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Deus Ex and prognostication.

Warren Spector, Blogger

May 4, 2020

3 Min Read

So as I'm sure you've noticed (if you pay any attention at all!), I haven't blogged in a while (okay a LONG while). No excuse other than laziness. And I've been taking a break from social media since January so I don't really know what's going on there these days. However, recently I've had people getting in touch with me telling me there are people talking about Deus Ex again. Twenty years after we shipped (almost exactly 20 years, to the day, actually). It blows my mind. But there it is.

What people are telling me is that other people are saying we predicted the future (again), what with the parallels between the Gray Death in the game and the current Covid-19 situation. Also, apparently, Elon Musk has changed his Twitter avatar to a picture of JC Denton. I figured I might as well tell everyone reading this what I've been telling the people who've gotten in touch with me about both of those things. Don't expect too much - neither I nor the team are psychics, at least as far as I know. But here's what I have to say anyway.

As far as Deus Ex goes, well, to tell you the truth. I’m as freaked out about the parallels between the real world and the game as other folks. First it was the New York skyline without the World Trade Center and now the Gray Death virus.

In reality, I think we just got “lucky.”Having said that, everything in the game was, by design, based on something real or something that some subset of the people believed to be true. Everyone on the team worked exceptionally hard to live up to that standard. We even got blueprints for various locations and looked to the news as well as doing a ton of research on pre-Y2K conspiracy theories. Looking around back in the 1997-2000 period, such theories were all around us (much like today) and it didn’t take much gray matter (as it were) to extrapolate where we might be in the future.

As far as the Gray Death itself goes, as I said, I'm kind of freaked out. I mean a disease that starts with a cough and inflicts flu-like symptoms... You have to admit that hits a little close to home. But before I get all the credit for that - or blame for propagating conspiracy theories about the creation of the virus in the lab and the withholding of a known treatment to influence the rich and powerful and, maybe, cause riots in the streets to wreak general havoc, I have to give credit to others: Most notable in the deserving-of-credit sweepstakes are Lead Writer, Sheldon Pacotti and, really, the entire design team, led by Harvey Smith. I often get the kudos for creating the Deus Ex game, as if it poured fully formed from my fevered brow when, in fact, it was very much a team effort. I'll take credit for initiating the project and laying down some ground-rules that drove the game it ended up being, but the "real work" was done by one of the best teams I've ever been privileged to work with.

And then there's Elon Musk thing, which is just bizarre. I guess he's a fan of Deus Ex. At the very least he knows enough about it to want to associate himself with it on Twitter. But beyond that, I can't comment - and before anyone goes crazy, it's not because of any conspiracy. It's simply that I've never communicated with the man and have no idea what to make of his knowledge or apparent enthusiasm for the game! I kind of wish he’d contact me just to let me know what's up with that. Kinda sort of.

Now, let's all hope none of the other "predictions" in Deus Ex become reality. We're going through enough right now that I don't want to see anything else come true. For now, have fun and stay safe!

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