Warren Spector: Every developer in White House violent games video “should be ashamed” | PCGamesN

Warren Spector: Every developer in White House violent games video “should be ashamed”

Subscribe to PCGamesN on YouTube

US president Donald Trump’s meeting on videogame violence yesterday was mostly uneventful, aside from a brief supercut of violent clips which is still available on the White House YouTube channel. One person who wasn’t a fan of the images on display is Deus Ex director Warren Spector.

Violence might be terrible, but sex is great, so be sure to check out our entirely serious and not at all comedic list of the best sex games on PC.

Though Spector says he doesn’t believe there’s any correlation between violent games and violent behaviour, he says on Twitter that “the videogame reel shown at the White House on Thursday is simply disgusting. Every shot is in colossally bad taste and everyone associated with those games should be ashamed of themselves.”

That’s a pretty sweeping statement, but Spector wants to be clear it’s the glorification of violence rather than violence itself that doesn’t sit well with him, especially when anti-game activists can use these instances to “shift the focus from real problems.

Some of the responses to Spector’s original tweet included people in the industry. A developer on Sniper Elite said he’s proud of his work, though he does acknowledge there’s room for nuance.

Gearbox CEO Randy Pitchford also wasn’t a fan of what Spector had to say, asserting that the video was built with a “propagandist mindset,” saying to Spector that the tactics having an impact “on a mind as disciplined and sophisticated as yours is disheartening.”

Many of Spector’s games have included violence, even if not to the same degree as the titles shown in the White House video, but he’s quick to point out that his titles featured alternatives to violence, and if he had it to do over again he’d make a few changes.

If you want to keep an eye on what Spector and the folks around him have to say, the discussion is most civil and continuing to take place on his Twitter feed.

Sign in to Commentlogin to comment
Darkedone02 avatarQDP2 avatarBraneman avatar[GM] SocietyX avatartestee avatar
Darkedone02 Avatar
1 Week ago

That headline is prone it piss people off then it is getting people to read though this entire article to find a different meaning.

QDP2 Avatar
1 Week ago

Video games, film and television are such great mediums for character expression. They're a place where we can make people question morality, attach themselves to taboo thoughts and develop their own opinions without breaking laws or rules. Trump seems to desire a world where all media is full of law-abiding citizens only, to stand as an example for individuals on what to do.

To set laws around video-games reducing violence (or removing its glorification within the US at the least) would be just as restrictive an idea as saying all people in video-games who commit crimes must be shown to atone for their sins as the justice system would prescribe it. Personally I see this as flawed and basic an idea as if you were to incorporate the kid-cartoon trait of showing nobody died/was hurt before the change of a scene (how if a person is run over, they'll get up again before the scene cuts; or how a person on an ambulance stretcher will hold their thumb up whilst being carried away to signal all is fine). These are all very unrealistic views of the world.

For younger audiences they are needed, but the world isn't sunshine and daisies no matter how much you paint flowers over the media. To teach the truth and offer different philosophical perspectives on life can help enlighten people rather than radicalise them. A game or a film containing slaves could be used to open your heart up to their feelings of a repressed individual, and help the person feel more compassion towards people in less fortunate positions. This portrayal could be shown from either side (as a slave or a slave-driver). In just the same way "Spec-Ops: The Line" and "Shadow of the Colossus" make you feel bad for your actions on completing cruel or hard-tasks. Asking the media to stop telling stories in such ways would be restrictive beyond measure.

There's no hiding I've been selective with my examples to this point. I've been choosing points that strengthen my argument and avoiding anything controversial, such as DOOM and Sniper Elite. I'm going to focus on these two now to remove as many criticisms as possible.

Let's start with DOOM, and why you need to apply context to arguments. In the same way you couldn't watch 1 scene from a movie and expect to feel the same emotions the director is leading viewers through, you shouldn't view a games attraction to violence (or its magnitude) without the context that lead you to it. For Doom, this is an apocalypse. The end of the world has arrived. You've woken up in this hellish cell, locked to a table and getting hunted by these devilish monstrosities. Of course the first thing any sane human being would do is overload their head with the primitive thoughts of fight or flight, and being locked to a table confined in a room with them, flight isn't much of an option. This rule persists for the entire game, flight becoming a plausibility but you learn that if you were to run and leave, the world would be destroyed/overrun with this monstrosity, so you stand up as a hero willing to take on the hoard and stop the greater evil. Whilst many of the monsters you fight are anthropomorphic, Bethesda are very careful never to personify any of your enemies. They communicate in screams and yelps and their actions are generally very primitive beast-like charges towards you. Not once does the game compare these monsters to humans, and it justifies your slaughtering of them (they want to end the world). To try and use this violence as a foundation complaint against death in real life is completely unjustified.

