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Was E3 2012 the grisliest games show ever?

Assassin's Creed creative director: "We're reinforcing a stereotype that I don't think is actually true."

One of the big takeaways from E3 this year was the sheer brutality - and frequency - of the violence on display in trailers and demos during the big publisher press conferences.

Between Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft's shows on Monday, we counted roughly 78 throatstabs, 63 snapped vertebrae, 57 exploded heads, 27 shattered knee caps, a brace of disembowelings and, courtesy of Far Cry 3, a couple of immolated jungle cats.

Fine, it's all a bit of fun, but when said acts of extreme violence are met with rapturous air punching from significant portions of the gathered audience, it's hard not to wonder whether the games industry is showing itself off in the best light.

With that in mind, we picked the brains of Assassin's Creed 3 creative director Alex Hutchinson - who certainly peppered his game's various conference trailers with more than their fair share of gore - to find out his take on the grisliest E3 ever.

"I think it's a bit of a false positive," he argued.

"I think it's exactly the same as it always was, but it just looks a lot more real now and it's a lot more intense. We're a lot better at doing our jobs, in terms of cameras, timing, set up. And it's more a marketing thing anyway - if you've got three minutes to grab people's attention you usually blow some s*** up.

"It's unfortunate. We could do huge demos of all the parts of the game that have no violence in them at all but I don't know how it would stand up in a three minute big screen demo."

What about the game industry's apparent celebration of that brutality though? Does it bother you to see audiences leaping to their feat and whooping when some hapless goon gets his larynx ripped out?

"It does a little bit," he replied.

"I just think in terms of the mainstream audience we're probably not putting our best foot forward if that's what we're showing because we're enforcing a stereotype that I don't think that is actually true."

As for Assassin's Creed 3 itself, Hutchinson stressed that while the game is indeed not for the faint of heart, Ubisoft is striving to be responsible and intelligent in its approach to bloodshed.

"There are kids in the game but we don't want to have any violence towards children even as an option, so we just locked that out," he offered as an example.

"I think it's more about how you reward players. Are you rewarding them for violence, or for success? Hopefully our game is at least encouraging you through all kinds of mechanics to be stealthy and to be on target. And we've added non lethal options to combat in terms of unarmed fighting, so hopefully there's more room there too."

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