Feeding the Troll

  By Shamus   Jan 16, 2008   49 comments

Just a quick note that that guy I lambasted yesterday got the Penny Arcade treatment, which is far crueler than anything I could have mustered despite my nigh-unquenchable rage.

He’s posted a follow-up and a semi-apology, which means more or less nothing to me. It sounds like we’re all buddies now, but he still wants M-rated games taken off the shelves. He can make all the noises he likes about “having a conversation” with the gaming community, but he’s no different than any other authoritarian book-burner out there, except he’s the hip new digital sort.

I shouldn’t even be giving the guy the exposure, but I’m weak. (Plus, I didn’t have time to write anything interesting for today.)

20209Feeling chatty? There are 49 comments.


  1. Dreamer says:

    One of the things that has always irritated me the most is willful ignorance. What irritates me even more is when people completely disregard facts that they know to be true in order to bring about a certain reaction for political or social reasons. Unfortunately for this poor fool, his gamble ended up failing miserably and now he’s trying to play it off as if he were just kidding all along, but we’re still friends, right? See, this other thing is what I was really worried about…

    In any case, I think it’s important that gamers see that the likes of these people are out there, and why some people give them funny looks for saying that they own such-and-such game. I’d rather be prepared for reactions, and be aware that people are out to destroy one of my favorite hobbies. I’d rather not have something I do smeared with dirt just because someone thought it funny to slander it.

    But that’s just me.

  2. Rob says:

    Are you taking comments now?

    I usually just lurk but I have to comment to this one. I think we all have to remember that this guy is a pundit. Like all pundits left and right he makes a living inflaming people’s passions for and against. Like the Penny Arcade comic implied he knows he’ll get more attention the more abusive he is. Phrases like “gamer-nerd” and “pervy gamer” are unnecessary. If he was really concerned about the game he could have just wrote a short piece along the lines of, “Hey folks, there’s a cut scene in Mass Effect that has some nudity and sexual implications. Be warned if your underage kid asks for this game.” But that wouldn’t have got him any attention. The worst thing we could do to this blowhard is to deny him what he desperately wants … attention.

    P.S. I didn’t see any of the stuff he mentioned when I looked at the YouTube clips. Granted there was a couple girl-girl clips mixed in with the guy-girl ones but other than that I just briefly saw one of the girls bottoms, like Shamus said. It reminds me of the scene in Top Gun. Hopefully McCullough doesn’t watch any of that smut either.

  3. kanthalion says:

    I went to youtube to see what all the hullaballo was about and what I saw was nothing. It was even tame compared to a lot of prime time TV dramas, I may be wrong but if that was in a movie, I don’t think that it would even get the movie an “R” rating.

  4. Ryan says:

    Yeah, I wouldn’t worry to much about things posted to Townhall, anyway. It’s essentially the same group of people who write for World Net Daily — and that’s a “news” site infamous for it’s strident stories that have little or no basis in reality. It’s essentially pandering to a small base of readers.

    And I’m conservative…

  5. Luke Maciak says:

    OMG! Did you know that minors can actually buy alcohol in some stores without even showing ID? It’s illegal, but some shop keepers do not bother carding young people at times. According to [made up source] over [made up percentage] of minors below the age of 21 were able to purchase alcoholic beverages either by using fake ID or simply exploiting poor customer service.

    We should take action and prohibit sales of alcohol nationwide to prevent this. Think of the children!

    This is how this guy sounds to me. Sigh… I hope he enjoyed the practical DDoS when gamers were hammering his server to tell him how much he sucks.

    Eh..

    Btw, Shamus – can I ask what plugin you are using for the edit feature? It is pretty sweet!

  6. Nazgul says:

    Is it just me or does “having a conversation” with the gaming community sounds a lot like “I’m willing to negotiate over how much control you are willing to hand me.”

    People need to stop empowering these folks.

  7. MintSkittle says:

    It’s a tried and true method of getting your views out there: Mis-state your opponents possition, and scream about it loud enough and long enough, and it will eventually be true.

  8. Lee from Sheboygan says:

    I read the article, and I think his position came off to me (after the apology, of course), as, “Thank you for showing me what efforts have been done. I still feel that it shouldn’t be seen at all, but you’ve helped clear up misconceptions I might have had.”

