“The ultraviolence” in video games “has to stop,” says Spector

Thursday, 14th June 2012 19:41 GMT By Stephany Nunneley

Warren Spector has said one of the things which stood out for him at E3 this year was how “the ultra-violence has to stop,” along with “combining it with an adolescent approach to sexuality.”

Speaking with GI International, Spector believes it’s all in “bad taste,” and will ultimately “cause us trouble.”

“This is the year where there were two things that stood out for me,” he said. “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.

“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.”

Spector said when he was working on Deus Ex, the “spreading blood pools under innocent dogs when you kill them,” was meant to make the player feel “disturbed,” when they pulled the trigger. Now, with the carnage induced on in-game beings disappearing along with the body, it erases the aftermath of said carnage from the gamer’s thoughts.

“We’ve gone too far. The slow-motion blood spurts, the impalement by deadly assassins, the knives, shoulders, elbows to the throat,” he said. “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.”



  1. Talkar

    Jesus christ on a stick. Is everyone getting offended by everything right now? First it was sexism, then rape and now this?

    #1 3 years ago
  2. JimFear-666

    Why he dont shut up and let the people do what they do? Stick with your mickey mouse game and shut up!

    #2 3 years ago
  3. Moonwalker1982

    Sigh….nah let’s all have Epic Mickey games and never any games with some violence anymore. When that happens i’ll quit gaming, but that won’t happen. I was very dissappointed with his ‘epic’ Mickey game anyway.

    #3 3 years ago
  4. Kabby

    You’re just turning into an old man, Warren. The industry has always been like this.

    #4 3 years ago
  5. Moonwalker1982

    Exactly. There were plenty of violent games on SNES already or even way before that. But the difference according to Spector is, is that is has gotten worse. Well, if you don’t like it, don’t pay attention to it and don’t play it.

    #5 3 years ago
  6. Ali Hayas

    Guess Deus Ex’s epicness was Harvey Smith’s not your deeds mr Warren.

    #6 3 years ago
  7. Ireland Michael

    Or we could grow up a little and want a little more than juvenile untra-violence in our pastime?

    No? Okay then.

    #7 3 years ago
  8. ItsFade

    Humanity has always been fascinated by violence, to change that you would probably have to change human nature first. The video game industry itself have always had violent games it’s just that violent games didn’t look so visually realistic until recently. The violence aspect is also apparent in other mediums such as film and television.

    Not saying video games couldn’t use some more games that weren’t focused on violence though but there are room for violent and non-violent games to co-exist. I wouldn’t mind if some more games like Portal, Super Mario: Galaxy or Rayman: Origins etc came out.

    #8 3 years ago
  9. DSB

    You know what else has to stop?

    World hunger, AIDS, poverty, corruption, sexual exploitation, human trafficking, malaria, child conscription, political oppression, drug addiction, water pollution, global warming, racism, unhealthy beauty ideals, torture, obesity, littering, plastic consumption, labor exploitation, nuclear proliferation, animal cruelty, fossile fuel dependency, religious fanaticism, canned laughter in sitcoms and throwing bubblegum on the sidewalk.

    I also think we should all work together towards bringing the thylacine back to life. If we can dream a unicorn, we can damn well ride one.

    And I reckon that if we talk about it enough to reporters, all of those things will happen! Yaaay!

    #9 3 years ago
  10. _LarZen_

    Violent games wil never go away and people love it, either in games or movies. It’s here to stay and it’s not up to debate even.

    But what should be up to debate is the age limit on some games, children under 18 years old have nothing to do with games made for adults. And I think many countrys need new laws to stop children from buying these games.

    And my wish is that these adult games stop making “adult” games aimed to excite children. As most of them are braindead entertainment…aimed for children.

    When children play childrens games and adults can buy a adult game with a adult theme I wil be happy.

