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Warren Spector reminds us to demand better from our games
Warren Spector reminds us to demand better from our games
August 11, 2014 | By Alex Wawro

August 11, 2014 | By Alex Wawro
More: Console/PC, Design

Deus Ex director Warren Spector continues to encourage the game industry to be a bit more diverse and ambitious in a recent interview published by MemoryLeak.

"To enhance our cultural reputation, I think we could be a bit more demanding in the kinds of content we support and demand," Spector told MemoryLeak. "There’s a lot of sameness in commercial games and apps – a lot of slam-bang-action blockbusters on the one hand and simple puzzle games on the other. There’s a middle ground other media occupy with adult content. We could learn from that, I think."

The veteran designer went on to call out the gratuitous virtual violence that often dominates consumer-focused events like E3 -- especially the infamous E3 2012 -- as a weakness of the industry, one that publishers often hammer on in the hopes of "pandering to the core gamer audience" and turning a profit.

"I just think gamers simply need to demand more and better games...different games...genuinely adult games," said Spector, who admitted that the landscape of the game industry has changed dramatically since he cut his teeth designing games in the late '80s.

"At this point, no one knows what business models or distribution methods will work," said Spector. "It's a frontier out there -- a wilderness."

Nevertheless, Spector joined up with the University of Texas at Austin last year and became the director of its Denius-Sams Gaming Academy with an eye towards preparing prospective game makers for that frontier.

"I want the [Denius-Sams Gaming Academy] to provide people with the equivalent of years of experience in just nine months," said Spector. "If it works, that’ll accelerate people’s careers and do a service for an industry that, in my view, is notoriously badly led -- and, no, I’m not excluding myself from the set of all people who’ve screwed up over the years!"

You can read more of Spector's thoughts on the state of the industry, his experiences working on Epic Mickey and Deus Ex, and his goals for game design education over on the MemoryLeak website.

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Iulian Mocanu
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"I just think gamers simply need to demand more and better games...different games...genuinely adult games,"
Yes, yes and yes! I've been saying the same thing to my audience for years. Demand better, strive higher!

Also, "Deus Ex creator Warren Spector", I routinely do that as a joke, since he has stated his disapproval of a single person being called the creator of a game that took an entire team of people working night and day for years to accomplish.

Alex Wawro
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Thanks Iulian, that's a good point! I've updated the story to more accurately reflect his credited role on the project.

Leonardo Ferreira
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This discourse is tiring. I do believe we already have the different games, but simply there is no spotlight over them. It's easier to criticize what is seen than to praise what is not.

Christian Nutt
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Some people, for some reason, believe that the triple-A game industry wishes to or has the potential to become interesting. Don't ask me!

Leonardo Ferreira
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I, for one, think that the triple-A wastes way too much of people's attention...

Fabian Fischer
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I'm sure my picture of "games for adults" is completely different from what Spector has in mind. However, I agree with the general stance. 99 % of today's video games are mind-numbingly stupid to a thinking adult. Mind you, I'm primarily thinking about mechanics, gameplay and intellectual value here.

Eric McConnell
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I suppose it's along the lines of why don't they stop making Transformers movies, because they still make money. A lot of people want to make better games but are either not in a position to or make them on a smaller scale.

In an industry where 10 hours a day is normal and 80 hours a week is expected for a months on end, the main people who move up into decision making positions are generally less mature and far less experienced in life. The person who lives at work, eats all of their meals at work, has no wife/husband, has no kids, never traveled the world and works 12 hour days is the person who is going to move up in AAA video games. This type of lifestyle isn't exactly an environment that breeds the abstraction of complex emotions into game designs.

The other side of the coin is business and marketing (who basically run the show at any publicly traded company). Nobody wants to try something new. A company makes one hit game and you can say goodbye to R&D and hello to yearly sequels and loosely strung together DLC. Honestly, why should this change? Everyone looses their job if the game fails. Most industry professionals would rather make CoD 63 than something they find creatively satisfying, because CoD 63 will mean a large percentage of the studio gets to keep their job.

It's up to the small developer who can afford to fail. They will drive change and that change will trickle up. If a 4 man team can make millions off of creating adult targeted games, EA/Take2/Activision/etc will take notice.