GI: How do you make everybody happy? You’ve got the instant-gratification people who want to print out the FAQ and do a fatality, and then you have the serious fighting-game players, too.

Boon: I think you need to make the average player able to do something cool and big on the screen. To throw a spear, it’s tap, tap, button. Ninety percent of the world can do that. Then a smaller percentage can do the quarter-circle fireball thing. And then a smaller percentage can interrupt the fireball and break out of it and do this. And then a smaller percentage can interrupt this, interrupt that. I think if you offer that for all of those levels, so this guy’s having fun because he’s throwing iceballs, and this guy’s having fun because he’s interrupting this move and cutting into this move and showing off in front of people, that’s where you get the big numbers in the millions of players.

GI: With fatalities, do you feel like you’ve run out of ways to ruin the human body in unique ways? Is there a collective cheer when you discover something new?

Boon: When we started the game, we decided we were going to model the body and then decided we were going to have cuts here, here, here, here, here—so we gave a graph of a separated body out and said, ‘This is what we have to work with.’ That’s where people went, ‘OK, he cuts him in half here, and then cuts his head off, and then he cuts his arm off…’ That was the template that everybody worked from. And we would have fatality meetings where people would stand up and act out their ideas. Some people would cross the line, and you’d go back and forth, and that’s how that works.

GI: Without getting too explicit, what is crossing the line in a Mortal Kombat game?

Boon: I don’t think there’s a general rule that you can say, but you go by peoples’ reactions. There would be seven or eight of us in a room, and somebody would describe something and sometimes most of us would go…ehhh, no. You’re not going to do anything…I don’t want to even say them out loud. [laughs]

GI: Does the new Mortal Kombat have some of the silliness of the older games? Like Jax’s giant foot stomping down?

Boon: I think in every Mortal Kombat game we put a touch of silliness in it, because we’re not taking it seriously. When we say, ‘Kung Lao cuts your head off and then cuts you in half and then you split like this,’ we’re not like [mock serious tone] ‘Good job.’ It’s just so ridiculous that you would do that to somebody, that for us we need to remind everybody that we’re not being very serious. So we’ll have the ‘Toasty’ guy or have someone turn into a baby, but we’re not going to go crazy with that. We’re not going to do animalities or friendships or the over the top humorous stuff, but we are going to have funny elements.