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Government vs Stupidity, Round 1 goes to Stupidity
September 20, 2005 11:00 AM   Subscribe

The hypocrisy of governments shows in the video game industry in way too many ways. From silly scared actions to obvious flip/flopping. Of course, the most famous game for political action has had a lot of discussion and action(1 2 3) which erupted into something that proves Illinois is a "red state". Or, go to Australia and take it one step further. But the governments do not ignore the enormous income, and thus give incentives.
posted by cleverusername (38 comments total)

 
WASHINGTON (AP) — Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has attacked violent video games as "a silent epidemic" among children, said she wants a federal investigation into one of the most popular, "Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas."

Oh god I hope she dosn't get the Dem Nomination.
posted by delmoi at 11:06 AM on September 20, 2005


WTF is wrong with that first link? Why is the left side of the text cut off, no matter how I resize the window?

Back on topic, a crummy review will always do far more damage to a game than some politician flipping out over it. I played a prerelease build of "Thrill Kill," a PS1 game so gruesomely violent that Congresscritters had it shut down before it was even released. It turned out to have shallow gameplay, uninspired character design and poor control. If the people who had found it so offensive had just let GameSpot get their hands on it, nobody would have wanted to play in the first place.

Forever and ever, amen.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:07 AM on September 20, 2005


There is definitely nothing more important going on in this country today that Congress needs to concern itself with.
posted by wakko at 11:11 AM on September 20, 2005


A couple more points:

2) Democrats have their problems too, as clearly delinated, but while the modern Republican party dosn't give two squirts of piss about civil liberties either, they also have the downside of being completly insane.


1) "The Escapist" sucks ballz.
posted by delmoi at 11:15 AM on September 20, 2005


Faint of Butt, pdf version is normally what I use to read.
posted by cleverusername at 11:18 AM on September 20, 2005


This all will become a non-issue as soon as Congress passes a law making the parents responsible for what their children entertain themselves with. Which probably won't happen, so in the meantime they'll just limit what's available and punish the retailers.

Meanwhile, ignorant people will continue to be oblivious. After all, how could the 85-year-old grandmother have suspected the game was wrong for her 14-year-old grandson? It's only called Grand Theft Auto and is rated 'M' for mature audiences. But who needs to read anymore?

p.s. - I embrace the genocide of ignorant parents and guardians.
posted by NationalKato at 11:41 AM on September 20, 2005


More bi-partisan insanity when it comes to video games.
posted by shawnj at 11:59 AM on September 20, 2005


The video game industry has revealed an epidemic within American culture. Parents are completely unwilling to monitor their own kids, expecting others to do the job for them.

As NationalKato said, this is Grand Theft Auto, rated M. It is not fit for children to play. Beyond this, the outrage wasn't over the idea that you can kill cops, steal cars, and cause wanton havoc. No, the outrage is over a hidden function that requires technically illegal patches just to access.

Any teenager with access to the Internet could find far more offensive material with less time and effort than tinkering with the game. A simple search for "porn" in Google turns up over thirty million links.

There's plenty of places that stock Playboy and Hustler. All a kid needs is someone over 18 or a fake ID to get one of these magazines.

Parents don't give a damn about their hellspawn. They had the bright idea that they need to have a kid or six for some reason or other. Maybe the condom just broke, but an abortion is Evil. They don't want to listen to the kid, so let the glowing babysitter do its job. TV gets boring though, and they want video games like every other kid. Of course GTA is popular, it's the "bad" video game. They want it, and the parents don't care if it's rated M, or if it's based on rampant crime, or even if it had satanic rituals involved in the gameplay, as long as it's not on the news and people aren't outraged.

Of course, we have to shelter our kids from the real world. Abstinence is the only way to prevent your penis from turning green and falling off, pornography will make you go blind, sex outside of marriage pisses off an invisible guy in the sky who will burn you forever for looking at naked breasts, but if you're 18 with a diploma and no serious offenses, you can get paid to carry automatic weapons and live in a place that makes hard-ass career soldiers paranoid.

I can only wonder what sort of reaction Congress and the media would have to a game that actually deserves outrage. (Link NSFW)
posted by Saydur at 12:06 PM on September 20, 2005


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has attacked violent video games as "a silent epidemic" among children

But the all-time winner of the "Democrats Cynically Pandering to Suppress Content for the Sake of the Children Award" is still Tipper Gore and her PMRC.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:10 PM on September 20, 2005


Oops. Tha's Tipper Gore and her PMRC.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:12 PM on September 20, 2005


That's. Damn. Time to go back to GTA.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 12:12 PM on September 20, 2005


Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, who has attacked violent video games as "a silent epidemic" among children

This is why I'm not voting for Hillary if the Dems nominate her for 2008. I voted for Bill, I voted for Gore, and I voted for Kerry, but unless the Republicans run Zombie Hitler for president, I'm not voting for Hillary.
posted by unreason at 12:13 PM on September 20, 2005


Saydur, thanks for adding such dead-on sentiments. Something that made me smile (in a sad way):

the parents don't care if it's rated M, or if it's based on rampant crime, or even if it had satanic rituals involved in the gameplay, as long as it's not on the news and people aren't outraged.

