Double Fine’s Schafer: Games must “avoid self-censorship”

Monday, 7th February 2011 15:16 GMT By Johnny Cullen

Double Fine boss Tim Schafer has said that games should “avoid self-sensorship,” insisting that funnier games would come as a result if so.

“The thing that’s more important than anything else to my mind – whether it’s comedy or horror or anything else – is just the element of surprise,” Schafer told CVG.

“Anything entertaining to me has to have that, really. Like in horror, you’re underwater and then the floating head … it’s the same feeling as when you’re expecting one thing and then something else happens in a joke.”

Schafer continued: “I think that’s a very similar urge in comedy. It’s the essence of really fun entertainment to me. It’s gets into our puzzles, too – like, What does the player think is going to happen here? There’s a door and there’s a lock. That’s too obvious. What else can we do?’

“The other thing is to avoid self-censorship. There are a lot of funny people in the games industry, and [they seem to] think of the funny thing, and then say: ‘No, I can’t do that. Let’s cut that out because someone might be bothered by that.’ I think if people censored themselves less there’d be a lot more funny stuff out there.”

Double Fine’s latest title, Stacking, releases this week on PSN and Xbox Live.



  1. Phoenixblight

    Oh this week really? Nice can’t wait I really enjoyed Costume quest.

    I agree we shouldn’t censorship in fear of what may or may not happen.

    #1 4 years ago
  2. DSB

    Absolutely true.

    They shouldn’t just avoid self-censorship, they should avoid censorhip entirely. I don’t get why big corporations are letting themselves get bitchslapped in the name of morality by a bunch of soccermom watchdogs.

    I guess that’s just one of those weird American kinks that make no sense to anyone, which just makes it even weirder that it’s been adopted in Europe as well.

    The freedom from that shit is probably what I miss the most about the 90′s. Developers trying to outdo eachother on the sheer insolence of their games.

    #2 4 years ago
  3. Phoenixblight


    No game has been censored except for Hot coffee and you had to seriously mod you game to see that.

    #3 4 years ago
  4. OrbitMonkey

    “Like in horror, you’re underwater and then the floating head”. Geek kudos points for anyone who knows what film he’s referencing. Just so you know, I already know & will know if you know.

    #4 4 years ago
  5. DSB

    @3 Alright champ, try to sell a game or a movie that’s even halfway controversial to a major publisher.

    They’ll shut you down faster than you can say “freedom of expression”.

    The absence of sex in games, and the fact that the games which claim to include sex are so unbelievably cheap and tame in doing it, should tell you that there’s a certain standard being enforced, explicitly and implicitly.

    Ratings affect sales majorly, and as such it’s a pretty blatant form of censorship. Just the same as it’s applied to movies, where a woman having an orgasm on camera can get a movie branded as being detrimental to the values of society.

    The raters scare the consumers, the consumers scare the publishers, and the publishers scare the developers. It’s the circle of censorship.

    #5 4 years ago
  6. Aimless

    @4 Are there really people out there that haven’t seen Jaws?

    Anyway, looking forward to my Plus inclusive copy of Stacking come Wednesday. Although if it’s really good I might buy it on XBLA too.

    #6 4 years ago
  7. Phoenixblight


    Movies get sold all the time with controversial content look at Black Swan, Last house on the left, The Hills have eyes. Ratings are there for parents to know what the content of the game and movie has.

    The rating system is there to inform parents of the content of the game or movie.

    #7 4 years ago
  8. Lord Gremlin

    For some strange reason I suddenly wished for a game in which black people pick cotton: just to see the shitstorm coming from US.

    There are reasons developers censor their games and it’s really disappointing.

    #8 4 years ago
  9. DSB

    @7 I would highly recommend you investigate that. The cases of industry censorship and run-ins with the ratings boards are pretty well documented, and some filmmakers even go as far as to say that if you complain, your next rating is going to be even worse by virtue of retribution.

    For every movie that gets published by a publisher with balls, there’s another one that gets shut down for some ridiculous detail that raters take upon themselves to find offensive, and it’s pretty obvious that they don’t have any real bar for what’s what. One man’s anal rape scene might be another man’s racist murder.

    People are obviously still free to publish their films if they can finance them with very little theater support, and certainly the horror genre, aside from a few blockbusting exceptions has managed to make it on a dedicated niche audience and consistently good DVD adoption rates, but these aren’t heavily funded movies by anyones standards.

    And it still doesn’t change the fact that most serious directors who want to make a real, mature plot, find themselves constantly struggling with CARA harassment. I haven’t seen “Black Swan” so I can’t comment, but “Boys Don’t Cry” for example, was almost dropped by the studio because the director refused to tone down a sex scene that was critical to the plot. The movie ended up being censored by the studio to appease the ratings board and avoid an NC-17.

    It’s just common knowledge within the industry that the higher your rating goes, the lower your profits will be.

    Now if you think that isn’t going to influence an industry to go for safe, harmless movies, and that they aren’t going to be cutting into other peoples work to make sure they live up to those standards, then I’m sorry, but that’s just mindnumbingly naive. – Recommended.

    #9 4 years ago

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