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Halo In Church Points Out ESRB Flaws 185

Posted by Zonk
from the all-in-a-twist dept.
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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Halo In Church Points Out ESRB Flaws

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  • Rating systems (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gharbad (647620) on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:52PM (#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.
    • by Fozzyuw (950608)

      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.

      • 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 a
        • Re:Rating systems (Score:4, Interesting)

          by nschubach (922175) on Monday October 15, 2007 @07:11PM (#20989103) Journal
          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.
          • by cHiphead (17854)
            I still can't get over the face that "Danny" from Full House merits a C4 in his real life routine.

            Bob Saget is a god.
            • Since this is already way-off topic (!) and you also like Saget's comedy, has he ever released a CD or DVD of routines. I only saw it *once* on the comedy channel. Sheer fluke. I love the really dirty jokes he comes up with and its hard to find any other comparable comedian.

              Bloody ironic too that he wasn't even the 'funny man' role on Full House. "Joey" is just a really sad comedian in comparison.
          • by MadJo (674225)
            That sounds a bit like our Dutch 'Kijkwijzer [kijkwijzer.nl]' (Watch-guide)
            Both an age indicator, and icons depicting what's in it.
        • by grumbel (592662)
          ### 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.

          Excuse me, but if people already fail to understand the current simple rating system, how is making it *more* complicated going to help? Just for the record the current rating system *already* has more in-depth informations then just C, E, T, M, AO, just look at the back of the box:

          GTA IV [mobygames.com]: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Strong Sexual Content, Use of Drugs
          Ha [mobygames.com]
          • by iainl (136759)
            The BBFC have short guideline info on cinema releases, and a longer list on home release DVDs. There is a searchable database on the bbfc.co.uk website if you want info on any film, and they also run http://www.parentsbbfc.co.uk/ [parentsbbfc.co.uk] which as the name implies gives extended advice for parents.

            All in all, I think they do a brilliant job.
    • by gravis777 (123605)
      Sure, lets put Passion of the Christ in the same rating as Pulp Fiction.
      • by Tim C (15259)
        Why not? Pulp Fiction may have been full of violence and swearing, but at least it didn't graphically portray a man being tortured by having the flesh flayed from his back like Passion of the Christ did. Pulp Fiction's violence was over-stated but quick and almost incidental, unlike the almost loving close-ups and dwelling on details of PotC.
  • by olddotter (638430) on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:53PM (#20986605) Homepage
    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.
    • by markbt73 (1032962) on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:57PM (#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: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pluther (647209)

        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.
        • by HTH NE1 (675604) on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:52PM (#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.
          • by StarWreck (695075)
            That game gives me nightmares. Poor little Pinatas
          • 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
            • by thegnu (557446)

              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!"
              • by HTH NE1 (675604)

                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.
                • by thegnu (557446)
                  I actually liked Sims, and played it casually for a couple weeks. I think the most enjoyable part is when your house catches on fire, and the Sim starts screaming in gibberish. :-)
                  Hoooooooooobla! afff! Rohhh! fleevlee!
            • by IthnkImParanoid (410494) on Monday October 15, 2007 @07:16PM (#20989159)
              Although the game may be non-violent, it is equally dangerous due to its irresponsible depiction of an unhealthy diet. Won't somebody think of the obese children?! I'd change your game to have the player (a loquacious charming-but-tomboyish little girl) deliver cold, refreshing, Free Trade mountain spring water.

              Also, the use of the truck promotes both inactivity and CO2 emissions, so the character should deliver the water from a bike, wearing a helmet and wrist, elbow, and knee guards of course. If you run a stop sign or ride on the sidewalk, it's an immediate game over, and you have to ride slow enough that your riding partner, a slightly retarded child with a heart of gold (of indeterminant ethnic minority status) can keep up with you so the buddy system stays intact.

              You only have one cup that everyone drinks out of so as to minimize waste; a mini-game sterilizes the cup with antibiotics between uses. Points are scored for each person served, but taken away for not keeping your heart rate up, not wearing a flag lapel pin, supporting the iraq war, or passing a breast cancer donation box without throwing in some change.
    • by SkelVA (1055970) <winhamwr@noSpaM.gmail.com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:01PM (#20986771) Homepage
      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.
      • by Mprx (82435) on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:11PM (#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: (Score:3, Informative)

          by AVee (557523)
          I'm under the impression that the old testament is not very popular amongst american evangelicals (but I'm not even american, so it's all just my impression), however there seems to be a strong tradition of tithing, giving a tenth of your income away. This come from an old testament rule, here is what you are suppossed to do with that 10% if your income:

          "But if the journey is too long for you, so that you are not able to carry the tithe, or if the place where the LORD your God chooses to put His name is too far from you, when the LORD your God has blessed you, 25 then you shall exchange it for money, take the money in your hand, and go to the place which the LORD your God chooses. 26 And you shall spend that money for whatever your heart desires: for oxen or sheep, for wine or similar drink, for whatever your heart desires; you shall eat there before the LORD your God, and you shall rejoice, you and your household. "

          http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Deut%2014:22-27;&version=50 [biblegateway.com];
          There it is, 'thou shall have at least one good party, with lots of food and

      • 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
      • by CRCulver (715279)
        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.
      • by CrazyJim1 (809850)
        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 firs
    • Rationality (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward
      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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sinkael (1089531)
      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.
    • by Phroggy (441)
      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.)
      • by powerlord (28156)

        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.
    • by Empiric (675968)
      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
  • by azuredrake (1069906) on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:54PM (#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: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Sinkael (1089531)
      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: (Score:3, Funny)

        by Applekid (993327)
        I interpret that as it's only ok to kill aliens if you're going to eat them.
      • 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.
        • by LingNoi (1066278)

          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

          • by king-manic (409855) on Monday October 15, 2007 @06:17PM (#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.
            • by amRadioHed (463061) on Monday October 15, 2007 @07:36PM (#20989301)

              Both outline circumstances where killing is morally correct


              Many of which are morally reprehensible to any modern civilization.

