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May 05, 2007

Comments

Dave Rickey

Someone who is looking at virtual child porn is having the same thoughts and feelings as someone who is looking at real child porn, and is not far from those of a person who is actually abusing a child.

Someone who is looking at virtual murder (watching a Quentin Tarantino movie) or committing a virtual murder (playing a violent game) does not have the same thoughts or feelings as a person who is committing or watching a real murder.

Yeah, I know, thoughtcrime. But it's what it comes down to, people who look at child porn, virtual or otherwise, want to have sex with children, people who see or engage in fake violence don't really want to have the real thing. And child-porn viewers who say they aren't interested in sex with a real child are lying out of their ass.

--Dave

Dave Rickey

Oh, and I just remembered a game where you *can* kill children: Black and White. You can drown them, burn them, crush them with rocks, or feed them to your pet. Anyone who has ever unleashed fire and brimstone on a village in that game has killed many "children". Nobody seemed outraged by it.

--Dave

Marc

I'd bet that a perfectly realistic murder simulator would actually *discourage* people from committing real-life violence. Lots of people fantasize about curb-stomping the guy who just cut them off in traffic, but get pretty squeamish when confronted with real blood and guts.

The kiddie-porn simulator, though, is giving the pedophile exactly what they want, no squeam involved. Again, wildly speculating, I'd imagine that letting sickos "practice" in a virtual environment where nobody got hurt would channel off some of their vileness to a harmless place, but I can't say that I know how that kind of person's brain works, so, there's no telling. I quit smoking a while ago, but I know I'm still totally addicted - if I could jump into a perfectly realistic smoking simulator (minus the lung damage and cancer), would that make me more likely to pick it up again in the real world? Maybe. These are good, complex questions.

On the other hand, when we hit the point where we have common access to perfectly realistic simulators of sex with adults of our choice, well, that's the end of society, right there.

sn0wshrew

Whether a given piece of media or information should be banned always depends on the particular mores of a culture, but coming from an American perspective which (at least theoretically) values free speech, I would err on the side of allowing it. As you point out, once you start censoring, you're on a slippery slope.

Roy

It's true however, that sex and violence are treated differently at the cultural level. This is why we allow lots of violence in our publicly-aired films, but not lots of sex. Therefore, comparing GTA to child porn is not a fair comparison; it would be more fair to compare GTA to a Tarantino movie. If your friend insists on including child porn in the comparison, then ask him to compare it with a game that involves child porn. Which, as far as I know, there are none.

Some Guy

I don't think a perfectly realistic murder simulator would be any more acceptable than a perfectly realistic child porn image. I hope that games never mean to be that.

That said, I believe that fantasy violence relieves the desire to commit real violence, and it seems like these fantasy images have the opposite effect for pedophiles.

You say that you don't want to fall into the American trap of thinking that sex is worse than violence. I think that is a sad part of our culture, but you cannot argue that sex is DIFFERENT than violence. The two need not, and most likely should not, be treated exactly the same.

Simon Cooke

They've actually done studies that show that fictional events have less of an effect - if any - on a person's psyche than real events.

People actually have an inbuilt filter which lets them know the difference between story and real life. They just don't identify with fiction the same way.

For example, the Virginia Tech shootings can be tied almost directly - if you've read the studies - to media converage on the Columbine shootings, which have been a persistent feature of the news since they happened. They keep getting rehashed again and again. And the problem is, when people see other real people doing something, if there is any kind of empathy whatsoever in the reporting for the people themselves (which is inevitable in something rehashed so many times), they identify positively with those people, and get permission to act.

It's like suicides... the suicide rates increase when a positive story about someone who killed themselves is reported in the news. The event itself gives them permission, and people hear about it mostly through the media. If the story is not reported, or the focus is on the damage it did to the people left behind, the rate drops.

Fictional suicides, however, have no such effect.

Nabil

Icky or not, anything less is hypocritical.

As Mencken said:

The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all. (Mencken, Notes On Democracy)

You may disagree with simulated child pornography (as do I, along with the real stuff), but the reality is that protecting one form of expression you like means protecting others you may NOT like as well. This is the great tradeoff. If fighting for one's freedoms and protecting them once earned was easy, then there would not be censorship or oppression in the first place.

