Warren Spector: "The ultraviolence has to stop"

"The veteran designer talks about disturbing trends at E3, and how Epic Mickey 2 is different

Disney Interactive Studios
Warren Spector has created many much-loved games in his long career, but Epic Mickey is one his proudest moments. Now he's working on the sequel, and he was busy at E3 showing the game to the world. GamesIndustry International caught up with him after the show to get his thoughts on E3 and the response to Epic Mickey2: The Power of 2.

Full disclosure: I've known Warren since the early 1980's, when we were both working on tabletop games. It feels odd to schedule an interview with an old friend, but then it's about the best way to get a chance to talk to him these days.", writes GamesIndustry.

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PopRocks3592138d ago

So how many insecure frat/CoD gamers wish to call him out as an idiot who doesn't know what he's talking about?

I don't think super violent games need to stop, but they certainly have become the bulk of the industry. Halo, CoD, Gears of War, Killzone and other such M-rated shooters are some of the most popular games in the industry. I don't think games make people killers but just like any movie, it can desensitize a person from death and gratuitous violence. No two cases are the same; it depends on the person.

Warren Spector may be jumping to an extreme with that quote, but he is definitely on the spot in starting this debate.

StarFox2138d ago (Edited 2138d ago )

mainstream appeal, is all i gotta say. the maistreaam loves all this "Ultraviolence" but in the end eventually the appeal will die off at least to casuals. as the saying goes "what goes up, must come down" its impossible to avoid even COD will meet that end its just of matter of time. not to say i don't like violence in my games.

as for epic mickey 2 im not at all interested in that game but epic mikey power of illusion for 3ds has my attention. that game reminds me so much of the disney side scrollers i used to play on the snes. that game is a must buy for me.

Gaming1012137d ago (Edited 2137d ago )

Mainstream appeal may be what companies are after, but at the end of the day you shape your audience.

When you play State of Emergency, you're not so disturbed the next time you see a game with someone shooting up a shopping mall.

When you play games with adolescent approaches to sex and violence and calling them mature (as opposed to actual mature approaches), it's hugely distasteful and really shows the immaturity of the medium, both on the developer standpoint and the consumer standpoint. It's the reason noone takes the videogames industry seriously, because we're all a bunch of noodnicks buying into all this crap.

It appeals to the lesser sophisticated part of us, and people by and large aren't very sophisticated so of course this approach works from a money standpoint with sales - to the detriment of actual sophisticated people who want their hobby to be taken seriously.

darthv722137d ago

perhaps but games are becoming like movies and tv. Mostly filler with the stuff that is used when there lacks a deep involving story.

Violence, sex and vulgar language are overly used in mainstream media that it is overshadowing the really good stuff underneath.

I like my fair share but when you have to resort to using those as selling points then you really have nothing. The finished product becomes stereotypical at best.

Games used to be about fun and enjoyment but now they are about frags and

nukeitall2137d ago

I have no problem with violence, sex, vulgarity or anything else. It's free expression and if that is what people like, that's fine.

Who am I to judge others if they aren't doing anything harmful towards others!

In later news, the crime rate has been declining in major cities for ages as violence has increased on TV!

pixelsword2137d ago

I'm not against non-violent-violent video games, I just want the sex back then. :)

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Diver2138d ago

sorry but hes a dude making a game about a animated character an he sounds like a puppet. fact is this is part of his epic mickey 2 sales pitch an he needs it after epic mickey 1.

also he needs to take a deep swig off the ole hypocrite wine bottle considering some of the games he made. maybe not as violent as those today but that's just splitting hairs over how much violence is allowed how do we decide that? with a panel of spector apologists?

MysticStrummer2138d ago (Edited 2138d ago )

"Warren Spector may be jumping to an extreme with that quote, but he is definitely on the spot in starting this debate."

You must be very new to gaming. This debate has gone on for a loooooong time, at least since the early 90s with Doom and Mortal Kombat. Those were the first games I remember reading about that caused this debate anyway.

Bimkoblerutso2137d ago (Edited 2137d ago )

It was a very different debate back then. Those games were not a normal occurrence back in the 90's, so the mere fact that they even existed was very controversial.

The debate has shifted more toward the realization that a very, VERY large portion of our games these days hinge on the same ultraviolence that was so controversial in only one or two games way back when.

For the most part, it's not a condemnation of ultraviolence (everyone likes blowing some virtual heads off every now and then), but it is a condemnation of it's near omnipresence in the industry. It has essentially come to define gaming as a whole, and given the mediums unique properties and potential for creativity, it's more than a little sad that so many developers nowadays simply stoop to the "kill, kill, kill, repeat," aesthetic.

