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On the Advent of Controversial Video Games

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the making-pixelpeople-explode dept.

Censorship 343

eldavojohn writes "At some point in the history of video games, violence became uncomfortably real for censors and some parents. In addition to that, realistic use of narcotics has entered mainstream games. While gamers (of adult age) have by and large won the right to this entertainment, a large amount of games have arisen lately that challenge a different aspect of video games — inappropriate or sensitive topics. We've covered it before on Columbine to Fallujah, but I noticed through GamePolitics recently a large trend in severely controversial video games. Where do you stand on these titles?" Read on for the rest of eldavojohn's thoughts.

First I'd like to discuss the basic complaints many people have over these video games. The phrase "too soon" gets thrown around a lot. But what are the specific complaints about these controversial games? I've tried to divide them up from most serious to not-so-serious attributes (which a controversial game may have one or more of, and which is by no means a comprehensive list):

  • Human life was lost.
  • People who survived the situation or are survivors of victims of the situation still remember it, as it happened less than one generation ago.
  • It spins the situation too much as novelty or entertainment and thus disrespects those involved and/or detracts from the gravity of the situation.
  • It deals with a very real life issue that some people aren't comfortable discussing, such as: race, religion, sexual orientation, slavery, politics, the law, prostitution, drug use, etc.
  • Stuck in a think-of-the-children mentality, the "M" or even "AO" rating does not deter groups and people like Jack Thompson from arguing that it is not appropriate material for minors and therefore should not be distributed. Popularity of a title and great game mechanics may exacerbate this.

I'm going to start with an easy game to discuss: RapeLay — an obscure title by a Japanese publisher that focuses on forced sex situations. There is something special about sexual crimes that make them even worse than murder in the United States. I don't know why, but Hot Coffee in GTA3 drew far more criticism than the normal killing rampage in that game and games before it. This same phenomena occurs at parties where they play games that a murderer is at the party. Yet, if a rapist was at the party, people would probably be mortified. While the sentencing isn't as harsh, sex offenders are registered and tracked for the rest of their lives while murderers can be released or paroled under good behavior. I see RapeLay as nothing more than a game concentrating on a particular crime — a less serious crime than many I commit in some of the games I play. I've no desire to play it, but people who derive entertainment from that have a right to it. RapeLay is merely another adult game like Dangerous Toys for the Dreamcast.

Nothing could be more recent than making a simulation game where you're a Somali pirate invading other ships. You have an impoverished community with people starving to death and people being taken captive. A player is most likely deriving entertainment from horrible situations on other continents today. This isn't Disney making three Pirates of the Caribbean movies based loosely on a very real and life-threatening situation four hundred years ago. This is completely a function of when it happened. On the other hand, piracy on the water has been a classic platform for games, and if the game is historically accurate, how much different is this than an in depth news article? Keep in mind that this is the same game company that partnered with the History channel to bring you WWII and Vietnam games in the past. I think it is very much arguable that games based on war can be informative if done correctly.

A quick note on a more wide spread release for the Playstation 2 is a game that some Hindu groups say is offensive to their religion. Along the same lines, several online games have depicted Mohammad which is a no-no in Islam causing unrest. These situations are offensive to a small part of the population and — unless done in very disrespectful ways — aren't going to gather much more controversy. They're no Muslim Massacre: The Game of Modern Religious Genocide, but they are reportedly offensive to some groups of people. On the other end are religious games that gain controversy by targeting non-members of that faith. Left Behind: Eternal Forces was controversial because of violence against non-Christian characters in the video game. Video games like Ethnic Cleansing express extreme prejudice and hate towards a particular ethnicity or nationality. Murder and violence are still murder and violence whether you are religiously motivated, racially motivated or have no clear motivation (like GTA). It is difficult to argue that these games should be outlawed while claiming that it's our right to enjoy games like GTA. Is it because these games are used for propaganda or recruitment tools and mainstream games are not? Is it because of a controversial message in the game? If so, I would like to know why this is any more dangerous than murder in video games.

None of these games faced the wide distribution that Six Days in Fallujah was looking at. And that game is now canceled, the deciding factor most likely being that it was a big name publisher with wide distribution channels. Not that the content was any more or less controversial than some of the games Kuma has made about Vietnam and WWII, but it would have had a wider release and been about a present day war that is still in progress. Books written about the Iraq war have to be careful; news about the Iraq war has to be sensitive to families. Games — a form of non-necessary entertainment — have to be even more careful if they want to enjoy popularity and avoid criticism. As a society, we are just not ready to accept games as a dignified medium. Other mediums faced this same barrier and overcame it, and it's good to have these games testing the waters.

In the United States, it's easy to claim freedom-of-speech this and freedom-of-speech that, but the lawsuits will flow from interest groups with money — no rating system will satisfy them. Letting the popularity (or lack thereof) of a title speak for its quality and message is not enough for some people. The general populace do not yet accept games as an art form like books and movies. Entertainment and even edutainment are not seen as appropriate ways to portray current events, and they may not be for a long time.

Where do you stand on controversial video games? Should publishers and developers be able to release whatever they want? Super Columbine RPG? RapeLay? Six Days in Fallujah? Are they protected by free speech? Will games forever be entertainment and therefore never be able to cover current topics? How would you effectively regulate content if I should be able to play a game like GTA but not Six Days in Fallujah? Do these titles hurt the social standing of gamers and gaming as a medium?

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Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27909893)

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Adult Gaming? Hah! (4, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 4 years ago | (#27909915)

I am about to become very unpopular...

While gamers (of adult age) have by and large won the right to this entertainment

Does anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird or Scarlet Letter for entertainment? Hardly. People read these books to explore the human condition and take a hard look at where society fails the individual.

Does anyone play an "adult" videogame to explore the human condition. Heck no. It's all about juvenille self-indulgence. Real adults are far past that stage and have no real desire to subject themselves to unsavory sights and sounds.

We've covered it before on Columbine to Fallujah, but I noticed through GamePolitics recently a large trend in severely controversial video games.

The funny part is that the Fallujah game is the type of controversial topic that can use video games for exploring the human condition. Which is exactly why it's blocked while *cough*"adult entertainment"*cough* runs rampant. No one really wants to take a hard look at the unpleasentries that need to change. Books like Mockingbird were once burned for their controversal nature. Let's see if someone has the guts to watch a few of their DVDs burn.

Ok mods. I've said my piece. Backlash time.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910007)

Ok mods. I've said my piece. Backlash time.

Mod him up. He is a perfect example of the general populace that I failed to embody or present fairly in my piece. This is the current view of games.

Does anyone play an "adult" video game to explore the human condition. Heck no. It's all about juvenile self-indulgence. Real adults are far past that stage and have no real desire to subject themselves to unsavory sights and sounds.

And there you have it. That barrier must be overcome for video games to be accepted as a dignified medium worthy of serious topics. It's the perception that must be overcome. I challenge game designers and publishers everywhere to break down this barrier. At one point Lolita [wikipedia.org] and Ulysses [wikipedia.org] were nothing more than "juvenile self-indulgence" ...

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910061)

At one point Lolita and Ulysses were nothing more than "juvenile self-indulgence" ...

Um, since you bothered to link to Wikipedia, need I say more than "citation needed"?

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910253)

At one point Lolita and Ulysses were nothing more than "juvenile self-indulgence" ...

Um, since you bothered to link to Wikipedia, need I say more than "citation needed"?

On Lolita from Time Magazine [time.com] :

First published in France by a pornographic press, this 1955 novel explores the mind of a self-loathing and highly intelligent pedophile named Humbert Humbert, who narrates his life and the obsession that consumes it: his lust for "nymphets" like 12-year-old Dolores Haze. French officials banned it for being "obscene," as did England, Argentina, New Zealand and South Africa. Today, the term "lolita" has come to imply an oversexed teenage siren, although Nabokov, for his part, never intended to create such associations. In fact, he nearly burned the manuscript in disgust, and fought with his publishers over whether an image of a girl should be included on the book's cover.

Ulysses was banned by the U.S. Customs Court for being "obscene" and pornographic in 1921. It wouldn't be released in the United States until 1933 [wikipedia.org] when that was repealed:

In United States v. One Book Called Ulysses, U.S. District Judge John M. Woolsey ruled on December 6, 1933 that the book was not pornographic and therefore could not be obscene, a decision that has been called "epoch-making" by Stuart Gilbert. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the ruling in 1934.