Freitag

I think Roy made a excellent point: you should either compare GTA to a gangster movie or fake child porn movie to a child porn game, but comparing GTA to a fake child porn makes no sense to me. He mixes the discussion about sex and crime depiction in media with the discussion about the differences between games and movies.

You could reply to your friend by asking him: Why should fake crime movies be allowed when fake child porn movies are disallowed?

Brett Douville

There exists a bit of a long-standing rift in ethical philosophy (dating back to Plato and Aristotle) about the role of intention in ethics. To paraphrase mightily, Aristotle is of the opinion that it matters little what your goals are when you behave ethically, whereas Socrates and Plato evince a more intentional vein: it is not enough to live a good life, one must life the good life with the proper intention (that of living the good life).

In my view, there is little room for good intentions in the viewing of false child pornography -- the fact is, most if not all people who view it will have the intention of treating it as true child pornography (and indeed, many who view it may not be aware of the distinction, and those who sell it may not make the distinction clear). There is not a lot of room for light-hearted intention in kiddie porn, false or otherwise.

On the other hand, many intentions might reasonably exist for a high-fidelity representation of violence such as GTA. One might be the realization that frankly, many of us need to get out frustration in our limbic systems. Or it might be purely entertainment -- though a holodeck-level representation of violence would likely appall most folks (I personally can't imagine committing virtual murder with my own hands/gun/whatever any more than I can imagine enjoying faux kiddie porn). One might be to explore a fantasy scenario that is prevalent in society (mob/gang/whatever).

For most, intention matters. Why you do something is nearly as important as that you do something -- we can sometimes excuse bad behavior if the motivations seem just, and good behavior with the wrong intentions seems bad. If you see me petting my neighbor's dog because I enjoy spending time with dogs, you likely think more highly of me than if I pet my neighbor's dog because I don't want my neighbor to give me grief over the fence I have been putting off fixing.

I felt (and blogged) about this a bit when playing the first God of War -- I'm playing the second presently, so the example comes to mind. There was an element of human sacrifice in the first -- throwing some poor caged virtual living being into flames so you could continue. If I had had the intent of causing that suffering, I would have found it difficult to continue -- but replacing that intention with exploring the tragic and epic elements Greek mythology, where anything could submit to the requirements of the driving destiny of the character, made it possible for me to continue.

Anne

I can understand your friend's point of view, but it really isn't a logical argument because it completely ignores intent.

GTA's intent is to entertain, while providing a subtle level of social commentary within the framework of interactive story.

It is no more a training sim for murder and mayhem than Guitar Hero is a training sim for being a rock star or DDR for a career in professional dance.

Interactive storytelling runs on intellectual and emotional engagement in the story.

The intent of a child porn sim would be to titillate and attempt exploit the legal loophole of no actual children being involved. It is an indirect sexual engagement, similar to the stereotypical "dirty old man" who hugs all the girls.

Realistic murder sims already exist -- it's called a target range. You are shooting an actual gun at targets representing humans, and you receive more points for hits to vital areas. You can also purchase 3D foam animal targets (with replaceable parts to repair damage from arrows) at any sporting goods store to practice hunting game.

Hugh "Nomad" Hancock

I'm not going to come down on either side of this one here, but -

I don't know about you, but I can get off on written erotica just as well as visual porn. Now, there are some people out there writing stories about underage sex.

Should those stories be legal? And if not, should all stories or written descriptions of underage sex be banned?

Freitag

I think that bringing intention into the discussion always leads to the "slipery slope" that Jamie already mentioned in the article. What about all the psychopaths that fail to see the difference between game and reality and that really see GTA as some kind of murder simulation? What if I were to say that I like to read fantasy sex stories about child molestation but would never act on it? Would my intentions then be "okay"?

I think there are two usual replies to these questsions:

1) It depends on what the intention of the majority of the consumers of that media is. This is hard to tell though since I personally don't know of any actual statistics about child molestation and about how many people just fantasize about it in comparison to those that would like to do it in real life. I doubt that any of us does know. Thus any speculations would be just that: speculations.

