No More Torture for Splinter Cell: Blacklist

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No More Torture for Splinter Cell: Blacklist

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Ubisoft Toronto has decided that Sam Fisher shouldn't be extracting intelligence at knife-point.

During E3 2012, Ubisoft Toronto presented footage from Splinter Cell: Blacklist in which a player-controlled Sam Fisher stabs and tortures an NPC for information. Not only does this scene paint the series in a much darker light than previous entries, it's also an understandably sensitive topic for many, and negative reactions inevitably followed. In response, producer Andrew Wilson has stated that although the footage lacks context, including the fact that torture was an optional mechanic, Ubisoft Toronto has decided to remove the offending scene from the game.

"Definitely we are not going to see when the game's coming out that there are torture scenes in it," Wilson said. "That scene is not there any more. I've not really heard anyone say they loved it."

According to Wilson, part of the problem is that E3 presentations lack context and emphasize the appeal of violent in-game actions. "Because of the nature of E3, there are certain things that are easier to demonstrate," Wilson said. "Obviously we were up on stage at the beginning, and it's quite hard to get the value of a stealth playthrough in that environment. We would have got a negative reaction if we showed that kind of stuff." Wilson also stated that any torture scenes would have been optional, and that Blacklist's tone is actually fairly similar to previous Splinter Cell games.

I understand why in-game torture would make people uncomfortable, mostly because it makes me uncomfortable. That's kinda the point: you shouldn't watch a torture scene and say that you "loved it". Still, it's worth mentioning that the Black Ops games already depict player-sanctioned torture, and fairly unrealistic portrayals at that. In other media, Zero Dark Thirty has sparked a conversation about torture in film, and there are many books and TV shows addressing the topic as well. Blacklist's torture scenes could ultimately have been dismissed as exploitative, but the subject matter may have been worth exploring, even if it's just an espionage game.

Source: Eurogamer

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Is that all they need? Someone to say they loved it?

Fine. I loved it. And I won't be purchasing the game now that it is removed. Yeah, torture is ugly and gritty, and it most definitely works. To be cowed out of something realistic in a game because "teh internets" have a problem show an amazing lack of spine for the developer.

Is it really worse than gunning down civilians in an airport? Then I think you're okay.

Well, if they say the scenes would have been pointless and irrelevant to the game, then I'm fine with it. If they are being honest, then I admire the developers who are able to remove "Cool" elements from a game because they don't really have much to do with the rest of the game, either story wise or gameplay wise. I don't shy away from violence in games or torture scenes as gritty as they might be, but they must have a reason to be there, just like any other element in a videogame.

Reminds me of something Kojima did for MGS2. Supposedly, there was a part where Snake would run away from water, Indiana Jones style. But Kojima decided that it had nothing to do with the stealth-theme of the game and that was just there cause it was cool.
Now, I'm just talking about that game, not the whole series...

Breaking news: French owned studio surrenders. In other news: Grass still green.

Torture is bad, but ramming a guy's head through multiple urinals is okay? There's a difference?

Captcha : It is different

Touche, Captcha, Touche.

LysanderNemoinis:
Breaking news: French owned studio surrenders. In other news: Grass still green.

More like: Americans act out fake melodrama as a game unintentionally confronts them with the uncomfortable truth of the criminal methods used by American agents every day.

Heck, the only CIA torturer who ever got what he deserved has his own memorial. It's not just censored away and ignored, but actually remembered as being a good thing.

Whether the use of torture was optional or not is irrelevant. The issue is propagating the lie that torture is effective and justifiable tactic.

Not to say that games don't have the right to address torture, but the way it was presented in Blacklist and Conviction was disgusting. Not happy with the statements from this Wilson guy to be honest, I'd rather hear them admit they screwed up than "no one liked it so we cut it".

cobra_ky:
Whether the use of torture was optional or not is irrelevant. The issue is propagating the lie that torture is effective and justifiable tactic.

