Sen. Feinstein Says Congress 'Ready To Take Action' To Rein In Violent Video Games

from the maybe-just-punish-the-guy-who-did-the-actual-shooting? dept

Dianne Feinstein, whose post-Newtown assault weapons ban was defanged by Sen. Harry Reid before its inclusion in the Democrats' gun control bill, has decided to switch scapegoats. Now, she's determined to do something about violent video games, apparently unaware that the Supreme Court has already declared such regulatory "somethings" as unconstitutional.

Speaking to an audience of around 500 in San Francisco, Feinstein, who led the charge in the Senate on an assault weapons ban, said the video game industry should take voluntary steps to make sure it does not glorify guns in the wake of the December mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.
That's an interesting choice of words. "Glorify guns." Sure, many games glorify guns (although I believe fetishize would be a more accurate word), as do many movies and an awful lot of rap music. There are also many, many websites (and magazines) that glorify guns. Here's a great site where pop culture intersects with gun "glorification," resulting in some very entertaining reading.

Then there's this part: "take voluntary steps." The video game industry has been voluntarily policing itself for the better part of two decades without incident. It's great (and rare) to see a legislator actually encourage or endorse voluntary behavior. But, this isn't one of those rarities.
She added that if the industry does not, Congress is prepared to take action, according to the Associated Press.
In other words, do it or we'll do it for you.

But do what, exactly? How does Congress keep the video game industry from "glorifying" guns without wading into territory expressly forbidden by the Constitution? Will the government set up its own ratings board and decide which games make it to retailers? Will Congress actually attempt to control content creation by exhuming the Hays Code? The Supreme Court has already declared that the government isn't allowed to regulate protected speech and yet Feinstein seems to be claiming not only that it can, but that it's being forced to by the industry itself.

Maybe that's the key. Skirt the First Amendment by setting up an "independent" review board and stocking it with like-minded former senators and representatives. Washington loves control and loves revolving doors and this would be both. The Hays Code would live again, cutting content, sending suggestions to developers and requiring every game to carry an official stamp of approval from the board.

According to Feinstein, there's no upside to video games, so why not use the cause du jour to craft a few laws and claw back the video game ratings system from the industry.
Feinstein said that video games play, "a very negative role for young people, and the industry ought to take note of that."

"If Sandy Hook doesn't do it, if the knowledge of the video games this young man played doesn't do it, then maybe we have to proceed, but that is in the future," she added.
Feinstein seems determined to get some sort of Newtown-related law on the books, preferably with her name attached. She's already worked her way through the Second Amendment and now is sighting the First. Once this legislation fails to coalesce, she'll be all out of amendments in that direction to use as doormats and will be running low on socially acceptable scapegoats. After that, there's nowhere to go but down. (Perhaps registration and a two-week waiting period for M-rated game purchasers?)



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    Ninja (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 4:44am

    The Supreme Court has already declared that the government isn't allowed to regulate protected speech and yet Feinstein seems to be claiming not only that it can, but that it's being forced to by the industry itself.

    The Constitution hasn't got much value left to the US Govt eh? Will this be the final merciful hit after Patriot Act, FISA, etc etc etc?

     

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    The Real Michael, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:30am

    Is Feinstein going to call out Hollywood for doing the same, or is there a double-standard at work here?

     

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    S. T. Stone, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:36am

    Yeah, this won’t go over well at all.

    She just wants soundbites out there to show she’s done something to tackle the issue of gun violence without doing anything worthwhile (or legal) to tackle the issue of gun violence.

     

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    Harold (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:38am

    Remind me again why this is a good idea?

    It seems to me that Feinstein hasn't seen the study that shows the top video game consuming countries and their violent crime rates.

    The US is an anomaly in that study. Its video game to violent crime ratio is WAY out of whack with the rest of the top 10 game consumer countries.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:40am

    guns have been around a lot longer than video games, and will be around a lot longer than her. video games dont kill people, just like guns and cars dont kill people. people are only killed by and always will be killed by people! this is a typical politician move to try to make themselves look good. from what i have read about her, she hasn't got the brain of a rockin' horse and only comes out with this sort of ridiculousness when trying to get personal attention! problem is, she is not alone!!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:40am

    I really don't think these lawmakers play enough video games. They keep talking about video games, but I really don't think they know what they actually are.

     

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    Jeremy Lyman (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:49am

    Re: Remind me again why this is a good idea?

    Because "normal" people don't play video games. It's an easy group to shift all of our societal problems onto, so the rest of us can go about our normal violence glorification in TV, movies, magazines, newspapers, books, sporting events, and historical reenactments.

     

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    Zakida Paul (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:57am

    I am fucking sick of these types of stories. When are people going to grow up, stop blaming others for what they do and take responsibility for their own actions?

    Is that too much to ask? Am I being unreasonable?

     

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    Digdug (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 5:59am

    Re:

    That would depend on who's paying her more now wouldn't it? Movies couldn't possibly be bad, they're an essential part of American culture aren't they?

     

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    Digdug (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:03am

    Re:

    That would probably be because most of them were in office before the term even existed, which is another problem in itself :(

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:05am

    Re:

    I agree to a point.

    However there is something to be said for providing proper mental health services and to remove the stigma associated with visiting the therapist.

