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Censorship Entertainment Games

On the Advent of Controversial Video Games 343

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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On the Advent of Controversial Video Games

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  • Adult Gaming? Hah! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AKAImBatman (238306) * <akaimbatman@gma i l . c om> on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:48PM (#27909915) Homepage Journal

    I am about to become very unpopular...

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:54PM (#27910021) Homepage

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

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

    Agree with the rest of your post, though.

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

  • by Moryath (553296) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:58PM (#27910087)

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

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

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

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

  • by Adrian Lopez (2615) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:00PM (#27910139) Homepage

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

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

  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Logical Zebra (1423045) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:01PM (#27910145)

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

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

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

  • "Moralfags..." (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pieterh (196118) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:03PM (#27910181) Homepage

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Binty (1411197) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:04PM (#27910189)

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

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

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

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:06PM (#27910219)

    i agree with all of that except this:

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

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

  • Why they censor. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gurps_npc (621217) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:09PM (#27910265) Homepage
    Why do people censor?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • Adult gaming? Yes. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by GrifterCC (673360) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:11PM (#27910297)
    Spoiler alert.

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

    That's war. Not chucking respawning grenades.

    I was crestfallen when "Six Days in Fallujah" got canceled. If really intelligent people had been on the design team, and collected oral histories from the men and women who were actually there, and built the environments from actual photos (or even a field trip to those sites), SDiF could have been extremely good--no--it could have been transcendent. It was the perfect idea, just waiting for a near-perfect execution.
  • by CyberLord Seven (525173) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:13PM (#27910325)
    ...to speak. He had the right to write "Mein Kampf". His publisher had the right to print the book. The distributor had the right to distribute it.

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

  • by radtea (464814) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:14PM (#27910345)

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

    Speak for yourself.

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

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

  • by Mendoksou (1480261) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:15PM (#27910361)
    Exactly. As do we all. This is why discussing the games like RapeLay is kind of a red herring (as the article seems to insinuate, I'm just sick of my friends yapping about it as if it were indicative of mainstream gaming... forgive my rant). Sure, games like that make me want to puke, but who cares? Its a game for sickos made by sickos, it does not reflect on gaming culture as a whole any more than a fetish-indulging book refelcts on the entirety of literature as a whole. The real problem is that people latch on to examples and try to generalize them.
  • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:15PM (#27910365) Homepage

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

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

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

    Compare to videogames.

  • by castironpigeon (1056188) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:16PM (#27910367)
    ...those who mind their own business and those who do not.
  • by wjousts (1529427) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:19PM (#27910413)

    Consider the various moral choices in Fallout 3.

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

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

    For me, Fallout 3 missed a huge opportunity.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:20PM (#27910423) Homepage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by EvilToiletPaper (1226390) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:23PM (#27910473)
    The American censor board has it backwards

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

    Promote more love and sex in movies and video games along with free condoms, pills and sex education, I'm sure mindless violence will go down a lot.
  • Re:Why? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UnknownSoldier (67820) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:24PM (#27910479)

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

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

    But yeah, its fucked up.

  • by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:24PM (#27910489) Journal

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

    You haven't played Fahrenheit, have you?

  • by PCM2 (4486) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:26PM (#27910527) Homepage

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

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

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

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

  • by DrLang21 (900992) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:26PM (#27910531)
    It's fairly obvious that "obscenity" is nothing more than a tool to justify censorship. The concept of banning obscene material really has the same exact purpose that banning "uncomfortable" material has.
  • murder and sex (Score:5, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic (1469267) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:31PM (#27910597)

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by panthroman (1415081) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:31PM (#27910605) Homepage

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by CoreWalker (170935) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:34PM (#27910633)

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

  • by Irish_Samurai (224931) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:35PM (#27910667)

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

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

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

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

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

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:37PM (#27910711) Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Compare to videogames.

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

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

  • by speedtux (1307149) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:41PM (#27910755)

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

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

  • by Bill, Shooter of Bul (629286) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:41PM (#27910763) Journal

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

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

  • by MasseKid (1294554) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:44PM (#27910827)

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

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

  • by Duradin (1261418) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:00PM (#27911083)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by hort_wort (1401963) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:02PM (#27911105)
    I thought the whole Arefu situation in Fallout 3 had some pretty grey area moral choices, very Witcher worthy.

