Lurid depictions of wanton violence have long been an attention-grabber for game makers, as they seek to grab headlines and marketing juice.
But according to veteran game developer Sid Meier, it might well be time to move on.
Meier, best known for the much-respected Civilization series of games, gave a speech at a convention organized by his Take-Two-owned development studio Firaxis today. He told the audience at Firaxicon that games have matured and do not need to depend on shock tactics.
"I think we've come a long way," he said, according to a report filed by GamesIndustry. "There was a time when spines were pulled out of players and we don't have to do that anymore. I think we got people's attention. We can make good games now. I think there's been a lot of progress in that regard."
Meier was referring to the Mortal Kombat games which gained media notoriety in the 1990s through their brutal and cartoonish depictions of violence. But more modern games, like the successful Call of Duty series and Grand Theft Auto 5, have attracted attention through graphic depictions of carnage and torture.
Meier's games sometimes depict large-scale warfare and destruction, but only in the abstract. He said his work tried not to deal in "glorified violence."
"I'm certainly not in favor of any sort of censorship," he added. "We're artists, we're creative and we should be able to do what we want. On the other hand, it's hard to say our games are immersive and grab people, allow them to participate and make them the stars, and then say that there's no impact, or that it doesn't affect them.
"So I think we have to walk that line. I think people know the difference between fantasy and reality. Gamers are very mature and intelligent people. However, whatever we can do to create a positive climate we should do."