Game designer Warren Spector revisited the theme of his GDC Europe talk during the PAX Prime 2010 keynote, urging everyone to treat games as art. "Games are an art form," he said to a round of applause. "I proudly wear my scarlet letter - A for art!"
Spector began his talk by issuing a challenge to everyone in the industry: expect more from video games. "We can't just settle for Deus Ex 34," he said.
Spector then followed up with more traditional PAX Keynote material in the form of an autobiographical talk establishing his geek cred. The loudest applause he enjoyed during this part of the talk was for playing the Wing Commander opening crawl, while talking about the games that excited him in the period of time just before he made Deus Ex.
"No one would say that my games have ever been on the bleeding edge of graphics," Spector admitted. But even if he isn't front and centre in terms of technology, he wondered at how far video games have come just on that front. "We put movies to shame."
The point of Spector's talk was both to celebrate geekdom, but also to warn "the tribe" that is gamer culture not to get snobby with newcomers (non-gamers, casual gamers, etc.) who finally, finally take an interest in the medium. "We spent 20 years trying to convince the masses that we were cool... and we won," he said. "We have to get past this not letting people into the club [mentality]."
Every medium has gone through this period of development of being reviled and snubbed, Spector said. "Whatever medium the adults don't get is the one that marks the 'end of civilisation.'" The solution, he said, is to wait for the previous generation to die. "Just be patient!"
Even with that laid back attitude, Spector warns that we are at risk. He cited the upcoming Schwarzenegger vs EMA Supreme Court case which could cost video games first amendment protection. He urged the audience to go to the Video Game Voters Network and to have a welcoming attitude toward new gaming attitudes.
He then showed a screen from FarmVille and became the second keynote speaker booed at PAX (after Alex St. John). To close, Spector showed the second half of Epic Mickey's opening cutscene (the first half of which premiered at GamesCom.)