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The ESRB Doesn't Take Games Seriously? 330

Eurogamer has word of comments by the president of developer Factor 5, Julian Eggebrecht. The veteran game developer had some extremely pointed things to say about the ESRB, an organization he painted as 'not taking games seriously'. Says Eggebrecht, "I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality, but we're not even at the point where we can admit that humans have heterosexual relationships, and that is a real problem - and it tends to show that games are not being seen, even by our own ratings boards, as an artform ... It's a flat out bizarre system...It makes it even harder for games than movies because we don't have the intermediate ratings. They don't really tell you what they will object to - they just say 'well, follow the standards that have been set before', which is a problem if you want to push the envelope." There's further discussion of this issue at Ars' Opposable Thumbs blog, which points out that the console makers hold some responsibility here too. Meanwhile, Rockstar is asking for help from the wider games industry to help them to fight the ESRB/BBFC rulings.
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The ESRB Doesn't Take Games Seriously?

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  • If you have a great game, it really doesn't matter what the rating is. Anyone would go and buy the game, even if you had to order it online, or pick it up at the local tiny computer store rather than wal-mart. This is how games like Doom got going; I remember seeing Doom, wolfenstein 3d, etc. for sale in random places when no regular stores were carrying games like that. It may not be as quick a return, but if the game is that good, then it will overcome the censors and be successful anyways (see mortal kombat series also.)
    • by WPIDalamar ( 122110 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:18AM (#20302951) Homepage
      To make a great game usually takes a lot of cash. Using alternate distribution channels severely lowers your sales potential. While it's a nice thought, I doubt no matter how good, the big blockbuster games couldn't pay for themselves if they couldn't sell retail.
      • by onion2k ( 203094 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:29AM (#20303043) Homepage
        Lots of big blockbuster games are terrible. Lots of small scale indie games are fantastic. Take a title like Zee-3's "Naked War" http://www.naked-war.com/ [naked-war.com] - a play-by-email game similar to Advance Wars on the Nintendo DS - written by a 2 person team (albeit with shedloads of experience), very cheap to create compared to big titles, and insanely good fun to play.

        There's absolutely no correlation between the cost of production and how enjoyable a game ends up being.
        • by JPrice ( 181921 )
          I don't think the GP was even trying to argue that there was a correlation between the cost of production and how enjoyable a game ends up being.

          They were simply saying that if a lot of money has been spent on a game (with no statement about how good that game actually is), the game-maker won't stand a chance of recouping their expenses without going through standard distribution channels.
        • Yes, but what percentage of the game market are you, the type of person that plays Naked War? Less than one percent. Not many people are that dedicated. Games like this that appeal to a wide range of gamers - or attempt to - need retail to make up their losses. Shit, just the advertising needed to get a game like that out is immense. They could get by without advertising, but how many games actually succeed with that? Even the obscure titles that have gotten big recently have big named behind them.
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Gonarat ( 177568 ) *

            A game produced by a small shop or in the case of Naked War shouldn't need that big of a percentage of gamers to make money. Naked War appears to be a subscription based game at $19.99 (I didn't dig in enough to see if that is per year or month, so I will assume a year). Let assume that the 2 programmers want to make $100,000 each per year and there will be $100,000 per year in expenses for a total of $300,000 per year. At $19.99 per year, they would have to sell 15,000 subscriptions to meet their expens

        • Yea, or Cave story [miraigamer.net] by Doukutsu Monogatari. One of the best games I've ever played. Quality story line, classic graphics, and its free!
        • There's absolutely no correlation between the cost of production and how enjoyable a game ends up being.

          Well, there is a reasonable correlation between cost of production and amount of content in the game, which often means more fun, if not necessarily more fun (if you know what I mean). There's also a very strong correlation between cost and polish. Hey, it may not make a difference to those spartans out there who think gameplay is the only thing that counts, but it does count for the rest of us. I find th

      • by Hatta ( 162192 )
        Come on. Do you really think San Andreas would have flopped if they sold it through the internet or mail order? A good game will create the hype it needs to sell.
        • by SatanicPuppy ( 611928 ) * <Satanicpuppy.gmail@com> on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:40AM (#20303705) Journal
          I don't think it could ever have created the hype if it wasn't the 5th(?) game in a massively popular series. A new game, without a massive PR budget, would have serious trouble with an AO rating. Hell, look at Manhunt II; Rockstar didn't just say, "Hah! GTA:SA sold great once it was AO, who cares if they AO this game!" they pushed the release date so they could rework the game to get an M rating.

