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David Cage on Detroit and its depiction of domestic violence

David Cage is no stranger to controversy. Through the 20 years of Quantic Dream’s existence – an anniversary celebrated after last night’s PlayStation showcase that kicked off Paris Games Week – the French studio has always made games that push at various boundaries. The trailer for Detroit: Become Human, Quantic Dream’s forthcoming PlayStation 4 game that explores the moral implications of the rise of artificial intelligence, was perhaps the developer’s most controversial yet – a short, often brutal look at a chapter of protagonist Kara’s story in which scenes of domestic abuse and child abuse feature heavily.

It made for uncomfortable viewing, and having seen the scene play out in full – and through different permutations, illustrating the branching paths of Detroit: Become Human – I can’t say I felt any more comfortable with it, especially when it’s complemented by the sight of producer Guillaume de Fondaumire dramatically gesticulating with the controller as he plays through. Are such issues fair game for video games? And, perhaps more pertinently, is Detroit: Become Human exploring them responsibly? It’s a topic which will prove divisive, so I wanted to talk through it with Cage himself.

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.