January 22, 2008
Mainstream Media Still Doesn't Understand Video Games (Surprise, Surprise)
There has been quite a bit of flak going around from the main stream media about video games the past few weeks. I didn't really want to give each one of them another soap box, but I suppose I'll summarize all their ignorance right here: Mass Effect is interactive porn, video games are like crack for kids, and Bully just won't stop destroying our children.
The Mass Effect hubbub started when a conservative blogger on townhall.com made multiple incorrect assumptions about the game that include players being able to control sex acts and the game being marketed to 15 year old boys. The blogger later apologized to the "gaming universe" saying he didn't play the game (obviously) and only saw some clips of the sex online, though he still thought the game was offensive and should be kept out of young peoples hand's. I think Penny Arcade summed up this "incident" fairly well.
More recently, a writer from timesonline.co.uk wrote in an attention grabbing headline how the "Xbox is crack for kids". The ill informed "reporter" goes on through the classic anti-video game talking points about obesity (oh right, McDonalds figured that one out), the rotting of children's minds, and how hard video games make it for parents to raise their children. She then goes on to make the one of the most ridiculous assumption about video games I've ever heard by saying that even the "crappiest cartoon or lamest soap teaches a child about character, plot, drama, humour, life" while video games do not. She doesn't specifically say in the article whether she has played any games with her children but I highly doubt it.
The last foible of the media may sound a bit familiar. But wait, don't go away just yet, these reporters are not completely treading over the same ground as last time! They don't try to position Bully as a graphic bullying simulator as opposed to the satire of life in a boarding school that it really is. I mean, these guys point out that their are motion controls for the Wii version that make the game much more interactive and violent, and this will certainly lead to the collapse of society. Just like last time.
Their really isn't much to say about all this that hasn't been said before. It's obvious that these reporters are trying to get their name in the news buy criticizing an easy target. I wouldn't be surprised if none of these people had ever even touched a game, let alone tried to understand them. But just keep hope, because every once in a while the media lets us make our case, and when we do, we can at least make a couple of them look totally foolish.
Posted by Clayton Ashley at 4:00 PM
| Comments (11)
| Posted to Culture
Thanks for putting this topic forward. You know, before Bully came out, no one but Rockstar knew more about it. All we had were press releases. Honestly, the same thing was true about Manhunt. So when we are controlled access to content, it is acceptable to debate about content. However, when Rockstar says "such-and-such" is not in Game B, it isn't there.
Now we have Bully Scholarship edition coming soon, and all of the old Bully arguments have re-risen from their shameful graves. We are also post-release on Mass Effect, and no game has a better documented PG-13 sex-scene.
When these people shout that Bully should be Adults Only, they are so negligent in their duty to at least research their topic! They come off as naive, foolish, and liars. That's because they are one or all of these things.
Other things that make them stupid, liars, or stupid liars is when they claim M games are marketed to children. Placing the big "M" rating on the front of the game is very explicitly not for children. They also claim studies "prove" or "show" video games with violent or sexual scenes cause negative behavior, but the evidence has actually been minimal and inconclusive.
I'm sick of supposed "experts" citing made-up and misquoted studies. If you are supposed to be an expert and you have done zero research on a topic, you are lying if you claim otherwise.
This isn't even about FOX news hosting such one-sided arguments, they can show what they want. It's really about people literally attempting to harm certain game publishers and the industry in general. Why? Because they are afraid and they don't know why the are afraid.
This is a less-violent witchhunt, where the witches are games media, and the deaths, if remaining unchecked, will be millions of dollars wasted in special interest groups that claim to know what they are doing. If these zealots go unchecked, they will start demanding game developers and publishers be put up on criminal charges (see McCarthyism if you don't think that kind of mass hysteria can happen on a continental scale).
This is a huge warning sign to the ESA. They should consider taking a harder stance on lies about the games developed by the members of their association. I have to give them credit for tolerance, but time for tolerance is probably just about up.
What soapbox? The one I'm standing on? Here you go!
Extremely well said, Robert. The media seems to be ignoring the fact that the children have CHOICES. They make the choice to have the sex with a prostitute in GTA, do they not? It's probably the same in Mass Effect. Don't have to, but if you want to, the option's there.
I'll be the whining grammar nazi.
"I mean, these guys point out that their are motion controls for the Wii version that make the game much more interactive and violent"
"their" should be "there".
It actually hurt to watch that FOX news report. I cringed the entire way through it.
I'd like to reiterate a small portion of that broadcast to prove how one-sided and narrow minded the host is, starting from where she reads Microsofts statement from January 15, 2008:
"We actively support and abide by all video game rating systems... and provide built in, industry leading technology such as parental controls and a Family timer that empowers parents and caregivers to monitor their children's experience with video games notably with respect to content, online interactions and amount of time spent playing."
After reading this statement out loud, she continues her tyrade with...
"..you know, Cooper, it always cracks me up when companies say that, you know, there's all these controls in there, that you can monitor the time, but basically the box, Pandora's box, is open. I mean, kids have access to these things, and unless you're hovering over them every second, they're gonna find ways to see this stuff on the internet."
She didn't even TRY to understand what Microsoft was saying. When you use Microsofts parental controls your kids cannot play M-rated (or anything over E, if you choose it) games or play for long amounts of time without the password. Period. There is no way around that. Was she determined that Microsoft made all that up on the spot, without actually having the system in place?
She throws in the fact that unless you hover over your kids every second of the day, they can watch the extremely-mild, partial nudity scene from Mass Effect, on the internet. So it's the video games fault over something the kid see's on the internet now?