          If anyone knows the difference in sales, it's Rockstar.
          • by edwdig ( 47888 )
            Rockstar didn't just say, "Hah! GTA:SA sold great once it was AO, who cares if they AO this game!" they pushed the release date so they could rework the game to get an M rating.

            That might have had more than a little something to do with the fact that it was a Wii/PS2 game but Nintendo and Sony don't allow AO titles on their consoles. GTA:SA got rerated AO after release, with future pressing having the AO content removed.
      • To make a great game usually takes a lot of cash. Using alternate distribution channels severely lowers your sales potential. While it's a nice thought, I doubt no matter how good, the big blockbuster games couldn't pay for themselves if they couldn't sell retail.

        Sometimes it takes a blockbuster game to make a distribution channel viable. See Steam; Steam sucks, but if you wanted Half Life 2, you needed Steam... so everyone has Steam.

        If the game is good enough, people will get it, even if the means is a bi

      • To make a great game usually takes a lot of cash.

        No, to make a FPS game consisting of eye-candy or takes a lot of cash.

        GREAT games, like Commander Keen, Sonic the Hedgehog, Cosmo, Super Mario Brothers, and so forth take a lot less cash to code. They take more in the planning stages; planning out the puzzles and fun gameplay overall.

        FPS games were great, and I think the height of them was Hexen II (opengl version). After that, the graphics got so good that they quit focusing on game play and started focusin

    • by Pxtl ( 151020 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:19AM (#20302953) Homepage
      Not true. For a game to be successful, it has to hit the shelves. Since NOBODY carries AO games (the rating reserved for porno and GTA:SA), you have to be careful to avoid that scarlet letter.

      The problem, of course, is any comparison against movies/TV makes this look moronic. If a game was flaunting naked breasts, it would get an AO rating (fundamentally an NC-17 rating for a movie). Meanwhile, movies with topless shots can squeeze in an AA rating if they're careful. Not to mention violence - your average episode of CSI is nastier than what we see in most videogames. Headcrabs are creepy, but they're nothing on that episode of Miami where a guy was wanking off and a giant lampful of maggots fell on him... maggots that were later revealed, graphically, to be coming from the head of a live-but-dying woman on the floor above.

      Which, of course, is why I laugh my ass off about political panderers who talk about "tightening up" the ESRB.
      • Just to pick a nit, there have been several games that flaunted naked breasts that didn't get AO...God of War leaps to mind.

        Still, you could easily have that much boob in a PG-13 movie, much less an R movie, and hell there is a lot of softcore pron in R that would be AO city if the same footage showed up in a game.
      • But games are interactive. Imagine a CSI game - people really would go around throwing maggots shovelled from a dismembered corpse (and where do they get the corpse from? Not from WalMart! They actually have to go out and find someone to kill!) onto people masturbating with their own faeces, and there ladies and gentelemen we have the end of society as we know it, and those damned hacker pedrophiles from the intrasphere will be stealing our childrens meggahurts!

        Meh, just seems to be yet another example of t
      • by phulegart ( 997083 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @10:38AM (#20305353)
        "If a game was flaunting naked breasts, it would get an AO rating (fundamentally an NC-17 rating for a movie)."

        Incorrect.

        Example. Playboy, the Mansion. It not only flaunts naked breasts, it revels and rejoices in them. They are everywhere. Some of the characters cannot wait to get topless in any situation. You are encouraged to photograph them repeatedly. Then, there is the "sex". Ok, so the characters are still partially dressed while having this "sex" (Once you've seen it, you realize it is not actually sex, although the shower animation is pretty close), however, it is still more graphic than GTA:SA. You, as the player controlling Hugh Hefner, are encouraged to have as much sex as possible, with as many different partners. You are encouraged to have multiple girlfriends all living with you under the same roof. Fantasy? Sure. Unrealistic standard? You betcha. Moreso than a Barbie Doll.

        Anyone known what Playboy The Mansion is Rated? Anyone? Anyone?

        M For Mature.

        It makes GTA:SA look like GTA the original, as far as nudity and sex is concerned.
      • by h4ck7h3p14n37 ( 926070 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @12:48PM (#20307571) Homepage

        Not true. For a game to be successful, it has to hit the shelves. Since NOBODY carries AO games (the rating reserved for porno and GTA:SA), you have to be careful to avoid that scarlet letter.

