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Halo In Church Points Out ESRB Flaws

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the all-in-a-twist dept.

Games 185

The recent controversy over church groups making use of Halo 3 to attract young men to their services continues to be a subject of debate outside of the fan press. GamePolitics notes that the debate is indicative of flaws in the ESRB's system, and in mainstream culture's understanding of those ratings. "When you look at it like that, it's hard to blame those who criticize bringing Halo into sacred space. For the most part the critics are not gamers and have no concept of the vast difference between Halo and GTA. All they know is that the games share a common M rating, a designation assigned by the game industry itself, theoretically for the protection of impressionable youth. For the uninitiated it's only logical to assume the content must be of a similar character as well. As someone who has played both, I'd argue that there is a world of difference between Halo and GTA."

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Rating systems (5, Insightful)

Gharbad (647620) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986585)

When you have to pidgeon hole all media into about 5 slots, you're going to have differences between boundary conditions. Like how 2 R rated movies aren't necessarily the same in terms of content.

Re:Rating systems (1)

Fozzyuw (950608) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987281)

Like how 2 R rated movies aren't necessarily the same in terms of content.

Right, it's like comparing Knocked Up [imdb.com] with Halloween [imdb.com] . Both R rated films but worlds apart in context.

Re:Rating systems (1)

SatanicPuppy (611928) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987847)

Both of you are making essentially the same point: The damn ratings systems are screwed six ways to Sunday, and need to be updated in order to give an accurate idea of the content.

"R" is just as meaningless as "M" because the whole goal of studios is to make an AO/NC-17 film and bring it back, just enough, to get an M/R rating. That's just crap. We need the real deal; a rating system that will tell you, right up front, what's in it, how bad it is, and what the context is.

At the heart of it, GTA and Halo 3 are about the same thing: Killin stuff. That's why they got the same rating. But there is a world of difference conveyed in the nuances, and the two are as wildly different as it is possible to be.

Re:Rating systems (3, Interesting)

nschubach (922175) | more than 6 years ago | (#20989103)

New ratings:

S-ex (S1 no naughties/S2 rear naughties/S3 front naughties/S4 You betcha, it's porn)
D-rugs (D1 OTC(tobacco?)/D2 Prescrip/D3 "intro drugs" MJ/D4 Anyone order a meth-lab? Cocaine?)
G-un Violence (G1 War, History, no blood/G2 Blood, no impact shots/G3 body parts/G4 chunks)
C-omedy (C1 Mickey Mouse/C2 someone actually funny/C3 mild language/C4 Bob Saget) ...etc.

I know. It looks a bit complicated. But think of the store shelves. Start high rated at the top and work down to the kid stuff.

Of course the ratings panel would be "S2-D4-G2-C2-..." but they could get stylish with it.

Re:Rating systems (1)

gravis777 (123605) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988397)

Sure, lets put Passion of the Christ in the same rating as Pulp Fiction.

Re:Rating systems (1)

roguetrick (1147853) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988447)

I know, who would compare a religious movie like Pulp Fiction to a gore fest like Passion.

Christianity LOVES violence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20988869)

I think the long and rich history of violence committed at the hands of Christian and Catholic sects alike shows just how this religion feels about violence.

Reading a verse or two in isolation (ie out of context) might lead one to believe that there is a passifistic attitude at work in Christianity...but when you read the Bible as a whole you see plenty of violence at God's command. Followers since then have just stuck to the example, dishing out violence whenever it seemed justified.

I think this violent game introduces no conflict at all.

Read the bible lately? (4, Insightful)

olddotter (638430) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986605)

A game based on parts of the Bible could get an M rating as well. The bible is full of violence and sex. People just seem to gloss over that these days. Much like the people who say drinking is a sin, and over look that water to wine section.

Re:Read the bible lately? (4, Interesting)

markbt73 (1032962) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986663)

A game based on parts of the Bible could get an M rating as well.

Nah, it only gets a T rating [amazon.com] .

Re:Read the bible lately? (2, Insightful)

pluther (647209) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986983)

A game based on parts of the Bible could get an M rating as well.

Nah, it only gets a T rating.

If the game is anything like the books, it's based on modern American Christian teachings, which are mostly derived from post-civil war writings of various evangelists, and have little to nothing to do with the Bible, other than referencing some of the names.

Re:Read the bible lately? (4, Funny)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987581)

Compare to Viva Piñata which is rated E where part of the game is beating crying piñatas to death, their final release from life at the final death blow also releasing their candy and confetti insides to the delighted cheering of children.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

StarWreck (695075) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988215)

That game gives me nightmares. Poor little Pinatas

Violence over rated (1)

huckamania (533052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988575)

My wifes little brother had to write a game for a HS class. It had to be non-violent and semi-original (no straight clones). We came up with the idea of a zombie game where you drive around in an ambulance shooting zombies the 'cure'. The whole point of the game was to save people and yet the teacher thought it was too violent.

He turned it into an ice cream truck that delivers cones to people who get over-heated, which makes them act like zombies but can over-heat other people.

Violence is a crutch for the unimaginative, that is used too often, both in games and in hollywood. In reality, cars don't explode. They do get really hot, but generally, no big fireball. Same with hit-men, there really isn't much of a career to be made in the real world with contract killing.

Re:Violence over rated (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988617)

Same with hit-men, there really isn't much of a career to be made in the real world with contract killing.

That's why they make video games out of them. People don't want to pay for a regular real life simulator, because what then would be the point?

Or to quote Bill Watterson, via Hobbes:
"Quick! To the Bat-FAAAAAAAX!"

Re:Violence over rated (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988793)

People don't want to pay for a regular real life simulator, because what then would be the point?
I don't understand the appeal of The Sims either, except for the fun of walling a Sim into a room alone just to watch it die.