2) There is a difference between violence and sexual violence. One could argue that the first is mostly caused by situational motive, while sexual preferences are caused by deep character traits that can't be changed and are thus much more dangerous to our society. I'm no psychologist though and this would be worth a whole other discussion.

----

I think in the end the only fully objective positions are either to allow all kind of media or to disallow all kind of media that includes violence (including sexual violence). That is not to say that I would like to live by any of those two extremes though.

Pag

Freedom of speech doesn't really exist if the only things you're free to say are those that don't offend people. Freedom is measured by how free the people who don't conform to the society's norm are -- no society, no matter how totalitarian, will remove the freedom of those who conform perfectly to the society. If you want the stuff you like to be available but you want to censor the things you dislike, then you're not really trying to increase freedom of speech.

As Voltaire said: "I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it". I'm highly offended by pedophiles who watch fake kiddie porn, but as long as they're not hurting anyone I don't see why they should be arrested. Frankly, I prefer they look at fake stuff rather than start looking for the real thing.

I really don't want to live in a society where just wanting something -- but not acting on it -- can put you in jail.

Waffle

hmm, interesting point. I'd have to say the difference is that GTA is not *about* violence or murder, any more than any random 5 movies are. Sure, murders may feature in the gameplay and storyline, but that's not really the focus. You don't usually play GTA because you want to kill people.

On the other hand, it's hard to say that fake child porn is not *about* child porn, or that you watch it for any reason other than wanting to watch child porn.

Ultimately, I guess it comes down to GTA *not* being a murder simulator, perfect or otherwise.

On a side note, I can't speak for all countries, but I know in many, it's not actually illegal to *watch* child porn. So what about fake child porn? Why would that be more illegal?

The law can't really reflect that "I like games, so GTA is ok, but I don't like child porn, so that's not ok". It has to be somewhat equal regardless of what your personal preferences are.

greggman

I hate to point this out but there is fake child porn in every convienence store in Japan. LOTS OF IT. It's called porn manga and some not insignificant percentage of porn manga is child based.

I don't know what the percentage of real sexual child abuse is in Japan. I'm guessing it's low but it would certainly be good to get some facts since there is actually exists a society with this stuff easily available.

Also, while I find child porn personally disgusting, I find the topic interesting because it's clearly a subjective thing. Examples: both France and Japan, the legal age consent was as low as 14 years old and only changed recently due to legal pressure from the U.S. And, while the laws have changed their enforcement has not since culturally it's acceptable in those societies.

It's also ridiculous to get so upset about it. 150 years ago people used to get married at 12 had have children even in the USA. Having grown up in the 1970s the thought of 12 year olds having children sounds appalling to me but logically if it was okay 100 years ago then it's clearly a subjective cultural issue, not some absolute.

So, my point is, it's our cultural that finds even the thought of fake child porn to be disgusting. The topic is so out of control that no rational discussion is possible. It's possible that Japan, with fake child porn available easily on every corner would prove there is no effect but because we in the U.S.A have added it to our "so disgusting we can't even rationally think about it" category we'd never accept that.

Robert 'Groby' Blum

There's a fairly simple yardstick - if it doesn't interfere with somebody else's freedom (health, well-being, etc.), IT'S OK.

Just because *you* think it's creepy doesn't make you moral arbiter. Outlawing *any* kind of virtual expression comes pretty close to declaring it a thought crime - do you REALLY want to go there?

And no, intent does NOT matter. There's this little thing called freedom of speech, and last I checked it was legal to fantasize about pretty much anything. And virtual re-enactments are exactly that - fantasies.

(No, I don't think a kiddy porn sim is a good idea, and I consider it creepy too - won't stop me from standing up for free speech, though)

davidicus

whether someone thinks it's icky or not, until a definitive line can connect the solitary activity and harming others, there's no problem to fix. this is true of many issues.