        Why don't the publishers simply not have their game reviewed by the ESRB and instead label them unrated? I know the big national chains have no problem carrying unrated movie titles.

    • by slobarnuts ( 666254 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:33AM (#20303071) Homepage

      The problem is, aside from being BANNED in some countries, in the US when you get an AO rating, companies like Nintendo and Sony wont even license your product, this is essentially what they threatened Rockstar with. It is companies deciding what you can and cant play, at least as long as you want to use their console.

      That effectively halves your potential customer base.
    • May I also point out that, in addition to the fact that no one will carry an AO title (that other posters have mentioned), there is also the harsh reality that an AO rating bars you from any console port of a game too (since all console games have to be licensed and MS, Sony, and Nintendo have all stated publically that they will not license any AO game).
      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        (since all console games have to be licensed and MS, Sony, and Nintendo have all stated publically that they will not license any AO game)
        Then why doesn't someone start marketing the Mac mini or some brand of mini-ITX PC as a console replacement?
        • No point...Since no major game retailer will carry the games, it'd be impossible to sell enough copies to cost justify the new hardware. Also, if it played regular console games you'd be sued by Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo over copyright violations almost immediately.

          As it stands, I'm sure there are any number of AO games out there for PCs, but I'm equally sure that their absence from standard distribution channels means that they are either unrated altogether or AO and only being sold off porn & warez site
          • by tepples ( 727027 )

            Since no major game retailer will carry the games, it'd be impossible to sell enough copies to cost justify the new hardware.

            They play regular Mac games (in the case of the Mac mini) or regular PC games (in the case of the mini-ITX PC). They just output to a 640x480, 852x480, 1280x720, or 1920x1080 pixel monitor that happens to be larger than a typical PC monitor.

            Also, if it played regular console games you'd be sued by Sony/Microsoft/Nintendo over copyright violations almost immediately.

            I don't see Nintendo suing Dell or Microsoft over the fact that N64 emulators happen to be available for a PC running Windows. I also see that Sony eventually lost its lawsuit against Connectix over Virtual Game Station; with this precedent on the books, it becomes har

    • by aplusjimages ( 939458 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @10:15AM (#20304943) Journal
      Though that is somewhat true, the problem with the AO rating is that major retailers won't stock your game. People believe that if your average gamer can't pick it up at Wal-Mart then word of mouth won't help it succeed. In Manhunts case, it would probably be an interesting test to put the game out as is and sell directly from their site. If it did great, then hopefully the game industry could turn the tables on retailers especially stores like Wal-Mart [slashdot.org].
  • by JosefAssad ( 1138611 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:14AM (#20302929) Homepage
    Wouldn't take much to cook up a campaign where tough ESRB ratings are used to sell even more games.

    Forbidden fruit and all.

  • by Ed Avis ( 5917 ) <ed@membled.com> on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:15AM (#20302933) Homepage
    Do these ratings have any legal weight? Surely PC gamers can just pay for and download the games that they want. Do people still go to shops and buy a shiny disc in a plastic case?
    • by conspirator57 ( 1123519 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:46AM (#20303179)
      The ratings are used as a prefilter on your brick-and-mortar selection by said shops' managers. So while they have no legal weight other than age verification at the point of sale a la movies, they impact your ability to obtain a physical copy of some games. Walmart was one of the first and most successful to do this sort of thing among the well known store brands and they're still more conservative than say, EB or (insert mall software shop here.) As to why people still patronize brick and mortar stores, it has several factors.

      Most importantly is the available bandwidth in most homes. While you may be sitting on your cable modem on an under-subscribed segment or on your FiOS link or whatever, most of America, and indeed most of the gaming world has less than a 1Mbps pipe. This makes 7+GB downloads intolerable, especially since most of us have alternate uses for our internet service. Yes you can get a browser that will throttle your download in order to allow other traffic, but that just slows down the download.

      Alternatively, some of us like having backup copies of the games we play and don't trust magnetic media for it.

      Further, there is still a strong psychological tie to purchasing something physical, which trend is especially prevalent in the previous generations buying for their children and grandchildren. Think about it: would all of these businesses maintain shop space in all these cities and personnel to staff them if it weren't profitable. It's not like it's a lark that a single chain recently took that has yet to prove itself.

