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Why Video Game Censorship is All Wrong in the US
Published on August 2, 2008 By SilentMage In Everything Else

I must admit, I've killed quite a few people in my life. Hell, I've killed hundreds of thousands of people. Not just young people -- I've gunned down old people, too. Animals and other creatures, wild and domesticated, all were in the scope, too, cuz I believe in equal opportunity.

Oh, did I mention I've done all this in my video games?

Yup, like most gamers who are diehard FPS and 3PS (3rd-person shooters), I have slained plenty of men and women who figured it would be better to go up against me in a gun fight than to stay home and take care of their family doing something else in their lives, like becoming a chef or something like that. From racking up points turning lively straphangers on the street into decapitated piles of mush in Carmageddon 2 to slowly filling a henchman's head with bullets (Matrix-style!) in Max Payne, from launching a mini-star set to explode using my trusty Nova Cannon in Turok: Dinosaur Hunter to simply beating the crap out of an old lady with her own cane in GTA: San Andreas, I honestly can say I've done it all!  And we cannot forget being able to destroy entire solar systems in Twilight of the Arnor - that probably racks up about up to 50 billion lives wiped out in an instant.  And that's just one game where you can destroy whole solar systems - just play some Space Empires V and you'll really take pleasure in collapsing a star into a black hole...

Oh, and I can't forget casting Ultima on a bunch of Rabbites in Final Fantasy III -- it's overkill, but OHHH, what a thrill of hurting such innocent creatures!

See, if a politician, such as, say, Hillary Clinton, were to read all of the above, she'd probably say something like "See, this is the problem with America's youth, these video games, and all the more reason to give more games an AO rating!"

The AO rating, as most of you know, is referring to the rating change done to the multi-million sellout, Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas for the PS2, XBOX, and PC. Although it has been a few weeks since the changeover, already it is clear the kind of message that our government is sending to the American public.

Or is it?

This is what the politicians are saying -- on TV (not really quoted, of course):
"San Andreas is an example of video games at its worse, allowing children to gain access to scenes of sexual intercourse that they can participate in. It is UNACCEPTABLE that children should be exposed to anything sexual in video games, let alone the pornographic scenes that are allowed by using the "Hot Coffee" modification. This is why we all agree that a rating change was necessary, from the Mature rating to Adults Only."

...Ok, now, read that through a few times so it's seared into your memory banks, because now I'm gonna tell you what the fuck is wrong with this image.

First off, let us disregard the fact that Rockstar Games did have the hidden "sex romp" embedded within the games, even though you did need the HotCoffee mod in order to access it -- there was NO OTHER WAY to gain access to the interactive sex scene in the games without the mod. I am here to rant about the issue over WHY the game's rating was changed.

Let us look at GTA San Andreas in depth. Now the game was initially given a Mature, or M, rating. According to the [defunct] ESRB, an "M" rating means "you must be at least 17 to purchase and play this game." In GTA: San Andreas, you can do the following:
--spontaneously start fights with anyone
--rob houses
--kill innocents
--hijack almost any vehicle
--run down innocents with vehicles
--kill military and police officers
--kill the elderly
--shoot people while they're sleeping in their houses as you rob them
--"have sex" with prostitutes and then kill them to get your money back
--rob innocents after killing them
--slit people's throats from behind
--destroy property
--shoot down airplanes and helicopters
--gambling (you have to be 18 in the US to legally gamble in casinos)
--kill your girlfriend(s)
--several references to the use of drugs, and being able to "purchase" drugs

Let's not forget the cursing! Oh, the language in the game is just filled with almost as much cursing as the South Park movie!

Did I miss anything?

This game got an "M" rating, after taking all of this into consideration. The minute there is a hint of sex -- sex that cannot be unlocked unless you go out of the way to get a mod that most people didn't even know about until it got on the news -- the game is slapped with an AO rating. According to the ESRB, "AO" means "you must be at least 18 in order to purchase and play the game".