Most of the latter games in the Tycoon series also seem to have limited appeal, but they tend to get rated accordingly.

Re:Read the bible lately? (0, Offtopic)

scribblej (195445) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987423)

Your sig is from Planetfall / Stationfall, when you would save the game, Floyd would ask that.

You are totally fucking cool. That is all.

(Incidentally, Suspended was the Scariest-Game-Evar.)

Re:Read the bible lately? (5, Insightful)

SkelVA (1055970) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986771)

The bible says "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;" Ephesians 5:18

Back in the day, before water purification techniques or even the understanding of what got a person sick and what didn't, wine was safer to drink than water. The wine they drink was also much less alcoholic than the wine we drink today. When Jesus turned water to wine as stated in the bible, think of it more like turning warm tap water to a cold soft drink or something along those lines.

And on the topic, there's a reason that movies give a basic reason for the rating. When I see an R rating for "Violence and adult language" it's different than if I see an R rating for "Nudity and extreme sexual content." The whole concept of a unified 5-slot rating system to classify offensiveness is completely intractable. The specific reasoning is much more useful to me, but nothing will ever trump parental involvement. Play Halo 3 for an hour or play GTA for an hour and you'll get a pretty decent, not complete, opinion of what the games' content is.

Re:Read the bible lately? (4, Informative)

Mprx (82435) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986943)

Except Jesus supposedly made the wine after the guests were already drunk, therefore implicitly condoning drunkenness.

"and the master of the banquet tasted the water that had been turned into wine. He did not realize where it had come from, though the servants who had drawn the water knew. Then he called the bridegroom aside 10and said, "Everyone brings out the choice wine first and then the cheaper wine after the guests have had too much to drink; but you have saved the best till now.""
John 2:9-10, NIV

Re:Read the bible lately? (1, Interesting)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988675)

--Oh, **shut up** you annoyingly stupid troll.

--Every serious Bible scholar knows that the NIV is not to be used for Serious Bible Study. :P

--Try a couple of different versions (recognized by scholars wolrdwide as USEFUL FOR STUDY) - before you shoot off your mouth in public and make yourself look like a fool.

http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%202:9-10;&version=50 [biblegateway.com] ;
http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%202:9-10;&version=49 [biblegateway.com] ;

--If you REALLY want to know what the Bible says (at least the New Testament), take the time to learn Greek.

--For Teh Interested, see also:

http://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/index.php?action=getCommentaryText&cid=51&source=2&seq=i.50.2.1 [biblegateway.com]

Re:Read the bible lately? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20986951)

When Jesus turned water to wine as stated in the bible, think of it more like turning warm tap water to a cold soft drink or something along those lines.

Actually, I like to think of it as fucking retarded, because seriously, that story is fucking retarded.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987553)

When Jesus turned water to wine as stated in the bible, think of it more like turning warm tap water to a cold soft drink or something along those lines.

It was at a wedding reception - a party, the kind of party people drink alcohol at, not for hygenic purposes but to deliberately get inebriated. The guests had just finished off all the hard drinks, wanted more, and suddenly this local carpenter turns warm tap water into wine so good the host is accused of trying to keep the "good stuff" from everyone.

There is _nothing_ indicating it was their version of a "soft drink" - quite the contrary.

Re:Read the bible lately? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20987557)

Back in the day, before water purification techniques or even the understanding of what got a person sick and what didn't, wine was safer to drink than water. The wine they drink was also much less alcoholic than the wine we drink today. When Jesus turned water to wine as stated in the bible, think of it more like turning warm tap water to a cold soft drink or something along those lines.


It's true that alcoholic beverages were commonly drank in place of water in the ancient world. However, I've never seen any evidence that alcoholic beverages were less alcoholic then. This spiel often gets repeated by people who somehow think that drinking has to be innately sinful and then have to make excuses for the parts of the Bible where drinking is condoned.

I think the Bible is pretty clear on this: drinking is not inherently a bad thing, but drinking in excess is. It's a sin to drink to the point where you damage your relationships with your friends and family.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987657)

The Psalmist, however, thanked God for wine as it "gladdened the heart of man". This is still recited at every Vespers liturgy in the Orthodox Church. Certainly some intoxication was permitted. The presence of wine at the marriage at Cana was of course because at a wedding people are suppposed to be happy and joyous, and wine facilitates that. St John Chrysostom spoke in his sermons about how some tipsiness is okay but real drunkenness is a no-no.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

CrazyJim1 (809850) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988455)

You do know what the "water into wine" miracle signifies don't you? Not many people do.
Isaiah1:21 The city that once was faithful is behaving like a whore! At one time it was filled with righteous people, but now only murderers remain. 22 Jerusalem, you were once like silver, but now you are worthless; you were like good wine, but now you are only water.

Jesus came to turn unrighteous people into righteous citizens of the Kingdom. And don't forget that this wine being served last is better than the first.

Rationality (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20986911)

We are talking about groups of people who interpret the obviously mythological content of the Bible as if it were concrete history. While not all sects of Christianity do this, more than a few of them do.

It does not seem rational to me to expect consistency from people who can't differentiate fantasy from reality. They will believe whatever their priest tells them to believe, whether it is logically consistent (and whether it makes any sense at all) or not.

Re:Read the bible lately? (2, Insightful)

Sinkael (1089531) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987007)

A game based on the Bible that was accurate to it would be forced to receive a AO rating. Take a look at the good book and some of the stories in it. We have: War Murder Sex Incest Bestiality Sodomy Torture etc etc etc Hell, the first Chapter talks about two naked frolicking around in the woods.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

marklark (39287) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987095)

Bestiality? Please elaborate.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

thegnu (557446) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988665)

OK, maybe not bestiality, but they did fuck rocks painted to look like God [youtube.com]

There's sort of bestiality by inference, and if your character walked around sodom and gomorrah, you'd probably see it. But really, isn't incest, rape, torture, incineration, and baby-killing enough for you?

