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Censorship Entertainment Games

NY Post Says GTA Worse Than Molesting 251

wiredbeat2000 writes "The New York Post has an inflammatory article which argues that Take Two's Grand Theft Auto is worse than child molestation and more harmful than second hand smoke. The story, which appears in the business section, calls for an outright ban of video games it claims are no better than snuff films, and concludes: 'Stay away from this [Take Two] stock - far, far away - and you'll be doing both your wallet and your fellow man a favor'." Lucky the author hasn't checked out Manhunt yet, huh?
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NY Post Says GTA Worse Than Molesting

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  • by Demon-Xanth ( 100910 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:24PM (#7836236)
    Can people have atleast ONE avenue of escapism without having to be protected from it? I think that guy missed the point of videogames in general.
  • ookay (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:30PM (#7836308)
    calls for an outright ban of video games it claims are no better than snuff films,

    So now we're going to take orders from the NY Times? "Oh, dear Times.. do tell us what video games YOU claim we need to ban?".

    Also, um... snuff films are more or less considered an urban legend. Aside from (possibly) the Faces of Death series, there are no substantially proven legitimate snuff films.

    I would be more concerned if my child was watching the WWF/WWE, Queer Eye for the Straight Guy, Sex in the City, Judging Amy, Real World, Road Rules, most award shows or any of the mind numbing cartoons on the disney channel.
  • Right (Score:3, Insightful)

    by b00m3rang ( 682108 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:31PM (#7836325)
    The "adult world" has never heard of databases, or word processing, or the Internet, they judge "us" (as if we were a single entity) based on one company's artistic expression. Sorry, but the connection you're making has very little base in reality. How is it that video games shouldn't be afforded the same free speech protections as literature? If books are supposedly so much more immersive and stimulating to the imagination, surely books about murder would have more impact than a stupid game, right?
  • by Palshife ( 60519 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:34PM (#7836355) Homepage
    Is anyone else worried that this article elevates the acceptability of having sex with a child just so they can express their distaste towards a video game?
  • Re:ookay (Score:2, Insightful)

    by crombie ( 128709 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:39PM (#7836416)
    It's the POST, not the TIMES!
  • by TRACK-YOUR-POSITION ( 553878 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:44PM (#7836491)
    View this article if you must, but it's become all too common for everyone to write articles intended to piss off a great subset of people online in order to drive hits to their site. Please do not reward this silliness--remember to use proxomitron, junkbuster, whatever your favorite tool is for depriving these folks of the fruit of their agitations.
  • by Descartes ( 124922 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:45PM (#7836495) Homepage
    Does anyone else get the feeling that the authors of all of these anti-GTA articles haven't actually played the game?

    Ok, it is violent and often that violence is directed towards innocent people, but, violence towards innocent people is not the main point of the game. I mean, you can kill police or civilians but there are consequences. And the whole thing about the Haitians has nothing to do with innocent people from Haiti. You're in the middle of a gang war between the Cuban and the Haitians.

    I guess the real problem I have is that people seem to thing that by censoring the game that we'll get rid of violence between racial groups, etc. It's like saying movies that depict racially motivated violence should be censored. Our country will be in a sad state if that ever happens.

    I think part of the point of showing these kind of things is that we remember that they do happen. If we pretend there is no racism it won't go away, just get worse.

    I know, I'm preaching to the choir.
  • by SandSpider ( 60727 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:46PM (#7836507) Homepage Journal
    Dear sir,

    You are a disgusting human being. "People, this is insane. This is 10,000 times worse than the worst
    thing anybody thinks Michael Jackson ever did to a little boy" To paraphrase, you seem to be saying
    that you would prefer 10,000 people to molest children rather than one adult play a video game.
    That's what you mean by "10,000 time worse," isn't it? Or are you saying that, if the team that
    developed Grand Theft Auto would have, rather than making its video games, gone out and molested
    10,000 children, that the world would be a better place?