    Games can be an indicator of other problems going on and if caught early enough can be corrected with a simple "pointing in the right direction". Like helping someone prioritize their day to day life, provide reality checks, etc.

    Going after games have to be absolutely ridiculous though. Games are just a fact of life, humans have played games probably for our entire existence.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:07am

    More important question, when is the US public going to rein in congress?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:07am

    Once this legislation fails to coalesce, she'll be all out of amendments in that direction to use as doormats and will be running low on socially acceptable scapegoats.

    She could always abuse the 4th amendment. The government seems to be having a great deal of success with that one.
    Create a database of people who purchase and/or play violent video games and spy on them and at the first sign of malcontent, raid their house.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:22am

    Without violence and conflict what fun can video games OR TV shows or movies be? Hmm, maybe the next Grand Theft Auto would work out something like this then.

    Thief: I'm stealing your car.
    Man: Oh no you're not, I'm already sitting in the driver seat, and I weight over 300 pounds so you can't force me out of it, what are you going to do about that?
    Thief: I'll shot you with a gun!
    Man: Can't, guns have been banned from this video game.
    Thief: I'll stab you with a knife till you leave the seat.
    Man: Knifes and other weapons are banned to.
    Thief: I'll fist fight you!
    Man: Violent physical contact isn't allowed either.
    Thief: Grr... fine I'll tap you on the shoulder till you get so annoyed you leave your car to me to steal!
    *Thief starts tapping man on the shoulder repeatedly*
    Man: Fine. Oh, just so you know, you're not allowed to go very fast either, and the car will automatically stop before you hit another person or car, since a car can be a dangerous weapon to. And there aren't any police either, since no law breaking is even possible anymore.
    Thief: Oh My God, really! Screw this game.
    Man: But this is a movie, you can't quit playing a movie.
    Thief: Grr... ok, better get comfortable as I tap you on the shoulder for the next two hours while pretending I'm actually stabbing you with a knife.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:28am

    Good job, using the death of some children to get your name in headlines. Anyone with two brain cells knows games don't kill, poor mental health services and treating the unfortunate in your country like dirt is what drives these kids to do these crazy things. But don't fix that; adding bureaucracy to VIDEO GAMES that MOST people play these days'll fix it. Likely.

     

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    Beech, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:30am

    "Once this legislation fails to coalesce, she'll be all out of amendments in that direction to use as doormats"

    Wrong again Mike! There are PLENTY of amendments left to violate! Maybe next month she will propose a bill mandating that any house found with violent games in it must also quarter some soldiers, just to make sure there psychopaths-in-training don't get out of hand!

     

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    hjumper, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:33am

    She reminds me of metastatic cancer.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:35am

    Third Amendment is next

    See, if we all have soldiers quartered in our homes, then we'll all be protected by said soldiers. Problem solved!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:52am

    Would modders get caught up in this? Several titles on the PC side are built on the stripped down engine. Is the studio still held responsible if a talented individual tosses in some rifles to liven up a dull game and shares with buddies?

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:55am

    history repeating?

    Rock 'n Roll is eroding our society.
    Those hippies and their long hair are eroding our society.
    Comic books are eroding our society.
    Dungeons and Dragon games are eroding our society.
    Movies are eroding our society.
    TV is eroding our society.
    Violent video games are eroding our society.

    It appears we shouldn't have any society left.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:56am

    Yes, because the violence has nothing to do with media glorification in other areas.

    /s

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:56am

    Breaking news: Senator Feinstein proposes a ban on violent card games, such as Bridge and Poker.

    Reportedly some of the reasons for such a ban is "...because the king is usually seen holding a sword, which sends the message to kids that it is alright to go out and stab people with swords..." and "...I understand that such games - namely Poker - contain references to 'pot'. We will not tolerate games that are lenient on their treatment of the issues of drugs!".

    Reporters were left wondering if Senator Feinstein had been smoking (actual) pot prior to these declarations.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:58am

    Most of the laws these bozos write are unconstitutional, what make you think Diane even cares?

     

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    Digitari, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 6:59am

    Re:

    this is going the same way as Smoking, you wont be able to play video games inside the house with child or in public places where children might be.. ultimately PC's and game consoles will have an NC-17 rating ...for the children

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:03am

    Re: Re: Remind me again why this is a good idea?

    Until the next generation, at which time a certain type of political moron will latch on to a different scapegoat instead of tackling any real issues.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:05am

    it seems to me that as long as law enforcement agencies and the government can spy on people when they want, as long as the entertainment industries, in all forms, can prosecute, sue and ruin as many people as it wants to, as long as the blame for anything and everything can be put on to everything and everyone, it's fine. the biggest issue is though, as long as politicians can continue to do absolutely nothing that involves doing what they were voted into office for, that involves protecting the people they represent but at the same time makes them appear to be doing something, regardless of how stupid it is or makes them look, the world is ok! if everyone was paid so much, for doing so little, whilst blaming whoever/whatever they felt like for all the wrongs in the world, everyone would be a politician. as everyone isn't, it shows that it takes a particular kind of idiot to do the job but also shows the chances are they wouldn't last 2 minutes at anything else!

     

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  27.  
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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:07am

    Re:

    Games are more overly reliant on violence than other mediums and that is not a good thing.
    This is a very good video on the topic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZM2jXyvGOc and why we need to think about it and branch out.

