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 Mortal Kombat 's Ed Boon: Violence Is No Longer Shocking In Games

Mortal Kombat's Ed Boon: Violence Is No Longer Shocking In Games

August 4, 2010 | By Staff

August 4, 2010 | By Staff
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As part of Gamasutra's latest feature interview, Mortal Kombat co-creator Ed Boon talks about game violence, while currently working on the latest iteration of the notoriously gory, 18-year-old franchise for Warner Bros.

While the original game in the series was part of the early '90s debate around game violence, courting that sort of controversy is not in the cards for the series anymore, says Boon.

"No, no. That certainly isn't a goal of ours," he states. "It's funny, because -- if you look at Mortal Kombat 1, and you look at it again now -- it's almost funny how archaic the graphics are. But at the time, it was state of the art. So I don't think it's realistic to shock anybody these days. I mean, anybody who's played Gears of War or any of the survival [horror] games or God of War or something like that, they're not going to be shocked at what we do."

So rather than go for ever more graphic and gruesome, Boon suggests the team's looking at ways to maintain an 'extreme' feel and use violence creatively: "Our goal with our violence has way more to do to just surprise, maybe I guess, and entertain, just from the outrageousness of it all," he says. "The fatalities are just so crazy and over the top that they're more inventive than inherently violent. I mean, they're violent, don't get me wrong... You just can't take it seriously."

Violence, after all, is an inextricable part of the series, even if attitudes towards explicit in-game gore have changed since the early '90s.

Boon says that the Mortal Kombat team has design meetings centered around the series' notorious "fatalities" -- the typically gory finishing moves that gained it notoriety and have become its signature. During these meetings, staff throw out ideas for new ways of violently murdering the cast of Mortal Kombat characters. "I usually communicate mine with stick figure drawings, and they're actually used during a motion capture shoot as a guide, and the animators use them to see what the intention is.

"Some of the other guys, the designers on the team, they'll describe [a fatality] or they'll stand up in front of a meeting ... you can always tell by everybody's reaction in the meeting, which ones are going to go [into the game]. Because if everybody's like 'eh,' then it's probably not going to go."

"If somebody has some big reaction to it, and they're seeing it in their head, then we'll usually pursue something like that. The meetings are a lot of fun, and you know, we can't let everything come through, because there has been some really, really disturbing stuff."

The full feature interview, in which Boon further discusses the 2011 reboot of the series -- titled, simply, Mortal Kombat -- is live now on Gamasutra.


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