In fact, there are so many games (not to mention television, music, and film) that feature blood, gore, senseless killing (even if they are Nazi Zombies), and other forms of wantom violence, it's a complete and utter shame that boobies are the enemy.
posted by NationalKato at 12:22 PM on September 20, 2005


*wanton, that is. That's what I get for looking at so many boobs.
posted by NationalKato at 12:37 PM on September 20, 2005


Parents don't give a damn about their hellspawn. They had the bright idea that they need to have a kid or six for some reason or other.

Oh man I can't wait till Saydur has kids. You'll be spittin bile out the other side of your mouth on that day, I guarantee.

Not that I don't agree with the underlying tenets of your argument, but you know what, a lot of parents try VERY hard to care about what their kids do and play with. I see it every day. So maybe ease up there, Cochese, on the rhetoric. These wackjobs that are upset at GTA are the same five wack jobs that were upset at Janet Jackson's nipple. It doesn't make every parent a drooling, uncaring moron.
posted by spicynuts at 1:14 PM on September 20, 2005


Clinton's rhetoric makes me want to move to a country that has priorities like the federal budget and disaster relief.

Like many, I've always felt that it's a problematic position to take, this idea that "bad" videogames make people do "bad" things. This is true of culture as a whole. I don't feel any differently about video games than I felt about rap music, back when rap had the feet that depravity was laid at. Or comics. Or movies, back when.

But I wonder who among us would have the same feelings about "America's Army," and its use as a recuitment tool by the Department of Defense? I believe that many of us -- myself included -- would acquit GTA of any genuine "inspiration," while also being nervous that America's Army is really effective in glamorizing (or at least neutralizing) the hellish reality of enlisted combat.

So I wonder if there's not a double standard, that when games endorse transgressive fantasies like rape or homicide, we are willing to say that game space is different than the real world, and any kid understands that. But when the fantasies fall shy of our own moral limits (those of us opposed to war as it is waged) we condemn it as opportunistic, scary, and bad faith. In general, most people agree that America's Army has been effective in getting new recruits ... but we would never say (or want to say) that GTA SA was effective in recruiting on its own terms.

Would we? These are not rhetorical questions, I really want to know how people think this through.
posted by cloudscratcher at 1:22 PM on September 20, 2005


Government versus stupidity? I'm not sure I get it. Aren't government and stupidity on the same side this round?

cloudscratcher, I submit that perhaps there is no contradiction: the people who endorse America's Army as a recruiting tool believe that it is successful at glamorizing combat and persuading young people to try that way of life, are usually also the same people who believe that GTA glamorizes crime and recruits young people into that way of life.

But you're right, there are probably some who object to America's Army on terms that contradict their general position on video games.
posted by dhartung at 1:29 PM on September 20, 2005


spicynuts, relax the quills, man. i don't think it's too far a leap of logic to see that there is a growing number (at least a visible number) of parents who react in outrage to this kind of stuff after their kids get a hold of it. you're going to tell me that parents are totally aware of what games their are playing? please.
posted by NationalKato at 1:34 PM on September 20, 2005


Well, we at least let one Escapist issue pass without a fpp.

Seriously, the Escapist is a joke. For the love of Mario, don't make me think that there might be an interesting post on gaming only to link to the Escapist. Garbage.

And do we really need to link to every story ever made in it? Stop it.
posted by AspectRatio at 2:24 PM on September 20, 2005


Cloudscratcher - I think you're right, but you're going a step too far.

'If America's Army makes kids want to be soldiers, why doesn't Grand Theft Auto make kids want to be mass murderers?'

Well, first of all, I don't see how America's Army is forcing anyone to become a soldier. Like most viral marketing, adverts, and other cross-media marketing, what America's Army is designed to do is raise awareness among a segment of the population that the Army felt was disproportionately unlikely to know about their product.

It's been successful, because millions of keyboard warriors out there know a little bit more about the army and how it functions. The Army's hope is that this will inspire a few of them to go and talk to their local recruiter, which is where the real 'selling' of the Army begins.

