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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@gmai ... m minus language> 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 eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:53PM (#27910007) Journal

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

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

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

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

      • by PCM2 (4486)

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

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

        • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT com> on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:08PM (#27910253) Journal

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

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

          On Lolita from Time Magazine [time.com]:

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

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

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

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

          • 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.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by DrLang21 (900992)
              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.
              • by PCM2 (4486)

                OK, but the argument here is that videogames aren't taken seriously because they're "juvenile entertainment." As the submitter admitted in his post, above, pretty much nobody in our society with the exception of hardcore gamers believes videogames rise to the level of high art. But Lolita and Ulysses were both recognized as literature by a great many people in society at the time of their publication, despite the fact that some people considered them obscene, and they were both products of the "serious lite

                • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                  by socrplayr813 (1372733)

                  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 meth

                • 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.

                  • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                    by celtic_hackr (579828)

                    The problem here is many of these games are cover highly mature content, which I as a parent am free to prevent my child from having in the house. I am free to not allow my child to visit houses where these games are. Free to discipline my child for obtaining and playing these games against my wishes. Free to turn the channel on movies based on these games. Free to block shows containing this content.

                    However, my child will still be bombarded with the violent commercials these video games and movies adverti

                • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                  Pretty much nobody in our society with the exception of hardcore gamers believes videogames rise to the level of high art

                  Sorry, but you're wrong. For a recent, shining example, take a good look at Braid [braid-game.com].

                  There's plenty of art in games, even though that's not the selling point. Games provide an experience, which often includes art, either as pictures (Myst), music (Final Fantasy) or story-telling (Thief).

                  • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                    by PyroMosh (287149)

                    I believe you misunderstand what his or her post was saying.

                    They are not saying that games are or are not art. They are saying that practically nobody believes them to be art. Which I agree with, even though I think games can be art.

                    There is a disconnect though that is not often recognized. Not every picture, book, film, or game is art. Though I agree that games as a medium are no less valid than literature or film.

                    I do take exception to the premise of the author of the article. The submitter seems to

            • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn AT gmail DOT 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 funwithBSD (245349) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:47PM (#27910893)

              Quote:

              Compare to videogames.

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

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

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

            • 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 Machtyn (759119) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:42PM (#27910779) Homepage Journal
        It's interesting. I didn't think I'd find it so blatant in WoW. However, some of the quests in that game appear to be the basic murder quests.

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

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

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

        As you may have guessed, I don't like playing the bad guy. I never want to be in that mindset, it's a dangerous path to start.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Hatta (162192)

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

          As a wise man once said, "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny, consume you it will."

        • 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".
      • 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".

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by woot account (886113)
          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 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.

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

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

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by vil3nr0b (930195)
      I agree completely. IMHO, what is controversial today gets released tomorrow and it turns out society doesn't collapse with an explosion of rapists, murdering fiends, etc. All this is a lame attempt by the "moral majority" to keep us looking at the past and present through rose-colored glasses. No controversy here...nothing to see...move along.
      • 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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

        Consider the various moral choices in Fallout 3.

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

      • 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 ijakings (982830)

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

      • by sunking2 (521698)

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

        • 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.
        • 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.

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by sfnate (1049552)

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

        As the dumbass parent of a 10 year old child, I feel qualified to say something that will irritate and exasperate all of the game-loving hipsters out there. I think these games that make a glorious (or is it "gorious") spectacle of blood-soaked and gut-choked violence are a plague. As a phenomenon, they suggest to me that something especially barbaric is stirring in our collective unconscious, like maybe the long repressed caveman insisting on his daily blood sacrifice in the absence of any authentic, cons

        • 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 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 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 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 Mishotaki (957104) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:06PM (#27911169)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Stuntmonkey (557875)

        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.

        These "moral choices" are very superficial in today's games. There are no real, long-term consequences for behavior, as there is in the real world. In truth, violent people don't get away with it very long. If you do something bad to someone, they remember and tell other people, and y

    • 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?

