PAX 2010: Warren Spector's Keynote Address


Posted September 3, 2010 - By Stephen Johnson

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I genuinely wish you, and every gamer alive, could have attended Warren Spector's keynote speech at PAX 2010. Spector, the creator of Deus Ex, Thief and now Disney Epic Mickey, kicked off the con with a very inspirational speech that gave a thumbnail sketch of geek history, moved on to the current "Golden Age" of gaming, and gave a look at the future of games as an art form.

"Games are an art form," Spector reminded the crowd.  "I'm no longer going to worry about that, or what society thinks of it. We're unique; we're an art form, and we're here to stay."

Spector showed off some photos that clearly established his last-gen geek cred, begining with an infant Spector in Mickey Mouse ears. He grew up on Ray Harryhausen epics, comic books, and sci-fi films. Then moved on to table top gaming (D&D in the 1970s FTW!), and his introduction to video games' possibility in the form of the Atari game Space Raiders. He worked at Steve Jackson Games then moved on to Lord British's Origin System, and then to Deus Ex and Thief.

More than just an establishment of his bonafides, Spector's presentation highlighted something important: When all of the art forms he loves were "young," they threatened older people. People in power blamed comics, TV, movies and Dungeons and Dragons for poisoning young minds -- a lot like people now think of games.

Spector pointed out that Shakespeare' Globe theater was regarded as encouraging criminals and louts to hang around, and the novel was regarded as sucking people's lives away when it first became popular.

The place of games as a "legitimate" form of expression is soon to be decided by the Supreme Court. November 2 marks the beginning of the case that could decide whether games are protected by the First Amendment.

Spector went on to remind us how the "mainstream" was becoming interested in our little hobby, and reminded gamers that we should welcome, as opposed to shunning, the newcomers.

"We spent 20 years trying to convince the public how amazing games are, and we've won," Spector said."Revel in your specialness, but we have to get past not wanting to let more people in the club."

I couldn't possibly have said it better myself.

Spector ended his presentation with a look at Disney Epic Mickey... I'm gonna use one word: Amazing.

PAX 2010: Warren Spector's Keynote Address


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