    #10 3 years ago
  11. TD_Monstrous69

    I get what Warren Spector’s saying, and in some regards, I agree with him. But face facts on this, say if a developer were to actually make a game that does combine violence in a more mature manner that might make you truly think before you pull the trigger or stab someone, with a true, mature, in-depth display of sexuality in games, it’d more than likely would fail to get an M rating without making cuts to content, subject matter, or even players control on what’s going on within the game (but yet other entertainment mediums could get away with it, almost no problem).

    #11 3 years ago
  12. OlderGamer

    @8 and 15 +1.

    It is funny how being mature in a game world means you like the violent over the top games. But in truth, most of us are less impressed with that type of stuff as we … you, actualy mature.

    It is why I find it funny and a bit ironic that as I age as a gamer, I find myself spending more enjoyable game time and having more smiles with Nintendo games then with the stuff I used to enjoy even 5 years ago. Ironic because those games get labeled as just for kids sometimes.

    I think this gen has just been so much of the same, maybe it burnt me out a bit.

    #12 3 years ago
  13. OlderGamer

    Yeah sorry. I guess I am just not too worried about being cool at this stage. So, I am just going to be me. That is all I can really be anyways. Just me.

    #13 3 years ago
  14. shogoz

    i need violent games..if i dont play them then i will get urges to puncture peoples bodies with a rusty screwdriver and stand over them while they bleed to death

    #14 3 years ago
  15. roadkill

    Well I’m an adult so I love to see extreme violence where there should be extreme violence. Like in the Left 4 Dead games.

    Oh and 1 is correct. I think the reason why this is happening is that people want publicity. Aaand they got it. :)

    #15 3 years ago
  16. Lord Gremlin

    I always loved violence in games and movies. I hope industry keeps delivering. So far I’m 24 and still love loads of gore in my games. I still enjoy stuff like Journey and Flower, but I’d never play an FPS without detailed gratuitous dismemberment or at least decapitations.
    I do think that adult games should have a minimal standards for story though, retarded stuff aimed at kids is just a big no.

    #16 3 years ago
  17. Ireland Michael

    Someone please tell me what is so appealing about this blood, violence and gore exactly, because I’m apparently I don’t get it. Why do you like it?

    At best I find it dull, at worst I find it utterly disturbing.

    #17 3 years ago
  18. Ireland Michael

    @26 We’re perfectly glad to be “old cunts” if it means not possessing an ignorant, disrespectful and self-obsessed attitude like yours.

    #18 3 years ago
  19. Beta

    The man is making a musical Disney game, of course he’s not going to like violence :)

    I don’t mind violence in games as long it serves a purpose in the story or atmosphere, games where it’s used simply to amuse or to be glorified don’t really interest me.

    #19 3 years ago
  20. DSB

    @24 Because danger is stimulating to the senses. And reacting to danger with violence is gratifying.

    Very few games have you going around clubbing seals upside the head, even if it sometimes feels that way. You’re usually killing guys who don’t have anything good to offer anyone. They aren’t soldiers, or cops, or kids who grew up in poverty in the gutters of society, they’re enemies.

    The AI in Deus Ex: HR and Skyrim are obviously borderline retarded, if not fully in need of care to get around, so I felt kinda bad about stabbing those guys, but I think it holds up in general.

    Human beings are physical, dominant creatures, and given that so few of us are subjected to wars or serious acts of violence on a daily basis, I think we’re far enough away from it, to make it enjoyable. Even if you don’t count our basic need to dominate and assert ourselves.

    Something like contact sports are also full on simulated combat.

    #20 3 years ago
  21. Beta

    “Adolf Hitcolin”..? Really?

    #21 3 years ago
  22. JB

    I agree – let`s get it out on the streets where it belongs!

    #22 3 years ago
  23. The_Red

    I love Mr Specter and his works. He is a true gentleman and one of the nicest guys in the industry but I have to strongly DISAGREE with him on the Ultraviolence part. What ultra-violence? Films, books and other forms of media always use ultra violence for many purposes, from shock value to show of reality and other stuff (An artist like Tarantino almost uses violence as a combination of high art and exploitation film making). Compared to most of those movies, video games aren’t even that violent or sexual.

