New avalanche of "games are too violent" news comi

Well, this time, its due to the Holiday Season’s list of video games not to buy and the JFK game.

We’ve got editorials like…

Making profound statements like

Funded by the Interactive Digital Software Association, an industry lobbying group, the [ESRB] does not release to the public or the Federal Trade Commission the names of the raters or the criteria used in rating decisions. The rating symbols are on the front of the game package; the back contains a box with content descriptors such as “sexual themes” “blood and gore” and “use of tobacco.”

Umm… so the criteria is probably things like “sexual themes”, “blood and gore” and “use of tobacco.” Who would’ve thought?

I’m also very amused by the use in this studies of games from 2001, as well as the constant mention of Postal 2. I also read that just last week, the game was banned in New Zealand. That’s right, last week. Sorry guys, no more restocking of the oodles of Postal 2 that’s rolling off the shelves for you.

And of course, the list of things that should be done…

• Game manufacturers should assume greater responsibility for denying access to children.

Err… how? Perhaps we won’t let 10 year old buy Steam subscriptions anymore.

• Sellers should publish standards for marketing games that encourage or reward players for performing acts of violence and depict images demeaning to women or minorities.
Like err… ESRB ratings? But not? Because… of something?

• Retailers also should segregate M-rated games from others in stores, post signs describing the rating system and report on their compliance programs for preventing sales to minors.

I’ve seen these signs describing the rating system in Target. I saw the article in one of those computer games mags that I get (sorry editors, they run together. Perhaps if boobies were liberally strewn over one mag I could tell them apart…) they had the “try to buy M rated games” article, and the kid in that seemed to have no joy.

Then this article

Has this interesting line.

But the institute conducted a survey earlier this year that found that half of underage boys and 8 percent of girls who tried were allowed to buy M-rated games.

Perhaps the girls buying Tentacle Rape Monster III tripped off the automatic cruise control in the retail clerks head?

Sheesh. The mass media.

Mom and Dad were down here in FLA for the Thanksgiving week and Dad mentions to me over breakfast that when went out to pick up the paper and coffee that NPR had a story on a videogame that lets you recreate the Kennedy assassination. He trailed off the end of the sentence knowing I was in the industry and expecting me to defend it for some reason. I asked him if he knew that the game was not for sale in any store, and was made by a Scottish development team and was only for sale as a PC download. He admitted that the “news story” had left out those little facts. I then told him about State of Emergency, which fit right in with his preconceived notions of videogames and their celebration of depravity. I then told him about the critical reaction to the game and its subsequent poor sales. I also mentioned BMX XXX, the Guy Game, Singles, the new Leisure Larry Game, all of which got a drubbing and were financial flops.

The media definitely has trouble making the distinction between GTAIII’s brilliant gameplay and its celebration of criminality. They think the latter is solely responsible for its success.

Side issue regarding ratings: I am hoping to corner someone from the ESRB at the GDC in March to figure out how in the hell Manhunt got an M and not an AO. It’s hard to see what possible game could get an AO for anything other than explicit sex, and its even harder for me to see how a game like Halo 2 and Manhunt can be in the same “M” category.

Consider it a good thing that they’ve finally moved on from using Doom as the game they always name-check in these stories. That lasted nearly a decade.

Stories like this always serve as a reminder that most people only question the news when it’s about subjects they know about. Use that to consider how much you simply accept as correct their stories on other subjects.

I have increasingly noticed how every single time I talk to somebody who is a non-gamer, and the subject of computer games comes up, the very first thing they mention is the violence issue.

Every time. And they all view it as a problem with this kind of entertainment that has gotten progressively worse and worse over the past 10 years, and more so recently.

Of course, none of the gamers I know see it as a problem. But barring everyone in the world turning into a gamer and thus agreeing that it is not, in fact, a problem, some sort of solution is going to have to be found, lest the non-gamer majority decide one day that enough is enough and passes a whole bunch of regulations that cripple the industry.

Hm. On second thought, crippling the current game industry wouldn’t bother me that much. Might clear out some of the institutional “this is how things are done” “these are the games people will buy so this is what we make” crap that has built up.