              Translating the commandment as "murder" turns it into a really impotent commandment. As long as the people already had a concept of "wrong" killing and "right" killing, then telling them "wrong" killing is wrong is pretty useless. The history of western civilization should prove that some stronger language was warranted.
              • by Talgrath (1061686)
                Impotent? It's pretty simple, murder (the literal word in the Bible could best be translated as "kill without reason") is wrong. Is that impotent? No. Killing is a part of life, and the Hebrew authors realized this; to live, a human must kill. As humans, we must kill plants and animals to eat, we must kill animals and plants to build a place to dwell in; to say "Thou shalt not kill" is to condemn you to death. Additionally, in ancient times people must kill in order to protect their property; wars of
          • by Toonol (1057698)
            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".
            • by LingNoi (1066278)

              If you tried to kill me, it's ok for me to kill you.

              It depends on the situation of course but actually I disagree with your thinking. If you tried to kill me, changed your mind and then started to run away I couldn't legally shoot you in the back.

              What I am saying is that it's wrong kill anyone. If you do kill someone in self-defensive it's not ok because you have just done something wrong, that doesn't mean you didn't make the wrong decision to defend yourself ofcourse! :)

              Killing is killing. It doesn't matt

      • by Gryle (933382)
        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: (Score:3, Funny)

      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" (Score:4, Informative)

      by AHumbleOpinion (546848) on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:15PM (#20986997) Homepage
      "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.
      • 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.
      • by Morty (32057)

        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".

        As someone who speaks Hebrew, yes. The relevant words in the so-called "10 commandments" are "lo tir'tzakh

    • "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
    • 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
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by grahamd0 (1129971)
      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: (Score:2, Funny)

      by chubs730 (1095151)

      "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. :)

    • by Jesterboy (106813)
      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 teen
    • by vux984 (928602)
      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 a
    • 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.
  • by powerlord (28156) on Monday October 15, 2007 @03:54PM (#20986613) Journal
    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: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by the_skywise (189793)

      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...
      • by powerlord (28156)
        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
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Blakey Rat (99501)
      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.
      • by powerlord (28156)
        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 Langua
      • by ADRA (37398)
        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 EVI
        • by Blakey Rat (99501)
          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.
    • 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?
      • by powerlord (28156)
        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 :) ).
    • Halo, at least as a multiplayer game, is really more like a sport than anything. It is "violent" in the sense that football is violent. Even in the game context, no one really "dies" so much as they are forced to respawn with no good weapons.
    • So in other words GTA is a Jesus simulator.
  • by Thyamine (531612) <thyamineNO@SPAMofdragons.com> on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:00PM (#20986759) Homepage Journal
    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.
    • by fermion (181285)
      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 b
  • by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:04PM (#20986825) Homepage Journal
    "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.
  • by ZombieRoboNinja (905329) on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:09PM (#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.
    • And honestly, the rating system is just broken. Something like "Flags of Our Fathers" would be actively good for a teenager to watch. "Kill Bill"...not so much. The trouble is that the ratings mindlessly apply rules about levels of sex/language/violence without considering the *why* behind it.
  • 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.

  • by Asmor (775910) on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:24PM (#20987141) Homepage
    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.
    • 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
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ucblockhead (63650)
      Unfortunately, the current ratings system (like the movie ratings system) doesn't differentiate between cartoonish violence like Halo (which I personally don't think is a big deal for most kids) from realistic, morally suspect violence as in Manhunt, which definitely should be limited to adults and/or only very mature teenagers. In my mind, it's not the realism so much as the intent. Stuff that glorifies criminal violence is not for kids.
  • by JayDot (920899) on Monday October 15, 2007 @04:27PM (#20987197) Journal
    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.
  • 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 (Score:2, Troll)

    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.
    • 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...
      • Is that the church going folk are tolerant of games an religion.
        Sure, as long as its their own.

        Seriously, who the hell do you think you're kidding?
  • 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 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 mo
    • by westlake (615356)
      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.

      It is a big no-no for theaters too.

      When was the last time your local multiplex ran an NC-17 title? That was not an exploitation flick like Saw or Hostel?

      The answer is probably not since Brokeback Mountain in 2005.

      List of NC-17 rated films [wikipedia.org]

  • Am I the only one? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Opportunist (166417)
    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...
  • by bsmoor01 (150458) <seth AT beere DOT org> on Tuesday October 16, 2007 @07:34AM (#20993363)
    When I play a Halo game, I see a largely secular Earth fighting against a religious alliance out to wipe out intelligent life in the galaxy. The big bad guys are the prophets named things like 'Truth'. The humans are holding out because they don't want to convert and join The Covenant.

    Am I the only one who sees irony in that *churches* are playing this game?

    As an unbeliever, I find the irony both rich and oddly disturbing.

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