We can apply the same thinking to GTA (which I don't think is really even fair, given that GTA isn't designed to be a recruiting tool, but anyway.) What GTA has done, then, is raise awareness, so to speak, of early nineties west-coast gang culture among young people (mostly white, mostly male.)

With America's Army, well, anyone can join the army. Most preteen youth are, I assume, not entertaining the illusions that they are black or living in the early nineties. So the idea that GTA is somehow recruiting them into the hardcore gang culture depicted in the game is a bit ridiculous. So no, I don't see the too as particularly analogous.

And again, at some level, we have to trust people to figure things out for themselves, and make use of culture around them (peers, parents, etc.) as they do this. Most people who play America's Army do not consider the military a serious career alternative; I certainly do not. Most people who play GTA do not consider the lifestyle therein a suitable alternative, either. We must trust people, with help from those they care about, to evaluate those alternatives, and many others, and determine what is right for them.

Just as almost nobody makes the decision to enlist based solely (or even largely) upon America's Army, almost nobody is going out and engaging in criminal activity based solely on GTA. Most of the time, there are various other social factors that play a much larger role. Kip Kinkle (sp?) particularly comes to mind.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:26 PM on September 20, 2005


see the two as particularly analogous
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:28 PM on September 20, 2005


With America's Army, well, anyone can join the army. Most preteen youth are, I assume, not entertaining the illusions that they are black or living in the early nineties. So the idea that GTA is somehow recruiting them into the hardcore gang culture depicted in the game is a bit ridiculous. So no, I don't see the too as particularly analogous.

There are three GTAs, one of which delt with the italian mob, a middle one that dealt with a sort of miami-vice type world and this third one.
posted by delmoi at 2:48 PM on September 20, 2005


spicynuts, there are good, caring parents. They're the ones who have the presence of mind to not just watch what their kids play, but teach them well enough in life to know that seeing naked people isn't going to melt their eyes out.

However, I've seen more than enough bad parents to rant about this. Parents who just feed their kid McCrap and let them watch TV and play video games all day, leaving their bodies and minds feeble and atrophied.

So no, I wasn't saying everyone who's passed on their genetic code is an unfit parent. Just far too many.
posted by Saydur at 2:51 PM on September 20, 2005


I am aware of that, yes.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 2:58 PM on September 20, 2005


There are three GTAs, one of which delt with the italian mob, a middle one that dealt with a sort of miami-vice type world and this third one.

Actually, if I remember correctly, there are five: I, II, III (Liberty City), Vice City, and San Andreas.

Only since III have they had the open-ended gameplay, so SA seems like the third.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:03 PM on September 20, 2005


Actually, III was the first *3D* version, which is probably more memorable.
posted by mrgrimm at 3:14 PM on September 20, 2005


So, when do I get my Soldier of Fortune mods for Iraq, Gitmo, and New Orleans.

Wouldn't it be awesome to play a first person shooter weaving in and out of the French Quarter armed only with an M4 assault rifle, grenades and a rocket launcher, in search of 'survivors'... Frag city!!
posted by Balisong at 3:27 PM on September 20, 2005


I know this is late in the conversation, but the reason "Thrill Kill" was yanked out of production wasn't because Congress shut it down. The then-head of EA, the publisher, wanted to run for Congress, and Smokin' Joe Lieberman was his sponsor/patron/consigliere. Wouldn't have looked too good if he ran on a Family Values platform with a piece of work like TK in his company's listings.

I know this because I worked at Paradox, the game's developer. TK was then turned into, swear to God, Wu Tang. The company itself is staffed by (with a few exceptions) the biggest batch of fuckwits I've ever had the misery of working with. My project's producer thought he was a good manager because he played Starcraft with the Protoss.

No, really. He said this to me during a pep talk. Not too longer after, I jumped ship. This same group of geniuses has gone on to make "Backyard Wrestling." If you let idiots near programming tools, you will get idiotic games.

Having said that, parents need to take responsibility for their ill-behaved spawn, video game developers have to take responsibility for making crap, and Congress needs to take responsibility for something like the Iraq debacle, the Katrina aftermath debacle, or just debacles in general.
posted by RakDaddy at 3:31 PM on September 20, 2005


Heh. Thanks for the history, RakDaddy.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:04 PM on September 20, 2005


You're welcome. And I am in total agreement with you about what would've happened if TK got released: people would've recognized it for the poor product it was, and it would've died a quick death in the bargain bin. Christ, when will people learn that controversy only fuels the fire for shitty products?

By the way, be sure to look for my new novel, The Anal Sexxxcapades of Benedict XVI and Cardinal Chode, coming to a fine bookstore near you just in time for Christmas.
posted by RakDaddy at 4:21 PM on September 20, 2005


Cloudscratcher - I think you're right, but you're going a step too far.

