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   PlanetDreamcast | Community | Mailbag | 3/10/01
    Community - Mailbag

3/10/01 - Release Dates, Game Ratings, and Super Knuckles
- by Mr. Domino

The following responces concern themselves with this week's editorial piece, Rating the Raters.

From: Smart X
Subject: Nudity, Violence

First off I believe that this country is truly messed up. We here in America believe that nudity is worse then violence. Thus video games with a little nudity or a good bit get a mature rating or worse adult only. What the hell man. Violence is much worse then nudity. Nudity doesn't hurt anybody, it is the display of the human body. Where violence is the distruction and or mutalation of the body. Accuse me, I would much whether be naked then dead. Also, what's the big deal if people started going on massive nude streakings. That won't hurt anyone. Violence on the other hand does hurt if replicated. So seriously, let's have some more games with more nudity, and less violence. Nudity can makes things a lot more fun then kicking some guy's ass. I want a chick damn it standing naked.

I dunno. There's certain people I really don't want to see naked. Perhaps that would motivate me to be violent. :^) You're right, though. This country has things reversed, though I would say that games, being mainly action contests, will always be centered around violence making it more acceptable in the medium than nudity unfortunately. Of course, Japan has (well, had) many games that had lots of both violence and nudity, and the country doesn't suffer from the same problems as the US. Video games are just a scape goat as always for the problems of society.

From: Ron Price
Subject: ESRB

I think the whole rating system sucks. People don't realize that children build a good sense of morals and knowing the difference between right and wrong by allowing some extent of violence and adult content. What do we live in anymore, a pee wee herman society? Kids are going to play these games no matter what kind of rating is on them. They'll find a way somehow. I don't see the rating system ever getting better either. You have too many jack asses out there blaming everything but themselves when their kids do something really bad. If you don't like something, don't buy it or listen to it, just don't keep the rest of us who like this stuff suffering becuase your a jack ass.

A Pee Wee Herman society? Some how that's an odd analogy to bring up in a discussion of adult content. :^) I think the counter argument to your position would be that while the jack people do not have to buy the disagreeable product, they are affected by any affect said product has on society which is why people who have no business butting into games love to whine about games.

From: Brian
Subject: Ratings on games

I think that ratings are good things, but they are definitely screwed up right now. I remember when Duke Nukem 3D came out for the PC, there was a little trick were you could "activate" the stripper and she'd take her top. Now granted, the graphics were horrible, but still it slipped pass. Luckily, I don't think 3D realms ever got caught. The point is, if we're going to have ratings on games, they should at least check the games thoroughly.

Naughty Dog made a Genesis game called Rings of Power which had a similar nude Easter egg slip by the censors unnoticed. Still, that's not really the fault of the ESRB if cheats and such went by undetected.

From: PsYcHo_FiSh
Subject: I agree.

Truly, we should liquidate the ESRB board and set up a puppet regime in which we can control. Haha. I think that having pretentious, zealous, and overly sensitive uptight people rate video games is a mistake. It should be agreed that we must regulate the regulators policies or else face misinformation and complete stupidity.

I disagree only because I do not wish to say I agree with PsYcHo_FiSh.

From: Cristian Golumbovici
Subject: ESRB ratings

Way I see it, ESRB isn't entirely to blame there. The computer games industry has been under a relentless attack from every single two bit journalit searching for some scandal, and a bunch of politicians looking for some cheap political capital. If a game as much as suggests that some characters might be fighting, even off screen, a bunch of morons WILL be screaming that it teaches our children to be violent. If two people are as much as kissing, and I mean fully clothed people, some self-righteous git WILL scream that it's some filthy pornographic scene.

The ESRB has no choice there. It MUST overshoot, because the consequences for under-shooting could be dire. The political and media hyenas would just LOVE one example that got sold to kids when it shouldn't have. Those ratings MUST be so grossly over the top, that even the most desperate politician couldn't possibly say that it served to mislead parents into buying a mature game for their kids.

Ever wondered how the original "The Sims" got slapped with violence and sexual content on the box by ESRB? I don't mean the "Livin' Large" expansion, which OK, did add a love bed. I'm talking the original one, where the most two characters could do was kiss. And the most nudity you could get, short of hacking the game, was seeing the characters in bathing suits, if you built a swimming pool. And you'd really have to try hard to get them to fight, in which case a cartoonish cloud would be shown, so you didn't actually SEE them fight.

Well, now you know why.

