Game Eaters

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

My World Just Got Stupider.

I am defeated by reality.

I was going to post yesterday about Jack Thompson's moronic accusations against EA. I never thought I could be embarrassed for such a scumbag, but Thompson's claims about The Sims 2 were so absurd I wanted to turn away from my monitor. I mean, claiming that The Sims is *worse* than Rockstar just because their game can be hacked to make the characters naked? Does this man LIVE? Does he breath? Does he walk on two legs, and converse with homo sapiens?

I get the feeling if I went to meet him it would be like meeting Yul Brynner in Westworld. Like in the middle of a conversation he'd start sputtering like a broken record "videogames-are-evil! videogames-are-evil!" and suddenly smoke would start coming out of his eyeballs and his face would peel away to reveal a circuit board.

So yesterday, as I was reading this, I was thinking that this might actually *help* defend videogames against censorship. Because it's easy to go after Rockstar, but I doubt even Lieberman, Grossman, and Clinton would go after The Sims 2 so eagerly. So by sticking his neck out that far Thompson would obviously get burned once EA clearly explained the difference between fan mods and official content, that this is how games have *always* been, and there have been nude mods of The Sims since the moment the original game was released.

But then I woke up today, and saw the headline "House Backs Federal Investigation of Rockstar Games."

So apparently the House voted to investigate Rockstar to see if they were "intentionally trying to deceive the rating board" by leaving their Hot Coffee code in GTA. And this is just great folks, because now the U.S. government gets to set a precedent for deciding, according to their own game-ignorant criteria, what constitutes "deception" when it comes to modding, unlocking, and otherwise tampering with game content.

So what could happen here? Could the government walk in to Rockstar and actually *decide* that locked content in a game, which is always technically reachable by anyone who wants to spend the time to hack the game, constitutes "deception" of the ESRB? Are we on the verge of seeing the government make decisions about what is "official" and "non-official" content in games?

I'm not saying there should be no definition or legislation about this, but I for one don't want the government deciding what constitutes the primary "text" of a videogame... especially not as a knee-jerk reaction to something like GTA.

So yeah. Maybe Thompson will get lucky, and because of this Hot Coffee bullshit the government will decide that anything moddable or unlockable constitutes a content risk too big to not regulate. Hooray for Rockstar. Hooray for Thompson. Hooray for the government.

My world just got stupider.


  • On the Sims2 debacle, EA Rep Jeff Brown showed some surprising lucidity on the topic:

    “This is nonsense,” said Jeff Brown, spokesman for EA. “Reasonable people understand there is nothing improper in the game. Reasonable people recognise what mods are. A consumer who chooses to use a mod does so without any kind of agreement with the company. There is no nudity. There is nothing improper or vulgar in the Sims 2.”

    Brown continued, “Reasonable people understand the San Jose Mercury News is not responsible for vulgar things that people doodle into the margins of the paper.” - Bluesnews

    Now I'm not even going to begin to claim any sort of expertise in your country's wonky political system, but Jack Thompson's certainly can't help himself but to take advantage of the moment to self-serve at the trough of the Rodham-Clinton anti-videogame crusade buffet bandwagon.

    The man's accusations are clearly insane, but he has a reputation for pulling stunts like this as a platform for catapulting his career as an unofficial legal expert in the media on violent videogames. Take that away and he's just a sub-human ambulence chaser for victims of violent crime (check out his website for a more extensive sample of what he's been up to).

    I think what's more worrying about Jack Thompson is that 50 nationwide television programs and 170 College Campuses gave him the time of day.

    The real concern here is, as you return to in the end, is all the Hot Coffee spilling over the place...

    Certainly, reasonable people in this issue will come to understand that modding tools bear little difference to a video camera, typewriter, or pen & paper.

    But considering the way things have been going, can we expect there to be any reasonable politicians, investigators, or judicators left?

    By Anonymous Exender, at 12:09 AM  

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