    You say that Grand Theft Auto should be banned, "just like we ban child pornography and entertainment
    spectacles such as cock fighting and dwarf throwing." Do you see the difference between a video game
    and the three items listed above? If not, I'll tell you: one of the four things does not actually
    affect a living being. Just like books and newspaper articles glorifying child molestation. Since
    living people aren't hurt, it's a protected form of free speech. It may not be mankind's most
    glorious bit of free speech, but I fear that I have to disagree with you about how it compares to
    actual crimes.

    Brian J. Geiger

    P.S. I fear I did not bother to read the rest of your article, as the basic premise seemed so flawed
    as to make it not entirely worth my while to read the rest. I'm sure there were some very good points
    about business hiding there within the rhetoric. Good luck with that.
  • Re:huh. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by the Man in Black ( 102634 ) <{jasonrashaad} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:49PM (#7836552) Homepage
    so am i to believe that there are people turning to the new york post for stock advice now?

    My sentiments exactly. I had this whole nice long well thought out e-mail written out to send to this guy, and then I realized: It's the Post. No one reads the fucking Post.

    My favorite part of this article is the fact that this guy is their business columnist. A business columnist giving out stock advice based on the fact that he disagrees with the moral content of the product a company makes. Yeah, OK.
  • Re:editorial reply (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Alkaiser ( 114022 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:50PM (#7836566) Homepage
    Exactly. I got stuff posted in a chat with the Washington Post editor after the sniper suspects were caught, chastising them all for their video game prognostications.

    I also got contacted by the Philadelphia Weekly after pointing out factual errors in their reporting of the "Warriors of Freedom" case.

    Bottom line...we as gamers can't just sit around using all our pertinent arguments to flame each other here. People besides US need to realize how stupid these guys are being.

    Write a concise article disagreeing with the author's take on selling Take Two for moral upright reasons, and then call him out for being against video games for some reason, but not against film, tobacco, the people who dump toxins into our water supply, etc.

    No cursing, no flaming, no ranting.

    Everybody get involved. Someone's gotta feel the backlash.
  • by iainl ( 136759 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:54PM (#7836615)
    Thats a good letter, but I fear you may have made a mistake. Emails to this moron will just boost his ego at having made an article that caused discussion. Emails to his editor about how you feel about being informed that you could improve your impact on society by abusing children rather than playing a computer game, along with pointing out how many other readers might feel similiarly insulted given the very, very large sales figures this series has recorded, might get more done.
  • by UV_Haze ( 561159 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @01:57PM (#7836656) Homepage
    As much as I like GTA the author of this article does make some very pertinent points.

    Here in Canada there was a court case finding that kiddie porn art (i.e. no kids were harmed, these were drawings and paintings) were found to be illegal and so the same laws applied to these paintings.

    Taking this one step further like the author suggests, I can envision some wacky japanese game where you get to play a sexual predator. The goal of the game is to prey on women and neighbourhood children. Getting extra points for doing things like luring kids with candy or the promise of toys, and performing date rapes on unsuspecting college girls.

    I'm pretty sure a game like the one I described above would not be allowed to be sold in Canada. The majority of society would disapprove of this type of video game. I, myself find it very disturbing.

    I guess the bigger question is why, as a society, do we allow the simulation of illegal/immoral actions video games and not others.? Where is the line (so to speak) and why do we draw it where it is? What is the nature of the video gaming that makes some of these things appropriate? Is escapism an appropriate defence for sim murder but not for sim molestation? And if so, why not?

    This will become even more important with the next generation of systems that will allow for more realistic everything, including AI.

    So I've played philosopher for today. Maybe not very well. But tehre are a lot of good questions out there about this sort of stuff. GTA is only getting the pain right now because it's the game that is currently pushing the envelope...

  • My response... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:04PM (#7836740)
    My response...

    I am a 28 year old adult male who happens to play video games. I'm not going to bother with an introductory, and I'm going to get right into it.

    To quote the article, "People, this is insane. This is 10,000 times worse than the worst thing anybody thinks Michael Jackson ever did to a little boy"

    Insane? You're calling playing a video game, something that isn't real and is meant for a mature audience 10,000 times worse than MOLESTING A YOUNG BOY *not* Insane?