Wish I could provide better sources for you but they do show up on the list of historically banned books [wikipedia.org] .

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (4, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910365)

So you make my own point. These great novels were never considered "juvenile self-indulgence," as you put it. They were considered obscene, which if you know anything about the history of censorship and obscenity law is hardly the same thing.

For that matter, the publisher who released Lolita in the United States anticipated a lot of controversy, but it never actually happened. While Lolita met with controversy in Britain, in the U.S. it became a bestseller almost immediately upon release, having already been recognized as an exemplary work of art by Nabokov's peers.

Ulysses, on the other hand, was serialized in literary journals over the course of seven years. That's hardly indicative of juvenalia. Joyce had already been recognized as an important writer before he wrote Ulysses.

Compare to videogames.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Insightful)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910531)

It's fairly obvious that "obscenity" is nothing more than a tool to justify censorship. The concept of banning obscene material really has the same exact purpose that banning "uncomfortable" material has.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910659)

OK, but the argument here is that videogames aren't taken seriously because they're "juvenile entertainment." As the submitter admitted in his post, above, pretty much nobody in our society with the exception of hardcore gamers believes videogames rise to the level of high art. But Lolita and Ulysses were both recognized as literature by a great many people in society at the time of their publication, despite the fact that some people considered them obscene, and they were both products of the "serious literary world," so-called. They were declared obscene because it was felt that the dissemination (no pun intended) of the ideas that they contained was harmful to society. In other words, they were declared obscene because they were taken seriously as literature. I really don't think that's the same thing as when people decry offensive material in videogames, which by and large are marketed to immature minds (I mean that literally, not as a term of disrespect) for the primary purpose of entertainment. I'm not saying I agree with censorship, but I simply don't believe the motives are the same -- and comparing videogames to literature only weakens the argument, because to most people the two are so vastly different. Except, as I noted before, to hardcore gamers.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (4, Insightful)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910711)

So you make my own point. These great novels were never considered "juvenile self-indulgence," as you put it. They were considered obscene, which if you know anything about the history of censorship and obscenity law is hardly the same thing.

I used the original post's quote from AKAImBatman, I didn't imply they were ever actually called that.

I do not mean to say that every video game being frowned upon and banned today would be bad or is a masterpiece in hiding. It is by no means a fair or realistic comparison as novels "grew up" in a different time than video games. What I mean to say is that I'm sure there were trash books back then that were banned and frowned upon and today they are most likely out of print or largely ignored/unkown to the general populace. I am not arguing for RapeLay or Muslim Massacre to appear at Wal-Marts but instead questioning if Six Days in Fallujah could be a Lolita or Ulysses. It's quite possible that if the game is done right, it becomes an epic masterpiece of the realizations of war. Of course it could very well result in me being able to squat over the corpse of a deceased insurgent. I make this argument to say that these games should not be illegal but instead allowed and tollerated.

For that matter, the publisher who released Lolita in the United States anticipated a lot of controversy, but it never actually happened. While Lolita met with controversy in Britain, in the U.S. it became a bestseller almost immediately upon release, having already been recognized as an exemplary work of art by Nabokov's peers.

I do not know the history of Lolita, you are probably right. I'm sure poor taste could make Six Days in Fallujah vastly popular in the United States but banned/admonished in the Middle East. I don't understand what your point is. Censorship here, censorship there, what does it matter? I make my argument that all peoples everywhere should allow controversial games and I stand by it. I think Lolita is a good example of why that is.

Ulysses, on the other hand, was serialized in literary journals over the course of seven years. That's hardly indicative of juvenalia. Joyce had already been recognized as an important writer before he wrote Ulysses.

It was serialized for seven years until one of the serials had a section with a man masturbating. That hit the news and BAM ... banned. He was recognized as an important writer by some. But he self-imposed his own exile from Ireland and Europe due to censorship and suppresion of his works.

Compare to videogames.

Fine. Konami has been publishing very fun and respected titles that have earned them a lot of fame and money for many years. Due to pressure from people who think it's not right, they will not be publishing a risque title.

Had James Joyce published Hello Kitty's Trip to Ireland instead of the The Dubliners or Ulysses because he was afraid of criticism and wanted to stay within the norm? Well, two of my favorite works would not be around today.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910787)

The words may differ but the intent is the same whether you call something pornographic or "self-indulgent". The ultimate point is that the media in question supposedly has no real value. It is considered mental junk food. The goal is to get someone to support its elimination without regret.

I suspect Lolita's initial sales were more a result of puerile curiosity than genuine literary interest.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (3, Interesting)

funwithBSD (245349) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910893)

Quote:

Compare to videogames.

I don't know about you, but I use MMORPG's to explore parts of my psyche. In essence, they are a shard of some part of my subconscious that has been identified, detached, and given a name of it's own. It can now go out and play and be "itself" without being, or becoming, a neurosis.

And some of it is playing an adult version of "Cowboys and Indians" or "Soldiers" knowing full well the horror of those two ideas is now safely tucked away behind pixels.

(I have noticed that Goldshire is full of people that have not made it past playing "Doctor")

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Interesting)

Machtyn (759119) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910779)

It's interesting. I didn't think I'd find it so blatant in WoW. However, some of the quests in that game appear to be the basic murder quests.

NPC: Go kill that guy over there.
me: Why?
NPC: He put a rock in my way and made me stub my toe! Idiot! He's [insert race here] and I hate him and he needs to die.

Of course, some of the better quests incorporate ideals of justice a little better.

NPC: Go kill that guy over there because he's raping our sheep, burning our girls, and stealing our houses! And even though we're 20 levels above you, we're helpless to do anything about it.

As you may have guessed, I don't like playing the bad guy. I never want to be in that mindset, it's a dangerous path to start.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911229)

I fear video games as high art will be extremely dull. I don't mean that in some snobby way that implies I think I am an expert on art, I mean that I see a clear distinction between content where you know what you are getting into on the way in and content that presents more of an intellectual and emotional challenge.

Simply including drug use or extreme violence, without putting it in a context that shows the protagonist is somehow conflicted will forever condemn these games to my definition of 'low' art (especially when the content is calculated to provoke outrage for marketing reasons). In many cases, that context is going to awfully hard to establish, or it will be weak, making that aspect of the game rather hollow.

The rape games provide an excellent example of what I am talking about. I simply see no way to empathize or sympathize with rape; it is an act of extreme weakness and arrogance. If you accept that, then you have to accept that someone playing the game is playing it because they want to invoke the emotions surrounding the action, not because they think that relating to the act of rape will help them grow.

Perhaps my perspective is limiting me here; I enjoy games like Tetris (which is nearly devoid of emotional content) or the Arcade-style death match from Goldeneye a great deal more than I enjoy more involving story/fantasy oriented games.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910021)

Does anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird or Scarlet Letter for entertainment? Hardly.

What?? Hawthorne is annoying as hell, but To Kill a Mockingbird is a great read.

Agree with the rest of your post, though.

On a side note, I sometimes think it's a shame that they pick great books to force kids to read in school. Most English teachers seem to be so ill-equipped to make learning enjoyable that they can crush the life out of just about any great literature. I HATED The Catcher in the Rye until I was about twenty-five.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910073)

You think Scarlet Letter was bad? Try getting stuck with House of Seven Gables as an assignment. Wow, was that ever a chore to read! 0_o

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910695)

I got you beat! Try reading "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" (May have misspelled the name) and analysing it in front of your class. It's a poem about some old bastard worrying about whether or not he will wear his pants cuffed or not. Total loser!

I had this assignment when I was in high school and I still remember it.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Interesting)

vil3nr0b (930195) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910033)

I agree completely. IMHO, what is controversial today gets released tomorrow and it turns out society doesn't collapse with an explosion of rapists, murdering fiends, etc. All this is a lame attempt by the "moral majority" to keep us looking at the past and present through rose-colored glasses. No controversy here...nothing to see...move along.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (3, Insightful)

Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910763)

No, no you don't agree. Its pretty clear you didn't understand his post. One painting of a Nude woman is art, while another is Pornography. If you touch controversial topics, you must present them as art, not porn.

IMHO, I think that's a nearly impossible task in the videogame medium. If you give the user too much freedom, they'll abuse it and not get the art. If you restrict it too much, they aren't really engaged enough to participate in the art.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Insightful)

Moryath (553296) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910087)

Y'know, as an interactive medium, games have the ability to show us far more amazing, detailed, and yes, shocking insights into the human condition.