GTA will evolve into soft- and hardcore murder porn in the coming decades. my opinion. is that bad? maybe not. could it be better regulated? probably.

larsiusprime

Here's the key:

I am a long-time gamer, and I've seen all that GTA has to offer, and it disgusts me to the core. However, there's a difference between the words "should" and "must." It's not my job to run the government and I personally am not very interested in running the censorship board. This doesn't even come from a free-speech/democratic motivation - just that censorship is not my job.

I'm not very motivated by the idea of playing a criminal, even if the game allows you to mitigate that to a degree due to its sand-box style open-ended game play. I still find it rather disgusting. To be consistent, I find movies that glorify this kind of lifestyle to be disgusting too and in general, I don't watch them.

In the end, why do we as game designers spend so much time defending violence and depravity? Just for the record, I'm Norwegian, and I'd like to point out that the whole "Americans are prudes about sex" and "Europeans are prudes about violence" debate is kind of silly - I think that saturating your culture with constant visual depictions of either does not a healthy society make. (Norway is just as guilty of this as America, so it's not an "us vs them" thing I'm trying to establish here) Maybe that makes me a super-prude, but hey, that's me.

As for "banning" them:
At most, I would go on the record as saying, "No one should play/watch these things." There's a world of difference between saying that and saying, "No one MUST play/watch these things," because the former is a moral/ethical statement - "I think these are bad" - and the second amounts to a legal statement - "I will lobby the government to ban them, it is imperative for me to make sure you can't experience these things."

On the other hand, I think it's time to pull our heads a little out of the sand. Some facts:

1) Jack Thompson is a crazy idiot.
2) Video games DO desensitize us to visual depictions of violence.
3) There's no "proof" that violent video games make people into killers, or that being desensitized to video game violence desensitizes you to the real kind or makes you enjoy it more.
4) Games can be art and make profound statements about our culture, the same as film and books.
5) Super Columbine Massacre RPG was a shoddy piece of work, from a pure craftsmanship perspective, and grabbed headlines not because of its "artistic content" but because of its provocative title and subject. If I had an entry in slamdance that year, I would have never even considered boycotting the competition on censorship grounds. I'll defend art I disagree with on those grounds, but only if it's also actually GOOD. (Okay, I'll be honest. This is more of an opinion).
6) There are legitimate depictions of violence in art, even horrible terrible violence. That is because violence is a thing that happens in the real world, and is thus something that is worth telling about in stories. You'd be hard pressed to find a pious Christian who thinks that the story of Christ's crucifixion is "exploitative" or "unecessary." Likewise, you won't find a Jew who tells you that the Holocaust is something we "shouldn't concern ourselves with" merely because it has violent content. Violence is part of life - my desire is to avoid it being cheapened through media.
7) Video game depictions of violence tend to be more juvenile and power-fantasy imbued than the ones seen in other media. It doesn't HAVE to be this way - there's nothing inherent to the medium that demands it - it's just, right now our industry is saturated with big beefy guys or ladies with big breasts who jiggle with glee when they blow someone's head off.

Some thoughts:

a) You can defend free speech without having to rally around disgustingly violent games
b) Knee-jerk flag-waving doesn't make people take us more seriously
c) censorship really doesn't solve anything
d) in the end, "they" don't really care to understand us, so we shouldn't sell ourselves out to them or worry too much about what "they" think beyond responding to their attempts to pass bone-headed legislation.

And one question:

Is it okay for a game designer NOT to toe the "industry party line" on this one? I'm not trying to stir up a flamewar here, just wondering why opinions like your friend's and mine seem to be in the extreme minority among game developers and players. You guys are entitled to your opinions, and I can sympathize with them as I used to share them once upon a time. I just want to make sure that it's noted that people like me DO exist among gamers and designers.

Jare

I don't think GTA is a murder simulator, so I find the whole exchange misguided.

Now onto the meat of the discussion: my concern regarding pedophilia is in the exploitation, abuse and traumatic experiences that the kids are subjected to. The concept of someone getting off to an image of a kid, while creepy, should not be punishable. So, in summary, real kid porn is to virtual kid porn is as snuff movies are to violent videogames. Real kid porn and snuff should both be punished harshly, because real people get hurt. Virtual... nobody gets hurt so it is hard to consider it a crime.

