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Playing Politics with Video Games?
March 27, 2003 7:09 AM   Subscribe

Electronic Arts released it's latest in the popular "Command & Conquer" series, "Command & Conquer: Generals" C&C are strategy and warfare games, that have bloodless and non-explicit violence. But this month the German government listed the game on their index of media that can not be advertised or displayed on shelves in Germany, although they may be kept under store counters and sold to adults. Most video games on this list show "especially brutal acts of violence," unlike C&C [more inside]
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood (23 comments total)

 
"Until now the games that are indexed are typically slasher games in which individuals fight and someone is killed and there is blood," said Jeff Brown, an Electronic Arts spokesman. "This is a military strategy game."

Looking at the game, the world is divided into three factions: The United States, China, and a fictional terrorist group called the Global Liberation Army, which bares a striking resemblance to al-Qaeda. EA claims that the German government is playing politics with the game because in part, one one of the levels depicts a siege of Baghdad by US forces.
Elke Monssen-Engberding, member of the Ministry for Family Affairs, say the game glorifies war; "It portrays war as the only way to resolve conflicts, it generally advocates war, and it gives military force an aesthetic appeal."

It very well may, but what does the government expect from a war strategy game? Since the standard to make it on this index for video games is normally extreme bloody violence, is the German government playing politics with EA?
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:10 AM on March 27, 2003


More so, I have been unable to find if the other C&C games have been placed on this list as well. They are very much the same concept but with a different cast of characters, and a slightly different plot, but the same war strategy concept.
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 7:14 AM on March 27, 2003


/.
posted by matteo at 7:40 AM on March 27, 2003


I played the invade Baghdad mission the other day, and was amazed that there hadn't been media outcry over the game, like there was with GTA3. But then, maybe C&C Generals is teaching us to be good little soldiers.
posted by Orange Goblin at 7:42 AM on March 27, 2003


i've been playing Generals since it came out (and am one level from beating all the levels). The GLA level in question involves a US and Chinese attack. In this level you use angry mobs armed with AKs to blow up as many residental and commercial buildings as possible and steal UN food drops for money.

In other GLA levels, your job is to steal UN relief for cash and kill all the civilians in town (so they can't take the food themselves). The game even prompts you to blow up their houses to meet your goal of $20K, $30K then $40K.

The GLA weapons include a scud launcher loaded with antrax, anthrax weapon upgrades, suicide bombers, and tractors filled with anthrax for use on people.

I wouldn't call it neccessarily graphic, except it is 3d rendered top down RTS (like Warcraft 3), and you can zoom in and watch people choke and die on bioweapons.

The Chinese have a flame thrower you can use on people, mobs, buildings etc. They also have nukes which layour radiation.

i wouldn't call the game overly graphic, but i can understand Germany's decision. I was playing as GLA on the level in question when i fought off the Americans the game replied something like "See, the Americans don't have the staying power..." - meanwhile i had CNN going in the background - it was a little wierd.
posted by Zebulun at 7:46 AM on March 27, 2003


The google ads are cracking me up
posted by Mick at 8:10 AM on March 27, 2003


This isn't nearly so silly as MTV Europe's banning of all B-52's videos...after all, it is a war game.
posted by jburka at 9:01 AM on March 27, 2003


command and conquer brings up two memories for me: one, of the commando yelling "Yo!", "I'm on it!", and "Let's rock and roll!"; two, of the ridiculously long amount of time between C&C1 and C&C2. the founding studio that first developed the game -- Westwood Studios -- will soon no longer exist. sad. they all but invented the RTS genre with Dune II.
posted by moz at 9:22 AM on March 27, 2003


You mean they're not going to allow teenagers to simulate gassing and shooting civilians in Baghdad? What's the world coming to...

Worst. Post. Ever.
posted by zekinskia at 9:23 AM on March 27, 2003


You forgot to tell us you don't own a tv zekinskia.
posted by yerfatma at 9:42 AM on March 27, 2003


I thought the C&C games were all about the silly cut scenes, which looked like they were videotaped out of some public access television station in Wichita and had all the thespic power of an Ed Wood movie. And that's what kept me playing.
posted by ed at 10:14 AM on March 27, 2003


I remember reading about the original C&C game in germany.

To get around this stupid rule, they replaced the red blood that came out of soldiers when shot/squished with black blood, and then added a reverb to all the german speech.

So it was robots fighting robots....
posted by Iax at 10:53 AM on March 27, 2003


bloodless and non-explicit violence

It has been said that "bloodless" violence perpetuates the idea of violent behavior without consequences, like cartoons in which a character gets beat up or knocked unconscious but never really bleeds or sustains serious injury...
posted by Shane at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2003


Since the standard to make it on this index for video games is normally extreme bloody violence, is the German government playing politics with EA?

Well, no. If they were really playing politics, they would have tried to bribe EA with foreign aid to support the German position, or maybe bugged EA's offices, or erroneously charged EA with developing nuclear weapons based on forged documents, or maybe changed "Electronic Arts" name to "Freedom Arts". Or they could have just lied to the German people about how much the game was really going to cost....then sprung a $75 billion price tag and a growing body count on citizens after the game began.

You know. Playing politics.

....C&C are strategy and warfare games, that have bloodless and non-explicit violence

Well, shucks...why, that makes them just like playing paper dolls, then. Why, they're just like the "surgical strikes" that aren't killing a single civilian in Iraq. War and war games and the little boys who play them....just moving pieces around on a board. Bang, you're dead. My cruise missile just landed in your city's neighborhood. Ha ha. Just a harmless game for chickenhawks and little boys who think war is just a game, and whose idea of the reality of war is based solely on warblogging, TeeVee, and games.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 12:00 PM on March 27, 2003


That's right, fold, shane, and zekinskia: because you're incapable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality, so is everyone else. Furthermore, because some people aren't aware of their particular weakness, it is the duty of the government - headed by superhumans who are much wiser than us mere mortals - to step in and save us from ourselves.

