All entries for Friday 29 July 2005

July 29, 2005

Wanna come in for some 'coffee'?

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

One of the best games of 2004, if not recent memory. Some may deny it, but most would agree, and heap the necessary (necessary!!) praise on such a pinnacle of gaming.

Much fun is there to be had jacking cars, dealing drugs, gambling and randomly killing innocent bystanders and law enforcers – not only gangbangin' thugs need be iced to further your nefarious dealings.

Yet, this game is in the media view all over the world for the supposed "mod"; Hot Coffee. As it seems everyone has a viewpoint on this, I suppose it's time to air mine – being an avid gamer I have an informed opinion, other than someone such as, oooooh, I don't know, Jack Thompson. Being a lawyer seeking to further his career and extend both his ego and his wallet, he's been spitting fire and brimstone from his righteous pulpit at us game-playing sinners, about how computer games are ruining the youth of today. Of course, giving credit to the common sense of the young is totally out of the question - It's much more likely that games make young people stab their friends 38 times than mental disorders, troubled families, or however many other issues it could be. Why, just yesterday I went out and attacked an old lady with a Katana after playing a large dose of GTA. Doesn't quite sound right, does it?

In fact, statistics from the US suggest quite the opposite. It seems that violence amongst the youth of America has actually steadily declined in recent years. Now, while this could be due to a plethora of other reasons, it doesn't exactly back up the idea that computer games are "training" the serial killers and terrorists of tomorrow.

The mod, which was later found out to be locked content actually put in place by Rockstar Games themselves (most likely originally a minigame scrapped at some point during development), involves simulating sex between a fully-clothed man (the game's protagonist, CJ) and a excruciatingly poorly animated naked woman. Since this content has been released, the ESRB (Entertainment Standards Rating Board) has raised the game from R rated (17+, scenes of violence, sexual content and swearing) to AO (Adults Only, 18+ with scenes of violence, prolonged sexual content and swearing).

Call me slow, but that's almost identical… Wait, wait. I think I see the logic. Killing pensioners, cops and whoever happens to be walking past at the time while spouting profanity… that's OK for 17 year olds, right? Right! BUT!, I hear the right-wing conservative game-watchdogs cry, prolonged sexual content!! (At this point I can virtually hear the collective heart attacks of a committee of over-the-hill fuddy-duddies) This is BAD for our youth! They can see sexual content at 17, but not prolonged! 5 seconds of sex is faaaaaar better than 10 seconds! We must bump this game up to a rating dominated almost solely by Japanese Hentai dating games!

Rockstar capitulated voluntarily, rebranding future copies with the AO rating, and making it impossible for the sexual content to be accessed. In Australia, the game has even been banned causing me, yet again, to ask why. Seriously.

Let's look at this from yet another angle. Sex IS natural. Now while I'm sure Hilary Clinton, Jack Thompson and whoever else has jumped on this bandwagon haven't HAD sex in several decades, it's no reason to get up in arms about it, seeing as the game was aimed at those over 17. Now I know, the age of consent is 18 in America, but who under the age of consent hasn't either had sex already, or at least watched a healthy dose of porn? Amongst men (the predominant audience of computer games, not just violent ones) I would imagine this percentage is well into the majority.

One of the most popular arguments put forth by the anti-video games camp is that too many children play these games. I got Grand Theft Auto 3, the first 3D outing for the series, when it was released in October 2001. I had just turned 15 at this point, clearly under the age rating for this game, also an 18. I have seen many many films while being 'too young' to watch them, and yet, I like to think of myself as a well-rounded individual (no weight jokes intended), ignoring quirky character traits. I certainly haven't killed any relations whilst playing computer games. I put it to you that games do not breed violence in young people 'due to their inability to distinguish reality from simulation', it is, in fact, other problems; reasons I have already mentioned.

The main reason that these types of incident (you know, the old 'person who once knew a gamer back in college kills a burglar entering his house' story) seem so common and generate such media hype is purely that they're the current trend in litigation. If you look at the statistics, I'm sure there are far more murders committed by those with mental instabilities or motivated by revenge than there are games-related. However, the media loves to insinuate that Doom 3 or whatever new release makes everyone who plays it into an emotionless automaton, bent on genocide. Having said that, I'm a helluva lot better with that BFG10000 I bought off since completing Doom 3… In fact, violent games can even be stress relief. Picture this. You've had a bad day at school, it rained at lunchtime, the other kids called you names… if you're sane, you go beat up some virtual hookers. Of course, if you've got a screw or 10 loose, you go back to school next day and shoot the place up. I know it calms me down (the gaming, not emptying a clip of parabellums into the cafeteria) far better than something wussy like 'a long walk'.

If I was a militant, slanderous fool like Thompson, I'd be more concerned about the violence. I mean, if he went home and went to his daughter's bedroom he'd probably find her sleeping with the poolboy. The Americans have the audacity to call Brits angry and repressed!! I got very angry about the sex and violence, but managed to hide it very well. If this isn't a massive outburst of pent up frustration, I don't know what is. Maybe I'm just being level-headed (is that the right word? Yeah, I'll run with it) by not giving a crap about some ugly-looking sex minigame, as opposed to sensationalist and, let's face it, totally unrealistic, but I really can't see why everyone has got so frustrated and angry about this.

I know I'm just feeding the media machine by blogging about this, but I feel that I have to state my side of this argument. Seems the people who have control (I'm looking at you, Australia) can't be reasonable, so I'm a-havin' my say.

This is my last statement to you sharks, feeding on the media attention of what you have created –
Get real, get laid.

And you can quote me on that, although Jack Thompson would probably manipulate that into an anti-games "fact".

What does anyone else think? If anyone has other opinions (agreeing or otherwise), please, write on.

Alex out.

July 2005

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