My father chastised you with whips...I will chastise you with scorpions
Best fucking quote in the world, EVAR!!!111one

Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20987469)

Yeah, there's sex, but "Adam knew Eve" isn't exactly graphic, especially when there are no pictures and the text is very light on the details.

Most of the rest is there because it's what happened, not because the authors of the Biblical texts approved of it (indeed, they frequently note their disapproval). It'd be rather hard to disapprove of something if you were alleged to be hypocritical merely for mentioning it, after all. I mean, take Lot. His daughters got him drunk and then slept with him (ewww). But that's all the text says. It doesn't add any detail beyond that because it wasn't necessary to do so to condemn the daughters' misdeeds.

I mean, you look at it like it's somehow binary, black & white. "Oh no! It mentions sex! It's horrible!" But you'd have to be stupid not to be able to see the difference between a mere mention (and condemnation) vs. your average trashy romance novel, which would not fail to mention every single erotic detail, down to the last drop of sweat and the slightest moan. That's why it's called graphic, after all...

Once we dispense with the nonsense, the "worst" you can do as to what the authors actually approved of is the Song of Songs (AKA Song of Solomon). But that merely points out something that seems to get forgotten: that for a married couple, sex is a good thing.

I hope you're not objecting to that? And if you're dealing with people who are, quote them Song of Songs and drop all the other crap. You won't prove any point with that; there isn't one in there to prove.

Re:Not really... (1)

apparently (756613) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987767)

Most of the rest is there because it's what happened, not because the authors of the Biblical texts approved of it

To quote Wikipedia: Citation needed.
teh bible is like, so Web 1.0. So much for omniscience.

Re:Not really... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20988441)

I'm at work and I only have a New Testament on hand.

Anyhow, aren't you making the claims? Why don't you go cite where the 'bad' parts are. I'll cop to Song of Songs, so quote the rest, please, and tell me how it's 'graphic' (no, it's text, and it's not detailed).

I've read the whole thing. The absolute closest you get to erotic is Song of Songs, but the only girl I know who discussed it with me couldn't help laughing over stuff like the woman's hair being compared to goats, so it ended up being more silly than sexy.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

Phroggy (441) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987899)

I defy anyone to come up with a better passage of Scripture to take out of context:

Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.
-- Proverbs 31:6-7 (NIV)

(Most other translations say "strong drink" rather than "beer"; the Hebrew word is "shekar". I can't give you a precise definition, but it's definitely something alcoholic.)

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988521)

I can't give you a precise definition, but it's definitely something alcoholic


Umm ... that would be because the word means "Strong drink". i.e. an alcoholic drink of some type, thats not made from grapes.

Re:Read the bible lately? (1)

Empiric (675968) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988539)

Well, "gloss over" might be a bit of an inference of other people's motivations...


For, "Not all true things are to be said to all men."

--Clement of Alexandria

Still out of place... (3, Interesting)

azuredrake (1069906) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986609)

While I would agree that Halo and GTA are worlds apart, and hope that this controversy catalyzes much-needed revamping of the ESRB's functionality, I still find it out of place that churches are using Halo to bring young men to services. "Thou shalt not kill" does not mesh well with "Thou shalt kill aliens in copious numbers". Also, it just strikes me of bribery - they should be there because they're interested in the religion, not because they wanna get a mad sic deathmatch in after church lets out. But maybe that's just me.

Re:Still out of place... (1)

Seumas (6865) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986735)

I'd rather they just do away with the ESRB and publishers publish whatever the hell they want. When was the last time you went to buy a book at a bookstore and it said "this has mature content and violence and sex and drugs" and they wouldn't sell it to you if you weren't 17 or older?

Re:Still out of place... (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987691)

When was the last time you went to buy a book at a bookstore and it said "this has mature content and violence and sex and drugs" and they wouldn't sell it to you if you weren't 17 or older?
Have you read the novelization of the movie WarGames as published by the Science Fiction Book Club? They took out all the drug references and in one place replaced it with lines that said Jennifer got good grades in school.

But a bit where David is reading a shoplifted book (by same author, natch) was left in.

The intact version has a green title. The edited version has a red title. (My copies have been misplaced. Both were purchased from a used book store.)

Re:Still out of place... (2, Insightful)

Sinkael (1089531) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986773)

I am not trying to be sarcastic, but I believe many people feel that because it is aliens and not humans being murdered, that it is ok. I mean, the rule is simple, Thou shalt not kill, yet people kill animals all the time for food or whatever, sometimes just for sport. This is ok because they are not human, the commandment should read, thou shalt not kill thy fellow human being. The Bible has always been vague on most topics, this ensures that it can be interrupted however it is needed at the time.

Re:Still out of place... (2, Funny)

Applekid (993327) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987103)

I interpret that as it's only ok to kill aliens if you're going to eat them.

Re:Still out of place... (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987405)

Thou shalt not kill, yet people kill animals all the time for food or whatever, sometimes just for sport.

It's actually "thou shalt not murder". Murder is the unrightful termination of a presumably human life. Killing during war, self defence, or execution does nto apply. The word kill was a bad or politicized mis translation.

Re:Still out of place... (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988523)

It's actually "thou shalt not murder". Murder is the unrightful termination of a presumably human life. Killing during war, self defence, or execution does nto apply. The word kill was a bad or politicized mis translation.


WTF? Is that 1984 double speak? I'm pretty sure its "Kill", since I have never ever ever come across Thou shall not Murder and to be honest I don't really see the point you are making?

You're trying to pretend there is a difference between killing and killing a killer, or that it's somehow OK to kill during war. I don't really have any strong believes in anything but I have very strong morals on this topic.

