The fallout from E3, and the issue of ultra-violence in video games has been a huge discussion point for gamers in recent weeks. This discussion can be attributed, at least in part to Warren Spector's comments, and his statement "ultra-violence has to stop". Last night, at a Game Masters event, Spector expanded a little on his thoughts on E3, and clarified a few things.
"I will stand by every word I said," he began, "but I do have to clarify. I basically said that the ultra-violence has to stop... I was pretty appalled with what I saw at E3.
"I wish people would stop making stupid games. I wish everybody made games like I do, but it’s not realistic and it’s not my place. I’m really not trying to tell people what to like. That’s the first point.
"The second thing is, I wasn’t so upset… I could give a damn about video game violence, I don’t believe games cause anything. I started out as a film critic, I was serious, I was working on my doctorate, I was gonna be a professor… and I was a humanist, I was always arguing with the social scientists who were saying TV was going to destroy everything, oh no wait, it’s rock and roll! Oh wait, now it’s movies. No, it’s novels — because kids should be out living life not reading about it. No wait it was Shakespeare because, because he thinks he can break out of blank verse, he’s creating low brow entertainment for criminals hanging out at the globe theatre! Whatever medium the adults don’t get, kids like."
According to Warren Spector, the problem is not necessarily the violence itself, but the way in which it was presented.
"There were two things that bugged me," said Spector. "Bad taste. We crossed a line. When you’re fetishizing violence… slow motion blood sprays is not mature content. The lollipop sucking, sexualised teenage girl with a chainsaw is not mature content. A woman who’s character is defined by rape, is not mature content. There’s more mature content in Disney Epic Mickey than in any of those games.
"I wish people wouldn’t make games like that, I genuinely do, but when I hear whooping and hollering about that, and the gaming press and gamers getting all excited about that I want to go slither into a corner and die."
The main worry, believes Spector, is not that well-made, innovative games don't exist. The problem is we're shining the spotlight on one specific sub-set of games. The ones featuring fetishised violence.
"E3 is our one opportunity to talk to the world," he said. "That’s where games — which I think are the most beautiful medium and the medium that is going to dominate this century — get to talk to the world. There are beautiful non-violent games, there are beautiful violent games, there are stupid violent games — the variety of content in video games now is our greatest strength. If you have an idea there’s a way to reach an audience with that idea.
"The bottom line is there is such a variety of games being made right now and we showed the world none of it. E3 was about ultra violence that is fetishised. And Nintendo.
"I thought that did gamers a disservice. It did the medium a disservice and I am furious about that."