Certain attitudes, discourses and creations can be considered damaging or dangerous by their mere existance: apology of attitudes like terrorism or racism. Some guy comes out on TV and explicitly says that you should kill people that are . Should that be banned because allowing that will cause people to actually go out and commit horrific acts? I agree that there is a line, and I agree that the line is different for different people on different subjects.

- Some creations contain displays of criminal behaviour. GTA lies here.

- Some creations exist uniquely to display criminal behaviour. I consider virtual kid porn in this group.

- Some creations exist to encourage criminal behaviour. Apology of racism, violence, etc.

My line is definitely between 2 and 3.

Emmanuel Deloget

Or you can just say: "murder simulators are not a good thing, but they are not (semantically speaking) the same thing as games. In a game, you expect to do things you don't do in the real life (may I recall you the goal of Chess? Does that make Chess an evil game?). There is a slight difference between murder simulators (which you use to train yourself to kill people) and games (which you use to get some entertainment - even if this entertainment is violent (remember that most classic games are based upon the idea of conflict - why should video games be the sole media in which conflict should be forbidden?)). Or will you forbid younger kids to "play war" with fake weapons too?"

Regarding kid porn, the line is even more blurry. With photorealistic graphics and the will to create an erotic atmosphere, this is just weird and disgusting. With cartoon graphics and a huge sense of satirism, this is just plain south-parky. But even if you consider only the first kind of game, *if no child is abused in the process*, I just can't see what's wrong. Granted, I understand that it's disgusting, it goes against my morality, the people who does that are probably kind of sick, and I'd be reluctant to have them baby sitter my children (if I had some). But it's their own problem, their own twisted mind, their own desire. Who am I to tell how they should behave, as long as they don't represent a danger for the society?

Nick

"I need an answer but I don't really have one."

Why do you need an answer? Is it just that you know in your heart that GTA doesn't deserve to be banned?

I'm not arguing one way or the other, but I hope you can be open-minded enough to consider that your friend might be right.

Jamie Fristrom

"Why do you need an answer? Is it just that you know in your heart that GTA doesn't deserve to be banned?"

Yes, is that wrong?

David Hayward

I was thinking of Japan too.

Afraid I don't have figures, but I have heard before that Japan has a much lower instance of actual paedophilia than societies that frown upon fantasies of it.

However, the binary switch of "Fake child porn allowed" and "fake child porn not allowed" is an horrifically simplistic way to regard the ability of a culture to tolerate that kind of media content ("tolerate", not "cope with", because we pretty much always do the latter) .

It's more complex than there just being "simulated child porn" available, also being about the kind of fetish play people feel safe to engage in (i.e. not feeling the need to keep silent all the time or look over their shoulder for lynch mobs) and the cultural nods to it that don't actually constitute child porn (i.e. vending machines with schoolgirl panties in them).

As far as paedophiles go, I have no sympathies for any of their desires, however, the posts her talking about how "the paedophile" thinks and what they want are at Starship Troopers levels of imbecility. I don't think it's possible to deal with this issue while just thinking of them as the media construct they've been made into.

Mark Nau

I'm perfectly fine living with people who want to murder other people. Many times, I myself have felt the urge to commit violence and have had occasion to feel joy by action violently. I have no problem getting along with people who feel similarly.

I'm not in the least bit fine living with people who want to have sex with children.

Daniel

Here's my answer to your GTA question: I can see how GTA is brilliant. I'm not into the criminal aspects of the game. But the simple act of playing it is amazing enough that despite my misgivings, I can see that GTA has value. There's some magic in the interactions of the pieces of the game. Because I believe that GTA has value, because I can describe that value, I don't think it deserves to be banned.

The rest of your question is more nuanced. How much harm does it cause? How exploitative is it? How close to the line of something unacceptable is it? Does whatever value it have override those?

As to where the line is? You're the only person who can answer it for you.

Chris Busse

If you ban GTA, you should ban violent movies, violent books, etc.