    Have your head checked. There almost isn't a crime worse than taking advantage of a minor in a sexual fashion. It's beneath human behaviour.

    The author argues that there is a ratings system that is unenforcable and means nothing, and is irrelevant.

    The ratings system in Video Games is virtually identical to movies. Movies are rating G, PG, AA, R and X/NC17. Games are rated as E(veryone), T(een), M(ature) and A(dult). There is a fifth category who's acronymn I am not aware of, but the category is for the very young, toddler aged, and educational. Adult is reserved for anything containing sexually explicit content, similar to NC17. Mature is the equivalent if AA. T equates to PG, and E is the gaming G.

    If a parent buys a child who is under the age of majority, and the game is rated M for mature, how is that the gaming companies fault? The parent should be made aware of the ratings system. Every game box sold in Canada and the US has the rating printed in large black and white letters right on the front of the box, including what the ratings mean. It's as ludicrous as a person suing Take Two, Sony, Rockstar for 244.5 million dollars because their kid took a loaded gun from their house and shot at a highway, killing someone, then blaming Grand Theft Auto. The game is not responsible here. How did the child get the gun? Why was it loaded? Why wasn't it in a locked case out of the reach of children? Why weren't the kids taught by the parents that shooting at a vehicle is not a particularly good idea?

    If video games had this much of an influence on the youth of today, I should be a homicidal maniac. I've played video games since the days of the Atari 2600, and have seen just about everything there is to see in a video game. I've dumped enough quarters into arcade games that I should be able to spit fireballs from my hands while screaming death phrases at the tops of my lungs, because that's what video games teach you to do.

    Oh, but Vice City is "realistic," you say. Realistic huh? So if I look in one direction, see 3 cars driving down the street, then turn around 180 degrees, see 3 more cars, and then turn around again and those original 3 cars have disappeared (which is what happens in the game), that's real, is it?

    I can take a car and drive at approximately 2 mph, hit a hydro pole and send it crashing to the ground, because that's real is it?

    I can walk down the street and find a surface-to-air missile launcher lying in someones back yard? Great! Sign me up to live in that neighbourhood!

    Oh, but Vice City "looks" realistic, you say. Why? Just because the characters portrayed in it are not cartoonish? I can tell that they are digital representations of people. They don't look like real people to me. For one thing, people have fingers. That actually separate. And bend. And can be used to pick things up.

    Video games are NOT REAL. They are fictional. Imaginative. Fun to play.

    Michael Jackson has been charged with child molestation. That is real. If proven, that is morally disgusting.

    Shooting cars on highways is real. That is a real case currently in the US legal system.

    The bottom line: It is because of drivel like this article that I have cancelled my subscription to your newspaper.

    Good day.
  • by vitaflo ( 20507 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:27PM (#7836994) Homepage
    "Here's a letter to the NY Post. The worst piece of paper on the east coast. Matter of fact the whole states. 40 cents in NY City, 50 cents elsewhere, and makes no goddamn sense at all. America's oldest continuously published daily piece of bullshit."

    Nuff said.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:30PM (#7837030)
    This is much like the outspoken anti-porn feminists of the 1970's, who were very angry, and agressively anti-porn, all without ever having seen one. They based their opinions on the cliched rhetoric of the time, which said that porn was degrading to women, violent, etc etc.

    Some of these women changed their tune after actually watching some porn and seeing with their own eyes how truly banal and even laughable these movies were(are). For the most part, it's just sex with lousy acting.

    Only when the next big scapegoat emerges will these anti-video game buffoons shut up (and move on to complaining about something else). Frankly, I don't understand how someone can say GTA is harmful, when frankly I find movies like "Reservoir Dogs" way more desturbing to watch.

  • by cybermancer ( 99420 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:36PM (#7837093) Homepage
    Did anyone else get the big Victoria's Secret ad on the side of the article when they read it? You know the one with the model wearing next to nothing. The kind of thing that was classified as pornography not that long a go.