    But that's simply a matter of the industry's love affair with violence threatening their ability to grow artistically. In the hands of adults violent games seem like they really shouldn't be such an issue.

     

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    avideogameplayer, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:10am

    Go after EA. After all, trying to play Sim City will make anyone go ballistic...

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:12am

    Re: Re: Remind me again why this is a good idea?

    Last time I checked, EVERYONE plays video games except for the people who AREN'T normal.

    Hell, my grandmother played Contra with me on the NES when I was growing up.

     

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    jupiterkansas (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:14am

    We have get the guns out of videogames. Otherwise our kids might grow up to be police officers, soldiers, park rangers, secret service, or one of the many other professions where government employees carry guns.

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:15am

    Re: Re:

    Let's be honest, that's the way ALL games are.

    Mario games - Commit mass genocide!
    Sonic games - break the speed limit while causing mass destruction
    Metroid games - kill everything that's not you and blow the planet up.
    Castlevania games - whip it! Whip it good! Everything must die!
    Angry Birds - Go Kamikaze while killing bacon off.

     

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    Bakers5, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:17am

    NRA is behind this.

    It is amazing how much influence the NRA has. This has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with game violence and has 100% to do with the NRA lobbying to deflect attention.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re: Re: Remind me again why this is a good idea?

    Holos are dangerous and corrupting our youth!

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:23am

    Re: Re:

    "Games are more overly reliant on violence than other mediums and that is not a good thing. "

    I can't watch a video at the moment, but do you have any citation for that claim. Frankly, it sounds like a load of crap, or at least a claim by someone who manages to both forget the large number of non-violent videogames (some of the most successful, from The Sims to Tetris contain none at all), while forgetting the prevalence of violence in media that they are more familiar with. The fact that the CoD and other shooters are a popular genre does not detract from the number of non-violent games.

    "But that's simply a matter of the industry's love affair with violence threatening their ability to grow artistically."

    A matter of opinion. I'd take the art of a "violent" videogame like Bioshock over and above the bland TV and movies that pass for mainstream entertainment any day of the week. The first game in that series had a better story and characterisation than any of the Transformers movies, for example, along with thoughtful subtext and some neat plot twists.

    "In the hands of adults violent games seem like they really shouldn't be such an issue."

    Then it shouldn't be a problem, given that the average gamer is aged around 37. (source: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2011.pdf)

     

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    ChrisB (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:26am

    Re: Re:

    You're blaming the wrong person, when you say "the industry's love affair". The customer decides what games are popular and the customer is always right.

    I think the violence issue is overblown. Obviously, the guns in Call of Duty operate differently than real guns, because you respawn after you are killed. Online FPS's are just like complicated games of schoolyard tag, only you are tagged with a bullet, not a hand.

     

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    AWarnock, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:35am

    Really? She really thinks that that video games have no redeeming value what-so-ever?

    Hand-eye coordination, resource management, strategic planning, tactical planning, teamwork, problem solving, and situational awareness are all skills that you can learn by playing a video game and that's off the top of my head.

    I don't think it's going the same was as smoking. I think this is the last gasps of the old guard before a generation that grew up with video games begins to take office (I hope.) Then we might be able to focus on things that are actually problems, like the out of control national debt, No Child Left Behind, the total lack of transparency, the nascent police state we have forming, and the hypocrisy that seems to be a requirement to run for office.

    We have broken IP laws, a gunked up government, a busted healthcare and welfare system, a mess of legacy content publishers that refuse to move with the times and do their best to strangle innovation in the crib, a corporate culture that refuses to focus on the long-term, or even past numero uno, and people at both ends of the spectrum going "gimme." Yet all congress seems to do is scream "Think of the children" while plugging their ears and squeezing their eyes shut.

    We don't know the meaning of the word compromise, we have too many sacred cows, and no one on either side of the aisle gives a damn. I'm frustrated, pissed off, and tired of everyone in government saying we should ban an inanimate object. Guns do not go off by themselves unless they are poorly made. No one made him go and kill those children. He did it, and the blame lies squarely on his shoulders.

    I understand that there are many of you who outside the US don't understand why we have the 2nd amendment and why it's defended so fiercely. It is there to give the people a last resort. It is the final constitutional option against a government that has grown too oppressive and corrupt. Sadly it's looking more and more like it may come to that. I'm not saying that any yahoo should be able to buy a gun, there are too many instances of a person buying a gun or three and going on a killing spree, but it is your right as long as you are not a danger to others.

    Sorry for the rant, I wanted to get that out there. I hope this doesn't have a chance in Hades of working. I'll be emailing my representatives about this, and I hope the rest of you in the US do the same.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:37am

    Re:

    If the issue was actually solved, she wouldn't be able to keep on bragging about how she'd done something about the issue, would she?

    That's why these efforts always target helpless bystanders. Responsible, registered gun owners, instead of crooks who buy them off the black market. Barely-related things like video games. And so on.

     

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    cubicleslave (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:40am

    So "violent" games with guns are worse than the content that Hollywood puts out? "Grand Theft Auto" is worse than "Death Race"? Whatever. Sounds like a double standard to me.
    Ugh... Feinstein needs to be put out to pasture. She is an embarrassment to California voters and has overstayed her welcome.