So, according to all the politicians and the US government, it is PERFECTLY OK to have our children and teens exposed to excessive violence and wanton destruction of the human body (taking drugs, shooting someone), but the minute there is a touch of sex -- and the sex offered by the Hot Coffee mod ain't as big a deal as the gov't would lead you to believe -- all of America goes nuts! That's our Puritan roots for you.

In Europe, they got the formula right, IMO. See, they censor a lot of blood and gore over there, but sex and nudity is all good. Why, you ask? Well, to me it makes a lot more sense, because at some point in a person's life they will have sex and/or see a woman/guy naked. The human body is a natural thing and something to embrace instead of fear. Hacking people to pieces is not a natural thing, which is why bloody scenes in games are more censored in Europe than they are here.

Now American society has fully embraced violence in video games, but sex cannot be allowed IN ANY FORM. Two words for that: TOTAL TRASH. I'm not saying that sex should run rampant in all our video games, but I am saying that sex in a video game is NOTHING LIKE sex in real life. For example, take the characters from The Sims 2. If you get a mod to remove the blur that censors their bodies when they are naked, what do you see? I'll tell you what I see: a blurry, non-descript body that has no real distinguishing features -- no nipples, genitalia, nadda. In San Andreas, nobody is fully nude in the sex scene -- no nipples, no penis, no nothing. The only thing you do is push buttons in succession to make CJ pump her faster and faster. Whoopdy do.

I am not a violent person in real life. I love killing in my games, but I'd never do that in real life. Pinning the murders of others by teens on their parents is what we should be doing, because the majority (more than 90%) of gamers are more rational than that. The US government shouldn't be parenting for the parents.

Parents, before you buy a game for your teen, look up info on it and don't be afraid to ask questions! If there is a big fat "M" on the box, it's there for a reason! Be a part of your kid's life instead of letting him or her run around till midnight, not even caring what they were doing or with whom. If your kid ends up doing something stupid, it isn't the GAME'S fault, it's YOURS.
Politicians, you all are idiots. Before you join the extra-points-in-the-polls-for-a-future-presidential-nomination bandwagon, play the games that you are about to attack, because you would realize just how stupid you make yourself out to be to people like us who know you're dead wrong about the games you attack.

The damage has already been done to San Andreas and other mature games, such as Manhunt 2. I must admit, at the pace we're going with this nation, compulsory chastity belts will be forced upon all of us and our children until we are legally married. Not wearing one will result in immediate arrest and an investigation of your home to see if any "sexual taboos" such as making out, "getting to 3rd base", and other sexual acts were committed. However, you can legally buy a gun when you turn 13 and can get away with murder if you simply chop the body up into shoebox-sized pieces and bury them in your backyard. Don't forget to hack up the dog -- it might give away the location of the shoeboxes.

God Bless America, Our Backwards Home.


Comments (Page 1)
on Aug 04, 2008
If you looked up "steaming pile of feces", there would be a picture of this post next to it.
on Aug 04, 2008
If you looked up "steaming pile of feces", there would be a picture of this post next to it.


well yeah, but that's not terribly descriptive

a proper reply might go: "this is not a unique/novel/original argument by any means, a thread exists to gather information and opinion on a topic that's hopefully unique as to spark discussion. so your post sucks".
on Aug 04, 2008
On the other hand, he does make a point about the people not really caring of the grossly immoral actions you can do in the game, while freaking over the top for some boobs.

Come on, to think that The Dark Knight has a rating of 13+? That's the same rating than The Golden Compass!!!

So, making a fairy tale about Church being evil is on same scale of immorality and traumatism-inducing to the children than seeing a guy having his cheek cut open, hospital blown up, and a guy with half a face totally burnt out?
on Aug 04, 2008
On the other hand, he does make a point about the people not really caring of the grossly immoral actions you can do in the game, while freaking over the top for some boobs.Come on, to think that The Dark Knight has a rating of 13+? That's the same rating than The Golden Compass!!! So, making a fairy tale about Church being evil is on same scale of immorality and traumatism-inducing to the children than seeing a guy having his cheek cut open, hospital blown up, and a guy with half a face totally burnt out?


wellllllllll i guess the point about ratings systems sucking ass is certainly more original than the violence/sexuality non-equivocality deal but it's not really anything new and has more to do with the standards and practices of movie rating than a bunch of guys in a back room rubbing their hands together gleefully while discussing how they can keep atheism from the kiddies
on Aug 04, 2008
Yah... just to touch on the comment about traumatising children with the Batman movie.

