Gamasutra - Violence in Video Games
Gamasutra has an article up titled Violence in Video Games:The Producers View featuring a talk with Sony producer Harvard Bonin, Bizarre Creations' Peter O’Brien, Stainless Games' Ben Gunstone, and Gas Powered Games' Frank Rogan. The discussion concerns the approriateness of legislation and the market perception of mature games and gaming in general:
Is it right for government to ban games? What about freedom of expression? If governments can ban games, shouldn’t they also ban some movies? Are 'Adults Only' ratings enough? Shouldn’t parents watch what their kids play? Who should take responsibility in this matter? When asked these questions, O'Brien replied, "I’m no expert on the subject, but violence is possibly one of the most common themes in modern entertainment."
Nonetheless, he opined: "Only at the moment self-regulatory bodies such as BBFC, ESRB, ELSPA fail to act on the content they review should the governments of the world act. I don’t believe there have been enough serious regulatory malpractices for the government to step in and create an act which unjustly targets our industry."
"Essentially, we’re living with a system created as a response to a threat, that has morphed into a situation where uptight buyers are afraid of an uptight audience."
He elaborated: "The threat was, if Hollywood didn’t start rating itself, Congress would. And nobody wanted that. To Valenti and the MPAA, the threat that Congress or state/local governments might feel obliged to step in and attempt to regulate movies was the sword of Damocles perpetually hanging over everyone’s head."
Likening the ESRB to the MPAA and noting that the games industry is under the same pressure as the film industry, Rogan concluded, "In other words, no one’s stopping you from making the game you want to make. But the customers — the retailers — aren’t always buying what you’re selling. This isn’t censorship. This is merely a commonly accepted business practice."