I Don’t Trust David Cage to Tackle Domestic Violence in 'Detroit'


#1

On Monday, a new trailer for Detroit: Become Human was shown at Sony's Paris Games Week presentation. It depicts one of the subplots in the game, in which the android Kara, a playable character, is inserted (as an enslaved robot maid) into the lives of an abusive single father and his young daughter. As the trailer progresses and the violence escalates, we are treated to a series of cuts showing us Kara's choices, in typical Quantic Dream style, as she tries to navigate her way out of this situation and potentially save a young child—with dire consequences for making the wrong choices.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/ne33nd/david-cage-domestic-abuse-detroit-become-human

#2

What annoys me the most about Cage’s choices in Detroit is highlighted perfectly in this article. Cage believes he can can pretend as if he’s not making statements, or that the abuse shown is just how his characters would go about it; but he needs to own up to the idea that he is making a statement. Detroit is obviously politically charged, so why does he pretend like it’s not?

I think it’s what is sometimes known as JAQing off. That is to say, a shitty defense where you pretend like you’re Just Asking Questions in order to stop people from criticizing your beliefs. I don’t think Cage has any abhorrent beliefs really, but I think he’s just not willing to deal with any criticism at all around his artwork.


#3

This was a really good article. David Cage is a very divisive creator and for the most part I think his reach exceeds his grasp, but I also tend to really enjoy the work QD does (Beyond: Two Souls still being a low point) and am interested to see where this goes. The reactions from people playing demos at PGW seem positive, but it’s pretty clear why people wouldn’t want to give him the benefit of the doubt when you look at his previous work.


#4

Pretty much my thoughts on the matter, articulated better than I could have.

Putting an emphasis on choice for the victim in an abuse situation just felt really bad for me from the start.


#5

I think he just loves using evocative settings/racial backgrounds as window dressing without ever wading any deeper into the pool so to speak. And it comes across in interviews as you pointed out. “Hey, I’m just trying to tell a story, ya know?!” He’s the shruggie emoji made flesh.


#6

Cage always had problems with criticism, no? Maybe I’m wrong but he seems to dodge responsibilty at any chance.

That said, one problem I’ve had with the article is that she implys that the player is in the victim’s role when it’s clearly not the case, Kara is a third person, which may actually work when trying to represent the player’s perspective. “what would YOU do when in the presence of an abusive father and his daughter” seem to be the idea behind the scene in question. Kara is hired to work as a maid and/or nanny for this family and defronts with the situation, you’re not playing as the kid so a lot of the points she made regarding Cage reducing the victim’s life to a choose your own adventure aren’t quite what that scene is,

What rubbed me the wrong way and I agree entirely was using this particular scene for promotional use, it was of poor taste and insensitive to say the least.

I enjoyed Heavy Rain and even Beyond to some extent, I hope the addition of support writers in Detroit improve on the game’s dialogue and narrative.


#7

I wanna point out again that, for those who haven’t played/watched Beyond: Two Souls, one of the vignettes is about the protagonist using her magic ghost powers in order to help a Native American family exorcise the spirits of their ancestors. It is as embarrassingly bad as you might imagine.

(the ending also frames the Willem Dafoe character’s suicide in order to see his family in a positive light; yikes!)

To say what the writer of this piece was probably wanting to say themselves: David Cage is a fucking hack and it’s a goddamn tragedy that he consistently gets massive project funding while infinitely better creators struggle to secure a dime of outside investment.


#8

Quantic Dream seems like a talented studio. It’s a shame they’re stuck working under David Cage.

I used to give him the benefit of the doubt as there tend to be parts of his output that suggest the capacity for something genuinely great, but for years it’s seemed obvious that he simply needs to get out of his own way.

It’s telling that Supermassive Games (Until Dawn) and Dontnod (Life is Strange) did so well with their first attempts, learning from what had come before, whilst QD’s games are stuck repeating the same mistakes.


#9

Kara is absolutely also a victim of abuse in that situation, given that the trailer clearly shows that the father character has used violence to control her in the past and threatens to do so again. So those parts of the article aren’t about the kid’s experience, but about Kara’s.


#10

David Cage has always seemed like the primary weakness of Quantic Dream (despite it rather being “his” studio) in all the ways discussed in the article and the above comments. And yet, despite what could be read as his attempts to ruin them, the games do still have a lot left to like in them. The commitment to the mundane as well as the spectacle, pushing technical limits and performance capture, and just being there to iterate on control methods and how to structure branching narrative-driven stories.

When looking at the other long term studios who have been working with choice-based narrative systems at this sort of scale and budget, I’m glad Quantic Dream are not just churning out endless licensed properties based around an engine that’s falling apart and a house art style that barely papers over the more obvious cracks. These games are all deeply flawed and Cage does them absolutely no favours (at least in terms of primary script work and PR discussion of the works) but I’m glad they can exist and that they attract a certain level of external funding. I’m not sure the more recent studios doing better work (Until Dawn, Life is Strange) in this area would have found funding if there hadn’t been existing success in the genre outside of licensed games.


#11

You know what a bunch of dopes think is smart? thoughtlessly asking questions

you know what is actually smart? doing your best to answer questions


#12

David Cage-the-designer is like the Trey Parker and Matt Stone of the sapiosexual set.


#13

I feel like this is a good time to post the Press X to Shaun video:

(heavy rain spoilers btw)


#14

Dontnod had a little bit of practice with the Memory re-writing puzzles in Remember Me, and Supermassive Games did a Doctor Who adventure game (featuring Matt Smith’s 11th Doctor) a couple years before.


#15

I took from the footage that it was the first time they met actually, it even showed the father giving her instructions of what kind of a job he expected her to make like it was her first day at the job. I’ll watch it again.

edit: Yep, they never met before, he even introduces her to the girl for the first time.


#16

Check later. There’s discussion of “before I was reset” (48 seconds).


#17

Also at one point on the trailer he just straight up grabs her neck, etc. It’s very clear that he’s physically abusive with Kara as well as with the girl, and that that’s the situation she gets put into.


#18

“I’m David Cage, the brilliant movie director who will make the Citizen Kane of games. This scene of horrific abuse I, the famous movie director David Cage, made, unlike others of its kind that actually a point to existing within a narrative, is far more emotional because it is rendered in polygons, the physical form of emotions. One polygon means one emotion, and I have used countless in this pointless showing of violence! It is an emotional tour de force and I am a brilliant genius! Please do not question me, God’s Gift to Movie Directing David Cage, about my intent because I have none, which is exactly how storytelling works. You wouldn’t ask a writer why he wrote things! No! You would shower him in praise for being a brilliant genius (but not as brilliant as I, The Literal Second Coming Of Jesus Christ David Cage)!”


#19

Oh I see, this reset line I didn’t understand before, it still clashes with the other scenes I mentioned. What does it mean? I’m afraid I’ll have to wait until the game release to find out.


#20

Like, Kara is clearly set up here as a sort of surrogate mother figure that is subject to abuse both direclty and by proxy. But the overall plot seems to be that the father keeps beating up/destroying Kara, and she keeps being reset to a previous state with no memory of it, which is a whole other level of horrifying abuse in itself. There’s the girl’s drawings of Kara being dismantled, etc…