I went to see the movie... and loved it. But what I found VERY disturbing was that just before the movie started i heard a baby crying.... a BABY!! What kind of moron brings a baby to a movie like this. The sound alone would be disturbing enough.
Some people are just screwed in the head.

ON TOPIC:
As far as sex and violence is concerned? I agree with the above poster on alot of points, but I also agree that it's been covered soooo many times before that the post is a little pointless.

Cheers

on Aug 04, 2008
What kind of moron brings a baby to a movie like this.


The same geniuses I see bringing children to the grocery store with them at 1 a.m. Not one parent...BOTH parents. Like one couldn't stay home with the kids while the other ran out to pick up whatever needed picking up at 1 in the morning. Why TF are children awake at 1 in the morning??
on Aug 04, 2008
I went to see the movie... and loved it. But what I found VERY disturbing was that just before the movie started i heard a baby crying.... a BABY!! What kind of moron brings a baby to a movie like this. The sound alone would be disturbing enough.
Some people are just screwed in the head.


The sound, yes, but if the baby is young enough he/she wouldn't actually understand anything that's going on so in that sense it's not very harmful.

The trouble is, and that's why we have ratings (though albeit flawed as the OP points out) is that parents aren't supposed to buy M/AO rated games for younger kids. I don't really agree with anything sex-related automatically getting M/AO rating, since there are plenty of movies and even everyday TV that pretty much leave nothing to the imagination and aren't rated Mature or higher. (I mean, honestly.. does rocking in bed and seeing the back and side boob of a naked woman not send the same message as seeing the same thing, only thing time you also see a nipple? There's basically no difference..)

Regardless, the problem is the ages when kids understand what's going on, but their brains aren't developed yet with common sense and the sense of right/wrong. You hear it all the time. Kids punching each other because it's "fun", or playing with loaded guns. Those are the ages when games like GTA can actually hurt. The kid has no concept of the overall society, and being a druggie gangster making tons of money sure looks great - and he won't understand that it's not how the world works. But is it the fault of the game? Clearly, the game was never aimed to be sold to young kids (regardless of the M or AO rating conflict) and if those young kids manage to get their hands on it, one of 2 and only two things to blame are: 1) stores selling the game to a kid, or 2) parents buying the game for their kid. That's it.

Blaming the games and the game industry is like blaming car companies. Cars are very dangerous, but licencing is pretty liberal. Do we blame the car companies because a habitual drunk got a licence and hurt or killed some people? Or because a mentally unstable person go at a licence and went running people over? Why should games and gaming companies be different? Why would they be held accountable for mental instability of certain people that might be influenced more by the game than what's intended?
on Aug 04, 2008
I don't know what specifically gives a certain game its rating and I'll assume the OP has accurately described the contents of GTA.

I will agree that an AO rating should be triggered earlier than it seems to now. As GTA is the example in question I would have hope that much of its content would have given it an AO rating before. I will not say that the rating system should be "flipped". I'd prefer my kids to see a violent image before a sexual one of equal severity. And, I don't want to hear suggestions that the United States should be adopting the moral atmosphere of Europe.

However I don't think any game should be penalized for a mod that changes its content. Any game could be turned ADULT if someone wants to mod it that way... Someone want to Mod the portrait of the Alterian ambassador? OO LA LA

on Aug 04, 2008
Yeah I saw lots of little kids at the new Batman movie too (under 10). I didn't see them walk out though... I was surprised.
on Aug 04, 2008
Some people do freak over games like GTA. GTA is wildly popular but still less "viewed" than a blockbuster type of movie though, and movies worth getting riled up about (for those that get riled up about such things) come out a lot more frequently than a similarly stimulating game like GTA.