    I do kinda agree with the “adolescent approach to sexuality” part though. Almost no female character and relationship is portrayed from a really mature standpoint.

    #23 3 years ago
  24. Lord Gremlin

    @24 It toys with your hunter instincts. Plus it allows you to feel the impact of your attacks.
    You ever cooked fish you caught yourself? Enjoyable, but think about – you mess with blood and gore in the process and don’t mind it.

    Anyhow, hunting and fishing takes time and can only be done on vacation. How should a man satisfy his lust for blood?
    Plus, violence against human beings is only acceptable in fictional form. I’d love all the pain, murder, rape and other horrible things to be only a thing of fiction playing with our nerves and never happen in real life.

    #24 3 years ago
  25. xino

    i hate gore in games now because they are over the top and very pointless!

    #25 3 years ago
  26. Sini

    needs more rape. cant accuse rape of being pointless.

    #26 3 years ago
  27. The_Red

    Couldn’t disagree more. I HATE killing animals, fish and anything like that. Sight of real blood makes me nauseous and yes I LOVE violence in games and movies. Long ago people said that “Ma, ma, ultraviolent books are bad!”. Then it was “ultraviolent movies are bad”. Then it was “ultraviolent comib books are bad”. Now it’s games.

    It’s VIRTUAL violence and it’s HARMLESS FUN. Anyone that says virtual violence is harmful and real, is the one with the problem, not the actual work of fiction.

    #27 3 years ago
  28. PEYJ

    Personally I cannot wait to spray red colour all over the screen with my Move unit when Epic Mickey premieres in November.

    More seriously, I think Warren has a point but inside this sphere of gamers addicted to violent games he will be seen as a heretic. The reason for that, I believe, is that we have become to accustomed to violence and that every game has to big bigger, better and more badass.

    #28 3 years ago
  29. OrbitMonkey

    @DSB, Human beings are physical, dominant creatures? No. Humans are physically insecure creatures. Weakest primate in the class & easy meat until technology saved our ass’s.

    Hence the need for us to strut around now & fuck shit up. Deep rooted racial memories of when we were hunted in the dark.

    #29 3 years ago
  30. Ireland Michael

    @26 Actually, the first time I caught a fish as a child I felt a very momentary sense of achievement, before coming to the realisation that I was killing it, which filled me with an overwhelming sense of guilt. I threw it back, and never went fishing since.

    Even then, I’m not adverse to violence if it actually serves some sort of context to the story, but there are some serious levels of untra violence that are nothing more than sadistic and pointless – God of War being the most obvious example that comes mind.

    I don’t get anything out of it. I’m simply juat not at an age anymore where I feel the need to “vent my frustrations” through expressions of violence and power.

    I’m not going to tell people they should stopping making it. I’m just not going to care much about it. I think we can do better as a species than shoot at things and destroy each other, I guess, whether virtual or real. Movies are criticised for it. Literature is criticised for it. Why shouldn’t games?

    #30 3 years ago

    Whose comments got deleted?

    #31 3 years ago
  32. OrbitMonkey

    @Giga, Endgame probably wanted to enlighten us on how ultra violence is a turn on for the ladies.

    @Ireland, You didn’t throw it back!? Murdering sod!!

    #32 3 years ago
  33. Ireland Michael

    @34 “@Ireland, You didn’t throw it back!? Murdering sod!!”

    “I threw it back, and never went fishing since.”

    #33 3 years ago
  34. absolutezero

    Fish murderer.

    #34 3 years ago

    oh right… Thanks, OM.

    O’Connor is just squeemish. It’s why he likes tai chi, but is afraid of cage fighting…


    j/k. Don’t get your knickers in a twist!

    #35 3 years ago
  36. The_Red

    Let us remember another person who was against violent games: Jack Thompson.
    Yeah, that asshole. So, Live and let live. Let us enjoy our “ultraviolent” games and you can have what you like.

