This is a reprint of a more recent post I made at my blog home that I thought I'd share with the community here, see what you personally think. As always, opinions and comments, both good and bad, are always welcomed. Thank You.
Why Some Taboos Should Be Broken
It never fails to amaze me about how some things are viewed in the United States. As a society we seem to shrug off the effects of watching someone being decapitated, eviscerated, disemboweled, vaporized, and put through any number of scenes depicting death, dismemberment and mutilation. All the while our character is popping off a chain of obscenities that would make most sailors blush. As a society, we have no problem with that. At all.
But God forbid a developer out there should show us too much side boob or a little too much ass in a Mature-rated game. Then it's like the moral fabric of this country has just been trampled and crapped on before it's set on fire around a circle of screaming cult members. It's O.K. to tease and titillate and give subtle hints at the forbidden parts, which is like a developer giving you that elbow jab and sly grin like your best friend. But to actually show and tell? Heresy and sacrilege.
I just think that a game rated M shouldn't have that M stand for "Modest." The ESRB does an outstanding job of regulating and judging a game based on a set of standards for the audience at large out there. They understand it better than most. More importantly, they understand it better than some governmental oversight committee that might think they have a right to step in and do it themselves.
I also think that I shouldn't have to listen to parents and protestors rage against a game because they've been told something by sources that either didn't do their research or just perceive an event their way irregardless of actual fact. Or reality. Case in point, the completely asinine approach Fox News took to the first Mass Effect game after radical blogger Kevin McCullough's article, "The ‘Sex-Box’ Race for President" popped up and grabbed gamers' attentions. According to his post at the time, "Mass Effect can be customized to sodomize whatever, whomever, however, the game player wishes....with its ‘over the net’ capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away."
It was eventually taken down by the parent company that owns the blog site. And of course Mr. McCullough later offered an apology for the many erroneous statements he made, though he didn't apologize for the "offensive content" that the game seemed to contain. And for those of you out there who haven't read the post in question, guess what? I found a copy.
"I know that they all probably assume they have better, much more important, urgent, timely, things to campaign on, but I sure would like to get their individual takes on the new video game that one company is marketing to fifteen year old boys.
It's called "Mass Effect" and it allows its players - universally male no doubt - to engage in the most realistic sex acts ever conceived. One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images they wish to "engage" and then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the video game "persons" hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of.
The objections to such filth should be simple to understand.
Starting with the disgusting idea that one can "create" their own versions of what people look like, removing warts, moles, and bald spots while enhancing - shall we say - the extended features of the game's characters tends to objectify women, sex, and human relationships. Right? We can all agree on this?
Then there's the dishonesty behind the game' title. "Mass Effect" sounds like a war game with a deadly virus that is spreading unless the GI-Joes are able to defeat the evil and deadly substance and it's covert war plan. By it's design, kids could ask for it, or for their parents' Best Buy Card to go purchase it with nary a raised eye-brow. Generic, non-descriptive, and relatively harmless.
But it IS marketed for the X-Box 360, perhaps the most visually stimulating gaming system ever made. The software for such allows the blending of DVD video, component graphics, and the manipulation of actual pictures so that an alternate reality engulfs the fifteen year old boy playing it without much objection.
Now if I have trouble with my son taking his James Bond 007 games a little too emotionally, imagine the powerful effect that hormones add to the mix when the player's own character is copulating like jack rabbits with super-models, actresses, and anyone else they can spend the patience to create, name, and "put into play."
I hear the libertarian Ron Paul's answer already, "Government has no business censoring freedom of expression." Figures, he's a libertarian.
In the race for President there has been a lot of discussion about faith and it's impact on the lives of the individual candidate. Some pretty inane ones like Carl Cameron's less lucid moment this past week when he posed the inquiry about marital submission to Governor Mike Huckabee.
Yet here's a question that deserves to be asked, and in all likelihood will not be: "How much moral judgement should the President push into legislative issues that are likely to severely damage our children's innocence, function, and capability?"
I hear the naysayers claiming I'm being the wild and crazed Bible-thumper I've always been - but its a worthwhile question isn't it?
If a pre-teen, teen, young adult, or adult male plays such a game in which the women DO submit without choice, are made to appear as Barbie streetwalkers, and perform whatever act can be imagined, what's to stop that same male from assuming that the women in his "other world" shouldn't be forced to do the same.
We now know because of the lengthy track record of serial killer after another that addictive use of pornography was prevalent in case after case - long before the switch got flipped and what their masturbatory imaginations have given into became what they were forcing real live human beings to do.
And because of the digital chip age in which we live - "Mass Effect" can be customized to sodomize whatever, whoever, however, the game player wishes. With it's "over the net" capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away.
Yes there will be many snickers that I decided to bring this issue up in the Presidential cycle of 2008 but how refreshing would it be for a President to prove to the nation that his own manhood was not in question and put his pen and signature to a bill that dealt with such simulated sex excess in a way that was punitive to its creators to such a degree that they would never recover from it?
As technology continues to push the limits of imagination and interaction more and more the brain, the emotions, the feelings will integrate with physical responses in reality. And while the makers of such trash seem to be pushing our next generation of young men through the gates of hell as fast as is humanly possible, it needn't be that way.
Here's hoping that as the next President will be forced to deal with this continual emerging reality - and enemy that has set its site to our destruction from within - that we will have elected a man of such character that he will have precision in the clarity of his response.
How would that be for a bold and uncompromising "Mass Effect?""
I don't know if the man's crazy or just suffering from blood loss to the brain.....maybe a little bit of both. But the fact that an entire, uh, "News" service picked it up and ran with the same thread behind it all just.....it amazes me how fast the mob-mentality can grip seemingly intelligent people sometimes. By the way, this hasn't been the only time Fox News accused a video game of graphic sexual content/innuendo.
