Warren Spector doesn’t want a bit of the old ultraviolence

, | Games

In a Gamesindusty.biz interview to talk about Epic Mickey 2, Warren Spector made a general observation about violence in games that will pretty much upstage everything he has to say about Epic Mickey 2. That’s why PR folks like to shepherd interviews. It keeps guys like me and Gamasutra from ignoring all the stuff Spector says about Epic Mickey 2 to instead focus on this comment:

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.

After the jump, how about that camera control in Epic Mickey 2?

If Spector doesn’t believe in the effects argument — namely, that witnessing acts of violence makes people violent — then why is there an issue? That’s quite a leap from “it’s in bad taste” to “it has to stop”. No, it doesn’t have to stop. As an adult capable of separating fantasy from reality, I maintain that my entertainment does not have to be in good taste. I love the cheesecake in a mature game like Bayonetta. I thrill to the crassness of House of the Dead Overkill. I can’t get enough stabbing in Assassin’s Creed. I have gunned down hundreds of people in Prototype 2 trying to beat my friends’ high scores. These things, all arguably in bad taste, do not have to stop. Entertainment for adults does not need to pass a good taste test.

Spector later makes this revealing comment.

I think we’re just appealing to an adolescent mindset and calling it mature.

That’s absolutely true, but it’s a semantic issue. Many games that do violence and sexuality do it poorly. Many games do many things poorly. Many games are tediously immature.

But it seems to me Warren Spector is conflating two separate issues, both of which are incredibly important: 1) that videogames need to be very careful about how they introduce violence and sexuality to children, and 2) that it’s okay to make gross, uncomfortable, weird entertainment for adults. Like tentacle rape (don’t worry, that link is work safe). The ultraviolence does not need to stop. It just needs to be safely ensconced behind a meaningful ratings system, where adults like us can talk about whether it’s effective (Bayonetta, House of the Dead Overkill, Splatterhouse, Prototype 2) or not (No Russian in Modern Warfare 2, Lollipop Chainsaw, Postal).

Also, as a guy who routinely mangles names, I love this little slip when Spector is talking about exciting developments in indie games.

Chris Hecker can finally do his incredible party spy game

Party Spy! You get to watch other people have a party! It reminds me of the famous scene in Stardust Memories where Woody Allen sees Sharon Stone and everyone else having a grand time in the other train. Chris Hecker’s Party Spy!

(Thanks, Kadath!)