     

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    gorehound (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re:

    Sen. Feinstein is a total freaking asshole.I have a big hate for this lame person.Needs to be Voted out of Office next Election.Hope there are enough people with Brains to throw this bum out of Office.

    Sen. Feinstein from me and probably Millions of Gamers:
    FUCK YOU !

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:46am

    Re: history repeating?

    Someone should compile a list of humanity's moral panics, going all the way back to how that newfangled "reading" was going to destroy athleticism a couple of millennia ago.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:47am

    Re: Re:

    Exactly. If this was a bill to increase availability or reduce costs of mental health counselling, inform students what they can have access to if they feel they need to, or training for teachers and parents so that they can notice signs of mental problems, most wouldn't have a problem. Even the people whining about "socialism" might not have a problem if it means taking the focus off of guns and on to the people who might be driven to use them.

    The dumb thing is targeting one specific type of media - one that's already pretty well self-regulated - and pretending that would do something about the problem. At best, it's scapegoating a convenient target because the politician in question is too old to understand gaming. At worst, it's deliberate grandstanding, wasting resources better used toward something that will actually work rather than getting Feinstein's name in the papers.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    It's funny how most politicians these days seem to think they have unlimited power.

     

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    ralph, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:51am

    Legislators seem frustrated. They are being totally ignored by gamers, "pirates" and so forth

    They keep passing laws and people go around.

    What are they going to do...arrest everybody? I must remember to invest in a good mutual fund that specializes prison management company stock.

    There is something pleasantly refreshing about reality, as opposed to spin.

     

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    ltlw0lf (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:52am

    Re:

    Yeah, this won’t go over well at all.

    Knowing the recent history in California and her history, she has been doing something right for a very long time. She'll shred the Constitution and destroy personal responsibilities, but her constituents in the People's Republic of San Fransisco love her (as do the folks in Los Angeles,) and she keeps getting elected in landslide victories. The farmers in California hate her, but there aren't enough of them to outweigh San Fransisco and Los Angeles.

    Just like everything else, the fangs will be removed from whatever law she proposes (unless it has to do with Hollywood and copyright,) and the nation will move on.

     

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    Jasmine Charter, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    Let me clarify it for everyone...

    Let me translate the political talk...

    "She added that if the industry does not, Congress is prepared to take action, according to the Associated Press."

    Translation - "If the gaming industry doesn't start lining my pockets like the movie industry, I will be forced to penalize them until they learn their place - in my pocket!"

     

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    Coogan (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 7:55am

    *facepalm*

    You know, at this point, the only real hope I have for the future is that these "good ol' days" will be remembered via a really cool Billy-Joel-esque "We Didn't Start the Fire" song in 2045.

     

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    Donglebert the Needlessly Obtuse, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:00am

    Re:

    I have to disagree. I believe that Hollywood movies are far more reliant on guns than video games.

     

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    Reality Check (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:03am

    Re:

    Given that Hollywood got some nice tax breaks extended in the 'fiscal cliff' deal, I am led to believe that violent movies are necessary for our well-being.

     

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    Coogan (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:04am

    Re:

    It's not funny that in actuality, they do have unlimited power, via the tens of millions of voters who don't give a flying fuck about holding their elected officials accountable.

    There's not one single elected official in Washington who's scared of being voted out. With a incumbency rate of over 90% for Congress, an elected official has virtual carte blanche to do whatever the hell they want. They only fear the electorate when it's motivated behind a single common purpose - see the SOPA/PIPA protests. Oh sure, they started jumping off that sinking ship on global protest day, but I didn't see many disavowing that legislation before then.

    It's not until we turn the lights on that the roaches will scramble. Until then, politicians DO have unlimited power, by our inaction.

     

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    SayIT, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:09am

    Video games are the targets that NRA which has offered their competition to the government for disposal so they can sell more real guns and the suckers are going for it. Gun manufactures find video games to be their competition for the so called trill of shooting. The younger people in general are buying less and less real guns because these video games fill their time and satisfy the shooting needs so to sell more guns, the gun suppliers would like see these video games to disappear so that kids end up buying real guns and appear at shooting range.

     

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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:21am

    Re: Re: Re:

    I can't give you a citation as it's mostly opinion, as is the video as it's opinion piece. You are free to disagree but I don't see how just because I think the medium is more reliant on violence means I've somehow forgotten that other types of game exist.

    Part of the point of the video is that violence is a great mechanic for games and a popular one. This has lead to it being iterated on and refined more than a lot of other mechanics in games. Just, for example, think about conversations (the core of human interaction) in an RPGs and ask yourself are their any fundamental differences between how Fallout handled conversation and something like Mass Effect 3 does? And then ask yourself how different shooting is these days vs Duke 3d or the like. My feeling is that shooting has been vastly refined and open to more complexity (stalker for example) when viewed in that light.

    In fact it's easy to argue that conversation mechanics are less in depth now than in the past due to the introduction of voice acting and the nature of scale vs fidelity (costs far more to record dialog than it does to write it). To go further one of the most talked about and interesting developments in conversation recently in game design circles was the Walking Dead's choice to let you know via a pop up the results of conversations at the end of the conversation. For example you make a choice to say something and your informed a given person will remember that you said that. It provides an instant clear feedback on how your actions are impacting on the game that are independent of player interpretations.

