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Default Mass Effect - Misinformation and Misdirection

January 18th, 2008, 11:07
I was going to stay away from this but it's rather quiet and it really is informative to look at the lengths some people will pursue to whip up a frenzy and generate some publicity.
One Kevin McCullough writes a conservative column at a political site called Townhall.com. Mass Effect's mildly controversial soft sex scene came into his sights but despite not really knowing anything about it, he decided to let rip. The original piece seems to have been removed but Google cache has a copy and I found it syndicated to another site, Free Republic. Here are some quotes:
I know that they all probably assume they have better, much more important, urgent, timely, things to campaign on, but I sure would like to get their individual takes on the new video game that one company is marketing to fifteen year old boys.
It's called "Mass Effect" and it allows its players - universally male no doubt - to engage in the most realistic sex acts ever conceived. One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images they wish to "engage" and then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the video game "persons" hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of. […]
We now know because of the lengthy track record of serial killer after another that addictive use of pornography was prevalent in case after case - long before the switch got flipped and what their masturbatory imaginations have given into became what they were forcing real live human beings to do.
And because of the digital chip age in which we live - "Mass Effect" can be customized to sodomize whatever, whoever, however, the game player wishes.
With it's "over the net" capabilities virtual orgasmic rape is just the push of a button away.
Heady stuff. I want to emphasise that while Mass Effect's content doesn't bother me, adult material in games is a debate worth having — but you can't engage in meaningful dialogue if the original intent is to misinform rather than open a dialogue.
McCullough follows up with a defence here and a fake apology here.
Penny Arcade astutely summarises the situation in a recent comic and I think their point that the best response is silence is valid - despite giving it coverage in this newsbit so we can discuss it.
More information.
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January 18th, 2008, 11:07
New term for 2008: virtual orgasmic rape!! Hey, the guy did say he asked his "gamer friends" about Mass Effect and they told him about all the child pornography and bestiality going on in this title.

Attention whore!
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January 18th, 2008, 12:55
You gotta love freedom of speech. It means every wacko can say whatever nonsense that comes into his or her head. Sorta like what I do Like I said, you gotta love freedom of speech

Also I LOVED his apology. Kinda reminded me of good ol' Bill Oreily. Whenever he says something stupid (almost every day) and has to apologize for it (which he almost never does) it always sounds like he was right anyways no matter how insane his statement was. Gotta love it when he said this "For this I DO apologize to the gaming universe!" Then the next sentence "For the strides that retailers HAVE made to attempt to keep smut out of children's hands, I thank them! (Though can't we do better than 42%?)"

So he apologizes for making Mass Effect into a porn game but then goes onto say he was right anyways with his point. Neo-cons are a blessing for their comedic value.

Despite all my rage.
I'm still just a rat in a cage.
Last edited by skavenhorde; January 18th, 2008 at 13:07.
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January 18th, 2008, 13:05
I don't know what scares me the most:

1) That anyone would go on a crusade so utterly ignorant of the subject he is crusading against.
2) The fact that this ignorant twerp is actually a politician.
3) That the first 20 or so comments on his blog that I read went along with his delusions as if what he said wasn't complete and utter bullocks.

"Chess in particular had always annoyed him. It was the dumb way the pawns went off and slaughtered their fellow pawns while the kings lounged about doing nothing that always got to him; if only the pawns united, maybe talked the rooks around, the whole board could've been a republic in a dozen moves." - Commander Vimes in Thud! by Terry Pratchett
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January 18th, 2008, 13:18
This leads to old debatte of why is having sex in a game more "evil" than killing people? I am sick of this.

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January 18th, 2008, 14:56
I wonder what would happen if someone made a game with a really steamy, explicit, realistic sex scene — but you had to get properly married (in a church, by a priest) in order to get to it? Bet that'd confuse 'em…
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January 18th, 2008, 15:18
This has been going over at GamerDad for a bit now as well …

— Mike
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January 18th, 2008, 16:09
We now know because of the lengthy track record of serial killer after another that addictive use of pornography was prevalent in case after case - long before the switch got flipped and what their masturbatory imaginations have given into became what they were forcing real live human beings to do.
Video games! Creating serial killers since 1973.
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January 18th, 2008, 16:59
Originally Posted by Darkmoon View Post
This leads to old debatte of why is having sex in a game more "evil" than killing people? I am sick of this.
In Germany, violent scenes in games are cut. Sex scenes are left in.

