Deus Ex and Epic Mickey are the same

Image from: Kotaku

At this PAX Prime 2012, Kotaku’s Kirk Hamilton had the privilege of interviewing Deus Ex and Epic Mickey creator, Warren Spector. There, Spector compared the differences between  “adolescent” and “adult games,” criticizing the ESRB system and possibly even the MPAA. He also defined what is true art to a point where Roger Ebert could understand and empathize with it:

And so I think when players [play Deus Ex] they think, “I am shooting a gun. Kids don’t shoot guns. I am in the real world. That is an adult situation.” They look at the content, and confuse content and action.

But the reality is, what makes a game mature is not, ‘I got a gun, I curse, that woman is naked…’ that’s adolescent, it’s not “mature.” It’s the opposite of mature. I find it so ironic that we get that so completely backwards. We give mature ratings to the most immature games. In Disney Epic Mickey, it was about how important family and friends are to you. And [Epic Mickey 2] is about, “Do you believe that there is evil so profound in the world that it’s beyond redemption?” In this game, you have to decide who to trust. That’s maturity!”

I recall Spector also mentioning at the New York Comic Con 2010 Q&A how Mickey’s choices were not about being good or evil, but instead what kind of hero you were; he compared it to the actions of a man “saving every cat caught up a tree” opposed to “just” save the world. When it came to his two creations and choices, he repeated:

“I think the real reason is that they think about the kinds of choices they’re being asked to make: Do I kill that thing or not? Do I fight or sneak? And in this game, the tone is completely different, the choices you’re making are completely different, the consequences are completely different. The kinds of game genres we’re mashing up… that’s what I do, I’m not a blank-screen kind of designer. I’ll leave that to Will Wright and other people who I admire and wish I was more like. But Deus Ex was literally, if you boil it down to first principles, it was literally ‘Let’s take a shooter, and a stealth game, and a role-playing game and mash ’em all up and see what happens.’

And those are typically thought of as adult genres. And in the first Disney Epic Mickey and in this one, all we’re doing is taking Mario, and Zelda, and pick your favorite role-playing game, and mash ’em all up and see what happens. Because I think that could be kind of interesting. You know?

I think that we took genres that are more typically associated with kids, mashed ’em up, put ’em together, but the end result is that the gameplay is as deep, the choice and consequence, especially in the second game, are as deep as anything I’ve ever worked on. All it requires is, gamers have to accept that they’re not wearing sunglasses at night, they’re not wearing a trenchcoat in the middle of summer, they’re not carrying a big gun. They’re playing as a mouse.”

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