Archive for Censroship

Hot Alien Rumpy

Posted in Censorship, Games with tags , on January 21, 2008 by pieman70

As an addition, this got to Fox News’s ears and apparently they did a “SHOCK HORROR THINK OF THE CHILDREN GAMES ARE EVIL” segment which included a round table discussion composed of uninformed worriers and foaming mouthed Neo-cons. All well and good.


BioWare, who made Mass Effect, are now run by EA, an Industry giant. An industry giant who are singularly unimpressed that a major news channel have bad mouthed a signature game that cost a lot to make. They have publicly asked for an apology.

I’d have demanded.

EA are clearly getting in early for fear that this turns into a “Hot Coffee” and gets the rating ramped up to AO, and hence barred from 90% of all US retailers. If you remember the Hot Coffee Controversy in Grand Theft Auto: San-Andreas, there was a sex based mini-game (On the explicit-o-metre the footage of that I saw measured about 6, Compared with Mass Effect’s 2 and Seven Sins 7) it was cut from the final release of the game but (As occurs quite often) the half made code to run the game still existed in the GTA:SA code, as it transpired, this code could be unlocked by a mod, most easily on the PC. This caused uproar as people found out that a game which you could murder with weapons ranging from guns to chainsaws, steal and extort, and which glamorised gangsta lifestyles, had sex in. Despite the fact that someone wanting to engage in aforementioned virtual bonking would have to install a mod in order to access these scenes, it instantly upped the rating to AO (Adults Only) and meant that many big retailers in the US wouldn’t stock it, this lead to a major loss in share value for Rockstar (Makers of the GTA series) and forced them to re-issue the game with that code deleted in order to regain their M (Mature) rating. EA are clearly aware of this, and since Mass Effect is one of their Big products, and the culmination of Millions of dollars of both production and marketing, the last thing they want is for it to be pulled from shelves in a hand wringing campaign by overly-moralistic nutters and wildly uninformed parents.

This is good, it’s good that a big games company is actually willing to respond to these accusations and to try and represent gaming and gamers in a more positive light to the general public. Hopefully more companies will do this when the next ignorant nut-ball tries to start a “Gaming is EVIL” bandwagon.

On this subject, the “Hot Coffee” did show the very odd nature of what censorship considers obscene enough to get an Adults only rating. Murder, crime etc, that’s mature, but the first hint of sex and it becomes Adults only. Not only that but it wasn’t GTA’s traditional implied sex with ladies of the night, no this was girls you meet, woo by taking on dates and eventually, after effort, get to have sex with, but basically you can have levels of violence for an AO rating but not levels of sex. Now, as far as evils in the world go, random violence and crime are both well above consensual sex. But yet it’s about the only thing that means an automatic AO rating. I could understand if it was rape, or at least sexualised violence, but it isn’t. Take 7 Sins, a game where you have to sin your way to the top, largely by cheating, stealing and sleeping with any and all things in your path (Sort of Season 1 Torchwood: the game)

Anyway, actual contents were cartoon violence, some letching and sort of simulated sex, sadly it chickened out on Nudity and showing actual sex. Regardless it was referred to advisory groups and is yet to be rated by the ESRB. Now while its UK 18 rating was borderline on content, an AO for that is just hung up about sex being in some way evil. AT most it should have been an M rating on the ESRB.SO, good for EA, but really, we should rate more on context and content and loose this hang-up about sex in games.

Then BioWare can make the game that McCullough described, that sounded ace.


Mased Effect

Posted in Censorship, Games with tags , on January 17, 2008 by pieman70

Since my last post a number of things have drifted in line for a good old rant. However this one jumped out at me.You can catch up on the most part through Links on the Penny Arcade Website ( I could link directly but I don’t really want to give this guy any more publicity that he seems to crave, indeed I’m almost tempted to copy and paste the articles in full.

Kevin McCullough, nobody blogger and professional handwringer has recently found out that XBox 360 game “Mass Effect” has naughty bits in it. His argument is that Mass effect is billed a as cinematic space adventure, but is in fact a hardcore Virtual Orgy, in which, and I paraphrase, you can design your own characters down to minute physical attributes such as breast size (He mentions breast size a lot) and then command them to perform obscene acts.