In the U.S. it's vice versa.

That's how the clichι goes.

And the National Rifle Assoociation most certainly won't call it "smut" to let a youngster kill several people with his well-deserved gun, cynically speaking.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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January 18th, 2008, 17:04
There is one important distinction. In America, these items are voluntarily removed to increase sales and in Germany (and elsewhere), they are forcibly removed by law.
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January 18th, 2008, 18:10
Actually no. They can not forcibly remove anything, but they can limit or in extreme cases forbid sale. The cutting is done by the developers/publishers. There are several levels to this. There is "indiziert" which means it can not be sold to people under 18, and can not be openly displayed or advertised (= economic death in most cases, much like an M rating in the USA). Then there are "forbidden" media, that are illegal to sell (but not to own), mostly this applies to Nazi / racist publications. Finally there is "Beschlagnahmung" (confiscation), where law inforcment actively goes out and tries to remove the existing copies of the medium (usually from publishers stocks and shops, not from private owners).
As an aside: An interesting case is Hitlers book "Mein Kampf" it is actually not on these lists (so strictly speaking this worst of the worst book would be legal) but Bavaria holds the copyright, and thus can bar it from distribution in Germany.

Here is a partial list of computer games that are on the index, or have been confiscated.
http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Verbote…e_.28Auszug.29

All games are further rated in a similar way as in the states by the USK, which is however binding, e.g. you can not buy the game until you are the appropriate age. Levels are: no limitation, 6, 12,16, and over 18 years. E.g. The Witcher (in the version I have) is an over 18 game, meaning also it is barred from standard mail order and can only be sold in controlled shop environments (you can mail order it, but you have to show ID to claim the item).
So it's indirect censorship, much like what you have in the states, only it is "state owned" so to speak. They don't go and cut anything, but they may go and say "it has this and this, you can not sell it publicly unless you change the product. Of course many publishers do preemptive self-censorship, which is why we get so much green blood over here…

I hope I got it about right, I am no lawyer after all. But that is my understanding how things work in good ol Germany.
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January 18th, 2008, 19:06
Originally Posted by GhanBuriGhan View Post
Actually no. They can not forcibly remove anything, but they can limit or in extreme cases forbid sale. The cutting is done by the developers/publishers. There are several levels to this. There is "indiziert" which means it can not be sold to people under 18, and can not be openly displayed or advertised (= economic death in most cases, much like an M rating in the USA).
'M' is not an issue in the US, it is 'AO', which most retailers will not carry (same policy that covers pron mags)

And just like the whole 'Manhunt 2' thing recently (in which the US allowed sale as AO, but other countries banned) … they cannot 'force' change, but through economic death it is only a slight distinction.

— Mike
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January 18th, 2008, 19:23
IMO it would be very bad if someone tried to ban Mein Kampf. If you're studying German history of that period, it's pretty much required reading, and banning it would just give it some extra mystique.

(If you're interested, the full English translation is here: [ http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks02/0200601.txt ).
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January 18th, 2008, 19:46
After he on the 13th of Januaru 2008 bursted out at Mass Effect, he made an apology, some say it was a lame attempt of an apology.

http://kevinmccullough.townhall.com/…#commentAnchor

Over at the Obsidian forums I have made this post:

http://forums.obsidianent.com/index….st=30&start=30

about (some of his) misunderstandings about the game, most notably that he doesn't seem to get that the ESRB-ratings including the M-rating is not mandatory on the state or federal level in the US. It is the policy of the stores to prohibit the sales of M-rated games like Mass Effect to those under the age of 17. However, if a 14 or 15 year old young adult is accompanied with a parent the parent can buy the game for his kid. This is how it should or ought to be. Mike mentioned gamerdad. I agree with gamerdad (and gamermom) that parents need to get involved and monitor what games their kids play.

