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Eugeneology: An Interview with Eugene Jarvis
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Eugeneology: An Interview with Eugene Jarvis

May 18, 2007 Article Start Previous Page 6 of 7 Next


How do you feel about the way the game violence debate is going now? I know you've had some thoughts on that in the past.

EJ: It's funny, because we've kind of been off the radar. I haven't heard, but with the tragedy in Virginia, I'm sure that guy played video games...

They tried that angle straight off, actually. They said that he played Counter-Strike in high school and that meant something.

EJ: The problem is that every kid has played video games, so that's pretty irrelevant. The issue was much more at the forefront a few years ago. Part of it is that extreme violence is kind of like pornography. The first times you see it, you go, "Wow, that's pretty hot." Then the 37th time a guy gets his head blown off and blows blood all over the screen, [it just doesn't have that same impact]. We've seen it. We've been there.

It's more about gameplay now. If you have violence, your challenge is working it into the gameplay, and not just splattering blood all over the screen every two seconds. It's about how to make it more artful, more theatrical, and more suspenseful. I think we're maturing as an industry, and I think that's cool.

Was Target: Terror in any way a political statement?

EJ: No comment!

That's cheating!

We were just having fun. At the time, there was quite a bit of hysteria. I think there were mayors of small Midwestern towns saying, "I need security! What if the terrorists attack? I need an FBI armored car at all times!" I think Target: Terror was going off that kind of hysteria, with what would be the worst case scenario. I remember there was a controversy with 300 guards on the Golden Gate Bridge…

So it was a bit of a social commentary on the hysteria of the time, but sadly, who would've envisioned the 9/11 attacks? That was the worst-case scenario, something even a paranoid schizophrenic couldn't envision, and it actually happened.

When you designed the plane bit…

EJ: This was all after 9/11, so the plane was actually inspired by the one that went down. To me, it's got to be one of the most gripping dramas ever, what happened on that plane. We'll never really know what did happen there, but it's an amazing scenario for an action game.

Would you say it's a semi-ironic look at it? Whenever I look at it, I can't tell if the vision is ironic or reactionary.

EJ: That's the beauty of it, I think. It's whatever you want it to be!

I think that it would be interesting to do topical arcade games like that regularly. It'll be interesting as social commentary and also as a money-making tactic.

EJ: I would like to see more of that. The last game that I did in that vein was NARC, back in the 1980s. I expected to see a lot more of those social commentary-styled games, along with satires and political cartoon-type games. It's amazing how little we've seen in that space. I don't know, maybe video game designers take themselves too seriously.

I wonder if the idea is as thought-provoking if it's open to interpretation, and it's not clear what your goal is, as in Target Terror.

EJ: I think it is. I think the open-endedness really helps. You put your own meaning on it, and different people take away different things. There's more discussion, and there's more debate. If you're preachy, what's the fun in that? You want to have the latitude to play games from different angles and come away with different ideas. That gives the game a lot of staying power.

Was that actually intended with Target Terror?

EJ: That was our first game, so we just wanted to do the most outrageous thing we could think of, to get people to notice. There's so many demands on peoples' time that just to get noticed in the media for a new creative title is really tough. It helps to be the most outrageous you can.

You guys should get back to that.

EJ: We should, man. Maybe if we fuck up a few games, we'll get desperate enough to do something like that again!

Well, it seems like a good thing. The game sold, right?

EJ: Yeah, it was a good seller. We have some great designs for a sequel to Target Terror. We want to take it into Las Vegas and have some crazy stuff going on.

Article Start Previous Page 6 of 7 Next

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