Killing is Killing and it's bad to kill people!

Re:Still out of place... (4, Informative)

king-manic (409855) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988613)

WTF? Is that 1984 double speak? I'm pretty sure its "Kill", since I have never ever ever come across Thou shall not Murder and to be honest I don't really see the point you are making?

You're trying to pretend there is a difference between killing and killing a killer, or that it's somehow OK to kill during war. I don't really have any strong believes in anything but I have very strong morals on this topic.

Killing is Killing and it's bad to kill people!
The passage in the bible is mis translated in some bibles. The exact passage translates more closely to "Thou shalt no murder". In certain notable translations it's translated "thou shalt no kill." This isn't double speak. most languages do not line up 1:1. The original text used a word that is more in line with the word "murder" then "kill" but for one reason or another certain translations used "kill".

Your morals are irrelevant to the translation of the word. You may believe killing a cow is wrong but it doesn't effect the translation of exodus.

If you investigate the history of Judaism and the early Christian churches you'll find neither religion does not agree on your view of "killing". Both outline circumstances where killing is morally correct. Some off shoots (modern and ancient) of Christianity might be more to your liking but it does not change the original word used int he 10 commandments.

Re:Still out of place... (1)

Toonol (1057698) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988749)

If you tried to kill me, it's ok for me to kill you. If you were minding your business, it wouldn't be ok for me to kill you.

Same applies in reverse. That's how most religions and legal systems work.

There's certainly much killing in the bible that's condoned, so it doesn't make sense that the ten commandments would forbid it. And just using common sense, there is a difference between "killing" and "killing a killer".

Re:Still out of place... (1)

Jaysyn (203771) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987483)

I've heard that the actual Hebrew translation is closer to that than "Thou shalt not kill".

Re:Still out of place... (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988557)

I've heard that the actual Hebrew translation is closer to that than "Thou shalt not kill".


http://www.levitt.com/hebrew/commandments.html#c6 [levitt.com]

They're not far off on the concepts and translations.

Re:Still out of place... (1)

Gryle (933382) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988611)

I looked into that myself a little while back. The Hebrew word used for "kill" in this particular instance is ratsach [strongsnumbers.com] , which is more properly translated to "murder".

Re:Still out of place... (1)

RendonWI (958388) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986791)

Out of place.. maybe. Bait and switch... yes. But anything that gets more butts in the pews is what the church is looking for after all. This is really no different from Bingo for old people at church. Or the quiliting club. The churches doing this are just reaching out to the current generation.

Re:Still out of place... (2, Funny)

ObiWanStevobi (1030352) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986837)

It should be pretty commonly known these days that "Thou shalt not kill" does not apply to war according to religious leadership. And since Master Chief is at war with the aliens, it's all good.

Personally, I think it's great. Now we all get to teabag us some choir boys, not just the Priests.

"Murder" not "Kill" (3, Informative)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986997)

"Thou shalt not kill" does not mesh well with "Thou shalt kill aliens in copious numbers".

Sometimes when looking at a translation dictionary you get the impression that one word translates precisely into another word. That is not true, the two words may have vastly different connotation. Also, connotations may change over time. I am no biblical scholar, but I believe that it has been well established that a more accurate translation of the ancient Hebrew text refers to "murder". not "kill".

Also, the concept of just or defensive wars is well established in most Christian churches. The Old Testament clearly approves of warfare.

Re:"Murder" not "Kill" (1)

Akaihiryuu (786040) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987081)

Agreed..."Thou shalt not commit murder" != "Thou shalt not kill". On the surface the two statements are similar, but the connotations are completely different. This is what happens when translating between two totally different languages, connotations change and translations can't be made literally.

Non-English Bible translations often work better (1)

mlund (1096699) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988607)

It doesn't always pan out, but the English translations tend to be very rough compared to say, Spanish or Italian.

The King James Version set a rough precedent which even impacted Catholic translations into English. The KJV did a great job with poetics, but a poor job with linguistic accuracy. Frankly, the small committee that worked on it weren't exactly the world's leading authority on the source material languages like Hebrew. Considering the antagonism between the Church of England and the Holy See at the time, it wasn't like they were going to stoop to consulting "Papists" - even if they did have much better translation resources.

Re:"Murder" not "Kill" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20987681)

Also, the concept of just or defensive wars is well established in most Christian churches
Yeah, works out really well when the concept of "justness" is translated to "we are right, anyone who is not us is wrong." [wikipedia.org]

Re:"Murder" not "Kill" (1)

moogaloonie (955355) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988445)

The Old Testament approves of a lot of things that modern people Christians or otherwise would find shocking, even barabaric. According to the story, God had not yet incaranted as a man and was therefore much more intolerant of man's faults. God took revenge, urged vengeance and urged the righteous to smite the wicked. Then, after continual disappointment God comes to earth as a man, suddenly realises how effed up humanity actually is and changes his mind on most of it. "Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" becomes "Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord" and "turn the other cheek". Why modern evangelicals in the US insist on displaying the ten commandments in Caesar's courtrooms, but ignore the laws of Leviticus as "fulfilled by Christ", then act like hawks at the prospect of a world-ending holy war has never made much sense to me.

Re:"Murder" not "Kill" (1)

Wolfrider (856) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988797)

Hey Moog - feel free to contact me offline if you'd be up for some serious Biblical discussions. Would be glad to help you find answers to your questions. :)

Wolfrider

Re:"Murder" not "Kill" (1)

moogaloonie (955355) | more than 6 years ago | (#20989005)

I actually decided to turn my response into a blog intry on my... uh... myspace page. Read the blog entitled "Playing Halo in Church?" at www.myspace.com/moogaloonie and message me if you still wish to discuss anything. (There's no guidelines against this, I hope!)