Consider the various moral choices in Fallout 3. Functionally, the game allows you to decide what you want to be. If you want to be a slaver? It is possible. If you want to, instead, rescue slaves? Very much also possible. They could have made a game that railroads the player into a goody two-shoes mentality, but they left it open, and the play experience (and corresponding rewards/penalties) are as varied as the people and the approach they decide to take. Heck, if you're "too good" in the game, you'll step on some bad guys' toes and get a price on your head - but at the end of the day that's decidedly realistic, there are indeed certain people in the world who don't like it when someone else is "too good" or, by virtue of doing a good deed, gets in the way of their personal profits/goals.

If there were one change I'd have made to Fallout 3, I'd have included the ability to have lovers/wives/etc. There are enough subplots in the game involving family, enough families, heck the whole Republic of Dave thing, that it would have added another element to the game. The unfortunate problem with this is that American society is prudish and stunted when it comes to sexuality, to the point where what is considered "normal" is actually quite unhealthily repressed.

As for the rest... well, let's face it. Today, there are parents trying to get rid of video games. In the 80s, it was certain music. In earlier decades, there were parents pissed off about cowboy books. Sometimes, you just have dumbass parents out there, and in groups they can get even worse.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910281)

The unfortunate problem with this is that American society is prudish and stunted when it comes to sexuality, to the point where what is considered "normal" is actually quite unhealthily repressed

Porn in America is a $500 billion a year industry.

I made that number up, but I'm sure it's close. :-)

It's just that the sociopaths who float to the top (much like turds) of the power structure (toilet bowl) play to the prudish minority.

I also just think a lot of people like to keep sexuality private. Maybe the games could be sold in plain brown wrappers? ;-)

Consider the various moral choices in Fallout 3.

I have to admit The Pitt had me scratching my head. In the end, I hated both sides, and I wanted to drag the Megaton bomb to Pittsburgh and reactivate it.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Insightful)

wjousts (1529427) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910413)

Consider the various moral choices in Fallout 3.

There were no moral choices in Fallout 3, at least not any interesting ones. You could choose the good path or the evil path and that was it. It's a cliche that really needs to be avoided. Moral choices should not be black and white, it shouldn't be "am I evil or am I good", life is more complicated than that.

For interesting moral choices, I applaud The Witcher. In that game you had three options, choose one of two sides or remain neutral. None of the choices were "good" or "bad" and it is genuinely difficult to pick a side (or not).

For me, Fallout 3 missed a huge opportunity.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

ijakings (982830) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910557)

Did you play The Pitt DLC? It is very much what you were describing, and what more of the game should have been like imo.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Insightful)

hort_wort (1401963) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911105)

I thought the whole Arefu situation in Fallout 3 had some pretty grey area moral choices, very Witcher worthy.

*minor quest Spoilers*

A group of cannibals eat some folks in town, so you go in guns blazing to kill the cannibals so it won't happen again. Pretty simple. But then you find out that they are a group of reformed cannibals, swearing to in the future only drink donated blood. So if you leave them be, they may attract more cannibals to their views, and overall fewer people would be killed. It's a tough call.

This scene really bothered me, but I feel like I learned to be more tolerant for it. The idea of eating dog meat in the game didn't bother me at all, but probably got to a lot of kids. I'd love to see a public service announcement on tv sometime that shows how to kill a chicken totally uncensored and see what parents do. They'll probably start a class action suit against the tv station, but then go home and serve chicken for dinner.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Insightful)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911171)

I'd love to see a public service announcement on tv sometime that shows how to kill a chicken totally uncensored and see what parents do. They'll probably start a class action suit against the tv station, but then go home and serve chicken for dinner.

I have an idea for how to make the world a better place: Before you are allowed to eat meat (after a certain age, perhaps) you need a meat license and to get one you need to either kill and then eat an animal, or take a slaughterhouse tour and see the process from the point when the animal arrives to where the meat rolls out in trucks.

THIS IS NECESSARY
THIS IS NECESSARY
LIFE
FEEDS ON LIFE
FEEDS ON LIFE

Repeat as necessary :D

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

sunking2 (521698) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910445)

At $60 a pop and 10s of hours to play, video games are all about entertainment. If they don't entertain they don't sell. This minimizes any insight into any sort of sensetive situation. No matter what choices people make it has to be made fun, whether you decide to be the hero or the villain. If its not fun, you fail. Compare this to movies where people often look for insight into a situation over entertainment. Take for example Schindler's List. People lined up and happily paid ~$10 for a 3 hour cry fest that delved into the human condition and tragedy. And even the most callis people walked out an emotional train wreck (for the most part).

Now try taking that same thing and making it into a $60 30 hour video game. You'll sell about 10 copies and halfway through people will start shoveling people into the ovens themselves looking for some fun.

Point is, all media is not equal in story telling. And all people are not good directors, so a build your own story line often fails. There's a reason Spielburg is rich, he's good at what he does.

Now I'm not anti video game. I simply take them as what they are and don't try to sell them off as anything more than entertainment. Not once in CoD did I think about the ramifications of flame throwing a dude, or shooting a dog.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Interesting)

sfnate (1049552) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910825)

Sometimes, you just have dumbass parents out there, and in groups they can get even worse.

As the dumbass parent of a 10 year old child, I feel qualified to say something that will irritate and exasperate all of the game-loving hipsters out there. I think these games that make a glorious (or is it "gorious") spectacle of blood-soaked and gut-choked violence are a plague. As a phenomenon, they suggest to me that something especially barbaric is stirring in our collective unconscious, like maybe the long repressed caveman insisting on his daily blood sacrifice in the absence of any authentic, constructive, or ritualized expression of his instinctive needs. Gore-gamers do what they do in a kind of solipsistic isolation: at a sub-conscious level they are performing the stereotyped routine of your typical serial killer, abstracted from society in a way that makes there mechanized, repetitive behavior seem particularly alien from any values that support life-sustaining activity. Sure, these gamers can form virtual roaming packs of killers--a perversion of community, to cast it negatively--but whatever benefit they get from engaging with other human beings is mitigated by the almost autistic intensity they bring to harvesting the surplus virtual flesh they encounter online. I'm sure there will be no end to the angry assertions that there's no scientist or researcher who can prove a single negative thing about FPS games, but come on, anybody who hasn't been completely assimilated and sucked into the virtual compound can see that the troubling, amoral, nihilistic violence done to people and relationships in these games can't be a positive thing, if only because the vampiric nature of the gamer-game relationship sucks real life energy down a bottomless hole of appetite, and gives nothing back. Except maybe adrenaline and carnival, car-crash thrills.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Insightful)

Duradin (1261418) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911083)

Go check out an original version of Grimm's Fairy Tales. I can guarantee you it won't be the Disneyfied stuff you're force feeding your kid.

Go pick (even at random) any historical culture. Look at their myths. Those won't be the Disneyfied crap you're force feeding your kid.

Go look up the ancient Romans or Greeks, the foundation of Western Civilization. I bet there'd be a lot of stuff you wouldn't let your kid see.

Other cultures understood that violence was a part of being human.

They wouldn't go all squeamish when they realized that their big, tasty, burger was made from the carcass of a cute doe-eyed cow.

They understood that people kill people and that some people like killing people. They knew that there were other people who would like to come and kill the men, rape the women, enslave the children, and take their lands and that those evil people might be just across that wide river.

They knew that at some point, conditions might force parents to abandon their kids in the woods so that they, the parents, not the kids (who could easily be replaced), would survive.

So I thank you, dumbass spawner, for continuing the wussification of our culture and for being too cowardly to embrace humanity fully in all its terrible glory.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (3, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911211)

I would argue you're reversing the cause-effect chain. All the thing you describe existed long, long, long before videogames were even theorized of. You still find real life analogs to all you describe.

It's a fundamental part of us, videogames are merely an expression of it, and arguably the best way we have found of expressing it.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (3, Interesting)

Mishotaki (957104) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911169)

If there were one change I'd have made to Fallout 3, I'd have included the ability to have lovers/wives/etc. There are enough subplots in the game involving family, enough families, heck the whole Republic of Dave thing, that it would have added another element to the game. The unfortunate problem with this is that American society is prudish and stunted when it comes to sexuality, to the point where what is considered "normal" is actually quite unhealthily repressed.