Do me a favour, type 'porn' into Google and browse the first five pages, and then tell me how bad it would be for a kid to see that Mass Effect clip. Seriously. Do it.
Shortly after this she goes on to say...
"Jeff, let me ask you something. I have not played this game, I went on the webste today, I clicked on a lot of different trailers, I tried to learn as much about it, uh, as I could before we did this, you know it's interesting when you click on it, it asks for your age. It says you must go through a screening process, so I thought 'Oh, this is going to take forever!' Okay, so I put in my age, and then 'boom!' you're in, no problem. So that is a pretty easy screen to get past. There's nothing graphic that I saw on, you know, the pages that I looked at on the internet."
So after all that she states that, after researching this for an additional 10 seconds, she actually didn't see any graphic material whatsoever upon her internet search.
Am I alone in wanting to cry when people like this are on the news spouting out their crap as unintelligently as possible?
While for the most part, the Fox News clip was one sided, Geoff Keighley managed to look incredibly well composed and knowledgeable about his subject. And that one line, "did you actually play the game" was just too perfect, a question I wish would be more often asked of this video game critics. I imagine if he only had more time he would have had many more intelligent things to say.
Well, I agree that you can't hover over your kids all day, nor can you stop them from playing a game that you disapprove of, but you can set up an environment of trust and communication that allows you to confront these situations as a responsible adult. Just calling a random game porn and throwing your hands up in the air like there is nothing you can do about it is like wearing a T-shirt that says "Incompetent Mom."
My mother and I actually laughed when we talked about some of these topics (Mass Effect one in particular). I think the biggest problem here is that the people with the most influence over the video game-ignorant public are just almost as ignorant, except they have pulled random fitting scenes and events from video games and formed their own (incorrect) conclusions.
As soon as Keighley started giving his thoughts, which are shared by the majority of gamers, he got cut off. I think a good argument he was about to give was that you have to pursue a relationship with the female members of the crew and you end up having the characters fall in love. In fact, it is pretty easy to completely miss it all together, unless you heard about it and decided to pursue it. The kids out there that parents want to "protect" would more than likely need help in order to get the sex scene. This means their parents would have had to get them a video game guide or let them surf the net unsupervised. Of course, the child may have found out from a friend at school how to go about doing this, and that is where parents lose their control.
However, that child had to acquire his/her knowledge from someplace, and it just keeps going from there. Regardless, if these parents are so afraid of their children being exposed to such things, they can put up an internet nanny, spend time with their children during video games, keep a tally on what games that child is playing, or even not buy games they don't want their children exposed to.
I feel so strongly about the Mass Effect incident that it hurts. My parents actually took it upon themselves to teach me what was real and what was fictional and took the time to make sure I was developing into a stable person.
Bully was exactly as the writer said, a satire on the life in a boarding school. It is not a training ground for violence. I mean, you can't possibly take that game seriously, with all the weird things that occur, but it is still a fun story you are living. It was the name of the game that brought all the attention, and thus caused people to look for evidence to support their already formed conclusions.
That brings me to one of my hugest pet peeves; people say gamers need to spend their time watching a movie or reading a book, rather than playing games. Although I can agree there are certain stories you'd never want to make into a game, and stories often allow you to actually imagine what you want characters and scenery to look like, the game lets you get more interactive with the story.
What Janice Turner doesn't admit is that movies always force you to see exactly the exact same story being told in the exact same way. With video games, there are often multiple routes the story can go, and you can often socialize with others who love video games through multiplayer. Heck, video games can even give you a learning experience on subjects including history, religious beliefs, vocabulary, and cultural traditions.
I have read plenty of books in my short life, and have seen enough movies, but some of the best experiences I've had in story telling have been in video games. This is one reason some movies don't turn out well as games; people see a movie that sold well and think they can make some money making it into a game, but realize there isn't enough content to put into the video game, e.g. Golden Compass. Of course, often people are just banking on the hope of movie lovers buying it not for gameplay, resulting in poor gameplay and graphics oftentimes.
Unfortunately, my thoughts aren't likely to be heard by the masses, but you can be sure they'll hear what the ignorant people have to say.
I could easily see this trend of the media and politicians “misinterpreting” the game industry continue for another 5-10 years. The media needs ratings, readers, and viewers to tune in so they can sell advertising. They know that people don’t tune in to watch or read “happy” stories. I ask anyone to consciously watch a news program and see how many of the stories are centered around negative/scary information and how many are positive/happy stories. The politicians love to use the game industry as their hot topic to show people that they care about our kids and want to protect them from the evils of gaming. It won’t be until the elected officials themselves have spent some time trying to finish that final boss battle that they will better understand the industry.
Someone should send these guys some hentai games. Hey look, we cares about Mass Effect! there's a whole niche market of sex based simulators! Often featuring underage looking girls and flat out rape!
So who saw EA's response to this round of ignorance(http://kotaku.com/348187/ea-calls-fox-out-on-insulting-mass-effect-inaccuracies)
It's pretty interesting. They call out pretty much everything they can. Of course, Fox News and the media at large won't care.
But yeah, it doesn't really make me angry at all. All new forms of media are misunderstood and rejected at first. Sure, everybody accepts books, film, and music(at least to an extent). But vidja games have only been around for a fraction of the time its brothers. Give it a few years. As this generation starts having kids(and it's already happening), video games will become more widely accepted.
But those damn holo-skatepods will corrupt our sweet, innocent children.
I just read this on Yahoo:
Video game sales squashed movie sales last year. Nearly double.
So, video games defeated mainstream media. Rock on!
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