    It’s far better than Jack Thompson ever got gamers. I mean, if you were unfamiliar with games, and you heard that what he was describing was in games, and that these games were being sold to minors, you would be pretty upset too. Now, thanks to the internet, you can post a knee-jerk reaction without having all the facts. That’s the magic of the times we live in.

    However, from what I understood, he seems a little more humbled by the experience.

    (edit)
    Actually, I reread it. There’s my kneejerk reaction right there. Whatever he believes, more power too him. I don’t care one way or another.

  9. Author says:

    I thought about writing something ridiculously misinformed about some fashionable game and perhaps gamers in general. I hate gamers ever since they absorbed Shamus. I went to a class with a stereotype of a gamer once, and yes, among other things he was overweight. I could ruminate about that… The problem, however, is how to end on Tycho’s radar. For every Townhall jackass ending in a comic, there are tens of thousands toiling in obscurity, so my chances are pretty low! Tycho and Gabe knew it on Tuesday (judging by the short comment by Tycho), but by now they fully realize just how they were had, and they both posted longish entries grappling with the phenomena of the troll who you cannot hurt, not even through his advertisers.

  10. Joe says:

    Rob: No, the clips you saw weren’t girl-girl. They were girl-alien. I’ve been playing the game for a while now (very good game, BTW, although there are certainly some annoyances and plot… erm, oddities.) From my understanding, the romances that can occur are either PC (human male) -> NPC (human female), PC (human female) -> NPC (human male), or PC (human whichever) -> NPC (alien). The alien in question comes from a species with only one gender, but looks female.

    I thought about this some, and thought to myself that it would take a special kind of weird to get bent out of shape about an implication of homosexuality, but not about hetero-species-ality (? you could call it bestiality, or rishathra if you’re a Niven fan, there just isn’t a good word for it, because it just hasn’t come up before.)

    However, in the modern world with 6 billion people and pervasive communications, a special kind of weird isn’t all that hard to find.

  11. Zaghadka says:

    Yeah, the PA treatment was almost as bad as the way they sent up good old Tim Eckel.

    Same level of ethics on this new clown. I’m not laughing, though. This level of utter fabrication is just terribly damaging to any kind of sensible dialogue about the issues.

    Oh well. Thanks for opening up comments. ;^)

  12. Rob says:

    Joe,

    Did not know about the fact that the alien race was single gendered. So technically there is no lesbian option, but there is an option that looks …

    Ahh who cares? I need to take my own advice and forget about all this. Frankly I think the reason I have been as interested as I am is that I loved NWN and was thinking what other Bioware games I should be getting.

  13. Luke Maciak says:

    I think this guy is strikingly similar to John Dvorak who uses the same strategy to farm hits for his publishers. His strategy is as follows:

    1. pick a subject that people tend to be passionate about (ie. linux, apple, ipod, video games, p2p etc..)
    2. ignore the facts
    3. build a completely fake, misinforming straw man argument
    4. write a lengthy rant using the straw man argument to discredit the object of the article
    5. ignore comments and critiques
    6. ???
    7. profit
    8. goto #1

    It works. One of his misinformed, inflammatory articles gets posted to slashdot almost every other week. :P

  14. Kotenku says:

    I’m well past caring about the Jack Thompsons and all the other idiot litigators. Honestly, I can’t stand even reading the name Jack Thompson in an article anymore, especially if it’s on a gaming site whose opinions I respect. It’s old news, and I’m beyond worrying about it.

    “Whuh-oh! Jack Thompson is at it again! Let’s all get enraged in a crass, over-the-top, self-righteous way, thereby granting our attention-whoring enemy more publicity!”

    Nooooo. You don’t feed the trolls.

  15. roxysteve says:

    Some of the gaming community are missing the point. Arguing the fine points of this are never going to get a retraction, as the follow-up articles should make crystal clear. Anyone responding to the article is simply offering their throat to the knife and feeding the fire.

    My advice? Grow thicker skins, gamers. This McCullough is a troll. Ignore it and it will find someone more gullible to annoy, just like all it’s kind.

    Steve.

