Junction Point lead and Deus Ex creator has hit back at suggestions that today's games industry offers less variety and innovation than around the turn of the millennium when we were privy to games such as System Shock, Thief, and, of course, Deus Ex itself. The problem, he says, is rather a certain tunnel vision from core gamers, narrow interpretations of what games should be, and a lack of reporting on the wider world of video games outside of mainstream blockbusters.
The whole E3 violence thing probably doesn't help either.
"I think if you look at a narrow slice of the video game industry, it's easy to argue [that games are stagnating]," Spector told Dealspwn at Gamescom last month. "I think there are a bunch of people in this industry who still, in their heart-of-hearts, want to be making movies. Every time I hear the phrase 'cinematic games' I just want to scream. No, let's make more 'gamey games', how about that!
"The reality is that twenty years ago, when I was at Origin and working with the guys at Looking Glass and Ion Storm, we would literally look at one another in amazement and ask why we were the only ones doing this. 'Why isn't everybody making games like Ultima and Underworld and System Shock and Thief and Deus Ex...why aren't more people doing that?'. And not to toot my own horn, but rather toot some collective horns, I think we made a difference. There was a time when it was just a case of Thief and Ultima and Deus Ex, but then No One Lives Forever came along a few months later. I looked at that and thought 'Hey, they're doing a lot of the same things we were doing', and the same when BioWare came out with Knights of the Old Republic."
Spector argued that the effects of those games are still visible and being built upon today, to great effect.
"And there are echoes of it today: Bioshock, Mass Effect, Skyrim, Dishonored. There are guys from Looking Glass now working high up at Bethesda. A bunch of folks working on Dishonored came straight out of Origin and Ion Storm. Out of the ashes of Looking Glass and Ion Storm came Irrational and Junction Point and Arkane and Harmonix, for that matter. So I really think if you look more closely you'll see that the legacy is there. There are people doing Deus Ex games that aren't me!" he laughed.
"I see so many games today that are like the games I want to make and want to play, so many different games I want to play, and that wasn't true twenty years ago. I had to make the games I wanted to play. Now I have to find time between making those games to play games other people have made that I really want to play! Even beyond that, you only have to look at Facebook, and the App Store, and the digital marketplaces. Journey is not at all your run-of-the-mill game. Jenova Chen's out there doing crazy stuff, and Jon Blow, and Chris Hecker, and God bless them. The infinite variety of games is under-reported, I think, so what has to happen is core gamers have to break out of that narrow field of vision that says 'Only this [small sector] defines gaming.' Games are out of frame now, we just have to look a little bit broader."
Hear, hear! We've strong advocates of looking below the thin film of iterative AAA games at some strikingly diverse indie goodness, and indeed, we've even argued that we've never had it better than right now, on occasion.
We'll have a massive piece centred around our chat with Warren later tonight.