Saturday, July 2, 2011

What is over the line in a game?

When is too far ... too far?

Recently on the local game group forums we've had a discussion going on what is too far with RPGs and video games.  I'm pretty opinionated on this in terms of I think any depiction of violence or abuse towards children is 100% taboo.  Apparently people don't feel that way.

even worse someone thinks its so funny they will sing Adam Sandler opera man style songs about it

Yet as offensive as it is I don't think it should be banned or burnt.  Its protected speech and people are fully entitled to consume it and view it.  Such is freedom ... good with the bad ...

It just saddens me that there seem to be no standards anymore in terms of this sort of thing.  But this is a broader discussion.  What do people out there think?  Especially with your own home gaming.  What are your lines ... or do you have any ... in RPGs?

Its just a game is the take on the internetz ... and therefore doing anything in it is ok and your an idiot if you read anything into it.  So there are no lines at all ever, under any circumstances when it comes to games now apparently according to most people on the internet.  Because its fictional and just pixels its all ok.  This is why video games are less and less appealing each year.  I suppose at some point it will all just be torture porn hentai with an anything goes attitude.  Sad really, but just sad to me I guess after reading more about this online I realize I'm in the minority to such an extent I might be the only person in the world who feels this way (well maybe there is one other but that's about it).   I know this is kind of old news for the internet ... but we have been talking about it in the local community and we started bringing it back to the world of tabletop games and I wondered if anyone else out there had thoughts.


Mike Howell said...

It's funny.... a scary story told or written with the girl turning zombie and getting killed would probably not illicit nearly the emotional response of actually seeing the girl's demise like that. The visual are what make that sort of story telling OTT.

Rob said...

I agree that it's over the top, but at the same time I don't think it's bad for that. The irony is, the reason it's so unpalatable -- and I won't watch it again, it did make me uncomfortable -- is that it has done a very effective job of projecting just how unpleasant this kind of situation would be on a far intimate level than just oh-my-god-zombies-run-for-your-life. It invokes the protector instincts in us.

But then, it's not the only thing that did so. I can tell you right now, I was more unsettled by the scene in the first Mad Max movie, when Max's child is killed, than I was by this; and that was made over thirty years ago. There may be more gore here, but the jeopardy - that stomach-knotting, helpless feeling - is far, far worse in other movies that don't seem to go so far as this little clip. The gore, for me, is an irrelevance.

One key distinction for me is the human element that's missing here; there's no cruelty in a zombie apocalypse, it's an indiscriminate plague. I'm more unsettled and uncomfortable around depictions of deliberate cruelty, to the point where there are some things I can't watch, whether the victim is man, woman or child. In gaming, that's exactly where I'd draw the line; I'd have no interest in a game becoming a mechanism for someone to play out violent or cruel fantasies.

So; I think there should be lines, that shouldn't be crossed. And I don't buy the "it's okay, it's a game" argument either. But I think what I take from this video is different; its heart feels different. I didn't get the feeling of it glorifying or celebrating the violence, so much as highlighting just how dreadful it could be. And for me at least, that's a very different thing.

The Lord of Excess said...

I totally agree with you both. Honestly I have mixed emotions about this trailer. As a parent and just from my perspective as a person ... I sort of just don't see the need to even go there with kids and this sort of thing. They could have just as easily had an adult male or female in this same exact trailer. Had the Mom and Dad characters alone on vacation. Done the exact same trailer with an adult and to me it would have had the same effect. My theory is in this case the game developers were clearly intentionally trying to ruffle feathers and get free publicity a la rockstar games (that is just random speculation on my part though). So I think if I have objections its on that level as well. But to me it just highlights where that industry is going and where our civilization is going. Its sad.

On all the points about the subject matter though I agree, in war and pandemic children tend to suffer more than anyone so in a zombie plague outbreak ... sure there would be toddler, and baby zombies by the score ... but its a veils and lines thing for me and I think this one crossed the line. That said though it was artistic and interesting it wasn't just a shocking vile piece of violence (though it was violent and shocking). Boundaries are being broken in video games that other forms of media can't break so the future holds only much, much more of this kind of thing. So I suppose I better get used to it ... sigh ...