Yes.

And, of course, it's all for the children. You wouldn't want the children playing these violent games and warping their fragile little minds, would you? Please, think of the children.

The German government is a fan of censorship, has been for a while, and videogames have always been a far target for that. Panzer General - a game from the early 90s where, as the name implies, you command sections of the Wehrmacht - wasn't allowed to be sold in Germany until all the swastikas were removed. From the Nazi army. Beware him who would deny you information, for he seeks to control you - Commisioner Pravin Lal, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri
posted by kavasa at 12:40 PM on March 27, 2003


That's right, fold, shane, and zekinskia: because you're incapable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality, so is everyone else.

First off, kavasa, I said "It has been said that "bloodless" violence perpetuates the idea of violent behavior without consequences..." I think the argument has pluses and minuses.

Second, this does not indicate that I am "incapable of distinguishing between fantasy and reality."

Third, accusing me of being a fan of censorship is a moon-leap of logic and shows you have not been here very long.

kavasa, perhaps you are incapable of distinguishing between civil discourse and raving like a cyber-troll? As such, I will ignore your inflammatory and ignorant remarks.

But have a nice day. It's nice outside--maybe you should get some sun.
posted by Shane at 1:07 PM on March 27, 2003


...it is the duty of the government - headed by superhumans who are much wiser than us mere mortals - to step in and save us from ourselves.
Oh My Stars and Garters, Foldy and I are now supporters of an intrusive all-powerful Federal gov't now, too! Foldy, you Dittohead, you!

posted by Shane at 1:15 PM on March 27, 2003


Oh, sweet mercy, someone just quote the game Alpha Centari.

Personally, I find the actions of Germany to be a bit overblown. It is censorship regardless, even if you're doing it for different reasons than people normally do it. I must confess that I myself am partial to both war games, simulation games, and those that blend both. (Once again, the hallowed Alpha Centari game) Does this fact make me a warmonger? Does it make me part of the problem?
posted by Lord Chancellor at 1:28 PM on March 27, 2003


Shane - I absolutely agree with everything you said to kavasa with the exception of this:

As such, I will ignore your inflammatory and ignorant remarks.

You can't simultaneously ignore his clearly inflammatory & ignorant remarks and comment that you are doing so. And then follow that up with another comment. We need to stop feeding the trolls here.
posted by jonson at 2:03 PM on March 27, 2003


Well, shucks...why, that makes them just like playing paper dolls, then. Why, they're just like the "surgical strikes" that aren't killing a single civilian in Iraq. War and war games and the little boys who play them....just moving pieces around on a board.

Umm, yeah. It is a game. Just pieces, not people. Unless you believe they've made some serious AI advances, and the C&C people are sentient. I'm assuming that's not the case.

Playing war games doesn't kill people, just like crashing cars in race games doesn't kill people, or anything else one does in a game [when people in SimCity die because I don't allocate enough funding for hospitals, they're not real either!]

Nor does playing war games make you pro-war. I'm against this war, I've never killed anyone, I don't even eat meat. Hell, I've never even HIT anyone. But I love killing virtual people. It's not even close to the same thing.

But hey, I guess it's fun to throw around wild accusations.
posted by wildcrdj at 9:20 PM on March 27, 2003


I blame Dungeons & Dragons.
[/sarcasm]
posted by Shane at 5:49 AM on March 28, 2003


Dammit, no one will even see this, so I really shouldn't bother. Ah well.

I love the "you obviously haven't been here long" bit. Because it matters so much.

And of course, nothing foldy says is ever inflammatory or ignorant, especially not his comment in this very thread. In fact, the civil, measured, and deeply-considered post he made is the yardstick by which my response was to be judged, thus why you didn't even see it as inflammatory.

I also wasn't quoting smac with even the slightest hint of irony. Nor was my comment re: government an attempt to hint at what that sort of attitude leads to. It was just a straightforward accusation of conspiracy. Of course.

Giant hint, here: this entire post so far has been dripping with snide college-student sarcasm.

I mean christ, Shane - you offered zero qualifications in your post. "It has been said that X." I think it's reasonable to assume that if that's all you state, then that is what you believe. And jesus, maybe the evidence to the contrary seems so blindingly obvious to me that I can barely comprehend saying that. Games are an industry that pumps hundreds of billions of dollars around the globe annualy, with hundreds of millions of kids and adults playing world wide, and we've seen what increase in random violence since they were introduced? And shit, didn't the drug war pick up steam at about the same time, and isn't that maybe a little more believable as a causal factor than some fucking pixels?

Maybe my irritation at seeing another few pseduo-pacifists gasping in shock - shock! - at videogames and providing a little more ammo for the censors gets me a little edgy. Maybe, just because I A) disagree with you and B) don't bend over backwards to be nice about saying so and C) even go so far as to get a few rhetorical jabs in while I'm at it doesn't mean I'm ignorant. A smartass? Sure. A fan of run-ons? Sure. But I guarantee I'm not ignorant.
posted by kavasa at 12:27 AM on March 29, 2003


I mean christ, Shane - you offered zero qualifications in your post. "It has been said that X." Etc etc.

I still blame it on Dungeons & Dragons.
[/sarcasm]
posted by Shane at 3:34 PM on March 29, 2003


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