Why are those ok?

Adam

Here's a story where the most realistic simulation possible exists, without consequences: The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect

One of the conclusions, without spoiling too much (it's a great story, read at least until chapter 2), is that when you know it's a simulation your intentions does not have to be the same as in the real world. The other way around is not necessarily true, though. But that only means that real world murderers would do it in the game too.

Margie McWilliams

I think there's a big difference between violent video games like GTA and virtual child porn. It helps to look at why real child porn was banned in the first place.

There are legal cases (in the US at least) involving First Amendment or free speech challenges to the criminalization of child porn. The argument was that mere possession of child porn doesn't hurt anything, that it's a victimless thought crime. The courts didn't buy that. The problem with real child porn is that REAL children are used to create it. If a person possesses child porn, that person has participated in the victimization of children in the child porn "industry."

The reason that virtual child porn is also illegal is similar -- the person possessing virtual child porn is supporting an industry that also creates the real thing. Buying (or creating) a picture of a virtual child being sexually abused helps support a market and a demand for pictures of real children being abused. Thus the person possessing virtual child porn also participates in the victimization of real children, the argument goes.

I don't think a similar argument can be crafted for violent video games. I think your friend's analogy fails and you don't have to reconcile GTA with virtual child porn (thank goodness!).

Mango

Freedom is individual freedom and should be an inalienable right for us all, now matter how distasteful or unpalatable that freedom might be.

That Norway guy made a good point about the saturation of violence in the media. And he's right, but we do love out vicarious thrills from fiction. In America especially, a culture that embraces violence in the media, it's OK to only show some forms: yes - films, TV, books games. No - excessive US troop wounding/death shots.

The televisation of mass bombings and army assaults of Iraq was disgusting for me, it was less about reporting and more of a massive show, a live action film - and no less scripted than any Hollywood blockbuster.

Giant corporations decide what we see, and they always have an agenda. Why do they show us constant depictions of violence, gore and almost all forms of depravity?

Perhaps the exorcism of our frustrations through games is a good thing? But games such as the literal 'murder simulators' are really a rarity, most games offer a story but it's a shame when that story is only a justifiaction for the bloodshed. Alternatives are hard to find, but personally I believe the adventure game is the true pinnicle of gaming - where else is story and exploration, both internal and external, greater than here?

I very much doubt that games influence psychos to kill, on the main. There were murderers and serial killers long before videos and games were around. These psychotics could aroused and obsessed by depictions of violence, until they become so frustrated and absorbed that they must act out their strange fantasies.

But it's also possible that gaming provides an outlet, a pressure release valve for those kinds of frustrations. Although, maybe a walk in the park and some helthier persuits would be more advantageous.

I don't really have the answers, but I do know that this argument basically boils down to freedom. You cannot sanitise culture, you cannot restrict things according to the way the moral wind is blowing - we should all have the right to self determinism.

Dragon

If I remember correctly, there was some outcry about a certain Indie game called JFK reloaded which was a very realistic recreation of the Dallas assassination. I seem to recall (but don't have the issues to hand) that some reviewers did decry the game as morally questionable.

Steve Sinclair

My view, ripped from Darwin/Pinker/Koster:

The basis of gaming is risk-free skill development required for survival and status. Violence practice - coordination, projectile trajectories - these are crucial skills in the world where we evolved.

Any of us can think of situations where violence is justified and common law reflects this.

On the contrary, sex with children lacks as much sense of being natural. Its harder to imagine an evolutionary benefit to such a compulsion. Nor can I think of a context where it could be justified. It isn't about reproductive sex as it is about power and abuse of a child's propensity to trust.

I think your intuitive response is far from being hypocritical.

Great post Jamie!

Bob Dobbs

.

I once worked on a comic book that had many elements of pedophilia in it.
I never considered that illegal?

The comic was satanic and peverse in nature...

So pedophilia in and of itself was not really celebrated? but used to heighten the level of peversion. And for the effect of repulsion.

Don't think art's exact intention can ever be convienantly expressed as an either/or.