    • 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.

    • by Trojan35 (910785)

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

      That said, it's pretty hard to "explore the human condition" when you are forced to include respawns, saves, and letting the user actually choose what he/she wants to do. That's what makes games great, btw. You can find th

    • 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.)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta (162192)

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

      You haven't played Fahrenheit, have you?

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CoreWalker (170935)

      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

    • by guruevi (827432)

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

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

      Don't get me wrong, it's a good idea to go back and look at what happened ba

    • by Chyeld (713439)

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

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

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

      Honestly,

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by MasseKid (1294554)

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

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Locke2005 (849178)
      Does anyone read To Kill a Mockingbird or Scarlet Letter for entertainment?

      No, I read The Scarlet Letter because it was required for a high school English class. It was a brilliant psychological drama. At the time, I wondered why a nun would assign us a novel so blatantly critical of religion until it dawned on me: it is critical of the Protestant religion, not the Catholic religion. Despite being somewhat dry and difficult to read (as most books written in 1850 would be to us. Try reading Dickens someti
    • by Trepidity (597) <delirium-slashdot@@@hackish...org> on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:20PM (#27911387)

      I agree as far as the majority of games go, but there are some games that do try to use games as a medium for provoking thought and representing ideas, sometimes while still be interesting to play. Chris Crawford's Balance of Power [wikipedia.org] (1985) is a pretty good example, I think, a game about Cold-War brinksmanship that wasn't just a wargame, but also aimed to illustrate some features of the Cold War and brinksmanship through its gameplay.

      More recently, there's been a collection of much smaller games, usually Flash on the web, trying to say something about serious issues. They're mostly smaller because the current niche with the most legs seems to be games that respond in a timely fashion to current events. So, for example, in the wake of the 2006 E Coli spinach scare, an indie game studio came out with Bacteria Salad [shockwave.com], a farm-simulation game that makes some points about the tradeoffs in small vs. large farms. And in the wake of the Kerry "don't tase me, bro" incident, another indie designer made a game [escapistmagazine.com] about how people do, or could, respond to police brutality.

      The book Persuasive Games: The Expressive Power of Videogames [amazon.com] (2007) has some decent coverage of the subject, about half an overview of games that already do include some actual expressive content, and half a manifesto of sorts that more games ought to, if the medium wants to have an impact in society besides entertainment.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      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 f

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by StikyPad (445176)

      Thanks for defining real adults for us, who are only interested in a work because of its social value. Clearly anyone who would want to subject themselves to any "unsavory" sights or sounds has not matured past the stage of adolescence. Hopefully you can define unsavory for us, so that we can all fully appreciate your insight and wisdom.

      That said, many "adult" games are filled with biting social and political commentary. For example, GTA IV, a game which is commonly considered to appeal to connoisseurs o

  • by twidarkling (1537077) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:53PM (#27910011)

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

  • by davidwr (791652) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:54PM (#27910035) Homepage Journal

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

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Mendoksou (1480261)
      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 lat
  • Yeah! (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday May 11, 2009 @12:56PM (#27910067)

    detracts from the gravity of the situation.

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

  • 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.

    • 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.

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Funny)

      by Hatta (162192) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:27PM (#27910543) Journal

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

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by LWATCDR (28044)

      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

  • "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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by phantomfive (622387)

      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 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.

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

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Irish_Samurai (224931)

      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,

  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PCM2 (4486)

      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

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

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

  • 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 castironpigeon (1056188) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:16PM (#27910367)
    ...those who mind their own business and those who do not.
  • Aren't most of the games that really stir controversy just in it for the short-term popularity? Thus, can't we expect to see games come out "too soon" that are "too violent", only to just fade away since the actual game itself just isn't that great?