    *minor quest Spoilers*

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

    This scene really bothered me, but I feel like I learned to be more tolerant for it. The idea of eating dog meat in the game didn't bother me at all, but probably got to a lot of kids. I'd love to see a public service announcement on tv sometime that shows how to kill a chicken totally uncensored and see what parents do. They'll probably start a class action suit against the tv station, but then go home and serve chicken for dinner.
  • Re:"Moralfags..." (Score:3, Insightful)

    by phantomfive (622387) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:04PM (#27911129) Journal

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

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

  • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:06PM (#27911171) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

    Repeat as necessary :D

  • Re:Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:08PM (#27911201)

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

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

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

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

  • by compro01 (777531) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:08PM (#27911211)

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

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

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:15PM (#27911319)

    So because of YOUR obsession with violence and gore, because of YOUR short-sighted inability or willfull ignorance, what YOU are seeing MUST be the truth?

    I think your inability to even speak on this subject without sticking in strings of demeaning slurs and excessive to the point of being misleading references to violence when referring to games and gamers says far more about YOUR failings than those of the people you're speaking of.

    YOUR obsession with gore and demeaning everyone who plays videogames does not make me less of a pacifist than I already am, and it does not make violence any less a terrible yet necessary part of life.

    Come back when you've grown up enough to think objectively about something rather than launching into a slur-filled rant about how evil and sociopathic gamers are.

  • by Shadow of Eternity (795165) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:28PM (#27911505)

    So you're going to generalise the motivations of the entire gaming population AND claim that your way is the superior way AND claim that videogames and intelligent revelations are mutually exclusive just before contradicting yourself?

    CoD5 doesn't explore the ramifications of world war 2, it doesn't explore the significance of what happened politically or even socially. What it does is try to provide you with the opportunity to gain some sort of distant reference point to what the experience of war was. To feel overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the destruction occuring on the eastern front, to realise the desperation of the japanese banzai charges and marine advances.

    What people do or don't get out of a game is entirely up to them. people can just as easily watch a holocaust DOCUMENTARY and sit there going "hee hee boobies" everytime they see the camp prisoners on tape as they can play a videogame and gain an insight into the utter destructiveness of war.

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

    Fuck that. The mainstream commentators will never, ever accept video games as a legitimate artistic medium. Ever. Games like "Shadow of the Colossus", "Ico", "Symphony of the Night", "Okami" and others will never be accepted by artistic communities or by the mainstream as being any more culturally, artistically or aesthetically important or "dignified" than "Pong" or "Zombies Ate my Neighbours". Ever.

    Besides, why are looking for the approval of these people anyway? Mainstream artistics regard arrangements of concrete blocks as intellectually stimulating and worthy of acclaim. Most modern artists are wasters who spend their time talking up works that can and have been drawn by 10 years olds into magnificent products of human culture. Three blank paintings do not constitute art [scienceblogs.com]. The people who tell you they do, have likely no talent and spend their time and money talking shit and getting high.

    Video game developers are much closer to the true artists of old than all the talentless hacks that call themselves artists nowadays. Why? It's simple. Patronage.

    When Caravaggio painted The Taking of Christ [wikipedia.org], or Michelangelo carved David [wikipedia.org], they didn't do it because they were trying to get a Humanities Phd, or impress their circle of bohemian friends. They did it so well because they were paid by Patrons to specifically so they would do it so well. And more to the point they produced such great works because there were a hell of a lot of other great artists who were ready to step up and do the same if they didn't deliver the goods.

    I don't mean to compare video game developers directly to Renaissance artists. But I do mean to say that like Renaissance and other artists before the modern day, developers rely on patronage of their customers to stay in business. There is a lot of competition, and they need to deliver an entertaining, challenging, and yes artistic product if they want to stay in business. This fact alone means that over time, games have stepped up to the plate artistically.

    Show something like Gears of War to a mainstream commentator or art critic, and they will likely deride it as "crass" and "unworthy" without drawing breath. Now actually play the game and experience the mechanics. Look at the vistas and locales on display. Listen to tracks like the "Train Wreck" theme playing. Look at the real talent and effort that has gone into the game, and this is a title that isn't even trying to be overtly artistic. Now tell me that the product as a whole is a lesser artistic work than a painting of a tin of Campbell's soup, or an episode of Lost.

    I'm sure there's a lot of Slashdotters who will queue up to deride the notion that something like "Gears of War", or any video game for that matter, could in any way be considered "artistic" or "dignified". Fine. Go back to reading Nietzsche or Kafka, or watching the Seventh Seal, or whatever else makes you feel intellectually sophisticated. Meanwhile, even crass "action" video games will continue to surpass in quality the majority of what you regard as "art".

  • by pla (258480) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:31PM (#27911555) Journal
    Take for example Schindler's List. People lined up and happily paid ~$10 for a 3 hour cry fest that delved into the human condition and tragedy. And even the most callis people walked out an emotional train wreck (for the most part).