The problem here is that the game is in 3D... The previous iteration of Fallout would let you have non-graphical sex with multiple partners as well as homosexual sex, given that the screen go black and there is barely some comments on your "performance" afterwards... nothing much, but at least you knew what happened...

Now that Fallout is in 3D, having anything close to any sexual relasionship is a big no-no.... why? because americans are scared of sex!

You complain about all those sex games coming from Japan... yet you fail to see that they have much harsher laws... the simple fact that they can't legally show any genitals in a game/comic/movie makes them much more harsher than us...

But all you americans see is the sexual content in some games while most of the games with sexual content in Japan actually uses the sex as a reward for your hard-earned gameplay... just look at Katawa Shoujo [blogspot.com] , the content that is available for now is not even close to pornographic... the part of the game that has been released (for free) contains nothing of sexual nature... yet it WILL contain pornographic images as a reward to the player who will play hours upon hours to form a relationship with a single character or walk the thin line of the "harem" route... but, as for now, you already have multiple hours of story without even a hint of anything sexual... Still, the game is included in the Japanese pornographic dating-sim game genre wich is extremely hard to get in America.. why? because the ESRB rates those games as "Adult Only" like they should be, no retailer will have a single copy available in his store...

America is scared of censored genitals... just because they imply sex... Even if the average gamer is well over the limit of buying his own porn, he can't buy a game that contains porn because the industry prefers showing mass murdering than scrambled genitals...

What a bunch of pussies(should that be censored?)

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910097)

To Kill a Mockingbird is just proto-typical white liberal fiction. Poor oppressed, not very bright non-whites are saved by the haloed magnificentness of the white liberal who has condescended to lift up the not very bright non-white people, who could never have done it themselves, because they lack the the ability to do anything without the intervention of the white liberal. It takes a hard look at nothing. It has no greater depth than "my! how amazing and wonderful I am, I the white liberal!" who mostly, in real life, lives as far away as possible from these same non-whites.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Insightful)

Adrian Lopez (2615) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910139)

"Real adults are far past that stage and have no real desire to subject themselves to unsavory sights and sounds."

So... no real adult, and certainly no true Scotsman [wikipedia.org] would do such a thing?

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910219)

i agree with all of that except this:

It's all about juvenille self-indulgence. Real adults are far past that stage and have no real desire to subject themselves to unsavory sights and sounds.

so, politicians who avail themselves of prostitutes or drugs are still juvenile? the idea of "unsavory sights and sounds" is a very subjective one, free form jazz is unsavory to my ears, but if thats what you like because you're an "adult" am i now somehow excluded from adulthood? you may think a particular place is ugly,somebody may not see i your way, so they're obviously kids (on your lawn probably). this line reeks of self aggrandizement. which by the way is indulging ones own ego. the phrase "real adults" almost made me laugh, you coulda replaced adults with grown-ups there.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910275)

You are an intellectual lightweight.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

Trojan35 (910785) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910341)

The problem is that no matter how realistic or how sensitive you make your game to the soldiers who died in WW2/Fallujah/whathaveyou, you're always going to have some kid (or adult) who thinks its fun to shoot his teammates and teabag them. The kids know the obvious - it's a freaking game!

That said, it's pretty hard to "explore the human condition" when you are forced to include respawns, saves, and letting the user actually choose what he/she wants to do. That's what makes games great, btw. You can find things to do in games that the developers never intended.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (5, Insightful)

radtea (464814) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910345)

Does anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird or Scarlet Letter for entertainment? Hardly. People read these books to explore the human condition and take a hard look at where society fails the individual.

Speak for yourself.

You're presenting a false alternative: some of us find the exploration of the human condition hugely entertaining, invigorating, stimulating.

Expand your horizons and open your mind. You'll find that there's vastly more scope to entertainment than shooting imaginary people in the face (not that doing that isn't also fun.)

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (0, Troll)

DrLang21 (900992) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910681)

Mod this up. It's novels that are intellectually stimulating that I find entertaining. Novels like Twilight and Harry Potter are just baseless and vulgar. A novel that can actually pose a difficult question or scenario will keep me entertained even when I'm not reading it.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910489)

Does anyone play an "adult" videogame to explore the human condition. Heck no. It's all about juvenille self-indulgence

You haven't played Fahrenheit, have you?

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

PGOER (1333025) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910507)

This is an old subject. Leisure Suit Larry was a game that every teenage boy with a computer wanted in the early 90's. It didn't generate as much fuss, because not every teenage boy had a computer.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Insightful)

CoreWalker (170935) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910633)

I'm a little confused.
Why is it that "entertainment" and "exploring the human condition" are considered mutually exclusive? There seems to be a tendency to put more cerebral entertainment in a class that is somehow elevated and not "common" entertainment. I believe I read books (fiction and non-fiction), listen to music, watch movies, play video games, and play musical instruments for entertainment value. Those activities also contain differing levels of learning and exploration of the human condition. The idea that entertainment cannot also teach or that intellectual exploration cannot also be entertaining seems a bit short-sighted.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910673)

People read these books to explore the human condition and take a hard look at where society fails the individual.

I think that banning said books (and you can pull this through to video games or movies in our time) is telling more about the human conditioning and where society fails in the current stream of time (the current generation) than what those books will tell us about where the human condition or society failed in the past.

Don't get me wrong, it's a good idea to go back and look at what happened back then. But banning things because of their offensive or realistic nature DESCRIBING certain issues is no better than letting the things happen that were already done in real life or things that keep on happening (like the game on Fallujah, those wars are still ongoing, murder and rape is still a daily issue and the tables on racism seem to have turned (or as one comedian described it: I like being white, I can go back in history to any time period without a problem but I would hate to go forward in time and be white)).

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

Chyeld (713439) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910771)

Does anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird or Scarlet Letter for entertainment? Hardly.

I did. I imagine many of the people who picked those books up for reasons other than 10th grade reading assignments also read them for entertainment.

And I read many of the so called classics for the same purpose. That didn't mean I laughed at the end of many of them, entertainment (for some of us apparently) isn't just about what makes us laugh. But I certainly wasn't looking for the answers to the question of life.

Honestly, if you are reading fiction, the only insight you should really be looking for is how the author themselves viewed human nature. Because that's really all you are being shown. The worlds are constructed, the situations preset, the outcomes preordained, all to the specification on one (usually) person.

If I want insightful reading, I'll read an autobiography.

Games are the same, only normally without the advantage and disadvantage of being tied to just one person's worldview.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Insightful)

MasseKid (1294554) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910827)

Does anyone play an "adult" videogame to explore the human condition. Heck no. It's all about juvenille self-indulgence. Real adults are far past that stage and have no real desire to subject themselves to unsavory sights and sounds.

Doesn't matter. NOBODY'S rights ar being infringed because someone chooses to watch smut or play smut or any of that crap. The second you start saying it is ok to ban or censor anything based on your opinions of something you are legislating morality. Which is fine of course, as long as your in the majority.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

TCP-mHz (606294) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910995)

Does anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird or Scarlet Letter for entertainment? I have read both of those books for entertainment value. In high school, I was in a theatrical production of To Kill a Mockingbird. Do you think people went to see it for enjoyment or to explore the human condition?

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

MaWeiTao (908546) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911133)

You've described the problem I have with the game industry better than anyone else has thus far.

Many gamers seem to be extremely immature in their attitudes towards mature games. To them mature seems to be excessive violence or sex and nudity.I can't count the times I've read gamers criticize a violent game because it didn't depict enough blood and gore.

Certainly, the game industry doesn't help when they pander to this culture. They seem to be a pack of immature dimwits themselves. Women are depicted as nothing but hyper-sexualized, scantily clad tarts. Any act of violence requires cartoonish gushes of blood and the rending of body parts. Crime is depicted as cool and otherwise threats seem to predominantly come in the form, of horrific, shambling hellspawn.

All that is well and good. I occasionally enjoy such games, but there's a problem when the vast majority of games default back to this crap. But then, can I really fault the industry for going back to this sort of content? It obviously sells.

But lets face the facts here, what people are looking for out of these games isn't mature themes, it's titillation. There's a thrill to be had in experiencing shocking content. But something that is truly shocking, such as experiencing what actually happened in Fallujah, for example, is unacceptable. The reason being that the end result is that it demands something more of the viewer, it makes them think and it certainly doesn't leave them feeling good. These gamers don't want to come away feeling bad about something. You can't expect much of people who get worked up about seeing a pair of tits in a game.

