Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence

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PostEurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by KK » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:31 pm

By conventional videogame interviews, anyhow.

Eurogamer wrote:David Cage on Detroit and its depiction of domestic violence



"Would you ask this question to a film director, or to a writer? Would you?"

Martin Robinson: Have you had a chance to see some of the feedback to yesterday's trailer?

David Cage: No.

It's been mixed, I think it's fair to say. Some people have applauded it for going where it went, some are saying it's a bit too brutal and a bit too much. What's your take on that?

David Cage: What's my take on that? I try to tell a story that matters to me, that I find moving, interesting and exciting and my role as a creator is to maybe deliver something that people don't expect. Would I be doing my job as a creator if I was making the game you want me to make? I don't think so - I'm creating something that I find moving and meaningful. And I think people should see the scene, play the game and see it in context to really understand it. The rule I give myself is to never glorify violence, to never do anything gratuitous. It has to have a purpose, have a meaning, and create something that is hopefully meaningful for people.

Domestic abuse and child abuse is quite extreme as these things go.

David Cage: Let me ask you this question. Would you ask this question to a film director, or to a writer? Would you?

Yes.

David Cage: You would ask the same question?

Yes. I'd ask the same question. Why is it interesting to you? Why did you want to explore domestic abuse and child abuse?

David Cage: Why did I want to do this? For me it's a very strong and moving scene, and I was interested to put the player in the position of this woman. I chose her point of view. If I'd have chosen the point of view of the man it could have been a totally different story and with totally different emotions, but in this case I chose her point of view. There's a context in the story, there's a reason for that - where she comes from and where she's going to go. What's important to me, and what's important in Detroit is to say that a game is as legitimate as a film or a book or a play to explore any topic such as domestic abuse.

I'm not disputing that at all. The concern I have is that it's using something like domestic abuse and child abuse - which is a very real issue for unfortunately far too many people - and using it as window dressing rather than exploring the ramifications of those issues.

David Cage: There will always be people thinking that we've used this... But I don't think that's what we do. If you look really into the game and if you play it you'll understand that the game is not about domestic abuse. It's a part of Kara's story - she's not a victim and she has a beautiful story. Hopefully you will be moved by what happens.

So why did you choose to use domestic abuse to illustrate these points?

David Cage: You don't choose to talk about domestic abuse. It's not like I was like 'oh, let's write a scene about domestic abuse'. It's not how it works. When you're a writer you talk about things that move you, that you feel really deep inside you that's something that moves you, and you hope it'll move people too. You know there are two ways you can do this - 'oh let's do something cool and let's have someone beaten by a man', that's one way of doing things, because people are going to write about it and it's going to sell my game. That's one way of doing it.

The other way is to say I'm working on something important, something meaningful and something moving. There's a meaning behind it, there's a strong story I need to tell - it goes through dark moments, but I think the story I have to tell it as it's something important for me. And I think when you do this, you do your work as an author, you do your work as a writer. You go into dark places, in order to create something positive about it. It's never a conscious decision to say let's talk about something cool and violence - no, I want to talk about something moving and meaningful, that's my job as a writer. I'm the first judge, and I hope that people will feel the same.

I was in the demo just then, and there's motion control in this - you're shaking the controller to prevent the abuse, which didn't seem appropriate to me in a scene as powerful as that.

David Cage: For 20 years we play with control in a quite different way to people in the industry because we work on what we call the sense of mimicry - it's about making you feel with your computer what your character feels onscreen. It can lead to some strange things - like feeling awkward because you're trying to press many buttons at the same time. But if your character feels awkward on screen in the same way, it creates a link. We're really working with this sense of mimicry - we play with this when you try and push something.

Finally - I know I need to wrap up - is nothing off-limits as far as you're concerned as a writer?

David Cage: Off-limits? What is off-limits is what goes beyond the values I believe in. There are things I'd never do. I'd never do a racist game, or a misogynist game. These are the limits. When you feel okay with the content and the meaning when you know you have nothing to be ashamed of because it's fair and it tells the right story and because it's moving. There are no limits.

There's been these discussion in literature for years and years and years - one of the most famous poets was called Baudelaire, this guy was sued because he was talking about things he should be ashamed of. Today he's one of the most famous poets in French literature. I think it's normal that we have this conversation in games now. It's part of the process.