    #36 3 years ago
  37. Ireland Michael

    @36 Haha, whatever. =P

    @37 Whatever. Using insults as joke are only funny if you’re not a consistent asshole towards people in general. You are.

    #37 3 years ago
  38. OrbitMonkey

    @Ireland, oops sorry mate, beer goggles ;-)

    @GIGA, I’m only guessing about the deleted posts, I was wondering about that myself tbh :-P

    #38 3 years ago
  39. Fnoros

    In any good story, there has to be some kind of challenge or threat to the protagonist, and Violence seems to be the most commonly used. Even the most kid-friendly games like lego star wars or rayman have you killing things. I’m not sure if it is even possible to have a “fun” game without some kind of violence. That being said, videogames could stand to use it in a more mature fashion. We need more games with moral ambiguity, instead of just “murder all the things”.

    #39 3 years ago

    There you go again, O’Connor… Judging people by your own standards, you big estrogen fueled pansy! LOL!

    Ironic that you claim to have ‘grown’ out of using your ‘overwhelming power’ through violent means, but you still have a juvenile toilet mouth!

    I realised today that you actally remind me of the Irish guy in Shaun of the Dead! LOOOOOOOOOL!!!

    #40 3 years ago
  41. Ireland Michael

    @42 Indeed.

    #41 3 years ago
  42. OrbitMonkey

    ^ Back on topic before GIGA & Ireland get a room :-P

    Anyone else think that violence in-game is only effective in SP? In MP, In say CoD for example, the killing is not killing a character you empathize with, but more like scoring a goal…

    #42 3 years ago
  43. DSB

    @31 I think that insecurity is more of a modern development.

    The reason why you’d be insecure would be mostly because your success depends on how well you read and recite books, leech onto the people around you, or perform a manual task, instead of doing what you’re supposed to. Using your body and your instinct to assert yourself among your peers and your environment.

    I’m pretty sure that if we ate fewer cheatos, built more of our own homes and fought a few more people to the death using our hands, anything but a bear wouldn’t seem so scary up close.

    Those “hunted” people were absolutely ripped, technology or not.

    #43 3 years ago
  44. OrbitMonkey

    @45, lol, No. Insecurity is the driving force of humanity. Ripped or not, your common chimpanzee will kick your ass.

    Though I don’t expect some hairy, horde orc, metal head, Dane to accept this :-P

    #44 3 years ago
  45. DSB

    @46 He does not :D

    I’ll eat a fucking chimpanzee.

    #45 3 years ago
  46. OrbitMonkey

    Just to back up my theory, not that it will be ever accepted by society as it suggests our evolution is driven by us compensating for weakness, consider this:

    Einstein, Maths genius, also dyslexic.

    Mike Tyson Boxing legend, also has voice of a little girl.

    #46 3 years ago
  47. Ireland Michael

    @45 Why do you think our intelligence evolved well past other species?

    For survival.

    #47 3 years ago
  48. OrbitMonkey

    @Ireland, Yep. Other animals had the strength and speed. What did we have? Big brains…

    Lets kill it with beer!!!

    #48 3 years ago
  49. DSB

    @48 I’m pretty sure that’s an established theory. Anxiety drives survival.

    Muhammad Ali was dyslexic as well. And I’m pretty sure he could’ve beaten a chimpanzee too!

    I think the argument is too simple though. For one, there are a million ways to compensate for percieved weaknesses. Why isn’t anyone evolving to the point where they have miniguns for arms?

    Secondly there are still lots of monkeys around even through we broke away from the pack. Why didn’t they evolve like we did? They’re weak too.

    Thirdly, the most intelligent people don’t run our societies. Often it’s the most insensitive (and least insecure!) ones.

    Evolution is a great theory and it helps explain a lot of things. But the specifics are still largely a huge mystery.

    @49 I think survival is too limited a concept for how evolution works. You have to survive for a good long time to actually do it, and a lot of species don’t actually survive anyway.

