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03/29/2005

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jane

This isn't about video games; it's about a whole 'nother game altogether, that tricky game of politics. Speaking of which, why has no one made the Presidential Campaign Simulation Game yet?

Mike

They have. The Political Machine was a pretty cool game. Although it had Bush and Kerry on the cover, you could really play as any number of people. A fun little strategy game.

pokermonk

just a note... the non-bill clintonians have *always been quite vocal for stricter controls of entertainment media. joe lieberman and hillary clinton were a one-two punch on the subject after columbine publicized the issue, and don't forget tipper gore's role in bringing about the zebra on your favorite rap album.

also. children having sex with prostitutes and killing them is a major reason i think weekly allowances should not exceed $1.50.

Mike

"Children are playing a game that encourages them to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them," she said

One or the other is okay, but both? Jesus Christ, what's next?

Clubberjack

Yeah, this is about politics, but the thing that worries me is that games are becoming everybody's whipping boy. If both democrats and republicans (for their separate reasons) are pushing legislation to regulate the game industry, then who's speaking on our behalf?

This happened to the comics industry in the 50s. Jack Thompson, David Grossman and their ilk are our very own Dr. Fredric Werthams. While comics escaped gov't intervention by implementing the comics code, the medium still suffered.

The common factor here is that both comics and videogames are seen by the public-at-large as "for children." Even though we recognize that games can be made for different audiences and age-groups, most adults still think of games as children's entertainment. That's why Hillary can say "Children are playing a game that encourages them to have sex with prostitutes and then murder them." The easy answer is that children shouldn't be playing these games, but politicians don't come to that conclusion because their ideas are so firmly rooted in the perception that games are for kids.

So I guess education of the public-at-large is necessary. I'm sure someone (IDSA, IGDA, IEMA?) is working on this, but more efforts in this area would be great. Does anyone know if this stuff is being worked on?

CFoust

I don't really mind if people rail about games and their supposed bad influences, but why don't they actually do some research and come up with a more substantial complaint? I think GTA is most dangerous in that it teaches dangerous driving habits, which are more likely to creep out into real life. GTA does NOT encourage you to pick up prostitutes; you get no indication that it's possible until the first time you stop your car by the side of the road.

I have a theory that most people have been trained to respond most strongly to images, through visual art, movies, descriptive writing, etc. However, gamers have learned largely ignore the images in their games, instead looking at the underlying systems. To us, "pick up prostitute, then kill her" is just an interesting intersection of the ability to kill people with the (unadvertised and largely inconsequential) ability to pick up a hooker. This image, however, understandably pushes people's buttons when they see it out of context.

Politicians are masters of manipulating people through images, while obscuring the underlying system. This is the perfect image to use to incite the public and rally them to your side.

nex

gta3 does in no way encourage murdering prostitues after having sex with them. it's sad that this meme was allowed to spread among politicians and the general population until everyone just took it as a fact, although everyone who has played gta3 knows that it's an utterly misinformed statement at best and really rather a blatant lie. yes, you can let a prostitute into your car in the red light district, and by parking in a more or less secluded place off the road there will be something going on that will make you feel a little better physically (that's what your health points represent). we can safely assume that this something is sex; however, you don't see or hear anything, so this is completely left to your imagination; she could just be giving you a massage for that matter. killing people, on the other hand, is only rewarded if they are designated targets of a mission. these are mostlys gangsters and never prostitutes. killing anyone else will at best do you no good, and at worst cause hordes of police hunting you down. and even though you can only advance in the game by killing quite a substantial number of 'mission objectives', it's mainly certain characters who deem this necessary or even 'honorable' and the game itself actually often portrays them with cynic contempt, while other characters even hold critical or sarcastic views on the easy availability of guns in the U.S. also, if you actually play the game, you discover that the game mechanics aren't those of a killing simulator, but very abstract and arcade-like, much more pacman than manhunt. (for example no matter how much blood you beat out of pedestrians, they can always still be rescued by an ambulance crew, and failing a mission causes everyone you killed during that mission to be alive again as if nothing happened.)

furthermore, the game doesn't necessarily make you a worse driver. it is often necessary to drive fast, and if your adrenaline level gets pumped up and then you immediately get into your car, you may be tempted to hit the gas harder. you could achieve the same effect by playing tetris. on the other hand, you learn to appreciate how differently different cars handle, how a family van is harder to steer and easier to roll over than a sports car, how a bus has a much longer braking distance than a compact car, and how stupidly many drivers react to an ambulance with blue lights flashing appearing in their rear view mirrors. by putting you into the ambulance driver's seat, it downright teaches you to lower your speed and get to the very edge of the road next time this happens to you in real life.

pubescent teenagars might see the game in a less differentiated way than i do, but as the game's box states right on the front that they're not allowed to buy it and shouldn't be playing it, there's no reason to take it off the shelves. all that needs to be done is enforce this policy and encourage parents to join their children playing games and form an opinion on their own instead of believing nonsense spread by politicians who in reality have an utterly unrelated axe to grind.

currently, the sole message clinton et al are sending to the kids is: gta3 is way cool!

outsider

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