Tag Archives: E3

Spector: “stop loving the ultra-violence” in games


Are video games “too violent?” Or are violence critics forgetting who we are?

Another E3 has come and gone, giving the gaming press a taste of video games to come. Since then, a number of folks have come come out against the violence in the next wave of games, claiming it’s just too much.

One of those critics is game designer Warren Spector, who left Eidos in 2004 after being disturbed by some of the plans for Hitman. He also drew a line between the violence in games he’s worked on, such as Deus Ex, and the video games he saw at this year’s E3. Here’s what he said:

“The ultra-violence 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.”

Spector says the violence in Deus Ex was meant to disturb the player, rather than pleasure them. “The carnage induced on in-game beings disappearing along with the body, erases the aftermath of said carnage from the gamer’s thoughts,” he said.

Everyone has the right to judge for him- or herself how much violence in a game is “too much.” Spector’s tolerances are obviously different than others, and that’s fine. The problem comes when he attempts to tell the rest of the industry what it should produce, and when he tells gamers what they should like. I find the phrase, “We have to stop loving [ultra-violence]” really disturbing. It’s like telling people they should stop loving bacon, or beer, or babies.

Human beings were once relatively wild. We still have that animal side in us. Aggression is part of who we are. Games don’t make us aggressive. Being human makes us aggressive. And we all let it out in different ways: going on long runs, playing hockey, starting bar fights, kneading bread, trolling on the Internet, or playing violent video games are some examples. Anyone who forgets why people (including kids) might enjoy violent games can be reminded by reading Gerard Jones’ Killing Monsters: Why Children Need Fantasy, Super Heroes, and Make-Believe Violence. Children aren’t the only ones who need it. Adults need it, too. We don’t need to stop “loving it.”

Look at the comments on the Spector article. Gamers know their limits, and if something’s too violent, they won’t play it. This is true of kids, too. We can trust them. Taking away games or reducing the violence in order to protect the tiny minority of mentally unbalanced people who might claim video-game violence as a jumping-off point for real-life acts would likely make the rest of society more violent — an outcome none of us wants.

Are video games becoming more violent? They’re certainly becoming more realistic — and that can heighten the sense that they’re more gory and brutal as well. Why would gamers want this? Even through violent crime is dropping, the existing violent crime is getting more airtime, and in some cases, it’s just getting weirder. We need ways to process what’s going on. And video games are one of the safest ways going.

Will the Supreme Court bar minors from buying violent video games?


Silent Hill: Downpour, unveiled at this year’s E3, is the newest game in the series that pits humans against monsters. Will an upcoming Supreme Court ruling ban its sale to minors?

As game journalists decompress from this year’s E3, word from the Supreme Court on a California video-game law is still pending.

Justices heard the case, Brown vs. EMA (formerly Schwarzenegger vs. EMA), Nov. 2, but have yet to issue a ruling on the law, which bans the sale of “ultraviolent” video games to buyers under 18. California courts found the law unconstitutional in 2007, so it never took effect. Among the cases before the court, this one has been waiting the longest for resolution.

That’s giving many the opportunity to speculate on just what is going on behind the scenes. For example:

The longer a case has been awaiting resolution, the longer the decision is likely to be, and the greater the number of justices weighing in with dissenting or concurring statements. One case handed down on the last day of the last term, involving gun-owner rights, ran for more than 200 pages over five separate opinions.

Readers may recall that in March, Michael McConnell, director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, said, “The Supreme Court is not likely to say that this statute is constitutional. I think they’re going to strike it down. But I don’t think they’re going to go as far as say these types of statutes are unconstitutional — they might uphold more narrowly defended statutes in the future.”

A recent United Press International analysis scrutinizes both sides of the argument, including the fact that California is asking the Supreme Court to consider applying this law in the same way as the 1968 ruling that barred the sale of “obscene” material to minors:

California wants the Supreme Court to review the law under the standard set by 1968’s Ginsberg vs. New York: “Under the Ginsberg standard, the act must be upheld so long as it was not irrational for the California Legislature to determine that exposure to the material regulated by the statute is harmful to minors.”

Although McConnell thought this law would be struck down, some have argued that the delay in issuing a ruling means the Supreme Court might uphold it. It’s also possible that they’ll strike it down, but their ruling will include information on how a narrower, rewritten bill could be constitutional.

What do you think the Supreme Court will do? Will they let minors continue to buy violent video games, or will they make such sales illegal?