      • So while they have no legal weight other than age verification at the point of sale a la movies

        Which is to say, no legal weight whatsoever. Just making that clear.
    • Do people still go to shops and buy a shiny disc in a plastic case?
      Well, over here in the UK there are loads of shops selling shiny disks in plastic cases and they seem to be doing great business so someone must be buying them.
    • Yes they matter. The vast majority of video games are purchased in stores not online.
  • Could be... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by niceone ( 992278 ) * on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:16AM (#20302939) Journal
    The ESRB takes games too seriously - it's the gamers they don't take seriously.
  • by mqduck ( 232646 ) <mqduckNO@SPAMmqduck.net> on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:18AM (#20302949)
    Let's hope this means the ESRB will go the way of the National Legion of Decency [wikipedia.org]. That is, maybe people will just stop paying attention.

    Or, does the video game industry have enough power (read: money) yet to get government to change the rules?
    • Or, does the video game industry have enough power (read: money) yet to get government to change the rules?

      Obviously not, or some senators [senate.gov] wouldn't be calling for probes into video games. They don't seem to have a problem with their buddies in Hollywood, though...
    • Let's hope this means the ESRB will go the way of the National Legion of Decency. That is, maybe people will just stop paying attention.

      Or, does the video game industry have enough power (read: money) yet to get government to change the rules?


      The ESRB is the industry. Jesus Christ, how many times does it need to be said? The ESRB is comprised of representatives from the industry itself and is funded by dues paid by the industry. A quick glance of their web site would have confirmed this for you - what do you think "self-regulatory" means? All ESRB members are signatories of its charter and rules. That includes Rockstar, that includes Factor 5.

      The ESRB has nothing whatsoever to do with government. That's why it exists; to head off government intervention.
      • by tbannist ( 230135 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:40AM (#20303707)
        That's not entirely true. The ESRB is caving in to government pressure and kissing politicians asses to try and keep the U.S. government from creating a ratings board. Much of the asshatery that is going on can be traced back to the influence of Jack Thompson who, as a snake-bellied moral grandstander, has cozied up to a number of politicians who should know better and fired them up over the hot coffee scandal.

        This is the fall out, the ESRB is scared that it will be replaced with a real censor board, and so now they're ending up being stooges for the government even though they're supposed to the be the industries stooges.
  • by fmarkham ( 1091529 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:26AM (#20303009)
    Do we really need content descriptors such as "Crude Humor", "Alcohol Reference", and most shocking of all, "Comic Mischief"?
    http://www.esrb.org/ratings/ratings_guide.jsp#desc riptors [esrb.org]
    • by sbate ( 916441 )
      My twelve year old daughter explained comic mischief to me. It means the characters are sassy to each other. Spyro the dragon 2 had a lot of un-unnecessary annoying sassyness in it. She does not like that in her games. So if I see that in a game now I know..
    • I think of Ned Flanders, angrily monitoring every single piece of television being broadcast, lest he allow his children to be exposed to the filth they might contain, everytime I see ridiculous labels like "Alcohol Reference" Hell, Mass has alcohol references. Several times. The pastor friggin' DRINKS WINE IN FRONT OF THE CONGREGATION.
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        No way dude, that's blood...Totally different.

        Then he took a cup, gave thanks, 16 and gave it to them, saying, "Drink from it, all of you, for this is my blood... Matthew 26 27:28

        One thing I never could stand about Christianity...All the damn vampires.
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 )
      Considering that these descriptors aren't necessarily meant to have negative connotations, I see no problem with them.
  • by Zerth ( 26112 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:33AM (#20303075)
    Originally, it was to protect the game industry from heavy handed government action. But lately, it has been even more heavy handed, because it isn't required to respect the first amendment, in order to appease all the helicopter parents that can't read labels and think videogames == kids.

    However, there is only one real reason or goal that underlies the ESRBs actions and encompasses all of the above.

        To keep getting paid for a job that doesn't require any heavy lifting or thinking.

    And it will continue that way until videogame companies go the route of comic publishers, giving the ratings system the finger and putting out good "adult-only" title as out-of-store PC-only games until stores and consoles realize that there is money there and they show the ratings system who is the servant.
    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:06AM (#20303335)
      True, but even comic books are still strictly constrained to a large extent (controversial titles will only be carried in certain comic book shops, not in any mainstream retailers). And, even so, you're comparing apples and oranges. Even a quality modern comic book (or "graphic novel," if you're one of those types) can easily be produced by a single artist and writer in a relatively short time.

