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Warren Spector: "The ultraviolence has to stop"

Deus Ex creator concerned by gratuitous bloodshed on show at E3.

Veteran designer Warren Spector has expressed his deep concern at the escalating obsession with violence in today's video games.

Speaking in an interview with GamesIndustry International, the Deus Ex creator suggested that this year's E3 was the most brutal and bloody yet.

"This is the year where there were two things that stood out for me. One was: The ultraviolence has to stop. We have to stop loving it," he said.

"I just don't believe in the effects argument at all, but I do believe that we are fetishising 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.

"We've gone too far," he added. "The slow-motion blood spurts, the impalement by deadly assassins, the knives, shoulders, elbows to the throat," he argued.

"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 seems Spector, who's currently finishing up Epic Mickey 2 at Disney, came away from this year's show deeply unimpressed at what was on offer. His other bugbear - all the talk about the games console serving as an expanded entertainment device.

"The second thing I noticed was that the most interesting part of the press conferences had nothing to do with games. When the games are the least interesting part, there's a problem," he said.

"When did the game conference become about interfacing with Netflix? I just worry a little bit.

"The thing that's ironic is that I feel like we really are in a golden age, in a weird sort of way. Nobody knows what the future of games is. Nobody. At a time like that Notch can come along and do Minecraft, and Chris Hecker can finally do his incredible party spy game, and Jon Blow can do Braid, and I can do a triple-A Mickey Mouse game - anything is possible.

"Is the future... indie games distributed digitally made by four guys in a garage? Is it 800 people working on a triple-A game for Disney? Is it a social game on Facebook? Is it a mobile game on iOS and Android? Nobody knows. What that means is, if you have an idea you can reach an audience with it.

"Pretty much all I saw at E3 was, 'Well, we're going to do what we always did, but bigger and bloodier! And we're gonna talk about Netflix!' I just don't get it."

Spector isn't the first industry figure to speak out on this year's overtly grisly expo.

Earlier this week, Assassin's Creed 3 creative director Alex Hutchinson suggested that the gratuitous blood-letting on display only served to enforce "a stereotype that I don't think is actually true."