Why Jay Wilson Lets His Daughter Play Diablo 3.

Because it's filled with rainbows!!! I'm sure that's what a few of you were thinking in the back of your heads, but that's just not the case. Wired recently conducted a nice interview with Diablo 3 Lead Designer Jay Wilson about violence and gore in Diablo 3. Take a look:

Official Blizzard Quote:

Jay Wilson: I heard you met my wife and daughter!

Wired: I did. I was looking for a ?human interest? story when I saw a woman and her young daughter playing Diablo III. I asked the mother for an interview and it turned out to be your wife. How do you feel about letting your daughter play an M-rated game like Diablo?

Wilson: Well, I feel like for every parent you have to make a choice about what kind of content is appropriate for your child and at what age. At a certain age, I wouldn?t have let her play a game like Diablo because of the violence. And honestly, I paused before letting her play. It?s hard when I work on it though, and she wants to see what I do; I don?t really want to deprive her of that. I know my daughter well enough to know that I didn?t think she?d have any problem handling it. That being said, I don?t let her see games that have any guns in them or first-person shooters that have violence. That, to me, is a little too personal. And so, that?s where I draw the line. I think it?s got to be a really personal choice that everyone makes. To do my official company line, too, one of the things we intend to do is add parental controls so that every parent can make their own choice about what?s appropriate for their kids.

Wired: Does your daughter have an inclination towards Diablo-like stuff?

Wilson: (laughs) No, no, no. She is a rainbows-and-unicorns kind of girl, all across the board. She likes World of Warcraft, but she doesn?t play it that much. She loves Spore, plays Spore like crazy. Nothing mature. Diablo is the only mature game I?ve ever let her play. And, again, it was because it?s my game. If it was somebody else?s game, I probably wouldn?t let her see it. I would?ve decided it was too mature for her. But she really likes games where she can control characters from an isometric view. So I think that?s probably the biggest appeal for her, she likes being able to look down upon the world and see her character moving around.

Wired: If your daughter is a rainbows-and-unicorns kind of girl, maybe people will blame her for the new art style...

Wilson: Maybe, but they shouldn?t. (laughs)

Wired: At the convention, we saw the Fallen Lunatic, who explodes after stabbing itself in the chest multiple times. Can anything ever too be too gory for Diablo?

Wilson: Yes. We do get a couple of things that are questionable, but usually, it?s not so much gore-related ? it?s that you can have gore that implies things that we as a Western society aren?t really comfortable with. Any kind of nudity, you can?t really have, especially when you couple it with violence. Those types of things don?t work well. You have to be really careful with things like torture. Those things are difficult. But to honest, in the development of the game, we tend not to think about it. We tend to build what we need to build and then wait for somebody to say, ?That?s a step too far.? There are a few ways we edit ourselves, but usually not with gore, like sheer amounts of gore. It?s like, ?You want to behead the guy? Go ahead, yes. You want to slice the guy apart? Go ahead.?

One example of one of the biggest ways we edited ourselves is ? we have this cool system where we can hit a dude so hard that his skeleton flies out. It was awesome, really cool-looking. And we added several skills that did that; every time you hit somebody, their skeletons fly out. But I have to say, it got a little boring after a while! It became a little excessive. It took away the coolness of it. And so there, we felt like our overuse of it actually de-emphasized it, and we didn?t like that. We were like, ?No, if we want to push the skeleton out of somebody, we want it to be a big deal.? I want to really like see it, and I want it to be a special event. And that?s probably the main way we?ve toned ourselves down, is to go back and say, let?s not go so overboard, that there?s nothing cool about the violence.

Wired: I think some people would disagree with that though considering the gore in Fallout 3. Some would say that the dismemberment there never gets old...

Wilson: I think in our case, it really got old. I wouldn?t speak to what other developers have done ? and I love Fallout 3, I thought it was a great game ? but it?s a choice every developer makes. And yeah, I?m sure some people say, ?Nope, it never gets old. Always love it every time.? But our feeling was (for Diablo III), it got old. And it doesn?t mean we remove it. It just meant that we really wanted to emphasize it, and so we did that by controlling the frequency of it.

Wired: Do you think Diablo III, with all its blood and gore, can appeal to a wider audience this time around?

Wilson: If we appeal to a wider audience, I don?t think it should be because we shied away from mature subject matter. Diablo is our Mature-rated series, and it?s important for us that it be that. It?s our goal, and that?s where we want it to be. So we wouldn?t go for an audience by moving away from that. Now do I think we can appeal to more people? Diablo II appealed to a lot of people, and I can only hope that we can appeal to more. But I think the way to do that is actually through introducing players to the game in a more friendly way. Better tutorial systems, a more streamlined control interface, better game design ? those are the ways I think to broaden your audience. Content-wise ... I think games like Grand Theft Auto have already proven the tone of your content is not restrictive to your audience size.

Wired: Earlier, you mentioned parental controls. What are you guys planning for that?

Wilson: We intend to have people to be able to tone down the actual gore levels. In terms of whether we go beyond that, we?ll probably do something. But we haven?t really gotten into a specific design for it yet, so it?s hard to say.

Wired: Are you thinking it?s possible to turn off the blood completely? Or simply change the blood color?

Wilson: Yeah, we?re going to have to be able to turn off blood, change the color and things like that, because you can?t have red blood in some regions, regions that we would very much like to sell the game in. So we definitely build everything, that every bit of gore, in a deposited manner so that at a future date, we can go through and change it all or turn it off. In terms of what kind options we give, we actually give within a particular version. We?ve haven?t nailed it down, but if you turn down the gore, you can actually change it to not have red blood. That seems to be really the sticking point for a lot of people because a lot of times we use blood as feedback. And so if we take that out, that actually hurts the gameplay. But we can change the note of that feedback so that it?s something that people are more okay with.

Wired: Do you think they?ll be controversy over the parental controls, like we saw with the new art style?

Wilson: I?m sure someone will be controversial about it. I don?t think they should though, the idea that people put parental controls and allow for option of turning down the blood. It?s not like we?re doing it across the board. It?s not like we?re forcing it on everyone. We?re making it an option, and not the default option. Will some people complain about it? I?m sure they will. But ultimately, that?s the world we live in.

Wired: You?ll obviously have to edit content for regions like Germany and Australia, but what about China? Is that a more difficult case?

Wilson: Definitely for regions like Germany and Australia, we will have to change blood if we?re going to sell there. And that?s fine. Those are the standards for those regions, and we don?t really have a problem with catering to what they need and what they want. But China?s going to be hard for us. Because a lot of the restrictions there are really... we may not be able to do them. It may not be possible. With our relationship with NetEase, we recently got new information about what China really wants, and it?s a lengthy list. It?s really hard for us to cater to. We?ll try. There?s no reason we wouldn?t want to go there, but there is a certain point where we?d have to redo so much of the game that it?s not viable anymore.

Wired: So it?s possible you won?t be released in China due to their gaming violence restrictions?

Wilson: We could have a lot of trouble with China, yes, but it would be our goal to go there. We haven?t decided what regions we?re going into, obviously. It certainly would be our goal to go there, but we will struggle to go to China.
It's gotta be nice to work at a place where you can have conversations with your co-workers like, "You want to behead the guy? Go ahead, yes." Pretty interesting read eh? I definitely like that they're going to be emphasizing certain events to make them more exciting by toning down the frequency that they occur. What do you guys think about it?

Also, letting your daughter play Diablo 3 = Dad of the year.


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