Flavor2137d ago

I remember walking into the arcade at Disney world when i was a kid and playing Mortal Kombat.. with the blood turned off. that about sums it up.

Drake1172138d ago

I don't mind violence in video games but it is making it seem like the industry has lost alot of the charm it had in previous gens. Like what happened to the good old platformers or adventure games. It seems like most big devs these days go for the realism and ultra violence instead of the sort of imaginary and creative. I still do like violent games and most of the good games this gen have been very violent, i just wish they had more variety like they used to.


The thing is even those old games had the violence there, but as graphics evolved, we expected a more real approach.

When a crocodile got you in Pitfall, it wasn't simple biting you 'till you blink and disappear, it was violently killing you for food. It's just natural that if it was done today there would be some gore.

Just like that, there's deliberatelly killing in games since forever... What you think mario stomp goombas for? Just cause there wasn't a gooey plast left behind doesn't mean it isn't violence.

Violence is just a visceral form of interaction. Gore came from the natural evolution of graphics... Hence "ultraviolence" is not necessarily a catch to sell as much as it's natural evolution of games towards a more realistic presentation.

Don't get me wrong, I also want more creativity in gameplay beyond just killing everything that moves. But I also don't want to go back to text based adventures just to avoid "ultraviolence".

Drake1172137d ago

Yeah i def don't want to go back to text based adventures lol and i do think, like you said that alot of the violence you see in video games is because of the evolution of graphics but i def think devs these days just try for the realism. Take Naughty Dog for instance, i absolutely love their games this gen with uncharted, and The Last of Us seems to be like it will be one of the best games this gen but they are both pretty violent and realistic video games compared to what they did in the past with Jak and Daxter or Crash Bandicoot. Devs this gen (Like ND) still make great games, its just that it seems like they are shooting for a more realistic/violent style.

TekoIie2138d ago

"Warren Spector may be jumping to an extreme with that quote, but he is definitely on the spot in starting this debate".

You havent heard of Fox News have you? Just look up the MW2 No Russian controversy and you'll find that just about everyone who calls out video games for violence doesnt know what they're talking about.

When these people who criticise gaming become intelligent and informed people i will take them seriously...

theDECAY2137d ago

He's been developing and creating games for years. I feel like that makes him informed.

JaredH2138d ago (Edited 2138d ago )

All he's talking about is violence where there's no rhyme or reason for it. If there's context he doesn't care.(he uses Deus Ex: Human Revolution as an example) Judging from most of these comments I'm guessing people never even read any of the interview.

I'm okay with ultra-violence but I do agree with him in that context should make it meaningful.(The Last of Us e3 demo for example)

extermin8or2137d ago

Are you saying it had no meaning in The Last of Us deom or that it did, because in what we saw as far as were could see Joel started the violence however clearly it was infact started prior to that point by various survivors attacking you :p

JaredH2137d ago (Edited 2137d ago )

I'm saying that it's a good example of meaningfully using extreme violence since Naughty Dog is making the game very violent just to make the dire post apocalyptic and kill or be killed world more dramatic and emotional.

SilentNegotiator2138d ago

I'd really like to stab this man in the face. And call an airstrike on his next of kin.

It would be nice to see less games where offensive (Not "I'm so offended!", taking the "offensive"), violent actions are the ultimate goal.

Punching, shooting, and stabbing can't always be the end of it. That's not the solution, maaaan! Violence doesn't solve anything, bro!

How about more games with stealth? Something where I'm not a badass with two ballers or blades. Why would I even be stealthy if I had those things?

How about more games with strategic and psychological means of meeting goals?

asmith23062138d ago

I don't get this 'violence in video games' argument. Its as simple as having an M rating on the box, just like movies do. I'm an adult and I should be allowed to decide what games of any rating I want to play. Likewise, developers should be allowed to make they game they want without being criticised as long as the correct rating is on the box. After that its down to parents who let their kids play M rated games. And if thats where the problem lies then call out parenting problems in society, not the games. Nuff said.

mysterym2137d ago

Epic mickey can shove it. i'll keep the violence thanks.

avengers19782137d ago

There has been violent video games since video games started, atari 2600 had games were you shot people, its basically the fact that now we have the graphics to back up what you are seeing is more real life.
That's why there is a rating system

Warren spector makes non-violent video games, and shocker he wants violent video games(that out sell his by a lot) to come to an end.

As long as there the top selling games then they will continue to keep coming out, and thank you consumers.

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NYC_Gamer2138d ago

I enjoy violence in my video games...I was amazed when first played MK in the arcade and was able to use Johnny Cage and knock the other characters head off..That was just so wow for me since was used to fighting games like SF...