      A modern video game (above the level of Xbox Live Arcade material) requires a staff of 20 or more people (not including voice work) and can cost millions of dollars and years of work to develop. This means that money is a VERY real consideration in videogame development. No one is going to spend millions to develop a game that only a handful of stores in the whole country will carry.

      Now, you can point out that doing a cheap flash game or simple tetris-like title can be done much cheaper and easier than a full-fledged game. But that's clearly not the kind of game the OP was referring to.

    • in order to appease all the helicopter parents that can't read labels and think videogames == kids

      Don't oversimplify. The video game industry is following standards set by Nintendo. Can you imagine sex or blood in a Zelda game? Its like a cartoon.

      The goal isn't to make games just for kids. There's a difference between, for example, Baby Einstein, and Harry Potter. I'd watch the latter but not the former; they want their games to have a broad appeal.

      Why is this? It goes way beyond videogames=kids. It
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        Except videogames have been "pushing the envelope of appropriateness since its inception" too. And film went through some pretty dark times too before coming to be the all-swearing, all-bleeding, all-nude eyegasm that is today.

        I can sort of see where you're going with board games, but I don't think rugby or American football, as played at the adult level, would be appropriate for children. So we have five-a-side and stuff like that for the kids existing alongside the adult version.

        Just thinking aloud really
  • Nice to include Rockstar/Manhunt 2 there. Not very controversial as such, just bit more gore than the norm right now. Actually the linked article says the same thing.

    However, if you can see one digital nipple on-screen it's a big scandal.
  • by Nanite ( 220404 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:37AM (#20303107)
    I just watched a movie called "this film is not yet rated" (get it on netflix) where they show just how incompetent and unfair the MPAA ratings board is. If the ESRB is WORSE, then I feel sorry for anyone trying to push the envelope in games developement.

    PS. Jack valenti is still dead and in hell

    • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *
      It is a HELLUVA lot easier to get a controversial film made and distributed than a truly controversial videogame. At least their are SOME outlets for NC-17 and controversial films--art house theaters (virtually every decent-sized city has one), DVD sales at online retailers, Netflix, etc. Even Blockbuster and Best Buy will carry "unrated" and some controversial titles (never forget walking into Best Buy one day and seeing a big display for, of all things, Gaspar Noe's "Irreversible").

      For an AO rated game,

  • Change AO to 18+ (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ender77 ( 551980 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @07:43AM (#20303161)
    I think part of the problem is the AO rating, It looks too much like XXX in movies. I think if it was changed from Ao to 18+ that would take away a lot of the inherent fear that AO titles have. It is less threatening and it says exactly what age group it is for. I do think that is still a band aid solution but it is a start. A huge part of the problem is that all the console makers will not allow AO products on their gaming system and the big chains will not sell it. The industry needs to grow out of this impression that video games are for kids. The average gamer is in his 30's, they need to wake up to the huge market base out there they are missing out on.
    • What we need, and another poster pointed out, is an intermediate rating. How about 'R'? Nice and easy to understand, but reserve AO for the legitimately pornographic games.
      • Yeah, I'm an idiot, I had completely forgotten about M...

        I guess the system is just plain old broken.
  • I don't know how much effort it would take on the part of developers, but if they get a good game together that the ESRB gives an AO rating, maybe the answer is to tone it down enough for a M rating and then also offer the unrated edition available from their websites. They could (potentially) cash in on the console market and the people who decide to impulse buy it at the store, and have the unrated version available for PC gamers. Maybe, if the sales look good enough, that'd creep over into console manu
    • by pla ( 258480 )
      but if they get a good game together that the ESRB gives an AO rating, maybe the answer is to tone it down enough for a M rating and then also offer the unrated edition available from their websites.

      Wouldn't work, because you've applied that nasty "logic" to the problem. Never accuse a regulatory body of applying logic to their decisions, it will just make you frustrated.

      Consider, for example, the "Hot Coffee" scandal last year. You needed to install a goddamned third-party hack to let the protagonis
      • Not to mention the fact that the console makers won't license an AO rated game for their consoles, so most likely would object to an unrated version.
  • I can certainly sympathize with complaints about the disparity between violence/sexuality when it comes to ratings and with complaints that console makers that are obviously targeting adults shouldn't ban adult content.

    But if developers want to explore topics outside of what is mainstream - why don't they just distribute these games outside the mainstream? Surely they don't need 20M from a publisher to realize their artistic expression. Why not just crank out an independently-released adult game in betwee
  • I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality...