Now I’ve not played Mass Effect, thanks to astounding Generosity by my wife I am very much in the Wii camp of this console war. However the 360 looked tempting and aside from the new GTA and ace combat games Mass effect looked like just the sort of expansive, immersive sandbox Sci-Fi adventure I really don’t have time to play. Mass effect is rated M by the ESRB, now while the chance to pull aliens and co-workers is a logical part of a “Do anything” universe, however the acts that McCullough describes seem to be the sort of thing that would instantly garner an AO rating (I won’t get into how sex gets AO but 90% of violence doesn’t) McCullough wrote a further article following up the negative response the gaming community (Who are often their own worst enemy when it comes to reasoned backtalk, seriously, if you’re going to sound like an illiterate foul mouthed ten year old keep it to yourself, you make the rest of us look bad and reinforce negative stereotypes) he published a follow up explaining that he was right, gamers were all to a man bestiality obsessed losers who lurk, alone in their darkened basements looking for more diverse fifth. However this is where he really destroyed the last of his argument, he posted links to the content to show how bad it was and how much this could corrupt a kiddie who has nagged a criminally uninformed parent to buy him mass effect.

Now, I’m a fan of CG rumpy in games, and so I settled the wife down in front of Eastenders and retreated to my darkened study to look at the Hot Alien on Alien action this man was describing. I must say on the hot rumpy action I was disappointed, but at least he links to something that proves him wrong. I just hope the more jittery of America’s hand wringers don’t get the loudmouthed uninformed majority behind this without looking into it.

So, let’s go through the accusations one by one.

First, the creating any character down to minute attributes. Well, some character creation engines are pretty good, however as far as I could see Mass Effect only lets you make your own character, the NPC’s you perform obscene acts with seem to be set. So that’s inconclusive, verging on exaggerated, lies or mistaken.

Second, once in game you can command these characters to perform all manner of sex acts. Well that’s plain wrong, the clips (I like the term Evidence, or Facts) show what actually happens. At certain points in the game a character will grow close enough to pretty much say “How about it” this is decided through a conversation with a fairly standard set of selectable answers. This then leads to a very tame cutscene where the sex is mostly implied, nudity is nothing you can’t see before the watershed, there is no “Hardcore” action and the most exotic thing you can do is set your character as female and have lesbian alien sex. AT no point can you command characters to perform acts on you, or yours to do anything to them, it’s a cinematic, a cutscene. So, this comes in as the product of a fevoured imagination.

Finally he argues that parents can’t regulate what games children buy, and that game shops can’t restrict who buys them. I beg to differ, when I become a parent I will be keeping close eyes on what games my child plays, and since we rate games like films in the UK an 18 rated game can not be sold to a child. By his argument neither parents nor stores should be able to stop children buying violent films, or pornography.

This guy is an uninformed publicity hound who is desperately trying to get himself noticed as a moral crusader against a digital age that is clearly leaving him and his ilk behind. my worry is that there are so many technologically illiterate people who will read his foaming rant and take it at face value, and that there may be moves to sanitise all computer games in a drastic “Think of the children” move.

This is becoming a great worry for me as things like gaming and the internet may soon be censored or restricted in panic moves by politicians looking for a bandwagon to appease parents who are too stupid, lazy or too poor a parent to try and monitor what their child is exposed to. My mother in law volunteers at a youth club and there are endless complaints from parents about kids “Accidentally” accessing Pornography. The cafe runs so many filters on its internet access that it noticeably slows the systems down. Whatever these kids see is most likely from their home systems that aren’t protected thus. Indeed one parent complained that her child googled its name and got pornographic results. That is either a lie or a story that’s “grown legs”. Interesting thing about Google, it employs a system called “Safe Search” which filters search results. By default this is on and in order to search for anything juicy you have to deliberately disable it. If it’s on, no dirty pictures or websites on a search. Similarly on a Panorama programme about paedophiles grooming children, their fake 14 year old asked “How would this look to a real 14 year old alone in their room” and I agree that it would be scary. I’d also ask why your child was not told to mention this sort of thing to parents the instant it happened, and indeed why the child was accessing the internet alone in their room. Rule 1 of parenting children on the internet, they don’t get the net alone in their room, the computer is in a public place (Living room etc) where you can keep an eye on it.

I’d like to hope this sort of thing dies out as my tech-savvy generation grows up. And indeed I hope it has that chance before foaming nutters like McCullough or idiot parents get the joy of gaming and the information in the internet restricted from children.