Now for Sniper Elite. As a foundation, the game is no more controversial a war simulator than any other first person shooter campaign. It the main characters actions and opinions are all matching the thoughts and beliefs of most Americans at the time, and all the follow-through results are completely believable as a result. To sugarcoat this past simply because you dislike the history it shows would be as insensitive to the Germans as it would be to pretend racism wasn't as bad as it truly was in the past. Once again the game never tells you how to think or feel as you continue to massacre your way through these German camps. Your character may sound extatic whilst finishing off a key target or completing a difficult mission; but since when have you always felt happy about all your characters actions? Sniper Elite doesn't force you question your actions as much as Shadow of the Colossus or Spec Ops, but it does force you to perceive the war from a front line perspective. In my opinion any who do not question their own outlook on a games events lack the maturity to play through such a campaign style. I can believe children who got their parents credit card details and bought the game themselves would focus on the scores and never ask those questions, but they aren't the people we should be worried about. I don't know about you but I can't recall the last time an adolescent was the person shooting up schools (since that seems to be the cause for this meeting and display).

From a state perspective, I can follow the States setting stricter rules on age-restricted content. For the country to start setting requirements over the next few years that video-game distributors and/or console producers enforce age restrictions to video games they offer. Should the US decide that 21 y/o's aren't mature enough to deal with such content then they can go ahead and add a new tear of rating for games that glorify or reward you for illegal actions. Once again it is up to both them and their regulations boards where they want to define the lines of maturity for their country, and I hold no judgement against that. But to try and remove thought-provoking content from video games simply because characters within the game don't comply to your countries desires? As I said before this is a slippery slope that will not end until all mediums of entertainment have no such thing as villains, only role models. It's just as bad as the idea of restricting speech after a social culture (however broad or specific) decides they're insulted by it. All of a sudden the whole world can't say cheese because all the lactose-intolerant people find it offensive that others talk about it nearby them.

QDP2 Avatar
1 Week ago

AAaaaAAaaAAagh! I need to stop writing essays for comments already... Over 1000 words this time, think I might have broken my record :P

God it's far too easy to get carried away with stupidity like this. I seriously hope voters wake up and look at the statistics for next term, so to make sure Trump isn't voted president again. 2 years already sounds like too long for me to handle. Doubt I could deal with 6 more years of this.

Braneman Avatar
Braneman(39 minutes played)
1 Week ago

I'm tempted to send him a picture of System Shock 1/2.

[GM] SocietyX Avatar
1 Week ago

I mean god forbid war be depicted in the true depth of horror violence that it entails so that people might have some understanding how insane it is that we keep engaging in endless war for entire lifetime of good chunk of population walking around the Planet.

I'm no liberal SJW "peace forever" kind of person. I'm not blind to fact sometimes War and Violence are the ways to deter and protect innocent people and ensure safety of Western values. However, nobody can argue the conflicts we've stayed embroiled in are about that or being effective for that purpose. Anyone who's offended by games primarily about the horrors of war and violence actually showing how horrible they are in the pursuit of a story about it should really ask themselves if it's such a bad thing that people see the truth of it.

That being said, as we know, theres no connection after many many many studies between that violence on screen and someone's ability to think picking up a gun and killing their fellow classmates as making sense. People are just looking for other things to point finger at that're easy to blame. Alcohol was once the big villain of all immorality in this country. Then it was Drugs in general. Now we're attacking media. And Video games are seen as lowest hanging fruit because it doesn't have billion dollar lobbyist arms to protect it.

testee Avatar
6 Days ago

Games do not depicted the war to be the true depth of horror nor violence that it entails. That is ridiculous statement. Games, with exception of This War of Mine paint violence unrealistically fun. Violence in games does not make you feel bad, it makes you feel good. Games never show impact violence have (except This War of Mine), you have movies and books that show war to be horrible, that show innocent children painfully dying and impact on local people, crime, hunger, being homeless, loosing everything, games don't do that, ever.

Games always frame your war as something righteous, as your comment say "to protect innocent and Western values". Real wars are often about something entirely else, empower local dictators and wanna be authoritarians.

I am fine with violence in games, but saying that they paint if horrible is not nearly the truth. Games paint violence unrealistically fun consequence less experience.