    And how would that conversation be fun exactly? How would it entertain your audience? Have the gamers of the world been asking for games that "talk about homosexuality"?

    The game industry is facing a new threat. It's this Hollywood-ization factor. Game makers are starting to forget their audience and their mission, just as many film-makers have forgotten.

    To game and film makers: You are in the entertainment business. No one wants to hear a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Gulthek ( 12570 )
      It's called plot. While I'd be the first to agree that we have been burned by video game 'plots' before, I truly believe that the medium does have serious potential for engaging story.

      Examples: 'Eternal Darkness', 'Final Fantasy 3', 'Galatea', 'Psychonauts', 'The Longest Journey'
    • by mwvdlee ( 775178 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @09:17AM (#20304139) Homepage
      I take it you prefer dime-a-dozen hollywood direct-to-DVD releases to art-house movies?

      For some of us, using our brain is a form of entertainment.

      Though I don't see how homosexuality would make for a good game, I welcome games which actually bring more than just superficial action. And I'm sure somebody would be able to make a good game out of that subject (or in fact _any_ kind of sexuality, if given the chance. It's about time games started tackling more delicate subject manner in a thoughtful way.
      • A big agreement here. I have no idea if homosexuality, or many other topics for that matter, would make for a good game. I would be really interested in seeing the results of people trying. Yeah, sure, 90% of it would be crap, but 90% of everything is crap. Good art (which includes movies, photos, music, everything) happens because someone says "I wonder if I can make this work". Most of the time it doesn't, but some of the time it does.
      • by Kohath ( 38547 )
        It's about time games started tackling more delicate subject manner in a thoughtful way.

        Why? Can you explain how that might translate into fun? Any idea at all?

        Why is it "about time"? What is different about the current time than any other time?

        Why games? What would be the goal of "tackling more delicate subject matter in a thoughtful way"? Specifically, what do you mean by "tackling"?

        In other words, do you have any facts, reasoning, marketing data, or anything else to support your statement? Or are t
    • by Vellmont ( 569020 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @09:20AM (#20304173) Homepage

      To game and film makers: You are in the entertainment business. No one wants to hear about your ridiculous opinions on politics, culture, or anything else

      Right. That's why Michael Moore is out of business and makes no money. Agree with him or not, you can't deny the fact his films are political, and quite popular (and make money).

      The fact is that people are entertained by political, cultural, etc films. Why should games be any different? The problem is so far those political, cultural, etc games are just bad, racist, or both (super-columbine-massacre was bad, those nazi extermination camp games are racist (and likely very bad, I've never played them). In any media it's a lot harder to make politics or culture entertaining. Just because YOU don't want those games doesn't mean others don't.
    • by NEW22 ( 137070 )
      You are being a bit of a jerk, don't you think? You don't even know what these game and film makers' opinions would be, yet you are ready to insult them all without knowing them by labeling those opinions ridiculous. Is every opinion ridiculous? Especially since you include film makers in your dismissal, I wonder what acceptable material would even be for you. You don't want films that address politics, culture, or anything else from any non-neutral (if that even exists) point of view. I'm starting to
    • Have the gamers of the world been asking for games that "talk about homosexuality"?

      Yes. I don't care much myself, but I know how to do a Google search.

      http://yaoi.y-gallery.net/club/158/ [y-gallery.net]
    • I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality...

      And how would that conversation be fun exactly? How would it entertain your audience?

      You bash them with a bat. Happy?

      To game and film makers: You are in the entertainment business. No one wants to hear about your ridiculous opinions on politics, culture, or anything else.

      Speak for yourself. I'll keep looking for the rare works of art with messages, you keep reveling in mindless eye candy.

    • by rhakka ( 224319 )
      Wow. so because YOU like vapid movies, no one should be able to make movies that deal with real life issues?

      That's funny. You consider the "Hollywood-ization" factor to be too much focus on reality, and I consider it exactly the opposite, it deals way too much with empty calories for the brain, with brainless entertainment like Cops, "Reality" shows, watered down newscasts, hits to the gonads, sports, and other forms of "entertainment" suitable for neanderthals and mouth-breathers everywhere.