You know, as a story device it can be used, to demonstrate the unreliability of the extracted information. Say Fisher interrogates tortures some NPC, and the information is not only inaccurate, but sends Fisher on a wild goose chase that eventually results in serious consequences for Fisher. In this context, torture is a narrative tool for the writer. So in a meta-textual sense, it can work.

Taking the game in a darker direction... in a game where you can sneak up behind someone and garrot the life out of them...

Alrighty then!

Also: fucking pathetic, caving to a few people who whine about not liking it. Protip: If they dont like it, they dont have to buy it. I was considering buying this game, but I think I will save my money for a dev that has a bit more of a spine.

cobra_ky:
Whether the use of torture was optional or not is irrelevant. The issue is propagating the lie that torture is effective and justifiable tactic.

Torture is good an wholesome fun! Plus it can be used in various interesting ways, from demoralizing the enemy to confirming information you already have!

Besides, its a fucking game. If people are taking major life lessons about torturing people from a game, then there are more pressing issues than it being in the game.

complaining about a torture scene. seriously???
well, face it, they do it for real, so either you accept it or dont play the game at all. doesnt mean you have to make a fuss about it and the company has to cut it out.

yes, torture is not good at all, dont get me wrong there, but hell, what you think spies do? offering them cookies and tea? why are people so retarded?

TheRussian:

cobra_ky:
Whether the use of torture was optional or not is irrelevant. The issue is propagating the lie that torture is effective and justifiable tactic.

You know, as a story device it can be used, to demonstrate the unreliability of the extracted information. Say Fisher interrogates tortures some NPC, and the information is not only inaccurate, but sends Fisher on a wild goose chase that eventually results in serious consequences for Fisher. In this context, torture is a narrative tool for the writer. So in a meta-textual sense, it can work.

Our minds are in sync, it is uncanny...I was thinking if you stealth it up and observe action and conversations in a level you get solid intelligence if you torture you have say 15-20% chance of getting solid intelligence, with bad intelligence making the game harder and harder. Or even bad intelligence results in more QTEs?

Because the last thing we want is our noble intelligence services to be painted as the morally ambiguous ends-justifies-means outfits we're all fairly sure that they are.

In Conviction you actually had different things to do to guys while extracting information, depending on where you are in the room and with locations such as a public bathroom or a kitchen it really gives to creativity. And you know what? After a whole level where these guys try to kill you and you have to sneak around, it feels good to feel like a badass.
Do I think or would do anything like that? NO, but I'm playing as Sam Fisher, not myself.

mooncalf:
Because the last thing we want is our noble intelligence services to be painted as the morally ambiguous ends-justifies-means outfits we're all fairly sure that they are.

Especially in a fictional world with a fictional agency.

Rogue 09:
Yeah, torture is ugly and gritty, and it most definitely works. To be cowed out of something realistic in a game because "teh internets" have a problem show an amazing lack of spine for the developer.

No, it doesn't work, and Sam Fisher is the exact kind of operative who would know it doesn't work.

Great, they chopped off the game's balls.

There was torture in the last Splinter Cell. In the co-op missions you were given the option to do it. I am not sure how including one in this would be "painting the series in a darker light than previous entries."

I never got where people draw these bizarre lines in games. It's okay to drag a guard off of a lighthouse to his death just because he happened to be in the way (despite non-lethal options being available). But torturing a bad guy for vital information is wrong.

It doesn't even matter if it's something that works or not. The idea that it is somehow worse than all of the other violence you can do in games is ridiculous.

I'm glad it was removed personally. I'm not actually against it being in but if they removed it because the context didn't make sense then I'm for it. I don't believe any subject or device should be removed from a story tellers tool box out of hand but the final product can and that it's fair to judge it in context of the real world. Also I'm generally against violence for the sake of violence.

LysanderNemoinis:
Breaking news: French owned studio surrenders. In other news: Grass still green.

Lol that's so true.