    This has personally sparked off me prep work on a proof of concept game where the central mechanic is conversation and if it would be possible to abstract it into a set of mechanics that mirror something like a turned based RPG. One of the things would be to feed back your character interpretations of events coloured by your and the persons you are talking to stats. Why do I bring this up? Well in part I want to expand on why I hold my view in terms of how other mechanics in games have not had the same refinement just to make it clear that far from dismissing non-violent games I'm actually thinking about putting my money where my mouth is and actually making one.

    "A matter of opinion. I'd take the art of a "violent" videogame like Bioshock over and above the bland TV and movies that pass for mainstream entertainment any day of the week. The first game in that series had a better story and characterisation than any of the Transformers movies, for example, along with thoughtful subtext and some neat plot twists."

    Again you making the assumption that just because I think the industry tends to focus on violence and how that can negatively impact on artistic growth that violent games can't be artistic. For example, LA Noire is used as a case study of how the perceived need for violence as a main mechanic can undermine the artistry of the game. It had long, out of place shootouts that firmly jarred with everything else the game was doing because... well... why? In this case I'm not saying the game could not or should not include violence, some violence is clearly central to it (much like LA Confidential) I just feel the game would have been much better served by it being a vastly less central mechanic. It feels like the makers of the game felt that they couldn't sell the rest of the game and the interesting things they tried to do with conversions as a AAA title with out sections in which you gun down a bunch of guys.

    Now as for Bioshock let me link you to my response to an article about how Bioshock violence limits it's audience.

    http://www.polygon.com/2013/4/2/4174344/opinion-why-my-wife-wont-play-bioshock-infinite

    http://www.reddit.com/r/Games/comments/1bjgo4/opinion_violence_limits_bioshock_infinites/c97838g

    The trust of my point? Violence is both integral to the nature of the game and that there is firmly nothing wrong with enjoying it. The game is the best most wonderful single experience I've had in all the years I've spent playing games. Just because I think the industry as a whole relies too heavily on violence and that is mostly a bad thing for a new medium in which we are only just starting to understand does not mean that I don't think violent games can be artistic.

    "Then it shouldn't be a problem, given that the average gamer is aged around 37. (source: http://www.theesa.com/facts/pdfs/ESA_EF_2011.pdf)"

    Yes... my point is that the target market for these games are adults and yet most of this debate fly around "WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN".

    I feel I may have gone off on one here but I do hope it makes clear that I raise the issue that I think the industry had from my love for it. They are my major hobby and one of my biggest passions and I'd hope I wasn't an uninformed lout as a result :)

     

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    Dinglebit the Aromatic, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:31am

    Yet another opinion from a foreigner

    I entirely appreciate that many don't believe people from other countries should have opinions on gun control. If those people are reading this, please stop now. Thanks.

    Lots of people outside the US are amazed by the USA's obsession with gun violence. I'm not talking simple ownership - gun clubs, hunting, etc - you've got lots of space so a statistically small chance of hitting anyone.

    But it's the way, for example, that the MPAA will drop R or NC-17 certificates on films that show nudity, but have no concern in giving G certs to films that include guns to be fired in anger.

    So do I think violent video games are a problem? Well, yes, they probably can be if they're the only games that people play and it's combined with a culture that embraces gun crime. But, in terms of media audiences, they're probably not as big a problem as guns being shown on television, both in drama and on the news, and in the cinema.

    But then there's the problem. Here, in the UK, a gun shown in a tv series is a sign that things have got serious. It's got a bit of shock factor. (I don't mean an OMG!!! moment, but it's an indicator - they'll likely also smoke). But, in the US where guns are comparatively common, a gun on tv doesn't have that shock factor.

    So you can criticise US media all you want for showing guns - be it tv, cinema, music promos, video games - but you can't really blame the media for reflecting US culture.

     

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    Greevar (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:32am

    When the government treats its people as the enemy,

    the government becomes the enemy of the people.

    Honestly, our own government is waging a war against its own people. Patriot Act, FISA, DHS, DEA, IPEC. What the hell is going on here? Our government is run by a bunch of over-privileged bigots and demagogues. "For the children" has become the telltale indicator of approaching abusive policy.

     

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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:35am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Oh I agree, if violence didn't sell it wouldn't but that's true in all mediums. My point is mostly based on the idea that violence when abstracted into game mechanics is inherently satisfying for a variety of purely gameplay reasons. In fact you bring up an example of when you talk about how an online FPS is at it's heart a game of long range tag. This ability to provide context for that abstraction of game play when combined with the fact that people just enjoy violence makes it incredibly attractive as a choice of mechanic and as a result I feel that it's over used.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    I tried to vote her out. Too bad my state has people who keep voting this wierdo in.

     

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    el_segfaulto (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:36am

    Re:

    Personally, I think this is a long time coming. When I was a younger man I used to pop little white pills like candy, until I started hallucinating that ghosts were chasing me. Later in life I was involved in underground street fights until I got my face bashed in by an Asian girl with gigantic thighs. And the final tragedy...me and a bunch of friends got together to collect a bunch of crystals to help save the world. I don't mind telling you, if it weren't for the copious amount of phoenix down that we had, it would have been much worse. Stop violent video games now!