      I'd be ecsta
  • Homosexuality? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kextyn ( 961845 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:16AM (#20303437)
    I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality, but we're not even at the point where we can admit that humans have heterosexual relationships Apparently Eggebrecht has never played The Sims. In The Sims your characters can have relationships with whoever you want. This includes homosexual relations, and you can even have several partners at the same time. They even let you have sex (censored of course, and called a "woohoo") with a same sex partner. This is a T rated game too. I don't see a need to "talk about" homosexuality in games. If the developer wants homosexuality in the game they should just make it happen and not try to draw extra attention to it, like in The Sims. It should just be a normal thing and the characters shouldn't act weird about it, or it shouldn't be in there at all. It's just like real life. I don't care if you're gay, but you don't have to go around telling everyone you meet you are and putting stickers on your car, etc.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Nazlfrag ( 1035012 )
      You left out homosexual incest, for double the family fun! Perhaps the fact the sims gets away with it might have to do with pixelisation as a comfortable and acceptable censorship.
    • I don't care if you're gay, but you don't have to go around telling everyone you meet you are and putting stickers on your car, etc.

      Fine. No problem. I'll do that just as soon as I have equal rights.

      By the way, "equal rights" means among other things that I am allowed to mention my boyfriend/partner/husband as casually as straight men are allowed to mention their girlfriend/fiance/wife.

      • By the way, "equal rights" means among other things that I am allowed to mention my boyfriend/partner/husband as casually as straight men are allowed to mention their girlfriend/fiance/wife.

        while the "i don't care that you're gay just don't throw it in my face" attitude is very common among us breeders, bear in mind that it represents a significant amount of progress compared to the general attitude of straight society in the 80's, and that not every straight person feels that way.

    • The game is an RPG and has several romance options (the main character/you romancing a party member). You can play as a male or female and there is an oposite and same sex option for both plus if you are male you can even get both the girls to fall for you. Woohoo indeed.

      But on the night before the big battle, when woohoo happens in the movies, you speak with the person you are about to woohoo and while the male/female pairing kiss (male/male I do not known) the female/female pairing cuts of just before th

  • by Bob-taro ( 996889 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:24AM (#20303517)

    Despite this, Eggebrecht encouraged his fellow developers to continue pushing against the boundaries of what was acceptable in order to establish games as an artform. He concluded: "I hope that we actually can prove that this is an artform. Show me something that proves on all levels that games are indeed an artform - push the violence, but also push the sex, and push it in an artistic way where it's not really gratuitous, but where it gets my thinking brain going."

    So why does more violence and sex make it more of an art form? How about more of a plot? More character development? I can understand about artists wanting no boundaries and not wanting their creativity stifled in any way, but I don't think boundaries are always bad. Eggebrecht draws a parallel with movies and complains about how much movies can get away with compared to video games. Well, let's look at movies in the old days, where they had to work around more limits. In a way that gave them the opportunity to be MORE creative, because they had to SUGGEST more than they could display. Hitchcock movies are VERY suspenseful, even though the violence and gore were pretty tame by today's standards.

    You will always have ratings boards or something similar because some consumers WANT them. One person's "art" may offend someone else, so people want to know what they're getting into when they watch a movie or play a game. You may have the right to create whatever content you want, but you can't force me to watch it, and you can't force ESRB or anyone else to give it an "E for everyone" rating.

    • by CODiNE ( 27417 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @10:00AM (#20304757) Homepage
      So why does more violence and sex make it more of an art form?
      Because "art" is an euphemism for "YAAAAY BOOBIES!!!".
    • In one way I agree with you, because there's alot of media oriented around various combinations of sex and violence masquerading as art.

      However, the acceptance of violence did lead to a great many films and the like that simply wouldn't be possible without it - the work of people like Scorcese springs to mind. I have no problem with sex and violence when it's a valid part of the plot (and no, tacking some gratuitous T&A and gory SFX onto an otherwise good flick doesn't count as valid). I'll admit that i
  • by Applekid ( 993327 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @08:27AM (#20303557)
    Video games? Art? Not really. I've only seen maybe a handful of games that I would call "art" versus just a pasttime. My short short list includes Rez and Flow.

    The problem is that while film gets artsy fartsy conventions and festivals, game festivals are all about marketability and anything even remotely controvertial gets slammed (Super Columbine RPG anyone?).

    I mean, Nintendo, Sony, Microsoft, and co have all stated in one way or another that they wouldn't license games exceeding M ratings. Imagine if the companies that build and sell movie projectors had the means to lock-out "unlicensed" film and wouldn't license anything with material they were not comfortable with!