There was a lot of people going over the limits for bad reasons or no reason - which is even worse - but this medium shouldn't condemn people trying to explore these aspects, as long as they're honest and sincere and have an honest attitude towards it. I don't think we should point our fingers towards them and say you shouldn't do this because you're a game maker. This is who you are. So stay at your place. You're not a filmmaker, you're not a book writer, you're just a game maker so shut up. No, I don't think that'd be fair.

Games are a medium like anything - it's more than a medium for me, I've been saying the same thing for 20 years, it's an art form, and an art form should be free to express different things, including strong and dark emotions as long as it's done in a fair, honest and sincere way. That's what I hope I'm doing with Detroit - and believe me, we ask ourselves these questions every morning. We take it very seriously as we feel like we have a responsibility.

http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2017- ... c-violence

Well, that went well...

As an aside to this, there was a lot of violence and bad language on display from Sony last night though. Can you imagine if they did that with sex, there would be genuine outrage.

It is worth pointing out however, within the flimsy confines of YouTube, this event was put behind age verification, as is the above trailer (though only when viewed on YT).

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by jawafour » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:45 pm

I now visit Eurogamer far less frequently than I used to. It was my number one place for discovering videogame news but, personally, I feel it has lowered its standards and now often publishes stuff with the sole intent of creating controversy and seeking attention. I guess, as it is a news and reviews outlet, there is nothing wrong with it taking that line if it wants to.

However, the "controversy" approach has turned me off.

FAKE EDIT: I'm not saying this as a specific reaction to the handling of the Detroit news; more as a general feeling about the site that I've had for a few months now.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Rudolphin » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:50 pm

Cage is notably a creator without nuance. The first Detroit demo showed two options: peacefully protest or become a cop killer. For him to go anywhere near real life issues such as child abuse and domestic violence is absolutely terrifying.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by OrangeReindeer » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:57 pm

David Cage games are so ambitious and yet always fall so far short. I applaud him for wanting to push games as a more meaningful medium, but he has failed to do so before and I am doubtful Detroit will be any better.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by KK » Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:57 pm

Some people have applauded it for going where it went, some are saying it's a bit too brutal and a bit too much. What's your take on that?

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Gemini73 » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:01 pm

That interviewer was clearly out for blood and for no other reason, and in typical Eurogamer fashion, to generate hits.

That wasn't an interview. That was an attack.

Last edited by Gemini73 on Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Dual » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:10 pm

Does he kill the girl!?

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by KK » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:11 pm

I thought the trailer itself was very good; I was certainly gripped by it as it built over the course of the 3 minutes (actually felt longer). The overall story will be key here. I can't get upset about whatever the control method is - you've got to interact and instill panic somehow.

Plus, there seems to be this moral arbitrary line. So we can't depict or even attempt child abuse in videogames yet, but it's okay to mow down 200 people in Grand Theft Auto? Whether you want to introduce this subject at the hands of a robot woman however is another matter. I have no problem with the subject matter itself being covered though.

I personally found the scene from The Last of Us 2 of that woman's arm being smashed with a hammer, and a spike slowly going into another's abdomen, to be far more unsettling than anything in the Detroit trailer.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Ho-Ho-Ho-tek » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:23 pm

Tafdolphin wrote:Cage is notably a creator without nuance. The first Detroit demo showed two options: peacefully protest or become a cop killer. For him to go anywhere near real life issues such as child abuse and domestic violence is absolutely terrifying.

The problem with the trailer is that even if it was for a movie it would be too much.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by The Cuttcracker Suite » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:56 pm

Can't see anything wrong with the questions posed. :?

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Ho-Ho-Ho-tek » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:05 pm

Cuttooth wrote:Can't see anything wrong with the questions posed. :?

Yeah I read back and Cage was quite pished straight away.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Skippy » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:16 pm

Nothing hostile about that. EG certainly tried to provoke Cage, but that's what a good interviewer should be able to do without crossing a line like that RPS interview with Molyneux.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Fade » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:18 pm

I agree with KK

People want video games to be art, or be taken more seriously

But any time they see something that makes them feel uncomfortable, or framed in a way that makes them think, then they draw issue with it.

Why are so people so over protective of women that they are fine with hundreds and thousands of fictional men being KILLED, but the minute a woman is pushed or hit by an abuser they think it's too far? It's hilariously sad and patronising of women.

The fact that people take issue with portraying things in video games that are portrayed in soaps every few weeks is sad. I thought we were past that by now.

It makes them sound like those newscasters that treat videogames differently from other media because they are interactive.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by smurphy » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:41 pm

Fade wrote:The fact that people take issue with portraying things in video games that are portrayed in soaps every few weeks is sad. I thought we were past that by now.