     

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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 8:56am

    Re: Re:

    Ok here a challenge, name me all the genre of film you can think of and then name me games that would fit into those categories. I'm aware that this is inherently reductive because genre in film terms often implies narrative and games are not inherently so. This is why genre in games is first and foremost a description of mechanics.

    I ask this being pretty confident of the results. Games are inherently different to film in that they have, shockingly, gameplay. You are active in engagement with it and mechanics that best support that engagement are the ones most often used. Violence is an inherently engaging mechanic that relies on something people really like. It's the most iterated and divers mechanic in gaming in my opinion and as such refined.

    This is reflected in the genre's that are popular. Conversations and human interaction are much harder to turn in to the same level of satisfying game play as violence. Not that it can't isn't or shouldn't be done but it's most often uses in addition to other mechanics and it's mechanics have remained mostly basic and unchanged for years.

    As a result in terms of narrative genre we don't have many big budget mainstream games that fit into genres (i.e. romantic comedy) that are routinely represented at the box office.

    I simply feel the industry is stunted as a result. We are only just finding out what games can do as an art form and there is wonderful amazing things been done in the indie scene for example our mainstream is no where near as broad as other mediums including film.

    Hell maybe narrative genre in that sense doesn't matter, games are games to be played first and foremost. I just personally feel that there are mechanics and experiences of play that the main stream could be offering but simply aren't.

     

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    RadialSkid (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:03am

    Re: NRA is behind this.

    Err...No. It's just Feinstein grandstanding, as usual. She's not affiliated with the NRA, in fact she's one of their most hated government officials.

     

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    Rapnel (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:08am

    Re:

    The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. -Thomas Jefferson

    ^ right about then ^

     

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  60.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:14am

    Re:

    when we start starving. fat people dont revolt.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:15am

    Re: Re:

    the problem is that we have taken to calling patriots "terrorists" these days. shame.

     

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    Rapnel (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re: history repeating?

    Condensing your list a tiny bit:

    Legislators are eroding our society.


    When war, security and protection supersedes health, liberty and integrity then anything goes.

     

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    harbingerofdoom (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:22am

    Re:

    just as soon as people start voting for elected officials that actually are men and women of quality and substance ready to do their part as public servants rather than sit back, create sound bites and accept kickbacks.


    so, pretty much never...

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re:

    Games can be an indicator of other problems going on


    But no more or less of an indicator than any other activity. I see no reason to single games out for some kind of special "indicator" status.

     

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    John Fenderson (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 9:45am

    Re: Re: Re:

    That's nothing new. "Terrorists" and "patriots" have long been used to refer to the same group of people, going as far back in history as you care to look. Which label gets used depends on which side you support.

     

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    Rapnel (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 10:32am

    Re: Re: Re:

    If a patriot feels compelled to act are they not terrorists? Only the patriot knows for certain. The fearful ones contrive and manipulate the text but the story remains the same. It is not a shame as such as the inevitability of terrorism, from the perspective of history, breeds itself and when justice becomes a twisted manifestation of contrived law in the quest for a prescriptive order then there will be terror. And it's highly likely that initial violence will be instigated by your own FBI.

    Senator Feinstein is a product of her constituency and a wholly inadequate two-party system. One of those things will ultimately be responsible and found at the root of a collapse of regime.

    Complacency will eventually breed a brutal and oppressive existence. If our elected leaders do not wake up then who will fulfill their obligations? Terrorists and patriots.

    The problem is not terminology. The solution will likely not be lawful. The tree will be refreshed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re:

    "Needs to be Voted out of Office next Election."

    As a California voter, I've tried. At this point the only thing that'll get her and Boxer out is retirement.

     

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    silverscarcat (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 11:45am

    Re:

    As someone who has to deal with idiots voting against their common interests, my sympathies.

     

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    JarHead, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 12:34pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    This has personally sparked off me prep work on a proof of concept game where the central mechanic is conversation and if it would be possible to abstract it into a set of mechanics that mirror something like a turned based RPG.

    This is getting me very interested. As collector of RPG systems (note: not games, but rather the rule sets), I very much want to see your work, as I can tell that it's such a rare work. Only a handful of systems in my library focus entirely on the social aspect, not even 5. "Wuthering Heights RPG" is a prime example of this.

    Now, if only we can find someway to exchange contact info.

    On the broader things, I do agree that games nowadays focus more on the violence aspect, sacrificing all else. Whether it's to a point where violence is glorified needs to be judged on individual game basis.

     

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    JarHead, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 12:56pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    You're blaming the wrong person, when you say "the industry's love affair". The customer decides what games are popular and the customer is always right.

    I think you're oversimplifying things. IMO the relationship between producer and consumer in a given market is a vicious circle, rather than one way or the other.

    The producer starts on producing many things, then the consumer votes what they like. At the beginning, consumer's interests spread fairly evenly across all products. A small subset of them will be relatively sell a little bit more. Then the producer take notice, and produce more of that subset. The process reiterate itself again and again making the market highly specialized, and the consumer only having smaller subset of choices with each iteration.

    This is what I saw happen in games. I consider the 486 era (the early '90s) to be the golden age of games. There are so many genres to choose on those days. Then Doom and Quake came out. Suddenly the gaming market refined itself to that genre. Nowadays, I view most games are just Doom/Quake clones with few additional cosmetics, usually that just only means better graphics but no other improvements.