    No, some of us walked out an hour into it and tried like hell to get a refund.

    But I certainly don't fault anyone who prefers preachy feelgood BS over entertainment... I simply prefer the latter. Life has enough real drama, in the present, without needing to make us all feel guilty about the crimes of our race.
  • Re:Why? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by LWATCDR (28044) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:37PM (#27911651) Homepage Journal

    I find that an unbalanced view.
    If a movie has too much violence it will get an R. If it has too much Sex it will get an R.
    I don't see them being treated all that different in a movie.
    Take a look at some EU countries. They will ban video games just because they involve WWII.

    Kind of makes me nuts. People saying that a game shouldn't be published isn't censorship. It is free speech. A company not publishing a game because they don't want to bad PR isn't censorship it is a choice.
    Now if the US government passed a lay banning the game then you would have censorship. That isn't happening.
    And as too not publishing RapeLay in the US... Good.
    I don't like games like GTA to start with so I don't buy them. A company deciding that there isn't enough people in the US that would like to play a game where the goal is rape makes me very happy.

  • by plague3106 (71849) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:45PM (#27911759)

    As the dumbass parent of a 10 year old child, I feel qualified to say something that will irritate and exasperate all of the game-loving hipsters out there. I think these games that make a glorious (or is it "gorious") spectacle of blood-soaked and gut-choked violence are a plague.

    Hmm, well I think people like you are more of a plague, since you clearly fail to grasp that the games you hate aren't meant for your stupid 10 year old. They're rated M for a reason.

    As a phenomenon, they suggest to me that something especially barbaric is stirring in our collective unconscious, like maybe the long repressed caveman insisting on his daily blood sacrifice in the absence of any authentic, constructive, or ritualized expression of his instinctive needs.

    Yes, it's called being human. Humans have violent sides as well as peaceful ones. That's not going to change, and I suggest you learn to accept it. After all, you can't have light without the darkness.

    Gore-gamers do what they do in a kind of solipsistic isolation: at a sub-conscious level they are performing the stereotyped routine of your typical serial killer, abstracted from society in a way that makes there mechanized, repetitive behavior seem particularly alien from any values that support life-sustaining activity. Sure, these gamers can form virtual roaming packs of killers--a perversion of community, to cast it negatively--but whatever benefit they get from engaging with other human beings is mitigated by the almost autistic intensity they bring to harvesting the surplus virtual flesh they encounter online.

    Or they're just people playing a game for entertainment. Resident Evil 5 is gory, but it also makes a point on society. Oh, and making a picture on a TV do something doesn't make you an evil person.

    As far as "roaming pack of killers" goes, where have you been? You act as if war hasn't been around as long as humans have been forming clans.

    I'm sure there will be no end to the angry assertions that there's no scientist or researcher who can prove a single negative thing about FPS games, but come on, anybody who hasn't been completely assimilated and sucked into the virtual compound can see that the troubling, amoral, nihilistic violence done to people and relationships in these games can't be a positive thing, if only because the vampiric nature of the gamer-game relationship sucks real life energy down a bottomless hole of appetite, and gives nothing back. Except maybe adrenaline and carnival, car-crash thrills.

    So, you'll ignore science, even though your life is vastly better for it, and just stick your head in the sand convinced video games are bad. Please do, but leave everyone else out of it. The truth is that there is a large majority of people that play these games you hate, and they live normal lives, and care about their family and friends just like you do. But please, don't let the facts cloud your delusional fantasies.

  • by BitZtream (692029) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:53PM (#27911877)

    I wish the same applied to vegiterians who are vegitarians because they don't want to hurt animals.

    What about the plants? Have they seen the hell that a plant goes through before it gets turned into that nasty ass humus shit? The beans are viable organisms right up until they get turned into paste, but no one cares about planets rights.

    But thats just ignorance at its best. I wish people would realize that life is a cycle, it lives and dies, and as a general rule, we as a species depend entirely on the death of other living organisms to survive. We can not take in raw materials from our environment and process them into energy, we must depend on other organisms and in almost every case the death (in some form) of that organism for our survival.

  • by joocemann (1273720) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:06PM (#27912087)

    And so your answer is simple: Be a good parent (by your definition) and do the parenting necessary to make sure your 10 year old is not involved in these video games...

    Something about the level of knowledge you have on the matter tells me you're failing at parenting and pointing at others to feel better about it.

    Has your 10 year old found cocaine yet? What about BDSM? What about the Book of Mormon? What about Hacking? There are a million ways to distort what you wish for your child and the laws wont stop it, you will (but only if you truly care enough to give the parenting).