Anyway, gonna get boring without the badass torture behavior... Plus, torture is a very valid way to get info when one is 100% sure that the bastard/subject carries the information, I also believe it should be used as punishment for certain crimes, death is way to fast for some people. It falls short, and is actually absurd, when it is used at random to obtain information, because, heck, it's just fruitless, and might result in misinformation. However, as far as i remember, Sam always got the right people for info ;) Just like Batman hahah

Milanezi:

LysanderNemoinis:
Breaking news: French owned studio surrenders. In other news: Grass still green.

Lol that's so true.

Anyway, gonna get boring without the badass torture behavior... Plus, torture is a very valid way to get info when one is 100% sure that the bastard/subject carries the information, I also believe it should be used as punishment for certain crimes, death is way to fast for some people. It falls short, and is actually absurd, when it is used at random to obtain information, because, heck, it's just fruitless, and might result in misinformation. However, as far as i remember, Sam always got the right people for info ;) Just like Batman hahah

Well aren't you a sadistic nutty bastard =/

I wonder what doesn't get america in a fuss these days... Bunch a crybabies of you ask me. Offended by every little thing that passes you by. Grow up because it is starting to piss me off. Also I don't understand how you can't let this one slide. But getting beaten to death in a first person view by kratos and having your eyes poked out is fine and dandy? Having your head ripped off and used as a flashlight -> good times?

I'm guessing it has something do with guantanomo bay? You made a little booboo in the human rights department and now you want to shush everything remotely related to it? If that is what this is than man up and grow a pair.

The Gentleman:

Rogue 09:
Yeah, torture is ugly and gritty, and it most definitely works. To be cowed out of something realistic in a game because "teh internets" have a problem show an amazing lack of spine for the developer.

No, it doesn't work, and Sam Fisher is the exact kind of operative who would know it doesn't work.

Basically what the article says is TL;DR there is no way to be conclusive one way or the other regarding torture as all we have to go on are peoples stories, as no one has actually done any kind of study on it.

Really though as I said before, its a great way to break enemy moral if you can show them the results, as well as can be useful as a second hand source of information to confirm things already known, IE if you hear through the grapevine that there is an attack going down on X target and Y time, and then you capture an enemy that is involved with a group that the intel relates to and cut on him a bit and he yells out that X target is going to be attacked at Y time without you giving any leading questions, well, you just confirmed a bit of intel!

Not to mention that article gives some bad examples of torture! Much better to damage non vital areas such as hands legs ect instead of bashing around the head, if you damage their braincase you will never get anything useful!

It does seem like an odd thing to cut, with all the other scenes of torture in games already. Not to mention the other horrible stuff they usually let you do.

On the other hand, I can't say I'm unhappy about seeing it go. It does seem like there has been a long ongoing trend in the media trying to normalize and justify torture. Or do they still want me to call it "advanced interrogation technique"?

Depicting it is one thing, but glorifying it and depicting in such a simplified manor is another. I hate to sound like the fussy American soccer mum here, but little Timmy is going to end up playing the game. And making torture a mechanic, without discussing the wider themes, implications and consequences within the narrative...well, it's just going to make it seem cool and normal.

Eitherway, I suspect this is all just a publicity stunt by Ubisoft. Latch onto controversial topic, draw attention to sub-par game series that has been selling poorly, take a stance, generate discussion with your game at the center of it, enjoy free publicity, make dosh.

The only Splinter Cell I ever played was Chaos Theory, and it was a fun romp. Sure, a lot of things were at stake in the game world, but it still found time to take itself lightly. I used to love hearing conversations between enemy guards (the conspiracy banter in the bank about Americans using clothes to help in the invasion of their country was hilarious), and it gave them a certain bit of depth. I always took care not to kill them - partly for the challenge, and partly because how could I kill that one young idiot who was in awe of the fact that I was a ninja and was probably going to kill him with shurikens?

