Phil Harrison, new corporate vice-president of Microsoft's IEB division, admits he was "surprised" by the levels of violence in games at this year's E3.
E3 2012 was Harrison's first visit to the conference in three years, and "the first E3 I can ever remember where I haven't been doing something public like standing on a stage introducing something new or presenting something. So I think I'm able to look at it through quite a relaxed and potentially dispassionate view."
That meant that he, like many of us, was struck by the level of violence on show. Between the Microsoft, Sony, EA and Ubisoft shows there were claret-filled demos of Tomb Raider, Splinter Cell: Blacklist, Medal Of Honor: Warfighter, Far Cry 3 and, most memorably, The Last Of Us (pictured), when the audience cheered loudly at either a shotgun blast to the face or the flung brick that preceded it.
"I was surprised, I must admit, at some of the games," Harrison said. "I think it's an inevitable progression of visual reality and visceral immersion that games can get quite ultra-realistic.
?"Thankfully, everybody adheres to a very good ratings system, and makes sure that consumers are well-informed before they buy their games. I think it's more coincidental than anything – I don't think it's a strategy that everybody has adopted simultaneously. So long as it's part of a balanced portfolio, it's okay."
For Harrison, violence wasn't the central theme of 2012. Instead, he saw the first evidence of an industry in transition; not simply one gearing up for new hardware, but one adjusting to a rapidly changing market.
?"It's the seventh year of the Xbox 360 cycle," he said. "You've got some games which I think are showing developers really understand what it means to make great-looking games on the platform, and you've got a series of signs that the connected world is really starting to make sense in developers' heads.
"It's not just games; it's games, plus connected experiences, plus social plus new business models, and that, I think, is really evident in E3, probably for the first time. Maybe it was a bit last year, but I wasn't here, so I can't really comment."