And the fact is that mature themes don't necessarily have anything to do with violence. Does every mature game have to be about administering headshots and generally brutalizing people?

When it comes down to it, I have a hard time taking the gaming industry seriously, not because the potential isn't there for great storytelling, but because very few people actually take advantage. Certainly, most of what comes out of Hollywood is garbage, but every year there are some gems. Even relatively good games are still weak, in my opinion, in terms of storytelling and conveying messages that aren't contrived and overly simplistic.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (1)

lupis42 (1048492) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911135)

Does anyone play an "adult" videogame to explore the human condition. Heck no. It's all about juvenille self-indulgence. Real adults are far past that stage and have no real desire to subject themselves to unsavory sights and sounds.
[...]
The funny part is that the Fallujah game is the type of controversial topic that can use video games for exploring the human condition. Which is exactly why it's blocked while *cough*"adult entertainment"*cough* runs rampant. No one really wants to take a hard look at the unpleasentries that need to change. Books like Mockingbird were once burned for their controversal nature. Let's see if someone has the guts to watch a few of their DVDs burn.

It is just as possible to explore any given aspect of the human condition through games as it is through TV, film, play, novel, and song. The majority of publicized games do not do this, for the same reason that the majority of blockbuster films do not do this: it doesn't sell that well, and the people who make them like money.
Even so, it can be hard to draw a line between juvenile and thought provoking. Consider the following question: is Serious Sam art? It certainly isn't exploring the human condition, but it is exploring the concept of the grizzled, beweaponed, musclebound man, and how ludicrous that hero seems today, though his defining characteristics would be immediately familiar to Homer, or Ovid.
What about Manhunt? I suspect that if the people who think it should be banned forced themselves to play it through, they would have spent much of that time thinking about certain aspects of the human condition. Rapelay? Well, I haven't played it, but merely knowing that it exists allows me to know something about myself: I really believe in freedom of speech. It's made me think about something else too: I believe that a person can play, and enjoy, a game about rape without being a potential rapist, or in any other way a bad person. One's entertainment does not speak to one's character flaws. Of course, now I can't feel superior to all those Halo players.

Re:Adult Gaming? Hah! (2, Interesting)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911195)

Does anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird or Scarlet Letter for entertainment?

No, I read The Scarlet Letter because it was required for a high school English class. It was a brilliant psychological drama. At the time, I wondered why a nun would assign us a novel so blatantly critical of religion until it dawned on me: it is critical of the Protestant religion, not the Catholic religion. Despite being somewhat dry and difficult to read (as most books written in 1850 would be to us. Try reading Dickens sometime!), I recommend reading The Scarlet Letter.

Point of Clarification (5, Informative)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910011)

Six Days wasn't cancelled. The developer is still working on it, last I heard. Konami simply decided they wouldn't be the ones publishing it.

Re:Point of Clarification (0)

Clovis42 (1229086) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911139)

I really hope this is true. If they can actually finish the game then they can always sell it themselves through some form of digital distribution.

When I heard it was cancelled I was really upset. Games will never advance without mature subjects being addressed. That can't happen when Wal*Mart and EBGames won't sell controversial titles. The forces of the market make it impossible for a real AO game to be sold on the shelves.

Of course, our saviour is the internet. If a game like this can make money without a major publisher through digital distribution then just about any kind of game can be made and sold. Then we may be able to enter a "golden age" of gaming, and the next generation will laugh at the idea of games not being art.

I vote with my dollar (4, Interesting)

davidwr (791652) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910035)

Not only do I vote with my dollar, the games a publisher publishes or distributes affects its reputation in the eyes of the buying public.

Re:I vote with my dollar (2, Insightful)

Mendoksou (1480261) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910361)

Exactly. As do we all. This is why discussing the games like RapeLay is kind of a red herring (as the article seems to insinuate, I'm just sick of my friends yapping about it as if it were indicative of mainstream gaming... forgive my rant). Sure, games like that make me want to puke, but who cares? Its a game for sickos made by sickos, it does not reflect on gaming culture as a whole any more than a fetish-indulging book refelcts on the entirety of literature as a whole. The real problem is that people latch on to examples and try to generalize them.

Yeah! (4, Funny)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910067)

detracts from the gravity of the situation.

Death to Mario games that glorify the squashing of poor little Goombas! Goomba rights now!

Re:Yeah! (5, Funny)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910321)

detracts from the gravity of the situation.

Death to Mario games that glorify the squashing of poor little Goombas! Goomba rights now!

The Kuribo do not respond to their communal slave name "Goombah".

sid216 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910113)

I feel that "Six Days in Fallujah" should still be released. If done right, this game could be a tool to educate the small minds and willfully blind of the masses of how horrible this conflict is.

-sid216

Re:sid216 (1)

Talderas (1212466) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910701)

I feel that "Six Days in Fallujah" should still be released. If done right, this game could be a tool to educate the small minds and willfully blind of the masses of how horrible this conflict is.

You could also try reading a book.

The below link talks about the Battle of Fallujah, as well as specifically about the "House of Death".
http://www.amazon.com/My-Men-Are-Heroes-Kasal/dp/0696232367 [amazon.com]

Why? (5, Insightful)

Logical Zebra (1423045) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910145)

I have long wondered why particular actions are more "taboo" than others in the media. For instance, you can have a heck of a lot of blood and gore in a movie and still get a PG-13 rating, but if you show boobies in a sex scene, you almost automatically get an R.

Why is that? Is it "for the children"? If so, why are we more tolerant of allowing our kids to see brains scattered all over the set instead of *gasp* sexual intercourse?

And why is it that violence for the sake of violence (a.k.a. the Grand Theft Auto series) is OK, but violence for/against certain specific causes not OK? It seems to me that there are certain people groups that need to stop being overly sensitive.

Re:Why? (3, Insightful)

UnknownSoldier (67820) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910479)

It's because America
a) found violence accept due to a revolution (i.e. the last box in the 4 boxes: the ammo box)
b) didn't leave their puritan English attitude behind.

As such, the vocal majority in America are a bunch of prudes that seeing a natural breast instantly becomes labeled as "Nipplegate".

But yeah, its fucked up.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27911069)

Why do Americans hate freedom so much? Seriously ... this is very much like what happened with comics, of all things ... read up on the history of the Comics Code.

Re:Why? (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27911201)

American's didn't invent violence and it has nothing to do with the Revolution. World history was soaked in blood and misery long before then. It is inherent in the human psyche.

America's hypocritical attitude towards sex (and pleasure in general) does seem to stem from fundamentalist religious roots. Puritanical Christians don't have a monopoly on it, they share it with Orthodox Jews and Muslims (for example). There is a fear of people having easy access to pleasure whether it is drugs or sex. Also, since sex is part of everyone, is necessary for the human species, and doesn't require some substance that can be controlled (like drugs) some people are especially obsessed with condemning it.

Religions like to condemn sex because it provides a source of happiness outside of the church that they can't truly control. Then since it is seen as a bad thing prepubescent children are seen as pure (they aren't) and any exposure of them to sex is seen as an evil corruption. Once they hit puberty then they must be controlled like dangerous criminals.

Someday folks in the US might be able to admit that bare breasts on TV aren't going to destroy society and kids aren't going to grow up having orgies because they saw some boobs. On the other hand Americans need to develop more mature and responsible attitudes towards sex not unlike the attitudes towards alcohol (binging, etc) too many people have in the US.

Re:Why? (5, Funny)

Hatta (162192) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910543)

For instance, you can have a heck of a lot of blood and gore in a movie and still get a PG-13 rating, but if you show boobies in a sex scene, you almost automatically get an R.

Because America was founded by puritans. People so fucked up and repressed that the British kicked them out.

"Moralfags..." (4, Insightful)

pieterh (196118) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910181)

No, I'm not trolling. I'm quoting 4chan when people complain about offensive (and I mean *really offensive) content.

This is the Conflict. Between those who value freedom even to be insanely offensive, and those who think freedom must be measured by some authority.

Napster thought that real world laws did not apply to them... remember what happened. For a while, it was explosively popular, then the court cases started, and the business was crushed.

But today what Napster was offering is 1000x more available.