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

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

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

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

  • RapeLay (Score:4, Informative)

    by VampDuc (1540415) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:19PM (#27910417)
    Games of this nature have been around for a long time in Japan. They're known as "eroge" or "galge." There's not much difference in the terms, but the games range from just trying to date someone to full-blown rape. The games are generally pornographic in nature, but not always. I (a girl) have played some of these games, not because of the pornography, but because they are games that have subtleties rarely found in other, more violence based games. At their basest, they are simply text-based adventure games with a very narrow set of goals.
  • 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...

  • 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.
  • 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.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by cptnapalm (120276)

      I took that test a ways back. Came out basically the same for both.

      One question about said test, though, it would seem to me that if you are more familiar with one type of face (whites for whites, blacks for blacks) then you would have a faster time of decision with the more familiar than with the less familiar. Just a thought.

      Not gaming data, movie data but has to do with violence in an entertainment form: http://www.nber.org/papers/w13718 [nber.org]

      Violent movies with large audiences is good for a reduction in cri

  • They're just games, FFS.

  • by fm6 (162816) on Monday May 11, 2009 @01:38PM (#27910715) Homepage Journal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Smivs (1197859)

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

    Yes, I think they do. I more or less gave up games when my old C64 conked out and I couldn't play Elite anymore (yes, I know...I'm looking into DOSbox). My point is, this current trend of violent games just makes non-gamers wonder what the f**k is up with 'kids today', even if the 'kids' are adult. Your average Joe probably doesn't know that these games are not for minors, and just sees another example of the world going to hell.
    Also, it must be said, there is enough REAL violence in the world without chu

  • 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.

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

  • If a game was truly offensive to everyone, nobody would buy it, and creating the game would be economic suicide. Obviously the people paying money for the game DO NOT find it offensive, and those that are offended by it should neither pay for nor play it. So, what is the problem? Claiming that I shouldn't have access to material that YOU find offensive is not just irrational, it goes against the very principles the USA was founded on. Claiming these games "desensitize" people to violence is also insane seei
  • Apples and oranges? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by billius (1188143) on Monday May 11, 2009 @02:12PM (#27911271)

    I'm going to start with an easy game to discuss: 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.

    If I remember correctly, the Hot Coffee mod allowed your character in GTA3 to have sex with prostitutes, which is a completely different thing than raping a woman. That's why I disagree with the assumption that our aversion to rape in entertainment has something to do with our culture being prudish/puritanical/etc. For this to be true, it would seem to also follow that societies with a more liberal view of human sexuality (like in Europe, for example) would also have a more lax view on rape in entertainment. However, I seriously doubt that a German or a Swede would somehow be more relaxed about playing a video game with rape involved than an American.

    Rape is a particularly heinous crime because, unlike murder, once the act has been perpetrated the victim's suffering has only just begun. And unlike killing someone, it's never morally justified. There's nothing a woman could do to somehow justify a person raping her. If someone attacks you with a deadly weapon, however, you're well within acceptable moral and legal boundaries to kill that person. We're less averse to violence in games and entertainment because we can take "baby steps" with justifiable violence. Start with "Call of Duty," then move on to GTA and then once you get to Manhunt it doesn't seem all that bad. Hell, even in Manhunt you're only killing people because you're essentially being forced to.

    Don't get me wrong; American moral sensibilities about sex are fucked up, no pun intended. For some strange reason, when we go to see a movie about a guy in a mask stabbing people in the woods, nudity and sex are almost expected but when we go to see a love story, anything but the most white-washed sex scene will offend the audience. It's like the time I watched "Amelie" with my mom. She freaked out that a movie about two people falling in love might actually have some sexual content in it. But rape will always be taboo, as it should be. From what I gather, this isn't an exploration into the tortured psyche of a rapist (like a book or movie on the subject might be), but rather a rape simulator of sorts. Therefore, people are justified in their concern that folks would want to play such a game. Of course the developer has a right to publish the game, just as consumers have the right to boycott and criticize it.

    (sorry for the rambling post, kind of out of it today)

  • 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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