PopRocks3592138d ago

A game can be incredibly fun, even without violence. Portal is a critically acclaimed non-violent game that was written for adults. I think you're just looking at the wrong non-violent games.

NYC_Gamer2138d ago (Edited 2138d ago )

I have no problem with non- violent video games...I'm just not gonna jump on the bandwagon and claim violence in video games should end...Both violent and non-violent games have there place in the industry....

OmniSlashPT2138d ago

So you're comparing a puzzle game to a fighting game?

That's like comparing chess to MMA. That's just ridiculous.

PopRocks3592138d ago

Did you read my comment? I never said you should jump on any bandwagon. My personal belief is that violent games have become excessive and abundant. After a new CoD, Halo and Gears of War come out, it's nice to be able to play something more mellow or even just more down to earth.

It's like listening to one genre of music for too long. I'll eventually get bored of it.

solidjun52138d ago

Did you read his comment? He said both have thier place in the industry. Violent games have become excessive and abundant in your view, but you choose not to play them. However, there are other games you can play and do play. But a lot don't share your personal belief.

DarthJay2137d ago

They are in excess and abundance because that is what people want to play. Supply and demand. When I want mindless fun of the non-violent persuasion, I throw in a LEGO game or Minecraft. There are options there. But companies are going to appeal to what the market dictates.

If someone creates a beautiful story that provides the excapism necessary to capture the minds of the masses, people will buy it regardless of the context.

-Gespenst-2138d ago


That's troubling though. Games make violence seem like it's some sort of attractive and impressive thing. Which it definitely isn't. The idea of violence is redefined in a false manner by games, and this can effect how a culture understands violence, effect that understanding in a highly unhealthy (for want of a better word) way.

TekoIie2138d ago (Edited 2138d ago )

"The idea of violence is redefined in a false manner by games".

That went right over my head. I understand what your sort of saying but i dont see how.

I think what your getting at is that we have control over how the violence is unleashed which has never been done before. But at the same time why is it that we cant argue movies and TV do this too?

When i was VERY young i watched an episode of power rangers and afterwards went jumping round the house like they do in the show. Did it on the stair jumped and nocked my head on the banister after landing on another step badly and knocking two teeth out (baby ones thank god). Now did my Mum or Dad go on a media crusade to ban power rangers and any form of violence from TV? NOoOoOo they didnt....

The real answer is to all this is that Violence in video games isnt going too far. People are just look for something to bitch and whine about nowadays althought there will be a select few who really believe that its wrong and i will have faith that they are intelligent enough to do research and prove there points/beliefs properly and if they have a legitimate argument then i will respect them for that.

AWBrawler2138d ago

I get what he is saying. Tho I will be buying Resident evil 6 and zombiu this year, I don't want my entire library to be bloody gore games. What happened to the days where something like Mario, Spyro, Psychonauts, and Beyond good and Evil could win game of the year?

Kurt Russell2138d ago

Ahhh my first fatalitie... it changed my life! Now I am spoiled for blood and violence. No complaints from me, let the bodies hit the floor.

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metsgaming2138d ago

Wonder if hes seen soul sacrifice yet lol

STONEY42137d ago (Edited 2137d ago )

He made one of the last games which allowed you to kill children. And probably the only one where you can blow them up into gibs.

Skateboard2138d ago

Nothing needs to stop, I like both.

Zhipp2138d ago

I think there have been way too many M rated games these past few years. I mean, kids play games too. Maybe there would be fewer obnoxious 12 year olds playing CoD if there were more T and E rated games for them.

Hicken2138d ago

And the reason M rated games are rated "M" is so you know not to let kids play them. There are plenty of games NOT rated M that they can play. More, in fact, than those that ARE.

The problem is that people BUY M rated games for their kids to play. After all, unless they're breaking the law- and thus subjected to being fired/arrested- no one can sell a person under 17 an M rated game; most places, like GameStop, even require ID to purchase said titles.

Don't blame the abundance of kids playing games they shouldn't be playing on the games. Blame it on the people who LET them play: the parents.

On topic: The violence does not need to stop. It's just as relevant as a game like Flower, which has no violence at all. The wonderful thing about gaming is that there are dozens of genres and hundreds of thousands of games, all designed to cater to SOMEBODY.

Don't like porn games? You don't have to buy em.

Not a fan of shooters? Skip em.

Motion gaming not your thing? That's A-okay.

There's still something out there that will appeal to you. And chances are, there are a dozen or more just like it.

Leave the "ultraviolent" games to those who want to play/make them; you do your own thing. Nobody's gonna be upset, so long as there's a balance.

MysticStrummer2138d ago

No. There would be fewer kids playing M rated games if their parents didn't buy the game for them. Those ratings are there for a reason but they're ignored.