    All this combined with useful idiots like Ebert declaring that games cannot be art means there won't be any expansion of thought on gaming until the companies involved grow some balls.
  • IIRC, something like this went on with the history of Mad Magazine. Mad used to be a comic book, and as such, it came under the authority of the Comics Code Authority ( or some such body -- google it, I'm late for work ). William Gaines became particularly frustrated during a hearing where the Authority board had a problem with sweat on the brow of a black astronaut. So he made Mad into a magazine instead of a comic book, and continued on his merry way.

    I just brushed over the wikipedia article, so get th
  • The real problem is that the public, and not just in America, doesn't take censorship seriously. All censorship is offensive to me. When you've got giant organizations like the ESRB that exist with the sole purpose of keeping you from seeing things that might be offensive, you need to take a step back and see what's wrong with your culture at large because there is something that is fundamentally <i>broken</i>. The question everyone needs to ask themselves is, how much control over what I see do
  • by Pendersempai ( 625351 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @09:36AM (#20304385)

    I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality, but we're not even at the point where we can admit that humans have heterosexual relationships

    WHO isn't at that point? I can think of two mainstream, A-list games, off the top of my head, that casually included heterosexual AND homosexual relationships:

    • Bully [joystiq.com]
    • Fable [joystiq.com] (last paragraph)

    I've never played the Sims, but I imagine it lets you create gay characters too.

    Perhaps the problem is with Mr. Egglebert and Factor 5, not with the industry at large...?

  • No problem (Score:5, Funny)

    by Have Blue ( 616 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @10:09AM (#20304891) Homepage
    It's already easy to talk about homosexuality in games. Just jump on Xbox Live.

    You may also encounter discourse on race relations.
  • It's interesting to hear this argument, when I don't know of any videogame that actually DOES explore, in depth and in complexity, homosexuality, for that matter, a heterosexual relationship. The complexity of relationships in even the best videogame, does not compare AT ALL to that of the best cinema. At best, all I've seen in videogames is the equivilent of a fairly tale love story. There aren't really any standouts that I know of.

    But yes, perhaps it is a problem. If I wanted to make a game about the horr
  • BBFC != ESRB (Score:3, Informative)

    by Kr3m3Puff ( 413047 ) * <me AT kitsonkelly DOT com> on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @11:03AM (#20305843) Homepage Journal
    I feel the need to point out the BBFC and the ESRB are not even close to the same thing. ESRB is a "voluntary" industry board where people can choose to either submit their works for rating or not. The BBFC is a government agency that is required to approve and rate media for sale within the UK. What Rockstart is struggling with is their game getting no rating from the BBFC which means they cannot legally sell their game in the UK.

    The article does not make this same confusion, though the /. editor did.
  • by f1055man ( 951955 ) on Tuesday August 21, 2007 @12:46PM (#20307515)
    If you're willing to submit to censorship then you don't really care about what you're producing anyway. Most movies are crap. They fit the formula and that's about it. Most games are crap. They fit the formula and that's about it. You can attempt art that happens to make money, but you can't attempt to make money and create art.

    If we aren't careful video games are going to end up like comics/graphic novels. Infantilized bullshit featuring super underwear heroes. If we want video games that fulfill our demand for intelligent content, then we need a few game artists to tell the ESRB to fuck off and stick to their vision. The ESRB doesn't take games seriously, because censors don't take intellectual discourse seriously. Like all censors they'd rather have pleasant than interesting. The problem isn't the ESRB. The problem is that otherwise self-respecting adults take them seriously. If you're willing to be told what to think, do, say, or code and you're not 4 years old, you should be embarrassed.
  • by Zhe Mappel ( 607548 ) on Wednesday August 22, 2007 @02:23AM (#20315385)
    I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality

    What? Spongebob Squarepants isn't enough?!

    but we're not even at the point where we can admit that humans have heterosexual relationships, and that is a real problem - and it tends to show that games are not being seen, even by our own ratings boards, as an artform

    Pssst. Those Sims with the little hearts over the avatars? That's not a secret Masonic password, fella.

    "I want to see a game with real sexual content in a store here in Germany - I don't think it will happen unless we really recognise games as an artform," he told the audience. He pointed to Stanley Kubrick film Eyes Wide Shut, which "discusses relationship issues that you have in a marriage". "You don't have that in games - it is time to wake up and make it happen."

    So games need more Nicole Kidman fantasizing about infidelity while you, as Tom Cruise, infiltrate a coven of America's elite who just happen to hold their orgies at the estate of the Federal Reserve Chairman while performing Gothic chants in red velvet hoodies?

    Mouse control or not?

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