Games authors will push the boundaries, every boundary, until they feel resistance, and when there is resistance, there will be a fight. And in every fight the Digital Majority will eventually win. There is just no way a conventional industrial intelligence can beat a digital one.

The freedom to offend is the same as the freedom to defend.

Re:"Moralfags..." (2, Insightful)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911129)

The freedom to offend is the same as the freedom to defend.

This is what I don't get. Why do you WANT to offend? I mean, you have freedom of speech, and if what you say happens to offend, that's cool, but if you're goal is to actually offend someone, you're just being lame. I can offend pretty much anyone on the street by getting in their face and yelling insults at them, but what good does that do? It's just annoying. It's harassment. You should have no right to do that, and actually you don't. If your goal is to offend, you're just a troll.

Free Speech? Of course! (5, Insightful)

Binty (1411197) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910189)

Of course every game cited above is protected by the First Amendment. Should the government keep these games off of the shelf? No, of course not. The government should not be the keeper of the public's morals. That is the public's job.

It does not necessarily follow, however, that those games should be on the shelves. If RapeLay, for example, sat next to Disney Game Du Jure at Toys R Us, parents would rightly complain. Toys R Us would get bad press, and they would pull it for what they would call "bad judgment." And it would be bad judgment, because it would make their customers mad at them. This is essentially a self-correcting problem. Anything that, as a society, we won't tolerate will quickly be forced out of sight where most people won't have to deal with it. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you have to actively search for RapeLay if you want that sort of thing.

Final point: the accuracy question. Does a controversial video game become more acceptable by being more accurate? The above poster has it dead right: nobody plays games to reflect on the nature of the human condition. Maybe a game could be made to get you to do that. I'm holding out hope that video games could mature into some kind of new art form. So far, though, there hasn't been much more than puerile bang and flash. Accuracy only enhances the literary merit of a work if that accuracy is used to further some artistic objective. I haven't seen any video game with a coherent artistic vision.

It's been tried (1)

Roadkills-R-Us (122219) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910393)

There have been several games that have been released to "reflect on the nature of the human condition" or words that mean the same thing. AFAIK, none of them went anywhere to speak of.

Re:Free Speech? Of course! (2, Insightful)

Irish_Samurai (224931) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910667)

The above poster has it dead right: nobody plays games to reflect on the nature of the human condition.

If a game was made with the intent of doing such a thing, it would get played for that very reason. No one read "To Kill a Mockingbird" or "The Scarlet Letter" because they were looking to "reflect on the nature of the human condition" either. They read them because they were either forced to, we're looking for intellectually stimulating entertainment, or had the book recommended by a source they trust.

Books read with the intent of "reflecting on the nature of the human condition" are philosophy, sociology, anthropology, medical, and psychology texts. You have to purposefully go for those items too.

The big mistake is that there is an assumption that the intent of the reader/player is directly linked to the affect on the player/reader. I know that "The Dragonlance Chronicles" had a greater emotional impact on me than "The Scarlet Letter", yet guess which one I read under the auspice of "consuming great literature" (that I was forced to).

If we want to criticize games for not delivering an emotional and spiritual impact in the same volume and manner as books, you have to compare them on an equal scale. Books have been being written for Thousands of years, video games have been being made for 50 years. In a metaphorical timeline, that's about equivalent to "we just got an alphabet together yesterday".

Re:Free Speech? Of course! (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910769)

What kind of games did you play? Every game has some sort of message. Final Fantasy games are notorious for pushing Eastern Mysticism.

The best games are the ones that pull you into the story. Its been years since I played Deus Ex but I recall it having a very strong message at the time.

What about about Bioshock? I only played the demo, but even in that short narrative a message about Utopia and body augmentation was already being developed.

There are a lot of games with "a coherent artistic vision" you're just playing the wrong games.

Although I'll give you that developers could spend a lot more time developing a story/narrative and a lot of games would be improved greatly. Gameplay isn't everything.

stand on these games? (0)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910247)

I noticed through GamePolitics recently a large trend in severely controversial video games. Where do you stand on these titles?"

Anywhere you want. I typically stand on them in my kitchen, to get an extra couple inches when trying to reach the cookies my wife hid on the top shelf.

Why they censor. (5, Insightful)

gurps_npc (621217) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910265)

Why do people censor?

Sometimes people lie and claim things like "To protect the children". But you don't see people outlawing drinking in America, which kills more children than video games. Nor do we put speed regulators on cars, preventing speeds above 40 mph.

The real reason we censor is to MIND CONTROL. Not the silly tin foil hat kind, but the real kind. The ability to affect attitudes. I am talking PR, not scientific rays.

PR works. You show pictures of the Vietnam war and the war ends.

The attempt to censor nudity is an attempt to make sex shameful. It is an outright attempt to twist the minds of a population against sex. It's a beg help when it comes to population control as well as STD control. Far better than silly "Abstience only" programs.

Similarly, the censorship of violence is an attempt to reduce aggression. Not physical aggression, because we are not trying to prevent physical aggression. Censorship of violent media is an attempt to reduce mental aggression. To put it in crass terms - an attempt to wussify people.

But these are complex social issues that have NOT been well thought out. The censorship resulted from old, conservative movements that are no longer as relevant. The anti-sex taboo was very helpfull back before we had effective birth control, just as the anti-violence taboo was very helpful back before we had an effective police force. It is particularly funny that he same people that are against condoms are in favor of the sex censorship. When you think about it, a condom is really censorship of the actual sex act. You can't even touch your partner with the part you most want to touch. As for aggression, a reduction of aggression would not only reduce violence but it also in police work, in the military, and in busienss.

The US government was founded on freedom of expression. It has NO business attempting to do any kind of censorship, particular ones that are as ill thought out as the sex based and the violence based.

Re:Why they censor. (2, Insightful)

PCM2 (4486) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910527)

The attempt to censor nudity is an attempt to make sex shameful. It is an outright attempt to twist the minds of a population against sex. It's a beg help when it comes to population control as well as STD control. Far better than silly "Abstience only" programs.

That seems kinda silly. I mean, if fighting future Vietnam wars (as you suggest) is the point of all this mind control, then how are we supposed to do that if people aren't having sex? The rich power elite need to preserve a thriving underclass if they are to maintain their power, not annihilate the human race.

Consider instead: what better way to "mind control" people, as you put it, than to string 'em along with sex? Sex is everywhere in our society. Advertising is rife with it. You have 12-year-old girls walking around with their thongs hanging out of their jeans. By making sex "taboo" -- so-called -- you actually make it more alluring. It becomes more effective as a tool of mind control.

Not saying I actually believe this as such, mind you -- but it seems a lot more logical than your conclusion.

Re:Why they censor. (1)

Fulcrum of Evil (560260) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910805)

But you don't see people outlawing drinking in America, which kills more children than video games. Nor do we put speed regulators on cars, preventing speeds above 40 mph.

Well, we do actually outlaw drinking for kids. Fat lot of good that does - they still get drunk, but the parents aren't there because it's illegal. I'm not aware of video games killing anyone; not even sure how that would work.

Re:Why they censor. (1)

2obvious4u (871996) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910937)

"(The US government) has NO business attempting to do any kind of censorship"

That isn't entirely true. The market is a powerful motivator. We tax alcohol and tobacco.

If there is something the government wants to "censor" it could just tax it. There should be no jail time or removal of explicit content. There is no reason the government couldn't exert control of materials through taxation.

Adult gaming? Yes. (4, Insightful)

GrifterCC (673360) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910297)

Spoiler alert.

The "nuclear bomb" scene in Call of Duty 4 stands out, in my mind, as a moment in a video game (one which otherwise did a middling job of realism) that really wanted to approximate a real experience. You're flying along, la de da, "What the hell?" And suddenly, you're on the ground with no legs, dragging yourself toward nothing, and then you die.

That's war. Not chucking respawning grenades.

I was crestfallen when "Six Days in Fallujah" got canceled. If really intelligent people had been on the design team, and collected oral histories from the men and women who were actually there, and built the environments from actual photos (or even a field trip to those sites), SDiF could have been extremely good--no--it could have been transcendent. It was the perfect idea, just waiting for a near-perfect execution.