The thing is though when films or TV shows depict abuse/rape/racism etc they usually use it is a way of exploring the issue or to help people better understand it, or the well written ones do anyway. Video games in their typical immature way usually use it for shock value or set dressing without actually saying a single thing about the issue other than 'this exists'. That appears to be the case here.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Skippy » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:44 pm

smurphy wrote:
Fade wrote:The fact that people take issue with portraying things in video games that are portrayed in soaps every few weeks is sad. I thought we were past that by now.


The thing is though when films or TV shows depict abuse/rape/racism etc they usually use it is a way of exploring the issue or to help people better understand it, or the well written ones do anyway. Video games in their typical immature way usually use it for shock value or set dressing without actually saying a single thing about the issue other than 'this exists'. That appears to be the case here.


Throw in David Cage and it absolutely should be a cause for concern. The guy thinks Detroit exploring "what it means to be human" is an fresh concept

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by The Cuttcracker Suite » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:58 pm

smurphy wrote:
Fade wrote:The fact that people take issue with portraying things in video games that are portrayed in soaps every few weeks is sad. I thought we were past that by now.


The thing is though when films or TV shows depict abuse/rape/racism etc they usually use it is a way of exploring the issue or to help people better understand it, or the well written ones do anyway. Video games in their typical immature way usually use it for shock value or set dressing without actually saying a single thing about the issue other than 'this exists'. That appears to be the case here.


Yeah this nails it. Popular soaps are usually written to portray contemporary social issues and when they try to tackle a "difficult" subject (not always successfully!) they invariably have some kind of hotline shown during the credits for people who might be currently affected by the themes of the storyline. I was really pleasantly surprised when Life is Strange actually did something like this during its first season at one point because I don't think I had seen that kind of messaging appear in a video game before. Most other non-soap TV shows, movies, and books obviously don't do this but are at least usually written with more nuance and care than a typical big budget video game. Whenever those TV shows, movies, and books fail at doing so or simply throw something in for surface level shock value, they are criticised as they should be.

If video games are meant to be art they have to be held up to that same level of criticism, which this interview basically does.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Rudolphin » Tue Oct 31, 2017 6:58 pm

Skippy wrote:
smurphy wrote:
Fade wrote:The fact that people take issue with portraying things in video games that are portrayed in soaps every few weeks is sad. I thought we were past that by now.


The thing is though when films or TV shows depict abuse/rape/racism etc they usually use it is a way of exploring the issue or to help people better understand it, or the well written ones do anyway. Video games in their typical immature way usually use it for shock value or set dressing without actually saying a single thing about the issue other than 'this exists'. That appears to be the case here.


Throw in David Cage and it absolutely should be a cause for concern. The guy thinks Detroit exploring "what it means to be human" is an fresh concept


100% agree. Absolutely nothing wrong with that interview, and Cage has shown himself to be someone with...narrow narrative abilities.


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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Jenu-All I Want For Christmas » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:07 pm

Hmm, the interviewer does seem to be far too aggressive here and I think Cage actually handles it fairly well all things considered.

I also agree that there is no way a director or writer in film, TV or literature would be addressed in this way about featuring the same subject matter.

Abuse is horrific and absolutely not a topic to be used frivolously or as window dressing for shock value, however that doesn't mean it is not a valid subject to explore in creative work.

Now I obviously know nothing about the way this game plays out, how this subject is included and the manner in which it is explored but we can't moan about games being lambasted as meaningless nonsense for kids in wider culture and at the same time jump down anyone's throat who attempts to explore wider issues within the confines of the media.

If it comes out and the way in which this is handled is gooseberry fool then call the developers or for it then.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Ho-Ho-Ho-tek » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:09 pm

Why pick that part of the game as a trailer? It would never provide a context, how the final game deals with it is nonsense, you’re missing the point.

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PostRe: Eurogamer's hostile interview with David Cage over depiction of domestic violence
by Saint of Killers » Tue Oct 31, 2017 7:16 pm

Why pick race issues? Why pick the negotiator scene? Why pick a man letting an AI construct go out into the wider world without doing his job and wiping its memory? Answer: because it's in the game.

The problem I have with the negativity surrounding the game and anything that's ever shown of it is that it always centres around Cage being a gooseberry fool writer and the end product *might* be handled poorly ergo it shouldn't be done/it's gooseberry fool. That is not fair criticism, is it?

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