     

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    JarHead, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Not to disagree with you, but what you're describing is what I saw in western game market. I admit that that market comprises a lot of share in the world game market. IMO 1 market is an anomaly, the Japanese local game market.

    People tend to know only successful exported Japanese games, like Final Fantasy and the like. However, for reasons I'm not sure why, games in their local market (i.e. not intended for export) is way more innovative than the whole western market games combined. People seems to hype (me included) over "Walking Dead" game. But take away the 3D graphics, you could see similar games released figuratively every day in Japanese local market, way back from mid '80s. One popular genre is the "DatingSim" game. The only such games which I saw involves violence is "Dividead" (mild) and "School Days" (wow, too much IMO; just see the anime).

     

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    JarHead, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 1:20pm

    Re: Re:

    So, you got to get out of the building or get to a specialized room just to play games? *shudder*

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 1:46pm

    "Now look what you made me do."

     

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    Andrew F (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 2:27pm

    Call her

    I suspect many of TD's readers are based in CA, so give her office a call: http://www.feinstein.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/washington-dc

    Those calls actually do work if enough people call.

     

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    Capitalist Lion Tamer (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 3:19pm

    Re:

    The key words here are "in that direction." She's hit the 2nd and 1st, in that order. She'll have to hook a U to run over any other amendments.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 3:21pm

    Re:

    I am fucking sick of these types of stories. When are people going to grow up, stop blaming others for what they do and take responsibility for their own actions?

    Is that too much to ask? Am I being unreasonable?


    Being unreasonable? No. Asking too much? Definitely.

    We're human beings and we like to freak out over stuff like having our kids shot up. When those things happen and are completely out of our control, we like to pretend to have control by panicking and doing stupid things.

    I am very disappointed in my senatrix. I genuinely thought Feinstein was better than this having been around since oh, the Rock-and-Roll satanic backmasking panic and every other one since.

     

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    Uriel-238 (profile), Apr 9th, 2013 @ 3:35pm

    Re:

    Mostly because she's less weird than the schlubs with whom they try to replace her.

    The GOP wants to censor video games also, because to them real guns are good, necessary and wholesome, but fake guns corrupt our children.

     

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  78.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Apr 9th, 2013 @ 3:54pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    The customer is always right? I think you need to look around for 'stupid customer stories.' I'd post a link, but I'd rather not distract too much more from the issue than I already have.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 2:35am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    So, you've evaluated a few games that focus as much on action as they do story/character and concluded that violence is the problem. Not that you've been playing action games, when what you apparently wanted was a pure RPG/adventure experience?

    I get what you're trying to say, but you seem to be questioning games based on a reading of a hybrid genre that's never, ever going to match a purer experience. Your reading of the genre certainly doesn't say anything about the medium as a whole, expect that some more action/violence-focussed games are very popular. But then, the same is true of every other medium. You're not usually going to find the films with the best characterisation, story or subtext at the multiplex. Most blockbuster films are filled with action/violence that add nothing to the plot, but which bring in the crowds. There's a million smaller and indie games out there with what you appear to prefer to see. But, they *do* exist, hence the idea that games depend on violence is wrong.

    You wanted a different experience in L.A. Noire? Fine, I agree. The games was clearly pandering toward Rockstar's existing audience who wanted more GTA-style gameplay than pure detective work. From what I've read, many in Team Bondi would agree, as well. But, this was a design decision by Rockstar, and means nothing more about the medium as a whole than what the film Gangster Squad says about the medium of film. In both cases, they made a product for their target audience. Different games/films address a different audience and so might fit your desires better.

    "Yes... my point is that the target market for these games are adults and yet most of this debate fly around "WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN"."

    Here, we agree. If parents would parent, and crusading politicians stopped attacking a fictional version of the industry then we'd all be better off. But as a gamer, you're not helping if you pretend that violence is a requirement, rather than simply a design decision made for commercial reasons by some of the less imaginative publishers. Pretending that the huge number of non-violent games out there don't exist because a certain subgenre happens to be the one that major publishers use to create their blockbusters does nobody any favours.

    The bottom line is that games don't *need* violence. There are certain types of game that feature violence that are very popular, and this can bleed into other hybrid genres as well. But this is no different to any other medium.

     

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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 2:46am

    Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I do enjoy the odd visual novels dating sim and you're right in that I've overlooked them here presenting a mostly western focused argument. I've actually spent a lot of time talking about Katawa Shoujo because I think it's a wonderful work.

    The thing is that I wasn't trying to ignore them to make my point, given what I said above I thought that Catherine would have been one of the games to be brought up. I don't think these games don't exist even in western market but even if you account for Japan I'd argue they are a relatively minor section of it. Films purely about human interaction and drama without violence are, I feel, vastly more prevalent than in games and I think there are perfectly valid reasons for this. I just think games, especially mainstream games and especially in the western market are limiting themselfs and gaming as a whole would be better off if we saw more of the willingness of the indie scene to make games that explore new form of mechanics for new forms of expression.

     

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    Nanny law hater, Apr 10th, 2013 @ 3:06am

    Why complain......

    All you people in California need to vote these type of people out of office. It is bad enough with all the BS feel good "nanny laws" there, that you all need to get you head out of the sand. Speak by voting these people out. Take control and get your freedoms back.

