We’re Number 23!

Most people aspire to be number 1 — you know, the sports fan’s cry of “We’re Number One!” and all that. Well, not me. I mean, it’d be great to be #1, but I now have a new goal.

You see, in its June 27/July 4th issue (which I only just got around to reading recently, proving I’m behind on all sorts of things in my life — not just blogging!), Entertainment Weekly did a cover story on what they called The New Classics — “the 1000 best movies, TV shows, albums, books & more of the last 25 years.”

Well, games fell into the “& more” category, and Deus Ex made the cut. Check it out, it’s right there on page 128.

Here’s what they had to say: “Vast conspiracies abound in Deus Ex, a smart cyberpunky RPG where you play a nanotechnology-enhanced agent.” The description isn’t likely to get anyone’s heartrate up, but it’s nice to be recognized, for sure.

I mention this not to brag or anything, but because I started wondering how DX stacked up against comparable titles in the other lists. (Some of you may remember an earlier series of posts where I confessed to a fondness for… okay, an obsession with… lists.) I wondered what movie was ranked #23, what album, what book and so on. Here’s what I found:

Movie: Memento
Television: West Wing
Music: The Soft Bulletin (from The Flaming Lips)
Book: The Ghost Road (by Pat Barker)
Style: Andre 3000 (of “Hey Ya!” fame)
Stage: M: Butterfly
Tech: Amazon’s Kindle e-book reader

Ni…ice! Yeah, being #1 would be cool, but #23 is, apparently, all about quirkiness. And that appeals to me, big-time. But when I look at the #23 slot, I see more than “quirk.” For one thing, I see stuff I really like a lot — I mean, Memento blew me away. West Wing was, for years, my favorite television program. The Flaming Lips’ Soft Bulletin? Come on — enchanting. And I lust after a Kindle with every fiber of my being — if Amazon would drop the price another 50 bucks I’d have one in a hot second!

More than just “I like them,” I see in the 23’s (we’re all part of a club, now, at least in my warped imagination) work that set out to to make a political or cultural statement (assuming there’s any difference between the political and the cultural…). At #23, I see creative enterprises that set out to challenge assumptions — sometimes public assumptions, sometimes a creator’s personal assumptions about his or her own work. I see projects that changed things, that influenced the content or aesthetics of their respective media or changed the direction of the businesses of which they were a part.

And I’m proud that something I worked on is in such august company.

So that’s my new goal. No more “#1” aspirations; I’m shooting for #23, where all the quirky, cool things are! (Okay, just kidding, Disney — #1 would be cool, too!)

17 Responses to “We’re Number 23!”

  1. The Chilling Spirit Says:

    I wonder if they choose the number 23 also because of its popularity amongst conspiracy theories. No number could be more fitting for Deus Ex, right? 🙂


  2. harvey1966 Says:

    Wow…to be in the company of the Soft Bulletin is a huge honor.

  3. ricwhite Says:

    I’ve played hundreds of PC games and Deus Ex is still (and by a large margin) the best game I’ve ever played. It had the whole package of good characterization, story, plot, music, ambiance, and atmosphere — a masterpiece, really. Just got through playing it again — my eighth time through.

  4. MrAdventure Says:

    Deus Ex is still number one in my heart! I have replayed it many times. My uncle, who is not a hard core gamer by any means, shocked me when he told me he had played it to completion several times!

    So congratulations!

    Also, I hate to be a nag, but I’m interested in your opinion of the blending of Settlers and M.U.L.E.

    And I’ve been left hanging since GDC 1999, are the cards the imbalance in Settlers you were talking about?



  5. VRBones Says:

    And then there’s that other famous #23, Jordan.

    BTW, West Wing at #23 ?!?? You are in fine company indeed.

  6. CrashT Says:

    It’s a conspiracy surely? 23 is a sacred number of Eris… Clearly the Illuminati, Majestic 12, and the Templars are involved 😉

  7. destoo Says:

    Actually, it’s the 7th pc game, (6th if you just ignore Tetris. For me, that game’s platform was the Gameboy)

    I’m shocked that the best game ever is not there.

  8. GravityFails Says:

    Using destoo’s calculation that it’s actually the 6th PC game, between 23 and 6 we’re left with a difference of…17.

    Only Illuminati technicians use sleeve bearings with 34-fold and 46-fold symmetry; multiples of 17 and 23.

    CrashT is right; it’s gotta be a conspiracy.

  9. oliverko Says:

    Hey, you glossed right over Andre 3000!

