fan of violence for violence's sake, in video games and in films. I don't like the Saw movies, simply because I think they're sh!t with how they use violence. Now take a film like Saving Private Ryan where the opening half an hour is one of the most bloody I've ever seen, and the scene near the end where the bloke gets stabbed is one of the most uncomfortable. Yet this film the violence is very much in context and a part of the story.

Taking Lee's example above of The Last of Us. I'd wager he hasn't played it yet so I am assuming he is calling it ultraviolent from seeing the trailer. Yes the trailer had violence in it (a chap got his head shot off with a shotgun ffs, and although I did rather glibly post a screenshot of that it was more because it surprised me than anything else) but it's probably a bit premature to call it 'ultra'. Calling all those looking forward to it meatheads is also a bit unfair in that regard because it assumes we are just looking forward to the blood. Not true. From what I have read and seen so far it is reminds me of books/films I have read/watched and enjoyed. The story and premise looks intriguing, and it's Naughty Dog.

I do agree with the sentiment of the piece, though, at least in part. There is a definite trend towards using violence to sell games and that trend needs curbing (note: not stopping). Whether it's becoming ultra or not I don't know, but I do think that violence for the sake of it is not the direction the games industry needs to be heading.
Posted 12:32 on 16 June 2012
guyderman's Avatar


Splinter Cell is again is the signs of another Tom Clancy game losing everything that was GREAT about Tom Clancy games and instead catering to the CoD audience in hope to take a bite of that big fat money pie!
Exactly the same thing that happened with Ghost Recon - don't get me wrong FS is a pretty solid game - but it has lost all of the previous Ghost Recon games class and pace and instead opted for typical loud military characters, action movie set pieces and action movie cut scenes - Ghost Recon had it's own vibe that was generated by it's subtlety that suited the 'Ghost' part of the title - the new one is Gears of War/CoD with Semi invisible coaking to give us the 'Ghost' part of the title!
Posted 08:03 on 16 June 2012
CheekyLee's Avatar


Consider the incredulity that Spector's own announcement that Epic Mickey 2 would have songs in it met on the internet, and then think about how Last of Us is many people's favourite title shown at E3. I'd say that the violence isn't going to go away any time soon, because some meatheads still think that it is all that people want from games.
Posted 11:31 on 15 June 2012
munkee's Avatar


I made my point about this yesterday on the Lara Croft rape topic.

I was also going to write a post today, but I'll just get my point across here.

The new Splinter Cell game is shocking. As a Splinter Cell (and Tom Clancy games) fan I was pretty let down by the gameplay footage at E3. Leaving the shadows and becoming a hunter is a shame, but my main grievance is over Sam's new-found bloodlust. Remember when he used to be a classy spy? He would sneak though the shadows of enemy territory avoiding detection. He would sometimes sneak upon his enemies and knock them unconscious, dragging their bodies back into the shadows so that they can wake up safely later that day. The player would be awarded for not being seen, or not killing.

2012: Blacklist.
YouTube Video

He's a nasty, violent, cold-blooded killer. The gameplay opens with Sam smashing heads in.

At 2:10 the narrative explains that Sam is "Seeking out his next target."

At 2:25 we're shown "Execute ready"

At 3:02 we're told "Sam always has multiple ways to tackle any situation", but only shown remorseless violence.

Sam makes no attempt to avoid contact throughout the entire video. He even waits for more enemies to arrive at one spot so he can electrocute them. Splinter Cell has become another victim of action over intelligence. Sure, the game might be fun. But, its just become another graphic kill simulator to add to the pile of graphic kill simulators.
Posted 10:49 on 15 June 2012

Game Stats

Release Date: 23/11/2012
Developer: DreamRift
Publisher: Disney Interactive Studios
Genre: Platformer
Rating: TBC
Site Rank: 2,760 11
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