Re:Still out of place... (1)

east coast (590680) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987063)

"Thou shalt not kill" does not mesh well with "Thou shalt kill aliens in copious numbers"

Jack Thompson, is that you? It's nice after all the screams of "Doom didn't teach the Columbine shooters to kill" we get some jackass who's trying to use a moral outlook (that spans well beyond just a religion)to feed a flamebait posting and getting modded up for it.

If playing a video game doesn't bring out the worst in people as Jack Thompson has proposed does, how does violence in a video game relate to the killing of a real human being?

If you're going to bash religion just try to take it out of the religious context first and you may find that you hold the same ideals. Or are you going to turn your back on these ideals just in an attempt to take a cheap shot?

Congregations have always been social networks (1)

AHumbleOpinion (546848) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987143)

they should be there because they're interested in the religion, not because they wanna get a mad sic deathmatch in after church lets out.

Keep in mind that congregations do more than worship, there is a heavy social component as well. Historically they have been a major source of off-line social networks, why not on-line as well?

Also, consider the very discussion that we are having in this forum. That game violence exists in many different forms, and that some forms may be more acceptible than others. Isn't that a topic that should be appropriately discussed among parents, and also amongst youth?

Re:Still out of place... (2, Insightful)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987275)

I believe scholars generally accept that a more accurate translation would be "thou shalt not murder". Killing aliens bent the destruction of all sentient life in a galaxy is not murder in any legal or biblical sense.

Re:Still out of place... (1)

Hokie06 (986634) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987287)

I still find it out of place that churches are using Halo to bring young men to services. "Thou shalt not kill" does not mesh well with "Thou shalt kill aliens in copious numbers".

Or maybe, just maybe, these ministers/priests know that a video game is not real life.

Re:Still out of place... (2, Funny)

chubs730 (1095151) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987305)

"Also, it just strikes me of bribery - they should be there because they're interested in the religion, not because they wanna get a mad sic [sic] deathmatch in after church lets out. But maybe that's just me."

Yeah I don't really have a comment, I just wanted to do that. :)

Re:Still out of place... (1)

Jesterboy (106813) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987527)

I'm no biblical scholar by any means, but I've mostly seen it rendered as "You shall not murder" (NIV version) instead of "Thou shalt not kill" (KJV). "Murder" carries a strong connotation of taking a human life while kill does not.

Also, I'm pretty sure churches have been doing things like this for a while. A church's primary goal is to instruct people about a religion, but it is not limited to only this. Most churches also try to benefit the community in some way.

For example, when I was not quite a teenager, I used to enjoy all night sleep overs at the local Baptist church. These events were overseen by a few adults, and would usually begin with bible study sessions broken up into age groups, with older children attending longer, more in depth sessions. Afterwards, we would all eat together, and then enjoy an all night video game playing / movie watching marathon. It was a blast; I got to learn about the bible, make a bunch of friends, play a lot of video games, and my parents got to enjoy a quiet evening at home.

Perhaps you could consider it bribery, but I would consider it a community service.

OJ goes to heaven! (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988595)

I'm no biblical scholar by any means, but I've mostly seen it rendered as "You shall not murder" (NIV version) instead of "Thou shalt not kill" (KJV). "Murder" carries a strong connotation of taking a human life while kill does not.
Ah. Then "Wrongful Death" and "Manslaughter" are OK then. Good!

Re:Still out of place... (1)

vux984 (928602) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987985)

While I would agree that Halo and GTA are worlds apart, and hope that this controversy catalyzes much-needed revamping of the ESRB's functionality,

Why? Movies are rated what they are for a variety of reasons, and there's no grand failure of the system that there are movies rated for Teens that I'll let my 3 and 5 year old watch, and others that I wouldn't.

I still find it out of place that churches are using Halo to bring young men to services. "Thou shalt not kill" does not mesh well with "Thou shalt kill aliens in copious numbers".

Again, why? No *killing* is happening. Not of people, and not even of aliens. Its less real violence than going on a fishing trip. Or a contact football game.

Also, it just strikes me of bribery - they should be there because they're interested in the religion, not because they wanna get a mad sic deathmatch in after church lets out. But maybe that's just me.

The healthier the church is - the more relevant it and its activies are because its congregation is made up of lots normal healthy people who want those activies. Its not really a recruiting drive although people are attracted to them... simply because they're normal people doing fun stuff. The religion isn't hidden but its not in your face either. Because that's how normal healthy church goers are: They watch hockey games. They go mountain biking. They play Halo.

A healthy church is a reflection of its congregation.

I'm not saying some some churches aren't 'trying to fit in and be cool' because some do.
But just because a church is doing cool stuff doesn't mean its trying to be something its not. If the teens already going to that church want to play halo, then a church sponsored halo night is a perfectly natural eventuality. And if they bring their friends, great. If they have the slightest interest in religion or church, they're going to want to choose one full of people who enjoy the same things they do.

When I was growing up I went to a church where the 'youth' activies were stiff and awkward and felt like a timewarp to the 50's because the people in charge of arranging things clearly weren't listening to us. It was unpopular and attendance was generally on life support. I avoided going.

They switched the people in charge, and suddenly the activies were fun and relevant and things I actually wanted to do, and people showed up in droves. Not just from within the church but they brought their friends, because it was fun. The fact that it was church sponsored activity was never hidden under the carpet, but at the same time the fact that it was a church sponsored activity didn't make it automatically lame either. And you could play soccer, or go mountain biking, or watch the hockey game and hang out with and make new friends. There was no sense that you were being cornered into a come-to-Jesus sermon the moment you let your guard down.

