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Epic Mickey 2 developer condemns violence, non-game apps at E3

by Ethan Powers on June 15, 2012

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    Lines are as commonplace at E3 as are yearly installments of Call of Duty. At E3 2012, we witnessed some pretty long lines including one for Halo 4 that had eager fans waiting over three hours to play just one game of multiplayer. If we had to guess before the show started what would be the one game giving that line a run for its money, it probably wouldn’t have been Epic Mickey 2. Nevertheless, the line zigged and zagged throughout the L.A. Convention Center’s West Hall as people waited anxiously for their Epic Mickey Oswald Ears. Warren Spector, accomplished game designer now hard at work on Epic Mickey 2 and known mainly for his work with Deus Ex, ironically bashed E3 2012 in a recent interview with GamesIndustry for what he saw as an oversaturation of sex and violence:

    “This is the year where there were two things that stood out for me. 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 said that he had decided to cut ties with Eidos Interactive (the studio that had assisted him with Thief: Deadly Shadow) after he saw the direction they wanted to take and the violence they sought to incorporate in their games. After seeing the bulk of what E3 2012 had to offer, Spector claimed it made him thankful to be a part of a development studio like Disney Interactive:

    “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.”

    He continued by attempting to justify the violence seen in Deus Ex and how such instances do not bode similarities to the carnage prevalent in today’s games:

    “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.”

    The blood and explosions weren’t all that bothered Spector at E3. The designer of Epic Mickey 2 was also not keen on the whole “app” business that major publishers are looking to push as consoles become the center of home entertainment:

    “The second thing I noticed was that the most interesting part of the press conferences had nothing to do with 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.”

    We for one, were thoroughly impressed with some of the bloody gameplay we had the opportunity to go hands-on with at E3. The morality and player-decision of Dishonored, the striking visuals of car crashes and gun fights of Watch Dogs, and certainly the very visceral and believable violence of The Last of Us, there’s no question that games are pushing boundaries not before seen within the industry. While we’re of the opinion that violence can in certain cases be used to emphasize genuine human emotion and fervor. Spector on the other hand, believes that the industry is currently caught in a cycle of crude repetition:

    “Pretty much all I saw at E3 was, ‘Well, we’re going to do what we always did, but bigger and bloodier! And we’re gonna talk about Netflix!’ I just don’t get it.”

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