Re:Adult gaming? Yes. (1)

everynerd (1252610) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911003)

And the problem with Six Days in Fallujah is that it would have to be perfect in execution otherwise the game would be a dismal failure. Even as an award-winning piece of perfection, there is only so much of a market for that type of entertainment. For the most part, those who play video games want to have fun when they do, pass time, garner achievements. A game like SDiF would probably not reward the user with those positive responses in order to satisfy the reality of the situation. I can only relate this to watching similar movies. In order for me to watch a movie with shocking and upsetting subject matter like, for instance, Hotel Rwanda, I have to set aside the time to watch the movie, the time to research the events afterwards (regardless of how knowledgeable I am about it), and of course, time to grieve. This movie was by no means a blockbuster, and hardly cracked $30 million worldwide, but it was a critical success. SDiF in order to convey realistically the subject matter would involve a massive amount of resources and budget, which when combined with controversy drummed up by the 'usual suspects' would likely never be returned in sales. And at the end of the day, selling units is the order of business in the gaming industry where there really is no middle ground or cult status for success.

Adolph Hitler had every right... (3, Insightful)

CyberLord Seven (525173) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910325)

...to speak. He had the right to write "Mein Kampf". His publisher had the right to print the book. The distributor had the right to distribute it.

I have the right to ignore it and not read it. I also have the right to voice my opposition to Hitler's policies. That's where my rights end. Unlike Adolph Hitler and Joeseph Goebbels I do not think anyone has the right to ban or burn publications. This argument extends to video games.

Re:Adolph Hitler had every right... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910891)

...to speak. He had the right to write "Mein Kampf". His publisher had the right to print the book. The distributor had the right to distribute it.

I have the right to ignore it and not read it. I also have the right to voice my opposition to Hitler's policies. That's where my rights end. Unlike Adolph Hitler and Joeseph Goebbels I do not think anyone has the right to ban or burn publications. This argument extends to video games.

Godwin'd.

Controversy for the sake of Popularity (3, Interesting)

192939495969798999 (58312) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910379)

Aren't most of the games that really stir controversy just in it for the short-term popularity? Thus, can't we expect to see games come out "too soon" that are "too violent", only to just fade away since the actual game itself just isn't that great?

A strong history exists of controversial games with good gameplay that have outlasted their detractors by a long shot:
Street Fighter
Wolfenstein 3D
Mortal Kombat
Doom
GTA
etc.

games are a form of speech (1)

Satanboy (253169) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910381)

I might disagree with a games content, but I do believe in the right for anything to be made. It is an art form and should not be censored. The old "I might disagree with what you say but will defend to the death your right to say it" applies here.

I think the market will self censor games well enough, as we saw with the fallujah game.

People may have cries of censorship from game companies, but its better than laws being applied. Once a law is made, it's open to interpretation and we will see a lot less chances being taken in the game world.

So Liberal (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910403)

This article is done in such a liberal and biased way. I would rather have you give us the facts and let us discussion our opinions, I don't want to hear your liberal thoughts "I think this is okay, this isn't a big deal." HEY GUESS WHAT? Some people are offended by stuff. Just because you're high and mighty and oh-so-progressive doesn't mean everyone else has to be.

Re:So Liberal (2, Funny)

twidarkling (1537077) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910643)

You know, this is actually fairly well disguised flamebait. It took me a good 30 seconds to realize they didn't actually mean it. 7/10. Would rage again.

RapeLay (4, Informative)

VampDuc (1540415) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910417)

Games of this nature have been around for a long time in Japan. They're known as "eroge" or "galge." There's not much difference in the terms, but the games range from just trying to date someone to full-blown rape. The games are generally pornographic in nature, but not always. I (a girl) have played some of these games, not because of the pornography, but because they are games that have subtleties rarely found in other, more violence based games. At their basest, they are simply text-based adventure games with a very narrow set of goals.

A game is an expressive art form (2, Insightful)

erroneus (253617) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910423)

It is every bit as expressive an art form as "the world" is an expressive art form for "god."

We build things with a variety of interests in mind. Initially, many games were designed increasingly with "realism" in mind. And year and after year, "realism" had improved. But realism isn't the only factor driving game design... just one of them.

As games become increasingly more involving, the use and expressiveness of games are expanding. Universally, games are an escape for people just as books can be. It enables people to enter other worlds and become other people and play other roles. Initially, people were VERY troubled by "Dungeons and Dragons" because it was very advanced "make believe" and some people, no doubt, took it too far or too seriously. It's not something I ever got involved in, but I recall one freaky guy in Navy technical school who attempted to convince me that a quartz crystal he wore around his neck actually burned him... I found him 'disturbing' to be around.

Eventually, we will have some sort of brain/mind interface and allow us to not only to experience what it is like to be someone else, but to actually become someone else. Many science fiction movies have been made under these notions. And I am quite certain that if such technologies were to ever come to light, they will be protested and motions to ban them will be made.

We make our real world in our own image. We make our imaginary worlds in our own image as well, in a wide range of media including books, plays, music, role play, computer games and probably numerous others that don't come to mind.

What "expressions" should be forbidden? What "ideas" should be forbidden? What "media" should be forbidden? What purposes should be considered noble and what should be considered vile?

As we seek to pass judgement upon one another, it is quite helpful if we were to actually say what we mean and to understand, if only for ourselves, why we seek to silence others.

And as to the guy who attempted to convince me that his crystal had supernatural powers? I called him an idiot and asked him not to bother me with his nonsense. I never sought to have his game banned. I recognize that there are LOTS of things I find objectionable. And as a "powerless average guy on the street" I have learned to accept that they exist and do my best to keep objectionable things out of my life. (For example, I program my TV channels to exclude religious content and spanish language content! I don't seek to have religious content and spanish languages BANNED!)

It would be nice if other people could maintain this sort of sensibility, but unfortunately, some people live in a fantasy world of their own. They find it important to objectify other people, control them, limit them, even kill them while they play their games of war, business and domination. Some people, do INDEED take their games a bit too seriously...

Sacred Cows Make The Best Steaks (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910437)

I find no subject untouchable. Fuck anyone who disagrees.

Opinion (0)

scubamage (727538) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910443)

I personally don't stand anywhere on these games. To have an opinion that I would push on to others and what they choose to do for entertainment in their spare time would be morally presumptuous. We're all adults, so lets let people do what they enjoy. That's the essence of freedom.

Promote sex, demote violence (2, Insightful)

EvilToiletPaper (1226390) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910473)

The American censor board has it backwards

Most hormone crazed teens are only looking for an outlet for that pent up energy. Tons of violence accompanied by a total demonization of sex can only lead to frustration, couple that with a small arsenal in everyone's basement and you get a columbine

Promote more love and sex in movies and video games along with free condoms, pills and sex education, I'm sure mindless violence will go down a lot.

you insensitive cglod! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910549)

Own lube, beverage, that theN project

Try to censor.. (1)

dpx420 (1210902) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910579)

How fortunate that the medium of games is, by it's nature, more than feasible for the hobbyist or non-commercial to contribute to. I'm never really concerned about the Jack Thompsons of the world and those who favour yet more nanny-state laws. Censor what appears on the shelves until you are blue in the face, you will not stop modders and independent developers from releasing their stuff for free.

murder and sex (4, Insightful)

interkin3tic (1469267) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910597)

RapeLay â" an obscure title by a Japanese publisher that focuses on forced sex situations. There is something special about sexual crimes that make them even worse than murder in the United States. I don't know why, but Hot Coffee in GTA3 drew far more criticism than the normal killing rampage in that game and games before it. This same phenomena occurs at parties where they play games that a murderer is at the party. Yet, if a rapist was at the party, people would probably be mortified. While the sentencing isn't as harsh, sex offenders are registered and tracked for the rest of their lives while murderers can be released or paroled under good behavior.

I think there are a few points here that often get muddled by gamers, leading to confusion and outrage. I don't feel like american parents are more okay with violence than sex. I think parents are more concerned about sex than violence because they think their kids are more likely to engage in sexual behavior that is risky and/or morally repugnant to them. And they're right, they're much more likely to get pregnant than shoot their school up.

It's still misguided in my opinion. Sex on games isn't going to make your teenager want to have sex, his hormones are. But that's a seperate point, it's not so dumb as "I'm okay with my teen murdering, as long as they don't have premarital sex." At least in most cases.

There's also a bit of going along with the group. Other parents are more concerned with sheltering their kids from learning about sex than is reasonable or realistic, so those who may start out reasonable start thinking this might be an actual problem. Again, irrational, but hey, we ALL follow the crowd more than we'd like to admit.