     

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    Tim Griffiths (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 3:08am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    I'm not talking about hybrids simply trying to get across that I feel the mechanics of violence are the most explored and refined in the medium.

    ". Most blockbuster films are filled with action/violence that add nothing to the plot, but which bring in the crowds. There's a million smaller and indie games out there with what you appear to prefer to see. But, they *do* exist, hence the idea that games depend on violence is wrong."

    Again you seem to be making the presumption that because I think the industry is overly reliant on violence I have to mean that it is only violent. You want to talk about big blockbuster movies? Fine, yes a lot of them are violent but even a casual reading of box office charts brings up more films that have no violence than the same kind of charts for games.

    "You wanted a different experience in L.A. Noire? Fine, I agree. The games was clearly pandering toward Rockstar's existing audience who wanted more GTA-style gameplay than pure detective work. From what I've read, many in Team Bondi would agree, as well. But, this was a design decision by Rockstar, and means nothing more about the medium as a whole than what the film Gangster Squad says about the medium of film. In both cases, they made a product for their target audience. Different games/films address a different audience and so might fit your desires better."

    Except LA Noir is one of the few examples of that genre in games, Gangster Squad is not one of the few examples of it's genre in film. You say the makes of a game felt pressured to shoe horn violence in to the game in which you agree it doesn't belong because the type of game it was trying to be and the type of setting and themes it was trying to express where so underrepresented in the mainstream they didn't feel it would sell otherwise and then insist that it's a meaningless example?

    "Here, we agree. If parents would parent, and crusading politicians stopped attacking a fictional version of the industry then we'd all be better off. But as a gamer, you're not helping if you pretend that violence is a requirement, rather than simply a design decision made for commercial reasons by some of the less imaginative publishers. Pretending that the huge number of non-violent games out there don't exist because a certain subgenre happens to be the one that major publishers use to create their blockbusters does nobody any favours."

    Ok, seriously, we are getting to strawman territory here and I'll just be repeating my self at this point if I respond yet again to the idea I'm somehow saying none violent game exist.

     

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    PaulT (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 4:02am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

    No strawmen here, I'm merely addressing your claim that "Games are more overly reliant on violence than other mediums". IMHO, the only way you can do this is to either discount the violent content of other media or to discount the non-violent game content. So far your backup of this claim has been subjective with no other real insight than "I wish that particular game didn't have so much violence". I get that's your opinion, but it's no more an indictment of the medium than someone saying the same thing about a film, comic or novel. In other words, it makes the opposite point to the one you started with.

    "Fine, yes a lot of them are violent but even a casual reading of box office charts brings up more films that have no violence than the same kind of charts for games."

    That's my point. You can cherry pick to state whatever you want. You can use last year's movie charts to say that violent movies such as Skyfall and The Dark Knight Rises were among the most popular, or you can use the same figures to talk about Madagascar 3 and The Lorax being among the most popular. You can pull Human Centipede 2 and Hostel 3 out of the same list that contains The Muppets. In games charts, you can look at COD:BO2 and Halo 4 being most popular, or use the same charts to talk about Just Dance 4, Mario and Pokemon. This becomes even more important when talking about less popular games - depending on the point you want to make, you might talk about Journey or you might talk about Lollypop Chainsaw. Both are equally valid examples of the medium, but neither represents it.

    My point is that there's the same reading of both media, which makes your initial claim false - games have the same prevalence of violence as other media. Perhaps you have something to show that I'm wrong about this, but talking about a couple of games that have had violence combined with other gameplay aspects that you wish wasn't there doesn't really prove your point. There's violence in both types of media, and there's plenty of content both ways that have none.

    "Except LA Noir is one of the few examples of that genre in game"

    Define which genre you're talking about. Detective games? There's hundreds. Film noir style period pieces? True, there's not many of those, but are they really a full fledged genre as far as games are concerned (and true recent examples of that genre in film are also thin on the ground)? A non-violent sandbox game? You might have a point, but is there really a market for those? What specific combination of game were you looking for? That could take you anywhere from Heavy Rain to the CSI games to Professor Layton.

    On top of that, there's a resurgence in the point and click adventure genre, with a new Tex Murphy game in production among others funded from Kickstarter, as well as a possible resurgence of story-driven RPGs (a sequel to Planescape Torment also recently got funding). The medium is perfectly capable of delivering what you're after, even if some of the larger publishers aren't interested in the type of title you personally desire.

     

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  84.  
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    The Real Michael, Apr 10th, 2013 @ 5:42am

    Re: Re: Re: Remind me again why this is a good idea?

    Contra was awesome. Super C was even better. Konami rocked back in the day.

     

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    ahow628 (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 7:49am

    Re: NRA is behind this.

    Hold up. If we are banning video games because the glorify guns, then we definitely need to ban the NRA because no one glorifies guns more than they do.

     

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    btr1701 (profile), Apr 10th, 2013 @ 11:42am

    Regulation

    > The Hays Code would live again, cutting content, sending suggestions to developers and requiring every game to carry an official stamp of approval from the board.

    How could any independent, non-governmental board even enforce content creation? In the internet era, any person or company can develop a video game and put it up for sale directly on their own web site. There's no longer any need to depend on manufacturers or retailers to bring a game to market. Without those choke points, an independent board with no actual governmental regulatory authority would be powerless to stop any game from being sold directly to the customers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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