Use Magrite's Pipe as a reality check. aptly titled... "this is not a pipe"

Long after Magrite has been buried are we still confused? It's not a pipe. It's paint on canvas.

Not to be trite but...

what is the value of freedom if you are only free to do what others are comfortable with. Someone is going to go on a shooting rampage after playing a videogame? Then, what is the value of art if only the lowest common denominator of society dictates what we can handle?

I wish somone would do really good video game covering the life of Christ. Mainly cause Christ was the coolest cat of all time, my personal hero and founder of a slave religion.

Uncensored and dropped over the most rigid Muslim cultures in a large enuff quantity...
"The Christ Game" would certainly have a bloody societal impact.

Most religious practice result in great bloodshed. Brought upon them are executed directly by them.

The cultural revolution is far from over.
Art is an idea. censoring art amounts to the "thought crime".

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Pick a side.


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Tim H.

The point in video games is to break away from reality and jump into to a world of fantasy to satisfy yourself with hours of entertainment. It isn't against any law if you're playing a fake-child porn game, but it makes you a pretty bad person. It doesn't make much a difference if you play a game where you murder people and game where you...well....What do you do in fake-child porn simulations? There's a reason for ratings, people. GTA shouldn't be banned, but it should be told that there's violence and bad language.

Hobbes

There is no difference between the two game types. Not in 'reality'. The only difference is entirely in peoples head. So, right now peoples heads say Paedo 'icky', Pimpin Gangsta Killer man, not so 'icky'.

So theres your line. Feel free to draw it somewhere else if you like. Plenty of people will.

For the record, my line is drawn as follows: I play plenty of violent games, and haven't had a fight since I was ooo, eleven years old. I lost. I wouldn't play a 'paedo' game, and would prefer that no one else did either. But in the end, I think the only things that should be crimes are things that hurt other people.

(Wonders if now is a good place to offer a joke about what the EA 'sex game' division would be called, and what the little aural (stop it...) tag at the start of the games would say... decides, probably not.)

dual_barrel

I'm a law abiding citizen. I respect and love the people living around me very very much. I would never hurt a soul.

But at times, I do get tired of playing around the "social Saint" and feel like doing an 'f' to all the rules and regulations that society came up with and that's what makes me play violent games.

Joe O'Brien

If someone has to bring child porn into an argument to make their point, they've already lost that argument. It's a rhetorical bluff to back you into a corner, not a legitimate point.

The GTA series are not realistic depictions of violence, and that has nothing to do with rendering. They certainly aren't "murder simulators". They are heightened, hyperbolic fantasy experiences, a.k.a. "games".

Doc R

There is a distinction that can be made here that I think is massively important. The point is not what can be done in a game, but rather what the goal of the game is and what it rewards you for. In the original Manhunt the goal is murder, which I don't find at all appealing. Visceral, graphic depictions of those murders are also the payoff, the reward, for playing the game well.

In GTA, the payoff and the goal are generally the same: freedom to explore. There are exceptions to this in GTA (the whole Hot Coffee hoopla), but generally whilst anything goes in the GTA world, the thrill of playing does not come from engaging in distasteful acts.

I see that as being the major way to reconcile these disparate factors. Games which involve killing aren't necessarily murder simulators, unless murder is the explicit goal and the explicit thrill of the game. So beating a boss doesn't count because it's all about getting past the barrier they represent - i.e. new experience is the goal and the reward. To me GTA doesn't fit the category of 'murder simulator'.

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The Games

  • Energy Hook
    3D grappling-and-swinging-and-running-on-walls-and-doing-tricks ... with a jetpack ... for style!

Jamie's Bragging Rights

  • Spider-Man 2
    The best superhero games of all time Game Informer
    Top five games of all time Yahtzee Croshaw
    Top five superhero games of all time MSNBC
    Top 100 PS2 games of all time Official Playstation 2 Magazine
    1001 Games You Must Play Before You Die Nomination for Excellence in Gameplay Engineering Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences
  • Schizoid
    Penny Arcade PAX 10 Award
    Nominated for XBLA Best Original Game
    Nominated for XBLA Best Co-Op Game