Last week, 2K Games boss Christoph Hartmann tried to argue that photorealism is key to the introduction of new gaming genres and emotional experiences. Minecraft creator Notch was one of the dissenting voices. Now, Star Wars 1313 creative director Dominic Robilliard has added another wrinkle to the debate, commenting to OXM that the greater the visual fidelity developers offer, the more blame they invite for glorifying violence.
"It was interesting seeing all of the ultra-violence at this year's E3," Robilliard observed in an interview you'll read in issue 89, on shelves tomorrow. "I feel that responsibility escalates with the fidelity.
"When you can render characters that look like the ones in our game - and other games - you get to this realism level where you really don't want to encourage that kind of thing. Seeing that kind of reaction from gamers... It may well be human nature, but you don't want to put content out there that pushes those buttons."
E3 2012 was a rather gory affair, as several gentlemen of the press have noted. Tomb Raider's show proved especially wince-worthy, even discounting all the hooplah over "rape". Far Cry 3 found time to incinerate a tiger, and PS3 exclusive The Last of Us blasted somebody's head clean off with a shotgun. It's saying something that Star Wars 1313's debut trailer felt comparatively gentle - men are shot and ships are blown up, but the game doesn't linger over the flying gristle.
"We had a lot of questions from people saying: mature Star Wars?" Robilliard said elsewhere in the piece. "Does that mean we're going to see blood and guts all over the place? That's not it at all - it's not what we're shooting for. I don't think that would ever fit in Star Wars, really."
VFX supervisor Kim Libreri summed up. "It's for adults, not for psychopaths."
Thoughts from your side of the monitor? I can't help but agree in broad terms, though I think Robilliard's comment glosses over important specifics. Far Cry 3 is a deranged examination of derangement, and Tomb Raider is all about Lara's vulnerability, just in case you hadn't noticed.