What can you say. As long as this country claims to be educated and full of intelligent people yet an alarming percentage of people believe in ridiculous fantasies that make LOTRO look believable, then yeah, you're going to experience some wierd decisions and thinking when it comes to moral debates.

Yah... just to touch on the comment about traumatising children with the Batman movie. I went to see the movie... and loved it. But what I found VERY disturbing was that just before the movie started i heard a baby crying.... a BABY!! What kind of moron brings a baby to a movie like this.


I went to see Wanted a few weeks ago and someone had a crying baby in there. I'm sure that baby enjoyed watching slow motion head shot exit wounds. I found it strangely entertaining and I'm not really into graphic violence. Even my wife enjoyed it and she's a chick flick shoftie usually. Wierd and good movie.

But really, if a kid is still baby and crying they're not really sentient enough to get anything out of the movie so who cares about that. The more annoying thing is people being rude and taking their crying baby to places where people are spending money to be entertained or eat. If I'm at a movie or out paying $40-50 for dinner for two, I don't want to hear somebody's baby screaming the whole time.

In my case, at Wanted, that baby slept thru the whole thing, amazingly enough.
on Aug 04, 2008
Once upon a time, ratings were done in context.

If you're playing a good guy wasting bad guys left and right, there isn't anything morally aberrant. This was understood for thousands of years, bad guys were supposed to be exterminated. The viewing of it in a movie as such was entirely normal, proper material, if perhaps not for young children. Violent games where you're committing mass murder and violent games where you're exterminating invading aliens, Nazi's, whatever, are entirely different contextual products. One is wrong and the other right. You can be an idiot and try to argue that killing is always wrong, but it's logical and sensible.

Pornography on the other hand was a broad label and included such things as the showing of ankles at various points in history, and always bad. The showing of goods was only to be done in privacy between joined individuals. As something that wasn't allowed to be displayed, putting it in film and other media was rather frowned upon. Instead of being treated contextually as violence was, it was banned entirely.

By such a standard, and it's a failing standard that was never applied equally to start with, promiscuity, as aberrant, objectionable behavior, is indeed worse than killing thousands of bad guys by violent means. It doesn't explain the R ratings for movies that have a husband and wife going at it like rabbits, but the violence ratings used to be sensible, now they're just gore ratings, as if red pixels will warp the minds of previously normal people. What we have now is a rating system that is relatively uninformative, devoid of context or accurate indications of severity. An R rated movie could be rated R because a bad guy kills children, they show bullets rending digitally rendered flesh, a rape scene shows nothing, tits and ass are displayed regularly, or fuck is used too many times. Even with the extra information you really don't know what is being displayed.

I'd prefer content ratings that were both contextual and informative. I'd like to know ahead of time if everyone is stripping down and fucking each other in a game. There are settings where that simply isn't acceptable, regardless of your personal views. Banning people from buying things and giving them some stupid label like adults only for a game that's already promoting every violent crime on the books is... stupid. Information is always nice though.
on Aug 04, 2008
I completly agree. AMERICA THE BACKWARD (DRAWKCAB)
on Aug 04, 2008
You should not bring religion (Golden Compass) into movies. People will get mad unless it's historical. Like the Incident with the DaVinci Code.
on Aug 04, 2008
What kind of moron brings a baby to a movie like this.


Hand to God, true story. Went to see Pulp Fiction in the theatre back in '94 with my mom (she's cool like that). Went to the Saturday, 9:00 p.m. showing. Theatre was about 1/3 to 1/2 full.

Guess what. Some middle aged dude had a baby in his lap about 10 rows ahead of me. Pulp Fiction, people. With a baby. At the Saturday, 9:00 pm showing.

Guess it was his weekend with the kids.

on Aug 04, 2008
I'd like to know ahead of time if everyone is stripping down and fucking each other in a game. There are settings where that simply isn't acceptable


No, I'm pretty sure that's acceptable in any setting
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