In the original article he also mentioned that his view on gamers were that they were male, young and living in their parents basements. Of course, gamers get angry when anyone says this, especially since it's so obvious not true. Gamers today are in fact 30-35 years or older, and many gamers, about 25% of the gamer population, are female. 50% if you count the female gamers who play puzzle, flash, and adventure gamers as well.

He also seems to have misunderstood totally that the romances and consesequently the sex scenes (if you can call them that?) are voluntary, optional and only available after you talk to the person(s) with whom you're interesting in developing a relationship.

I'm fine with him saying that he doesn't think that Bioware should make any games which have sexual content in them. That's a volid point and argument. However, as I said on the Obsidian forums, I do think that needs to present a logically reasoning behind this, not just a rant about how bad this is for the children! and how (his) God does not approve of this.

I'm still surprised, though, that both Mass Effect and Bioshock got an 18+ rating from PEGI. Interestingly enough, it was because of the violence level in the games, not the sexual content or the language presented in both games.

/aries100
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January 18th, 2008, 20:05
Originally Posted by aries100
I agree with gamerdad (and gamermom) that parents need to get involved and monitor what games their kids play.
Imagine that.

Too bad no politician would ever say that.
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January 18th, 2008, 21:16
Originally Posted by doctor_kaz View Post
Too bad no politician would ever say that.
While I'm sure that enough digging *could* turn up a politician who said that, you do have a point. When you think about it, it's kinda puzzling that this is the one thing that liberals and conservatives seem to agree about.

Which does not bode well for games or gamers.
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January 18th, 2008, 21:49
Yeah, they are indeed in agreement on this. The conservatives play to the Family Values/Christians crowd and the liberals play to the Nanny Statists. There are very few voices for artistic freedom and minimal government today. The media loves to play up this bullshit too, since video games are competition. If you don't believe me, watch how Jack Thompson gets his butt kissed whenever he's on TV.
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January 19th, 2008, 00:43
I think there's something wrong with the US politicians if they wouldn't say what I just said in my post above. I have heard many or at least some politicians in Europe say that it basically is the parents responsibility to bring up their children and to monitor what they eat, watch on tv as well as what games they're playing.

I also think it means a lot that games at least in Denmark gets covered in major newspapers, some games even get reviewed on tv by real game reviewers. This way people learn that games are just fun to play and not the bad guy. Even after the school shootings in Germany where the person who did this apparently played videogames most people vented out against the politicians who said that games were entirely to blame for the person shooting so many people in his school. It's just as if Europeans somehow seems to have a more nuanced way of looking at these things that does most average Americans. I mean, guys like Jack Thompson wouldn't get far with their accusations before a well educated journalist would ask him a real hard questiom, trying to get him to defend his position, citing statistics etc. etc.

I also think that most of Europe are happy with the PEGI system which we had a debate about and some info about, too, on Danish National Television during both december 2005 and december 2006 for obvious reasons. It's Christmas and many young kids want games for Christmas. I often found that just talking about things, discussing people's worries with them sometimes make these worries go away.
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January 19th, 2008, 04:10
I think people like Jack Thomspon get enough flack in the USA as it is. He's just surrounded by PR people and bodyguards that prevent any real penetration of common sense. Nothing much different from Europe, I think. It's still far removed from reality (or at least an interpretation of it that I don't agree with).
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January 19th, 2008, 22:21
Originally Posted by Prime Junta View Post
IMO it would be very bad if someone tried to ban Mein Kampf. If you're studying German history of that period, it's pretty much required reading, and banning it would just give it some extra mystique.
Sorry, but it IS banned within Germany !

At least I don't know any shop that sells it. As far as I know it is indeed banned in Germany.

“ Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius – and a lot of courage – to move in the opposite direction.“ (E.F.Schumacher, Economist, Source)
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