  • by socrplayr813 (1372733) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:11PM (#27912189)

    I agree that that is generally how people see things, but think about it. What is a book? It's simply a collection of words that tell a story. A movie, same thing with images and sounds. A game simply adds a measure of human interaction into the mix.

    People seem to have forgotten that the point isn't the medium. It's the story underneath. Words were simply the only way to convey a complex story back before radio, tv, etc. High art is an idea, expression in its purest form. It is not bound by the method in which it's communicated. It is only limited because people get locked into the traditional forms. Art has not been allowed to evolve as freely as it should.

    Please note that I'm not about to get up in arms over the game thing. I think it's a bigger issue than just that. We (as a people) get hung up on things because "that's the way it's always been done." The problem is that when we stop changing, that's the beginning of the end for us. I don't believe a stagnation of art forms will cause that, but it's a trend that I find disturbing.

  • by CyberLord Seven (525173) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:14PM (#27912219)
    You trying to define literature is like the U. S. Supreme Court trying to define porn. It just does not work.

    Is The Left Hand of Darkness literature or simple sci-fi? Is Beyond Good and Evil* art or just a game for infantile minds?

    Typically for prose we assume every work has plot, theme, and characterization. Plot is easy to define: it is the actions that take place in the work. For a video game it is very easy to see the plot. Characterization may not be well developed in video games but it does exist. Theme is a little more difficult. Harlan Ellison once described theme as the reason a story is written. Avoiding the brain-dead George Lucas reason, "to make money", we are left with something that is a bit more difficult to pin down. Do video games have themes? I would argue yes, but it would be an argument.

    This leaves me to reason that if (and I admit it's a big if) I can find theme in video games, then they are art and completely equivalent to "literature". This means video games can be taken seriously, though we all know that has not happened yet. Perhaps if we allowed them the same freedom to tackle contemporary issues video games would also enjoy the benefit of being taken seriously.

    Art has no limits in terms of media. whether it depicts giant dicks being crammed into asses, beautiful young women posing before a still camera, or the horror/glory of war, art is the expression of a human mind.

    *If you don't think theme exists in video games I strongly urge you to find a copy of Beyond Good and Evil an underappreciated game that went well beyond the gratuitious violence and cheesecake of its contemporaries. It's a damn shame, but you can find a copy for as little as U. S. $5.00.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:22PM (#27912373)

    That always bugs me. As someone who works with people who have brain damage, I get a bit tired of seeing people suffer all sorts of head trauma but then have not neurological signs. I know movies aren't often meant to be realistic but we could have things a little more realistic more often.

    Movies are unrealistic in every way imaginable. Head trauma is your area of expertise, therefore it's the thing you notice more in movies. Trust me, no matter what your area of expertise, you will find that it's presented unrealistically in movies.

  • by 7Prime (871679) on Monday May 11, 2009 @03:41PM (#27912689) Homepage Journal

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

    That's a really good point. People probably WOULD do that just for the hell of it in that situation. I see way too many people doing incredibly horrible things, watch people screaming and beat them to death baseball bats, and then laugh about it.

    But you know why? Because their usually nothing personal about any of the random NPCs in the game. Most games feed us absolute dirt for interaction with one-dimensional characters and impersonal dialog. The reason why people walked out of Schinler's list a total mess wasn't because of all the killing, it was because of the humanity and the really realistic character portrayals that forced you to feel as if you were actually there and really knew those people. Even if you only saw them for one scene (the bathtub scubber, for instance), the acting and expression just made you really feel for the people involved. Many games just don't take the time to do that.

    But you're right, you can't have a 30 hour game that pummles you with the same kind of emotional forcefullness that a 3 hour movie can, it's just too exhausting. What you can have, though, is a 30 hour game with a few moments, here and there, that demonstrate extreme amounts of humanity and morality, and I GUARENTEE that they will be the highlights of the game that everyone talks about and remembers.

    When you're doing a 2-3 hour feature film to an audience who has already allotted the time to sit through your movie, you can be just about as emotionally exhausting as you wish. But that's a different medium. A game has no difinitive length, and it certainately has no specific play time per sitting. That fundimentally changes the medium. At 30 hours, you must allow for a lot more emotional downtime, and pick your moments as to when to really shine. If you look at it this way, games CAN be effective in their expression. They just have a different pacing.

    I'm totally on-board with video games being an artistic form of expression, but it can't be compared with cinema, because the two have some fundimentally different properties, specifically in their temporality.

  • by obarthelemy (160321) on Monday May 11, 2009 @04:09PM (#27913227)

    Today's juvenile entertainment is tommorrow's old farts's. Same was true about music...

    It's just a matter of waiting until Supreme Court judges actually play videogames.