    Interesting that they would be so concerned when individuals choose to expose themselves to a game, but they would force everyone's (well, the few people that actually read their pages) exposure to risque pictures of scantly clad models without warning. Glad to know someone else is busy trying to decide what is good for us.

    I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't have an article bashing Victoria's Secret ads a few years back, but now that they are paying the advertising budget they need to find a new target. Maybe Take-Two should just put an ad on the NY Post site. Isn't this sort of thing extortion (buy an ad from us or we will give you a bad review?)

    I quit listening to other people's opinions a long time ago.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:44PM (#7837181)
    > Here in Canada there was a court case finding that kiddie porn art (i.e. no kids were harmed, these were drawings and paintings) were found to be illegal and so the same laws applied to these paintings.

    That's because the Canadian legal system is messed up. The point of child pornography laws, originally, was stated to prevent child from being sexual abused--over time, this point has been expanded to things which might hypothetically lead a child into becoming coerced or influenced into sexual abuse. Given that no child is involved in said drawings or paintings (or in other cases writings, 3d recreations, etc), it's rather ludicrous to state that the law as originally stated is being enforced. Instead, it amounts to thought police stopping ideas that the government and its people aren't particularly happy about.

    The American (and my understanding, Canadian) legal system is meant to criminally punish those people who infringe the freedom of others. Trying to claim a writing or drawing of an act is the same as the act itself totally demolishes the person who was victimized. The difference between the two is at least the difference of two lives.

    The first amendment of the US (and comparable laws in Canada) protects the freedom of speech, no matter how distasteful one finds it. Only copyright gives the author of such a work any economic incentive to produce such works, and it could be claimed that such distasteful works do not promote the arts and sciences and could be except from copyright law.

    A final note is that a lack of child pornography nor a supply of it are the cause of child abuse. Such a claim would require mankind to have started with enough people to be committing all sins so that the might be properly learned by their children. Given that, it should be clear that it is the fault of individuals who have made decisions to do acts which harm others. Distributing truthful or fictionaly information in proper context cannot do harm in itself. It is only through the decisions of individuals that it can be harmful or deadly.
  • by xalres ( 668363 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @02:50PM (#7837247)
    My letter
    The Grand Theft Auto series was meant for people with enough maturity and common sense to realize it's just a game and not reality, just as movies like The Godfather and Scarface are for those mature enough to see them as works of fiction. Obviously you can't be counted among them.

    I fail to see how you can rationalize statements like "This is 10,000 times worse than the worst thing anybody thinks Michael Jackson ever did to a little boy". I know this was said to shock a reaction out of people (at least I hope it was) but it was still a poor judgement call, especially for someone who writes for a news outlet such as the Post. There are scant few things in this world worse or more deserving of the harshest punishment available than child molestation and publishing computer games doesn't even come close.

    Perhaps the biggest issue I have with your editorial is that you demonize a company for taking the same creative liberties that movie creators have taken for decades. I know you have a moral issue with the games, that's your prerogative, but your point was lost on me when you started making radically untrue blanket statements and comparisons (see above). If you're not mature enough to handle such content, at least have the respect to let those of us who are enjoy our entertainment without being compared to pedophiles.

    Thank you.
  • Hum. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by skinfitz ( 564041 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @03:02PM (#7837395) Journal
    You can kill a cop, steal his gun, and then use it to shoot someone else. Or you can pick up a prostitute and have sex with her in the back of your stolen car, then beat her to death - or shoot her, bludgeon her, whatever you want.

    He's right - you CAN do that. You know what? You can do that in real life too!

    Someone should tell the cops - oh and stop investing in condom and gun companies.
  • The answer is... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by abulafia ( 7826 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @04:03PM (#7838106)
    ...That the Canadian legal system has taken a wrong turn.

    In the name of protecting women from degrading images, they have banned lesbian porn repeatedly [www.xtra.ca].