Y@N, I'm just asking questions, seriously.

Well, first of all, I don't see how America's Army is forcing anyone to become a soldier

I would never suggest that. What is generally agreed upon is that AA is effective in recruitment. If you follow that line, then you have to give credit to the role of fantasy in validating violent real-world endeavors.

This is not to say that the fantasy (or reality) of gangsterism is the same thing as the fantasy (or reality) of war. I only want to say that there is a position to take as regards the causal relationship between real-world behavior and pop-culture imagination, and that this position is often held inconsistently.
posted by cloudscratcher at 5:52 PM on September 20, 2005


So, when do I get my Soldier of Fortune mods for Iraq, Gitmo, and New Orleans.

right about now, actually. I'll be really curious whether New Orleans will be considered good game-play or not.
posted by cloudscratcher at 5:55 PM on September 20, 2005


Cloudscratcher, it's generally agreed that AA is effective in raising the, er, brand profile of the Army. It's also generally agreed that AA was created expressly for that purpose. What's GTA trying to sell?

Besides, you're missing a step. Even a pacifist like me has to admit that simply enlisting in the army isn't equivalent to committing an act of violence. I mean, what about medics, and diesel mechanics?

(Btw, Wu Tang: Shaolin Style is indeed a terrible, terrible game, and, if memory serves, there was also a GTA set in London.)
posted by box at 7:01 PM on September 20, 2005


you're going to tell me that parents are totally aware of what games their are playing? please.

Thanks for completely missing my point.
posted by spicynuts at 7:05 PM on September 20, 2005


I mean, what about medics, and diesel mechanics?

ok, when America's Army: Diesel Mechanic is used to communicate the army's role and promise, I'll take your point.

In the meantime, it's exactly the point that what AA communicates is combat, and that a fantasy of combat-without-consequences is used to promote the army.

(I don't want to come across as saying that AA is Bad... I'm not against recruitment for a volunteer Army, and AA may be a good way to do it. I'm just saying that if you say that works, then you might have to say that other things work as well, whether they intentionally "sell" an agenda or not)
posted by cloudscratcher at 8:57 PM on September 20, 2005


cloudscratcher, I think you either misread or misinterpereted my earlier post.

There's a distinction to be drawn between advertising that 'sells' (meaning, convinces someone to buy/join something) and something that simply raises awareness of a product. AA is a way the army raises awareness of it's product, not a hard-sell ad.

This is the same reason Oracle, Sun, et al have televised ads. Not to sell servers to people watching the Super Bowl, to raise brand awareness.
posted by Yelling At Nothing at 9:37 PM on September 20, 2005


Thanks, Yelling, for making my point a lot more clearly than I managed to.
posted by box at 9:41 PM on September 20, 2005


At the risk of shooting a dead horse in the head, and/or making all of this more important than it really is, I'm clear on what the difference is between brand and demand. Just for context, I've worked in advertising for over a decade, including one campaign for the DoD, and one for the F-22 fighter bomber. Brand-awareness is no less about "selling" than direct, or etc. It's just at a different point in the decision-making process.

I don't mean to suggest that my opinion is thus more valuable than anyone else's; it's only to say that my questions come from awareness of -- and experience with -- techniques of persuasion. The distinction that you make, while maybe true and maybe not, has little bearing on the point I'm trying to make. My point is not whether the Army is raising "brand awareness" with a game. My point is that they have recruitment goals, and they spend against them... using media that we maintain "doesn't really change how people act in the real world".

The point is not what the tactical intentions of the AA campaign are. The point is that it is agreed to be effective as regards the goal of increasing recruitment into the service. And that the efficacy is based on the axiom that people act out upon desires for things when given a framework to project fantasies upon. "Selling" or not.

So if you -- like Oracle, or the DoD, or Hillary Clinton -- believe that a "fantastic" framework changes the desires and behaviors of consumers who are exposed to it (and this is the premise of all advertising spends) then you can't also say that that's true of everything EXCEPT violent or sexist video games.

Don't get me wrong. I play games like GTA, and I love them, and I defend them. But then I have a hard time giving up and saying, well, it's ok for the DoD to use videogames as a recruitment tool, because videogames don't actually affect how players understand or behave in the real world around them.

Because the America's Army case study seems to prove that they do. That the DoD is intentionally selling something, and GTA is not, does not change the fact that both of these provide fictional frameworks, and that both of these either do or don't affect player behavior IRL.
posted by cloudscratcher at 3:35 PM on September 21, 2005


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