And, no, the ratings can't go. The whole purpose of ESRB in the first place is to placate the media and political hyenas' campaign that this industry is turning kids into serial killers and rapists. It MUST have that "R" there, because otherwise some moron would come and say "Hey, it did say 'tons of blood and gore, animated rape, and whatnot', but it didn't explicitly say 'don't buy this for your 2 year old kid.' So you're all guilty."

So my take is that, no, it's not the ESRB that are idiots, it's the people who force them to be that way. As long as people continue to support those politicians and to buy those magazines, the ESRB has no choice but to be on the defensive.

Nice letter! I never really considered that viewpoint. It still shouldn't be the ESRB's place to protect the industry from possible law suits, though. If the board was created to rate the content of video games, then let it rate it and do so accurately.

From: Dustin
Subject: rate the raters

i think that rather than rating the game and then choosing the ideal audience. if the game is designed for 6 year olds judge wether the content is acceptable for 6 year olds. don't decide that because mickey has to bet his magic coin to save minnie that it corrupts kids because of the gambling content and thus giving it a mature rating be sensible. with metal gear solid, rate it being unsuitable for children under 12, because it sure isn't for an 8 year old they wouldn't understand, and besides it isn't targeted for that audience. basically i'm saying think of the target group of that game then judge it, don't judge the content then choose the group, it makes it way too dumb that way.

I don't think anyone can point to a magical age and say, "Hey, now you've developed enough to handle such an such activity," at least across the board as ratings are done. Age alone isn't the determiner of one's maturity.

From: Geoff Hunt
Subject: Ratings article

Yep, read the ratings article, looked at the request of feedback and thought... nah.

No, seriously, I pretty much agree with you here. But there's one thing; who actually pays attention to the rating? Next to no one, as far as I can tell. I have yet to hear of a parent who looked at the rating and actually let it affect their opinion in any way.

Then again, I have pretty reasonable parents when it comes to maturity levels. They may not wanting me looking at porno, but they don't honestly care about the games I'm playing so long as I'm not letting anything get outta hand. (IE, they rate games on addictability, not violence or sex.)

Well, there're my two cents.

I've met several parents who do check the ratings on games. Such parents, though, were seen buying games for young children. That's nice to see actually. You're right -- most parents either don't care or just aren't willing to spend the time it takes to educate themselves on what they're children are being exposed to.

From: Dave Piche
Subject: ESRB's Rating

Hi ! I just read the message about what we think of the ratings ... well, when I was younger, I could rent or buy 17+ games ... the store want money and didn't care about it ... it never gave me problems playing a game! and after all, it's only a game, which is really different from reality feelings. I mean I won't shoot somebody's flesh in reality like I would do in a game!!!! and now that I'm 19, I'll never have problems with that (the rate) !!!!!

bye!
Dave

I remember being seven-years-old or so and hearing all the other kids at school talk about Friday the 13th and other R-rated movies which I wasn't allowed to see. I dunno. Ratings are an odd way to choose a product -- I'd rather a young person watch the R-rated Shawshank Redemption than some tripe like the PG-13 rated Charlie’s Angels.

From: Matthew van Dijk
Subject: your article on the ESRB

There seems to be one through line with the ratings debate and I imagine I'm probably not the first to say this. It appears that the ESRB treats computer games as (at the risk of repeating myself) "games". To use your examples, Metal Gear Solid is not a "game" akin to the likes of Monopoly. To quote you, "Metal Gear Solid is a great adventure with a serious, adult story line..."(http://www.planetdreamcast.com/features/editorials/edit003/) whereas Monopoly is a no grey areas, easy going game or market manipulation and capitalism that's fun for the whole family.

My point, in case I was a bit too ambiguous, is that computer games are not just easy-on-the-mind diversions for children in the same way that much of the quality Japanese Manga and Anime are not suitable cartoons for children.

It's time that ratings and censorship bureau's stopped generalising and stereotyping different media. Instead a specific, defined, quantitative and qualitative "ratings" system should be used so uniformity can be provided across the board. Regardless of whether the entertainment in question is a film, tv show or computer game we would all be better off knowing the same standards apply.

Well that's my two cents worth. Feel free to reply if you want

yours sincerely,

Matthew van Dijk

Yep. I wonder how long it'll take for people to accept games as a unique entertainment medium. Just looking over the last ten years, a lot of progress has been made.