Splinter Cell has changed in its tone dramatically over the years, and I'm really not interested anymore. I hear there are bits where you can't go for a complete non-lethal run, and the part where Fisher stabbed a man and kept gouging for information just made me cringe. Yeah, sure, fucking edgy, but my Fisher would never do that!

How to get information out of someone quickly while on sensitive missions?
I think Sam Fisher would know how, except he doesn't sound like Ironside... and his sensitive mission information will now be found in PDA's left lying around... because people use PDA's...

I really wish the game industry would more focus us good story instead of such cheap thrills.

So IF the toture is NECESSARY for driving the story it's ok but should NOT be acted out.

No One Lives Forever 1 also had a torture scene in it. which in the end turned out to be necessary to get the info.
And NOLF1/2 are among my AllTimeFav.

BloodRed Pixel:
I really wish the game industry would more focus us good story instead of such cheap thrills.

So IF the toture is NECESSARY for driving the story it's ok but should NOT be acted out.

No One Lives Forever 1 also had a torture scene in it. which in the end turned out to be necessary to get th info.
And NOLF1/2 are among my AllTimeFav.

Modern Warfare 2 also had torture in it, but Ghost just, closed the door before they got to work on that one as well, they got the info they needed and didnt show graphic torture scenes.

That's a shame. They really showed how far Fisher was willing to go to get the information and showed how ruthless he is becoming as a character.

Don't like the mechanic? Don't buy the game, don't ruin it for the rest of us.

Imagine if the white phosphore scene was removed from Spec Ops. No one "loved" the scene, but it was a part of what made the game so interesting.
So, if the torture scenes were part of the context of blacklist, than removing them would leave an empty space. The other option is that the scenes were there to be enjoyable, and since they aren't, removing them wouldn't effect the product.
Time will tell.

When did video games become the biggest sissy on the entertainment media playground?

If TV and films can do it, then games should be able to. This is not cool.

VanQQisH:
When did video games become the biggest sissy on the entertainment media playground?

Only because people continue to support them after they cave to whiners.

In gaming people whine about a torture scene, it gets yanked, people whine about a collectors edition item, they get an appology, ect.

In film/television people whine, and they get rightly ignored.

If they dont like it they dont have to watch or buy, no reason to alter your product for complainers.

This series has been dead to me ever since I finished the poorly ported PC version of Double Agent. Blacklist might've changed my mind, but I definitely don't want a censored game.

One thing I liked about gaming in the 90s and early 2000s was that developers seemed to do what seemed right to them, instead of taking into account stupid comments about the game being offensive in some manner. Games were able to be challenging both in gameplay and in story. I wish developers would stop caring about what random people on the Internet think, and just make the games that they want to make.

Milanezi:
Plus, torture is a very valid way to get info when one is 100% sure that the bastard/subject carries the information, I also believe it should be used as punishment for certain crimes, death is way to fast for some people. It falls short, and is actually absurd, when it is used at random to obtain information, because, heck, it's just fruitless, and might result in misinformation. However, as far as i remember, Sam always got the right people for info ;) Just like Batman hahah

That would be because - say it with me now - they are fictional characters who are acting out a story.

Of course they go to the right people for info, because if they don't then the plot doesn't advance. It's easy to do awful, morally reprehensible things as a fictional character because nobody is judging you. Batman can torture whoever he likes, and everyone is fine with it, but if one of the real-life superheroes started doing it we'd throw them in jail.

What the whole debate boils down to, particularly in regards to recent Middle Eastern wars, is that in the real world you cannot do bad things while claiming to be the good guy. If the United States wants to use drone strikes and torture, there's nobody who can stop them, but they ought to drop the act of painting it as a 'war on terror' and just admit that they're doing exactly what the enemy would do in the same situation. Be honest about the rapidly shrinking moral difference between the two sides. One side leaves a car bomb in the middle of a village, the other hits the village with a drone. One side takes hostages, the other side takes prisoners, both sides torture the captive for information. The effects are the same, but at least one group is honest about being bad guys.

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