February 8, 2011 they ran with a report after the release of Epic/People Can Fly's Bulletstorm. They targeted it, oddly enough, because of its profanity, sexual innuendo (no surprise there) and crude behavior; or rather they focused on some of the game's "skill-shots", which has some moves that rewards players for shooting at an enemy's genitalia. Normally, most players would chalk that up to adult-laced humor and move on.
Not Fox News.
They had to prop their position up with (snicker) "professionals." And so they brought forth psychologist Carole Lieberman who, to my knowledge, hadn't even physically played the game herself prior to her statements that games like Bulletstorm "...have increasingly, and more brazenly, connected sex and violence in images, actions and words. This has the psychological impact of doubling the excitement, stimulation and incitement to copycat acts. The increase in rapes can be attributed, in large part, to the playing out of such scenes in video games."
Yeah. According to her, playing violent video games leads to people wanting to go out and commit rape.
Where do they FIND these people?
A Modicum of Moderation
I do think that certain sexual content can be regarded as excessive however. Teen-rated games, for example, should not fit the pattern for even suggestive bits of nudity. I have no problems with graphic language because really you'd be kidding yourself if you think that a fifteen or sixteen or, hell, even a thirteen year old doesn't at some point curse or think about cursing. True they shouldn't do it excessively. That's when parents should step in and teach their children otherwise.
In fact, a video game shouldn't be a substitute for parenting. It shouldn't be doing the things a parent should be doing. Which is show or hint at things of a sexual nature. When a parent thinks that a video game does a better job of preparing their kid for more adult-themed content then, in my opinion, they've failed as a parent. Likewise, they shouldn't go overboard when a game flashes too much cleavage or hints at things best left to a conversation between parent and child. I know it sounds like I'm contradicting myself a bit. But what I'm trying to get across is this; Moderation. Keeping a level head and an open mind about sex and nudity, when it's appropriately labeled for the audience who can and should appreciate it the most is, I think, the best approach any parent should take. Because it leads to more open-minded and understanding people.
Sure, there's going to be some tough questions that kids might ask. Some downright uncomfortable ones even. But I think it's the best course to tackle it head on and pull no punches when they ask. Closeting it up, or forcing kids to repress how they want to express their sexuality is not only wrong, it's draconic. It's idiotic. And using religion to hide behind these outdated beliefs is not only cowardly, it's stupidity at its finest.
Which is another thing that needs to keep its nose out of Mature rated video games. Religious sects. I'll be the first to say that I'm a spiritual, but not religious, person. Meaning that while I personally believe in a one true god, there are too many negative things (and people) in all forms of religious beliefs that they taint and ruin the organization(s) they represent. Every one of them has a fanatic. And those fanatics poison the minds of people who are too easily swayed to do some truly horrific and horrendous acts. From the Christian Crusades, to the Middle Eastern suicide bombers.
Which is why, in my opinion, we have things like "bra and panties" shower scenes in Mass Effect 3. Don't believe me? Here's the example:
Should we blame religion for that one? To an extent yes. Because it permeates throughout every major vein in American culture today. Movies, books, television, even video games. They're on par with the military. If the military thinks that a certain project would/will paint the American War Machine in a bad or negative light, they will pull (and have pulled) support from said project. The latest example of that being their displeasure of how they were portrayed in the super uber blockbuster hit movie, "The Avengers." So don't think that religion in some way doesn't affect how western society views nudity in their daily lives in both art or entertainment form.
The same can be said of publishers who look at a developer's project and deem it too controversial due to its sexual content. The question is, is this because of a personal or religious-based decision? Do publishers look at a game from an unbiased approach or do they weigh their decisions with their own personal religious beliefs? We may never know, but I personally think that some do. And it's cemented itself too firmly, planted and dug roots too deep into some people's minds and, to an extent, their own companies, to be taken out of the equation any time soon.
Farewell to the Flesh
I have to applaud those developers out there that actually take the risks that could alienate them from the very people they're trying to reach. Because the way they've done nudity is not crass or explicit in and of itself. But rather a byproduct of a mature and adult-themed story. Recent hits include Quantic Dream's Heavy Rain, Rockstar's L.A. Noire and Red Dead Redemption, 2K Czech's Mafia II and most recently CD Projekt Red's The Witcher 2.
These developers not only took advantage of the M rating they were given, but understood the parameters of the rating. Not only were these games prime examples of both exceptional storytelling and gameplay, but they treated the mature content with both respect and dignity. They didn't do it simply for the sake of it, but because it made sense to the world and story they were telling us. In fact, if you think about it, the nudity was really a non-issue compared to these reasons.
Oddly though, if you look at the developers in question in the above examples, most of these (with the exception of Rockstar) are European/foreign-based developers. Tells you a lot of how we, as a western society, seem to shy away from the very thing(s) that make those developers stand out from the pack. Again, you have to ask if this is more of a prudish approach to game developing based on cultural differences, or is it driven by religious dogma that should not and should never set the course of free expression of both mind AND body to those who can and should be able to appreciate it in a mature and adult manner?
What I'm saying above all else; Nudity shouldn't be shied away from, nor should it be used in an overly gratuitous way. It should be respected, not exploited. And more importantly it should be talked about and aimed at the appropriate audience. And for those people who think otherwise; you're all free to express your displeasure with any game, especially games that might be using it simply to use it for the sake of. But please, do some homework before you grab the torch and pitchfork.
Because trust me, from personal experience, it only makes you look foolish to blow a bit of side boob way out of proportion.
Nudity In Video Games
Blog entry posted by wastelander75, Jun 13, 2012.