  • by woot account (886113) on Monday May 11, 2009 @04:39PM (#27913681)
    Since you seem to be such an expert on the subject, please tell me exactly where the line lies for what does and does not "constitute art." This is the problem with people who like to sit and pontificate about what is or isn't art. It's undefinable. Everything is art, and if you try to define it any other way, you're going to find yourself drawing arbitrary lines in the sand.
  • by NickW1234 (1313523) on Monday May 11, 2009 @07:01PM (#27915705)
    The thing about art is that you don't get it unless you get it.

    While most games these days are far from what I'd consider "art", there is the occasional one that does things just right and has an unexpected emotional impact.

    The whole problem with censorship is that not everyone's grabbed by the same things, and what you gloss over as "pop culture trash" might actually mean something to me.

    Many of these controversial games are just trash, but who's to decide?

  • by fractoid (1076465) on Monday May 11, 2009 @09:41PM (#27917043) Homepage
    About 70% of the quests in the game follow the same formula of "Kill this guy, because I want you to." What really, really annoys me is the ones, like the long quest chain in New Hearthglen, where the first few quests have you massacring the entire population of the town in question about 5 times over, destroying their defenses, torturing their head interrogator for information, and mind-controlling then killing their leaders... and then you have to figure out what their 'grand attack plans' are? You should just be able to tell the questgiver "look, EVERYBODY'S DEAD, DAVE" and he should say "oh, OK, there's no-one left to HAVE plans, here's a beer".
  • by lpq (583377) on Tuesday May 12, 2009 @07:35PM (#27931157) Homepage Journal

    I'm going to start with an easy game to discuss: RapeLay -- an obscure title by a Japanese publisher that focuses on forced sex situations. There is something special about sexual crimes that make them even worse than murder in the United States.

    Until the word 'rape' brings up images for men as being helpless tied down victims while they are brutally sodomized and mouth-raped with a stick holding open the teeth (assuming the rapist hasn't punched out or removed all the teeth before the mouth-rape), Rape will always be an easier game for men to discuss.

    Once the image of men being reduced to quivering broken-boned receptacles for the machismo-raper's fluids, is firmly ensconced in the minds of all human men, then the topic of what "feels" worse or "is" worse can be rationally and logically discussed on a level playing field. Presuming enough of the males don't immediately seek the solace of suicide to hide their shame.

    I don't know why...

    Maybe then you'll know why. But without a level-victim playing field it's difficult for men, who make most of the laws, enforce most of the laws, and violate the most laws to really judge which is worse (and I'm not claiming one is worse than the other). It's just that for some people, living with the shame of victim-hood can be worse than being killed-in-action. Even though, logically, it wasn't the victim's fault -- that doesn't prevent what can be life-long suffering from, often, untreated PTSD. How much worse is it for those who are told that it was (or is) their fault due to the way they dressed, the fact that they 'flirted', or the fact that they were in the wrong neighborhood at the wrong time.

    Victims of trauma often suffer for years beyond the actual event as triggers cause them to relive aspects of the event. Ask war veterans when they hear a car backfire or or when they awaken from some nightmare with night-sweats. Ask those who lived but were damaged for life, who may now be trying to care for a family, about how "lucky" they felt next to their fellow soldiers who were cut down, but died honorably, and who got posthumous decorations and benefits for their families.

    I don't think you will find universal agreement about who got the better deal -- it very much comes down to the individual, as well as the supportiveness (or lack thereof) after the incident.

    Ideally, everyone would 'get over it'...but tell that to the new crop of soldiers, with exceptionally high numbers coming back with what the army has been deliberately trying to downplay, but is being increasingly recognized as PSTD. Victims of any crime -- but especially ones involving interpersonal violence and violation are very likely to set the stage for PSTD-caused mental damage long after the actual event.

    Yet, if a rapist was at the party, people would probably be mortified. While the sentencing isn't as harsh, sex offenders are registered and tracked for the rest of their lives while murderers can be released or paroled under good behavior.

    About 30 years back, it used to be the other way around. Personally, I think physical castration should be used more often for violent 1st cases, or repeat offenders. But used to be that rape you got off with a few years or probation -- far less punishment than murder, usually. Regardless of the current trends in criminal "justice"[sic] and "rehabilitation"[sic] the sentences and punishments for most crimes under our criminal justice system are out of whack and do little to increase overall safety in the community or the country.

    I see RapeLay as nothing more than a game concentrating on a particular crime -- a less serious crime than many I commit in some of the games I play.

    I might agree with you if the victims (and perps) were equally represented between the sexes -- but it's one crime where overwhelmingly, the the majority of perps are mal

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