The church was leading by example. You said "they should be there because they're interested in the religion", well why would they ever be intrested in the religion if they thought the religion and everyone in it was a bunch of idiot fundy-zealots singing about Jesus and praising Lou Dobbs. Showing the community that the church was actually made up of regular normal from the community was the best 'advertising' it could ever do. And it wasn't dishonest advertising, because it really was made up of regular normal people from the community who wanted to do regular normal things. Sure there were a few fundy zealots in the corners; every church has them, but they didn't represent the church as a whole.

Re:Still out of place... (0, Flamebait)

frostband (970712) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988091)

"Thou shalt not kill" does not mesh well with "Thou shalt kill aliens in copious numbers"

As long as the aliens aren't Christians, killing them in copious numbers is ok. Says so in the Bible.

Re:Still out of place... (1)

Shadow Wrought (586631) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988401)

A counter thought would be that teenagers tend to make poor choices in their entertainment. Not always, but in general. So, instead of bored teens randomly walking around looking for fun, the Churches set up deathmatches in their basement. Not, perhaps the ebst solution, but at least they are in a safe environment having fun without any destruction and/or drug use. If it gets them to listen a bit better to the message, more power to 'em.

Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (2, Interesting)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986613)

In GTA you run around breaking the law, consorting with whores and fellons, and killing people in bloody episodes.

In Halo, you just run around listening to profanity on your headset and trying to get headshots. ... MUCH better ... right?

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (2, Insightful)

the_skywise (189793) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986749)

In Halo, you just run around listening to profanity on your headset and trying to get headshots. ... MUCH better ... right?


Actually that's not that all much different from having church sponsored paintball outings...

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986889)

Absolutely true ... although I would hope you wouldn't have to listen to profanity on the headsets (it being a church sponsored event and all).

Certainly violence isn't something especially anathema to most religions, and certainly the games aren't exactly the same. I forgot to include my [/sarcasm] tag at the end.

Sorry to make it sound otherwise. As another poster pointed out, the bible would be rated "AO" or "NC-17" if it was in a different medium (due to violence, sex, nudity, and, if you take a strict interpretation of the word, Profanity :) ).

Trying to group things in broad groups always means they'll be large variation within the things at the same level.

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (2, Insightful)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986781)

Seriously, though. There's a big difference between a game where you fight and kill other human beings to engage in criminal activities, and a game where you only fight aliens to save humanity. I'm pretty sure Halo 2 and Halo 3 are actually designed so that at no point are you fighting other humans-- even when playing as the Arbiter. Frankly, I don't necessarily agree that Halo deserves the same rating as games like the GTA series, or Rainbow Six Vegas, or other much more graphic games.

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987021)

I absolutely agree that there is a difference between the Halo series and the GTA series, however saying it deserves a different rating is the problem that happens when you have these broad groups to pigeonhole products into.

One size fits most, but there will probably be lots of variation on what in them.

Thats what the "Content Descriptors" http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp#descriptors [esrb.org] that go with the ratings are for.

So Halo 3 is rated: "M" with Content Descriptors: "Blood and Gore, Mild Language, Violence"

and GTA:San Andreas (non-"Hot Coffee" version) is rated: "M" with Content Descriptors: "Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs"

So ... they're in the same group, by their not really the same.

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987195)

You're soo right. Halo helps to re-enforce group theory by placing you at some barrier with another group without any attempt at personifying them in a similar light. In fact, they do such a great job of creating a premise around group theory that you don't even realize that you're a victim of it.

Imagine Halo being Allies vs. Nazi's. Not many gamers (at least in western nations) have a problem with slaughtering endless swarms of Nazi's. Kill some Nazi's, ---every single Nazi you're killing is personally EVIL!---, mwahaha. Then take Criminals killing Police / Citizens, or maybe Oblivion where you can pretty much kill anyone. Now, everyone raises the flag of discrimination because franklythat victim could be you. Its all about the us vs. them and as long as you couldn't be the 'them', you just shut up about it; well guess what? Its all the same. Violence is violence if you're killing a man, or beating your wife, or getting in a fist fight.

Do I want to ban violent content? No. But I don't want weak knee arguments of how killing a completely sentient alien is at all different than killing a human being.

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (1)

Blakey Rat (99501) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987889)

But I don't want weak knee arguments of how killing a completely sentient alien is at all different than killing a human being.

For those following along at home, the "arguments" are this: completely sentient aliens do not exist. Human beings do. I don't know why you'd need more than that.

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (1)

absoluteflatness (913952) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987631)

I'm pretty sure Halo 2 and Halo 3 are actually designed so that at no point are you fighting other humans...
I assume they're playing multiplayer, right? I mean, rolling up to the church to take turns playing parts of the single player campaign isn't really a staggering draw, is it? If they are playing multiplayer, pretty much you're exclusively attacking other humans. Sections of the battlefield get nicely filled up with human corpses when you're playing a particularly spirited multiplayer match.

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (1)

PixelScuba (686633) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988309)

In GTA you run around breaking the law, consorting with whores and fellons, and killing people in bloody episodes.

Didn't Moses do the same thing?

Re:Yeah Halo and GTA are different! (1)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988649)

There certainly are stories of various people doing all of those things, but I'm not sure of one person who did them all.

One would argue its also all a matter of ones perspective. ... George Washington for instance also did all of those things ... is that a bad thing? (depends who writes the story/history :) ).

Suggested this myself (4, Insightful)

Thyamine (531612) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986759)

I submitted this to our own pastor and some of the others involved with youth and fellowship in our church. And I suppose being a gamer myself it just makes sense to me. The fellowship committee in our church is there to create activities that are not necessarily 'church' related, but help bring us together as a community, to get to know each other, and just to have fun. The youth groups do the same things. I don't see why it seems like such an alien concept that one or the other should use video games for that purpose. I mean, come on I'm a geek and 31 (and still thinking he's in college at times). Do I look like bingo or knitting are activities that I'm going to sign up for?