    Tell me… why is that, Warren? 😉

  10. btreezy Says:

    Hey Warren. This was something I wanted to e-mail but I’ll post it here instead.
    I just wanted to say that I’m a huge admirer of your work. System Shock 2(I know you didn’t work on this one directly), Thief and Deus Ex were three of my favorite games growing up. They really blew my mind with their level of detail, interactivity, player choice and storytelling. I didn’t know games could be so immersive and moving before playing them.
    These games are the ones that really made me want to become a game designer. I’ve always wanted to be able to create and share these kinds of immersive experiences with other people. So I was wondering if you have any advice for someone who was interested in getting into the industry. In college I put that ambition on hiatus and right now I’m working for a year in a job that’s pretty far removed from game design. I’ve messed around with a bunch of different SDKs and level editors but that’s about it. Do you have any words for a guy really interested in making these kinds of games? What can you recommend to someone who has a strong interest in working in this area but doesn’t have a lot of experience? Any words of wisdom would be helpful
    Thanks, Bert

  11. destoo Says:

    Really great opening speech at migs, sir!
    I was floating on a cloud not only for having finally met you in person, but because you really brough hope to everyone in the room. You rock!

    I didn’t muster up the courage to ask you for an interview… I just.. froze and said something stupid/funny.. (asking if Stephane showed you Deus Ex yet!)

    Anyway.. That was great. Thanks again.

  12. hogwashskin Says:

    Hello there Mr Spector! I’m a geeky teenage New Zealander, and as it happens, part of a gaming community based on Australia’s PC PowerPlay magazine. Though not an Aussie myself, I contribute regularly to the forum and listen to the community podcast. Which brings me to my point: the podcast developers (link below) are thinking about having a Deus Ex replay episode. If you’ve heard of this magazine and its community, you’ll probably know that we are all devout fanboys – embarrasingly so at times.

    Now it may seem that I’m exploiting your blog’s comment feature to inform you of my favourite forum’s love for your games. Well, I am – sort of. As the only forummer insane enough (they blame it on my NZ heratige) to think of this, my self-issued mission to ask you whether you’d like to somehow to contribute to the podcast. You could simply be sent some DX questions, or have some kind of cyber-interview – whatever you like the sound of.
    If you’d like to do it, it would be a joy to have your input. I don’t have a wordpress blog, but if you like the sound of all this, my email address is hogwashskin@hotmail.com – and the name’s Ben. Even the slightest contribution would be great, as this is a podcast made of DX fans, by DX fans, for DX fans.

    Links for your perusing pleasure:
    PCPP Site: http://www.pcpowerplay.com.au/games/index.php
    PCPP Community Podcast (iTunes): http://phobos.apple.com/WebObjects/MZStore.woa/wa/viewPodcast?id=286063149

  13. zewaluxury Says:

    Warren Spector I love you! We all love you! Thank you for Deus Ex! We are waiting! xD
    On Russian: Уоррен Спектор я люблю тебя! Мы все любим тебя! Спасибо за Deus Ex! Мы ждем! хД

  14. delkend Says:

    To me, as Deus Ex invented the emergent gameplay, it is one of the most important games in history. It has to be in the top 10 !

    It has the best constructed storyline i ever seen; i finished the game many times so i could see and understand everything about it; then i created a role playing game inspired by Deus Ex’s game design [ skills, hacking, xp and damage localization ] .

    Then i been rewriting the story with maps and everything in order to share it with my friends who didn’t play Deus Ex. ( I would show it to you if i wasn’t living at something like 8000 km from you ! )

  15. curtis888 Says:

    I was, and still am, a huge fan of Deus Ex. I was wondering: Do you still have an IP on the Deus Ex world? I have some game play elements worth looking into, to bring the series back up to it’s former glory. Something to make it “worderfully complicated”.

    BTW — #23 is good. But, Deus Ex: The Conspiracy should be the #1 game of all time. ‘Nuff said!

  16. destoo Says:

    The Montreal Eidos studio is currently working on Deus Ex 3. It should be released some time in 2009. You can check the “Through The Looking Glass” forums for info about it.

  17. jamesacooley Says:

    I have played Deus Ex a number of times and my young grandson has also played it. It is still an enthralling game that I think is the best example of the RPG/Shooter/multipath game. The funny things is that I hated the demo. Someone on my Counterstrike team then urged me to play it again and still with it a bit. After playing it a while, I finally “got” the game. It wasn’t about twitch shooting! It was about THINKING! A handful of games have changed how we think about the genre. Half-life was one of them that set a bar for me. Deus Ex was another. Once you played it either, you just couldn’t be satisfied with a dumb formulaic shooter anymore.

    Deus Ex is the game I would most like to see “ported” to a modern PC game engine so that JC Denton could have enough pixels for ears.

    Warren: One personal note, I worked in the same building as the Ion Storm Austin team for a while and one of my long-time client’s owned it. I recognized the plaza of the building in the development team photo in the end credit for Deus Ex. What a small world we all live in.

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