    The sabre tooth tiger is believed to have evolved itself into extinction. It became too adept at killing, so it starved to death.

    Evolution fail. Give that cat a Darwin Award.

    #49 3 years ago
  50. Ireland Michael

    @51 It’s a scientifically proven fact that chimpanzees are significantly stronger than human beings, by a margin of almost double in many cases. The difference is that we have the knowledge and know how to improve our mentabolism and physical prowess well beyond statistical norms. Other animals have to work within their environment and their direct limitations. And yet they still kick our butts.

    You also need to consider this… humans have the ability to strategise in a way an animal simply cannot. That gives us an severely unfair advantage. Animals have to work entirely on instinct.

    We’re also one of the most genetically fragile species on the planet. Diseases are rampant in our systems in a way that rarely affects the rest of the animal kingdom. I strongly believe that as our mental factualties improves, our physical ones deteriorated rapidly. The Neanderthal goes a long way to support this.

    #50 3 years ago
  51. OrbitMonkey

    @+51, Yeah, odd that the intelligent guys don’t run our society’s isn’t it? Always the guys with something to prove… Not that we’d let geniuses tell us what to do… They think their smarter than us!!

    Like I said it’s not a popular theory, but the simple truth is, based on historical fact, is that humans are driven by insecurity. Period.

    Still you can choose to disbelieve. It’s not like NASA have dropped out of the space race now that no-one else is going to challenge them…

    #51 3 years ago
  52. OrbitMonkey

    Oh and DSB, the least sensitive, so the least insecure run our society’s!? Lol! Show me a bully who hasn’t a mommy complex! Hiding our insecurities is the first lesson we learn as the human animal.

    #52 3 years ago

    Are you talking about emotional insecurity? Because the most emotionally insecure people tend to suffer from psychological disorders, such as stress, anxiety and depression.

    These are not the people who ‘drive’ anything.

    Rather, these are the people who aren’t able to play any sort of key, or even productive, role in any society.

    If you’re talking about a general need to feel no external threat on your family, property and possessions, then labelling this as ‘insecurity’ seems more along the lines of some attention seeking, psuedo intellectual, feminist foolishness than anything worth caring about.

    It’s basically trying to define a term for wanting safety and happiness for yourself and those around you, which has negative connotations.


    Probably to justify someone’s inability to compete with society’s more successful people.

    ‘Oh look at him, he’s so successful because he’s actually insecure, so he’s not really better than me at all. He’s actually very frail…’

    #53 3 years ago
  54. expose the core

    I had more fun in Deus Ex when i just used pure stealth to evade enemies or using non lethal takedowns if necessary. I can’t name any other fps where you can complete the game without killing anyone, and that’s a pretty disappointing fact.

    #54 3 years ago
  55. bo_7md

    I think people like to blame movies, games and literature because it’s easy. If you look at the facts you’ll note that the safest countries in the world have the same games, show the same movies, and sell the same books..doesn’t that mean there is another problem here–rooted– under all the pile of rape-ridden, murder infested movies ?

    #55 3 years ago
  56. DSB

    @54 That’s sort of a meta discussion, and also the reason why I chose not to study philosophy. Too much semantic bullshit.

    Insecurity will be a factor, but I don’t see it as a driving force. Human beings have will, which is in direct conflict with insecurity. If you’re scared, but resolute, then it stands to reason that the insecurity isn’t much of a factor for you.

    There’s insecurity, and then there’s how you neutralize insecurity.

    I recently read Carl von Clausewitz’s “On War” and he spends a few chapters attempting to describe the human psyche and what’s needed of it when going to war. War is the ultimate insecurity, because you never know what’s going to happen. What makes a good officer though, is carrying on anyway.

    #56 3 years ago
  57. OrbitMonkey

    ^ Oh I agree their. I don’t see insecurity as a bad thing, it’s how people compensate for it that can lead to negative results.

    For example, A fat chap feels insecure about his weight. He can compensate for this by dieting or eating more to feel better…

    #57 3 years ago

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