From: Mike Bruneau
Subject: Ratings

All I have to say is... 'Some Adult Assistance May Be Needed' .......what the hell?

hehe I liked how that read after the "Strong Sexual Content" disclaimer. Visit the ESRB site for the full list of warnings. I know I want to see the game which warns of possible "Gaming" inside. :^)

From: Wilhelm Wonka
Subject: ESRB... Why bother?

For movies and video games, I choose what my kid sees. When I was a boy, I watched animated characters not only get bashed in the face with frying pans, I also saw the pre-Turner versions of Tom and Jerry with the fat black lady yelling "Thomas! THOMAS!" (now it's a teen blonde white chick, but with the same voice, in case you missed that little bit of 1984)

I rarely pay attention to ratings of any kind that deal with nudity, violence or language. I fully believe that my kid should be prepared for the real world when she turns 18, since I don't want to see her on a Co-eds Gone Wild video someday, as I believe she might. People tend to overdo things when things are new. :)

My kid plays Diablo 2, and likes it very much (17+? Really?). She likes Tony Hawk's Pro Skater 2 as well. I see my daughter playing Captain Kangaroo games and Oddballz just as much as running around levels (no bad guys, she just likes to run around) in UT and Q3A. She got her first online rail kill in Quake2 (over modem, no less) on a high school senior a little over 2 years ago, and she was very happy.

She knows the difference between real and pretend, good and bad, and even right and wrong. We're also pretty far along in the Fair and Unfair category, and she usually gets that right, too. Parents are the ones that corrupt their kids just as much, if not more than, anything else. I taught her what to do if she saw a gun, knife, or drugs in school before she ever saw the inside of a school, because hey.. It's the twenty-first century and all.

Kids play games. Kids watch movies. There are some of both that *everyone* knows that kids shouldn't have access to. That's mom and dad's job, not anyone else's. If my kid one day wants, say, a Marilyn Manson CD or something, I have no problem with that. I'd just get it for her. It's nosey-bodies like the ESRB that try to make kids behave by going about it the wrong way.

My kid is 5 years old (6 next month), and she's amazingly well adjusted, and only got on The List at school (on The List means no hand stamp when you leave for the day, you know) one time.. (for talking in class) She doesn't pick up her room, but hey.. Who does?

sorry for the rant, but I'm all about ranting..

Hmm... Games and Manson? You better stock up on life insurance. :^) Yeah, the whole concept of raising kids in a vacuum is just stupid. How are children ever expected to learn anything if you shield them from the world? As long as someone's well adjusted and can think for him or herself, then what is there to worry about?

From: Donald Duck
Subject: esrb is just as brilliant as the v-chip

If you look at the ESRB as a reactionary assault by parents against a perceived threat to their children's innocence, then the ineffective and misguided efforts make sense. It would be like asking Al bot's wife to head the FCC for 6 years and see what happens to rap music! I agree with the idea of making a unified rating system for all media. After all isn't the idea that some genius out there knows at what age a kid will not be irreparably damaged by seeing breasts? A G to NC-17 system is long overdue. Is this a write your congressman thing or what?
Superman-

I think that's probably not worth the effort giving the general public backlash against games and the probable age (and assumed cluelessness) of the congressperson. The issue has been beaten to death really -- facts and showing the flaws in their logic just isn't enough to change their view.

From: Derek Griggs
Subject: ESRB ratings

I agree with what you say and they should be eliminated not only becasue they are wrong, they also make good games look bad to parents who judge only by content, not how the content is managed, having explicit language as part of the game responsibly is different than having language pointlessly put throughout the game. Alot of the time game designers try to make a game stay with a story and have characters only do what they would do as characters, are shakespeare plays censored or great movies? No becasue the things which would be are used in a responsible way not pointlessly. also with violence there are the games that have massive amounts of blood and pointless violence, but also theres games which have it only to advance the story. FPS's are different, but you know what you're getting when you by one, a game based on violence usually, but lately thes FPS single players have also had very good puzzle segments which make them far more than just FPS's, so would it be fair to not get the game becasue its violent and miss story and puzzles? Its the same as judging Macbeth by its violent content and premise, or Cabaret by its sexual content, just becasue it has some, deosn't means its bad, its all how its handled.
- thank you. Evan Griggs

Shakespeare nothing! Look at the Bible! You have pregnant 14-year-old girls parading around thinking they're all that! :^)

That's it for this Mailbag. Have a burning question? First extinguish the damn thing (get it!?), and then send it to this handy address.

See you later tonight!


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