    Canadian courts need to recognize that free speech means that things you don't like might be said, and that's OK.

    Before anyone gets excited about a USian attacking Canada, the U.S. isn't doing any better [sacurrent.com], and that bugs me, too.

    Full Disclosure: I used to work (volunteer) on a magazine who had issues banned by Canada. Thank Gloria Steinem for keeping Canada free from the filth I spew.

  • by jrock74 ( 725846 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @04:19PM (#7838264)
    Ok mark this as troll or whatever but you seem to be losing the point here THIS IS A VIDEO GAME not real life and i dont give a flying crap who you are or where your from comparing a video game to any form of child molestation or child porn and saying the game is worse is just SICK
  • by *weasel ( 174362 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @05:16PM (#7838914)
    i hate to get up on teh soap box, but just in case you weren't just playing devils advocate (or slashdot troll)...

    here in america we have this thing called 'free speech' and a 'free market'. if protected free speech is found 'inappropriate' by most the 'free market' - people don't buy it and it goes away.

    we don't need laws to keep a sexual predator sim off the store shelves - we leave that up to distributors and consumers. if businesses don't want it on the shelf, and consumers don't want to buy it - it quickly disappears - if it ever got published in the first place. if it only exists in someone's private space - then why should I care if no person or animal is harmed?

    Canada is starting down the slippery slope of defining 'appropriate'ness of free speech. and once that truly happens then it won't be long before it all goes.

    after all, if child molestation and rape depictions aren't protected, then why should murder be protected? and what about fistfighting or war? you can't have a willing recipient of an assault rifle after all. what about obscure sexual fetishes that violate current canadian law? (think scat, beastiality, probably even things such a multipartner and oral/anal if its anything like most archaic US state laws)... then you'll lose unnecessarily harsh or ill-timed criticisms (of government, citizens, religion), etc, etc...

    furthermore, there is nothing in art today that hasn't be created before. human civilization hasn't fallen apart for depicting nudity, sex, murder, rape, or even child molestation in art or literature in the 4000 years of recorded history. (rape was a core concept in the original tale of Sleeping Beauty & child abduction and molestation was the prominent event in the myth of Zeus and Ganymede)

    Don't get me wrong, I loathe and despise child molesters and rapists, and the people who would create content to promote or condone such acts.

    But much as I hate them, I feel strongly enough about our rights to free speech that I would vote to support their rights to say, write, and draw anything they want so long as it doesn't hurt anyone. I wouldn't go into a store that sold that kind of product, and I wouldn't associate with anyone who purchased it -- but I'm smart enough to realize that the individuals in society are mature enough to decide these things for themselves.
  • by rifter ( 147452 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @05:33PM (#7839126) Homepage

    I guess the real problem I have is that people seem to thing that by censoring the game that we'll get rid of violence between racial groups, etc. It's like saying movies that depict racially motivated violence should be censored. Our country will be in a sad state if that ever happens.

    Actually the sad thing is a major point of the game is how stupid and pointless gang and interracial violence is. In other words, it was meant to parody a real life problem and potentially could prevent such violence by waking people up to this fact. The main character is continually dragged into the middle of these conflicts but does not start them. By staying above these conflicts and befriending both sides the main character comes out on top after fighting off the myriad gangs trying to kill him.

    A major component of the game as well is the fact that gangs tend to take advantage of ethnic tensions and rivalries. The game features the sicilian mafia, southern US biker gangs, haitian and cuban gangs as well as the colombian cartels. There are various other nondescript gangs which appear to be ethnically segregated as well. The offending line "kill the haitians" is uttered by the cubano gangsters on their way to avenge deaths by haitian gangsters who have sworn "I will destroy the cubans." The whole game reads as a commentary and a parody of US gang violence and the underlying societal problems behind it.

  • by SamSim ( 630795 ) on Tuesday December 30, 2003 @07:35PM (#7840530) Homepage Journal
    In all seriousness, if Christopher Byron thinks that GTA: Vice City is worse than child molestation, then clearly he was never molested as a child.

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.