Lastly, the sex offender issue is oversimplifed and muddled to the point of ridiculousness. It again isn't that americans are okay with murder but deathly afraid of sex, we're overly paranoid about both. There's a belief that certain sex offenders have far more recidivism than some violent criminals. That's one of the main rationales for the tracking. I'm not going to say whether or not it's true or justified, only that that is the thinking behind it. The opinion of many lawmakers and groups is that a child molester will always be a child molester and evil, wheras a murderer sent to jail might not do it again. It's also easier to understand and sympathize with the motivations behind some murders than sex offenses. We've all had the urge, to varying degrees, to commit violence. For me, it's whenever someone suggests that censorship works, is needed, and should be done to videogames. (Also whenever Rush gets jacked up on painkillers and starts ranting about potheads, or whenever corporate suits try to put on a hypocritical PR campaign, but that's neither here nor there.)

So again, it's not that most americans live in fear of sex but are cool with the odd murder. And, not for nothing, even if we were, pointing that out is not going to prevent some moral conservatives with the urge to censor from coming after our games.

this is scientifically tractable (3, Insightful)

panthroman (1415081) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910605)

The question is, are the folks who do NOT support "immoral" games adversely affected by their existence?

My gut reaction is that yes, games like GTA and RapeLay, played mostly by men, contribute to the subjugation of women. But that's just the uninformed gut reaction of a guy who's never played either game. I don't trust it much at all. I'd like some data.

There are tests [harvard.edu] that see how quickly you associate terms. They basically work like this:
1 - A word or person's face will appear on the screen.
2 - If the word has positive connotations or if the person is white, hit the left button. If the word has negative connotations or the person is black, hit the right button.
3 - Your reaction time is measured.

I am, regretfully, faster at reacting when it's good/white vs. bad/black than when it's good/black vs. bad/white. Try it yourself if you like.

You could do the same thing with RapeLay. One group plays RapeLay, one group doesn't. Choose some associations (e.g. submissive and strong words, male and female faces), test the groups before playing... then right after playing, or 1 week after playing, or one year after playing every day for a month, etc.

Anyone know of studies like this? Data, even with it's caveats and conditionals, beats the pants off gut reactions.

Not GTA3 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910675)

Just to point this out, Hot Coffee wasn't for GTA3. It was for San Andreas.

My Career in Virtual Crime (4, Interesting)

fm6 (162816) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910715)

Been playing GTA: Chinatown Wars. I'm only 1/4 of the way through (hey, I know it's been out for a month, but I'm slow) and I've already had $100K in sales of illegal drugs. Getting there, I've killed 500 people, most of them innocent bystanders and a lot of them cops. Who, far from being vindictive when they catch me, simply confiscate my weapons and stash and accept a bribe for letting me go.

Similarly unrealistic is what happens when I get killed. Quick trip to the hospital and everything's back to normal.

Will this turn anybody into a criminal? Somehow I doubt it. Unlike most consumers of violent fiction and games, I don't buy the idea that there's no connection between media violence and real-world violence. I've certainly seen the effects on my own personality of growing up in a culture where violence is something you see every time you turn on the boob tube. But let's look at it a little more objectively.

What kind of media violence turns people violent? Not the gross-out violence you see in video games or Tarentino movies. That kind of violence is only attractive to people whose lives are so screwed up that becoming a gangsta and being gruesumely dead before you're 30 is an improvement over the alternatives. And I doubt that such a lifestyle is made any more violent by exposure to the cartoonish violence in the media.

The media violence that bothers me is the kind that makes violence innocuous. The hero gets knocked out and wakes up 15 minutes later with nothing worse than a splitting headache — no concussion symptoms such as extreme nausea and neurological impairment. Our plucky band of heroes shoot guns all over the place, and never kill anybody, except maybe the occasional badguy.

That last one disgusted the summer camp dude who taught me to shoot. The thing he was most concerned with drumming into our heads was that guns are dangerous. This was even more important to him that his strong believe that the 2nd amendment was a last safeguard against communist invasion. Which is pretty damn important.

The big problem with violence is people having their heads in the sand. And I don't just mean idiots who want to ban everything that even suggests violence. I mean you mister I've-got-a-shotgun-so-my-home-is-secure.

Why? (1)

Smivs (1197859) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910735)

Do these titles hurt the social standing of gamers and gaming as a medium?

Yes, I think they do. I more or less gave up games when my old C64 conked out and I couldn't play Elite anymore (yes, I know...I'm looking into DOSbox). My point is, this current trend of violent games just makes non-gamers wonder what the f**k is up with 'kids today', even if the 'kids' are adult. Your average Joe probably doesn't know that these games are not for minors, and just sees another example of the world going to hell.
Also, it must be said, there is enough REAL violence in the world without churning out even more, albeit 'only' virtual violence. Perhaps once in a while a genuinely psychotic individual might find an outlet for their anger or whatever in a game rather than real life, but that argument can be used to justify kiddie porn and all sorts of crap.
As you've probably guessed these games do nothing for me at all...personally I prefer something more intellectual or thought-provoking... and I'm afraid I do (like so many others) look at some of these games and the people who play them and just ask WHY?

offensive to religion (3, Insightful)

speedtux (1307149) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910755)

I really don't care whether it's offensive to your religion. You have a right to practice your religion, you have a right not to be subject to discrimination, but you do not have a right to be protected from offense.

Quite to the contrary, offending people is a necessary and intrinsic part of political and religious change. Or do you think that the Reformation and Enlightenment happened without offending anybody? Without offending Catholics, we'd still be stuck in the Dark Ages.

Avoiding topics that are too recent (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#27910815)

I'm glad to hear that it is best to avoid topics that are too recent, and go with settings for games that are several generations, or more, in the past.

So I guess I won't have any trouble at all with the game I am currently designing, its setting is thousands of years ago.

I plan to call it "Jesus: Itinerant Preacher."

Opportunity, differentiation, and law (1)

GNUCyberKat (62503) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910841)

I suspect that a lot of the creators/publishers of games that fit into the questionable mold don't really care about what other people or organizations think about their creation. They measure their ability to produce and sell a game based upon market opportunity/demand, differentiation from other products, and what has or has not already been ruled on by the courts.

You can bet that if the combination adds up to profit and manageable risk, titles will be published. Now if there is enough backlash that it becomes unprofitable or too risky, then they get cancelled. I doubt there is very much gray area here.

More hypocrisy in action (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | more than 4 years ago | (#27910963)

Super Columbine RPG == good and should not be censored
Six days in Fallujah == bad and should be censored.

It is a self-correcting problem (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911019)

If a game was truly offensive to everyone, nobody would buy it, and creating the game would be economic suicide. Obviously the people paying money for the game DO NOT find it offensive, and those that are offended by it should neither pay for nor play it. So, what is the problem? Claiming that I shouldn't have access to material that YOU find offensive is not just irrational, it goes against the very principles the USA was founded on. Claiming these games "desensitize" people to violence is also insane seeing how nobody objects to CSI and Law and Order. In addition, I watched a movie this weekend where 6 billion humanoids were murdered when their home planet was destroyed... that same movie grossed $72.5 million in it's first weekend, and I don't hear anybody complaining about the genocide depicted in it!

It's a friggin' game! (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 4 years ago | (#27911177)

I am a mass murderer. I'm also actually a war criminal. Even back in 1987 I used chemical weapons liberally to win a conventional war in Europe against the NATO. And let's not count the thousands if not millions of innocent bystanders I happened to kill when going on killing sprees in various cities all over the globe. I feel no remorse. I feel no guilt. Actually, I feel nothing special about it. Maybe a little joy that I managed to pull it off and win.

Huh? Yes, in computer games. Are you nuts, suggesting I'd do that in reality? I could get hurt!

I think the real problem are people who cannot distinguish between a computer game and reality. And I do not mean the people going on real killing sprees. I'm thinking more of certain politicians and people who wish to blame their own problems (and the problems of our teenagers) on games.

Has anyone ever wondered why those madman shootings happen at schools? Of all the places where teenagers spend a lot of their life, from their home to the mall to public transport, it's 9 out of 10 times in a school. More specifically, their school. Could there, just maybe, be some kind of connection?

Oh. Sorry. My bad. How dare I even think of blaming the kids that mobbed him and made him an outcast. After all, they were shot by him!

Wonder why...

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