And I agree with the summary that it only seems strange to those who don't know about gaming, and while I can understand their initial confusion, I'd hope that after an explanation and (at most) a demonstration, that they'd see that. For the most part, I've run into very little concern about these type of things from anyone (and yes I'm going to stereotype) who was not under 65 or so in our church. But I think it's our part as gamers/geeks/fill-in-your-term-here to explain away the FUD that some people seem to spread.

Re:Suggested this myself (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20987519)

Except doesn't playing violent video games by youth in a church seems very un-Christian? Casting stones (or nades in this case) and all that.

Not a flame, just an observation.

Re:Suggested this myself (1)

fermion (181285) | more than 6 years ago | (#20989099)

It only seems strange to those that think the church(or the lord's house) exists to promote the values of the lord. If one accepts the mainstream belief that the church exists to promote business and push political agenda, then almost any video game makes sense. Of course we all know that Jesus was a great promoter of money changers in the church, and of the stonings of prostitutes, and definitely had every intention of overthrowing the earthly kinds and acend earthly throne. All the talk of loving you brothers, and honoring the father, and generally being nice to people and not being greedy were just shrewd diversions from his true intentions. I am probably in the minority when I think his beliefs speak for themselves and do not need any additional incentives.

Not every place in all churches are sacred space. (2, Insightful)

LWATCDR (28044) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986825)

"When you look at it like that, it's hard to blame those who criticize bringing Halo into sacred space." Well yes I would have a problem with playing video games in sacred places. I don't think it would be right to play them in chapel of a church.
I will be honest I have never played Halo. I have played Quake and Doom, and the later generations of those games. I am more into the Age of Empire type game and yes all of the above should not be played in the chapel.
For the rest of the Church well. I know that this is a radical idea but isn't that really up to the church and or the congregation of the church? My church tends to be more into the basketball and volley ball type of church activities and I don't think that I would be thrilled with video games in church but then that is my church and my opinion. Other churches have different ideas.
Seems sort of strange to even be discussing it since frankly it is none of our business.

What the hell (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20986871)

Wait wait wait

So it's the ESRB's fault that this church decided to attract the young to a church event using a game that is clearly about violence. Even if you don't know what the rating of the game is the cover picture has a person with a gun in a military looking outfit. What did they think the game was about? Baking cookies with Jesus?

Re:What the hell (1)

LingNoi (1066278) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988565)

I think the point is either:

- They shouldn't be playing an M rated game in the church because it's 17+, or
- The ESRB sucks at rating games because Halo 3 can be played in a church even though it's rated 17+

I haven't made up my mind WTF they're talking about, although I might have helped if I RTFA

Re:What the hell (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988973)

What did they think the game was about? Baking cookies with Jesus?
Maybe they misinterpreted the name. They probably thought it was about the Holy Trinity, what with the "3" in the title.

I hear the next game they're going to play is one they've only heard about, something called "Pray" [imdb.com] . The next week will, be "God: Father".

How is this different from movies? (3, Insightful)

ZombieRoboNinja (905329) | more than 6 years ago | (#20986917)

"Kill Bill" and "The Passion of the Christ" were both rated R, weren't they?

There's a wide range of stuff that's considered "mature." Some of it is mindlessly gory, some of it seriously handles mature topics.

That's not to say I buy the premise that Halo 3 is a great fit for church life. Maybe it's "Die Hard" instead of "Grindhouse," but that doesn't make it a good fit.

You see boobs in the movies... (1)

Tetsujin (103070) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988627)

"Kill Bill" and "The Passion of the Christ" were both rated R, weren't they?
Right. And one was a horrible, whopping piece of crap, and the other one had Uma Therman in it... :D (The preceding comment was a joke and totally baseless. I haven't even seen "Kill Bill".)

That's not to say I buy the premise that Halo 3 is a great fit for church life. Maybe it's "Die Hard" instead of "Grindhouse," but that doesn't make it a good fit.
<shrug> Probably these particular Christians just understand that if your heart and head are in the right place, there's nothing wrong with a bit of fantasy and play...

Nothing new here (1)

Trogre (513942) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987045)

Churches have been using gaming parties for youth events and evangelical drives for decades now. Usually one person in the leadership owns an up-to-date games console and brings it along to friday night events. It used to be Space Invaders, then Mario, then Sonic, then Gran Turismo and so on.

Halo 3 is nothing special in this regard, except for the unwarranted media attention it's been given. My God, it's like the Wii all over again.

Why is Halo rated M in the first place? (4, Interesting)

Asmor (775910) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987141)

That's always struck me a bit odd... Halo's a fairly clean game. There's very minimal swearing (I can't think of any off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure there's a at least one "shit" uttered at dispariaging moments...), and the violence is really on the cartoony side... It's not realistic at all, there's very little blood, absolutely no gore, and when people die they just fall over, as opposed to being ripped apart or dismembered.

Heck, most of the things you're killing are aliens or, online, Spartans who are encased in full-body armor with no skin visible.

Personally, I would have rated Halo 3 as a T, not an M. And personally I think it's even on the tamer side of T.

Re:Why is Halo rated M in the first place? (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987307)

Yes I agree, however the ESRB can't be trusted to give "accurate" ratings. For example, Fire Emblem is rated "T" for "violence" yet Tales of Symphonia where the characters swear alot (Seriously, every other sentence contains a swear) is rated "T" for "Language, Violence and Suggestive Themes" Its gotten a bit better with the "E10" thing, but still, "rating boards" do nothing but censor the content, what difference does it make if a 10 year old plays a shooting game, when I was 10 I was even hunting, sure theres a "link" between them but there hasn't been any conclusive evidence that they are directly linked. Also, what difference does it make if a 10 year old is swearing but yet its O.K. if a 17 year old can, seriously, these people are totally contradicting themselves. Also, does it make since to anyone else that "M" is supposedly 17 and up and "AO" is 18 and up, a year doesn't make a difference. Bottom line, get rid of the ESRB, Film Rating boards etc. if some parents will get all angry if their kids play a violent video game, then pick out the video games they can play themselves, if they don't care then let the kid decide themselves, its not hurting anything.

Re:Why is Halo rated M in the first place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20987321)

Heck, most of the things you're killing are aliens
Yeah, it's okay because the people^Wsentient beings you're killing are "different" to us! That makes it a T.

Re:Why is Halo rated M in the first place? (1)

grahamd0 (1129971) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987443)

There's quite a bit of foul language (if you hold to the belief that language can be foul, I don't) in Halo 3, it's just not central to the plot. There's a lot of new dialog options opened up by the Daddy skull, and those have to be covered by the ESRB rating. Also, the flood are pretty graphic and gory. Infesting people alive and taking over their bodies and such. I personally think Halo 3 is perfectly appropriate for teens, but I can see why it has an M rating.

ESRB should be used by parents. (4, Interesting)

JayDot (920899) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987197)

The ESRB rating system should be used by parents to review the content of games for what they believe to be acceptable for their children. And yes, different games may get the same rating for completely different reasons. IIRC, SWAT 3 got an M rating as well. However, anyone could look at the 2 or 3 lines of text underneath the rating to find out exactly why the game was rated what it was. Using the example of Halo 3 in a church outreach or fellowship activity to say that the ESRB rating is flawed is exactly wrong.

The ESRB rating tells you what is there. Some parents and church leaders will decide to not allow M rated games. Others will look at the descriptors and prohibit certain games based on that. But this shows that the system, properly understood as a tool that informs parents and responsible adults, is not flawed. What is flawed is the idea that some regulatory body, whether mandated by government or not, is responsible for what children and teenagers see and experience in video games today. That responsibility should always rest on the parents.

Re:ESRB should be used by parents. (1)

webmaster404 (1148909) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987579)

Exactly why there shouldn't be an ESRB, because all this leads to is parents not parenting and just letting the ESRB decide, what should and shouldn't be allowed, we are allowing them to define our culture, and all it does it give more government and ESRB-type companies, video games are being censored by this, if the Romans and Greeks had a Art Rating Board, how many great artist/sculptures wouldn't exist?

ID in question... (0, Troll)

cthulu_mt (1124113) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987249)

Can they also explain how the races in the Covenant were 'Intelligently Designed"? I'd like to know.

Re:ID in question... (2, Insightful)

powerlord (28156) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988603)

Can they also explain how the races in the Covenant were 'Intelligently Designed"? I'd like to know.


Well ... I'd imagine they'd start by pointing to Bungie, and how they've made a series of successful games, so they must be pretty intelligent, and, since the races in the Covenant were designed by Bungie, they are obviously the part of a product made by Intelligent Design. ;)

So when churches play Halo (1)

erroneus (253617) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987303)

Do they favor the covenant or the humans? The covenant are depicted as foolish and dangerous religious zealots where the humans are pretty much devoid of any of that and are all science and business. So which side do you think churches would take? :)

Outrage (1, Troll)

DesireCampbell (923687) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987531)

What? Kids are playing video games in church?! I'm furious, and you should be too. Don't you know how impressionable kids are? They have a hard time seeing the difference between fantasy and reality sometimes. One must be very careful what kind of influences they are exposed to.

Seriously: why would you let these kids go to church?! At least Halo admits it's fiction.

The difference between you and church... (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987993)

Is that the church going folk are tolerant of games an religion.

You are just like countless bigots before you, spewing hatred for something you know little of.

I myself don't go to church, but find it in my heart to have respect for gamers and for church going folk as I know and am friends with a number of people in both categories.

You really need to broaden your horizions...

I'm pretty sure the bible (1)

goldcd (587052) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987757)

has it's fair share of stonings, infanticide, genocide blah blah.
Kill a few space aliens and people get uppity? FFS Have none of them read that book?

I think it's great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#20987783)

I think it's great that churches are encouraging youth to play a game where the main objective is to destroy a bunch of religious nutters who are hell-bent on forcing everyone in the galaxy to convert or be destroyed.

The real problem lies with the retailers (2, Insightful)

nickj6282 (896871) | more than 6 years ago | (#20987995)

I think the real problem here lies with the game retailers, specifically the ones who refuse to stock AO titles. The AO rating has become a big no-no for games. I think comparisons to movies here are inevitable.

When I go to the video store, they have three distinct movie sections. They have the "kids" section with movies made for children of all ages (G movies, comparable to E and E10 games), then there's the "general" section which includes many subsections but range from family films to gruesome horror movies (PG to R, comparable to E10 to M), and the aptly named "adults only" section which is actually behind a closed door.

Now, I am a father of a young son. I know what he can and can't watch and play, and I control it. He is five, and I took him to see Transformers (a PG-13 movie) in the theater last week. The rating system is meant to be a general guideline as to the content of a movie, not a be-all-end-all indicator of all of the bad things that happen in a film. The game rating system is the same way.

What I'm really trying to get at here is that retailers need to get off the AO stigma and just stock those games. Put them in another room or just keep them behind the shelf and sell them only to grown adults. Retailers already are prepared to explain the ratings to kids and whether or not the games they want to buy are appropriate for their children, AO wouldn't really complicate things any. This way, we can give the games that truly deserve it (e.g. GTA, Manhunt, etc) the AO ratings and avoid a lot of confusion.

Am I the only one? (1, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 6 years ago | (#20988547)

When I read that headline, I was wondering why the halo was the problem of the ESRB, and not, say, a corpse on display, tortured to death, being worshipped by people...
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