  16. Snook says:

    Roxy: Easier said than done. Ignoring these trolls is also much more difficult because they tend to go on campaigns to actually enact what they’re rambling about. Video Games make easy targets because the market that tends to use them (13-26 year olds) are easy to inflame and don’t hold much sway over politics. Plus, “ZOMG MURDER SIMULATORS”.

  17. Mark says:

    If you tell people to stop talking about him, does that still count as talking about him?

  18. Phlux says:

    Any article that appears on a site that advertises “conservative tees” is probably going to be filled with this kind of garbage.

    Those ads always seem to wind up on the most partisan trash-rags on the internet.

    Same goes for “liberal tees”, but honestly I can’t think of a time I ever noticed such an ad. I’m sure they exist, though, and are probably made by the same company.

    Just like the Jesus Fish and Darwin Fish bumper decals.

  19. guy says:

    The problem is that he isn’t going to be thwarted or vanish because the people who he is targeting ignore him. because everyone else won’t, and gamers (average age 33, BTW) aren’t a large enough group to influence politics

  20. GAZZA says:

    Disclaimer: I’m an Aussie, so your laws are not exactly my laws, and our fundie-per-head-of-population ratio is a lot lower.

    With that said, the thing that bugs me most about guys like this (for unfortunately he is far from unique) is that they obscure what could actually be a reasonable point. There are laws (in Oz, at least) against selling tickets to an R rated movie to an under 18 year old, or renting them such a DVD at the video store. There are no similar laws for selling games; I don’t think that it’s unreasonable that there should be. I’m not talking about banning anything – just regulating it the same way other industries are already regulated. It wouldn’t mean anything more than the guy from EB occasionally asking to see some proof of age.

    But expressing such an opinion might well get me lumped in with the sort of maniacs such as this guy…

  21. Chris Arndt says:

    Never confuse Worldnetdaily with Townhall

  22. guy says:

    your exact point has been made. a lot. they even have exactly those laws in britain. here it’s company enforced

  23. K says:

    So, Mass Effect has too much sex for minors, but the violence is fine? Someone remind the world that sex is not a bad thing. Damn. Protect the children? What from?

  24. Jeff says:

    That’s one piss-poor excuse of an apology.

    Bioware ought to sue for libel, he pretty much failed to retract or correct his statements. He just made excuses.

    K: Americans would rather protect the children from sex, and let them shoot each other with guns. Guns are in the Constitution, but Sex is not, to the lamentation of husbands everywhere.

  25. Shamus says:

    Jeff: Go easy on the flame-bait. “Europeans are…” “Americans are…” These phrases lead to pointless debates that I don’t care to moderate.

    The sex / violence thing gets brought up a lot. It’s okay to show someone getting shot on TV but not okay to show them having sex? I’m okay with that. Some people would prefer it the other way around. As long as the data is available so we can adjust our viewing habits, I’m satisfied.

    Which brings us back to videogames. “Rated R” doesn’t tell you nearly as much as “Rated M for graphic violence and adult language.” ESRB ratings offer a great deal of granularity and allow everyone to know what they’re getting into. I’m sure they’re also better enforced than movie ratings. When I worry about what my kids are exposed to, games are the lowest item on my threat list.

  26. (Sigh.)

    What part of “don’t buy it” do these pundits fail to understand?

    It’s simple:

    You don’t care for [game with objectionable content].

    Fine. Don’t buy it.

    You don’t want your children playing the game.

    Fine. Don’t give them the money to buy it. (Where the heck do you think they get the money anyway?) Ban it from the house. Throw it away if you do find it. (You do have the huevos to do that, right? You do remember that you are the parent, right? And that means being an authority figure instead of their bestest friend?)

    But don’t try to restrict my access to it by banning it from stores. I happen to enjoy violence. (A lot.) I also happen to enjoy sex. (A whole lot.) And I choose to consume that type of media. By attempting to ban it from the shelves, you are attempting to restrict my freedom of choice. That’s what I find objectionable.

  27. Zaxares says:

    I hereby echo and endorse Kat Ingersoll’s position. I was going to write something along exactly the same lines, so thank you for sparing me the effort. ;)

    I went to YouTube and looked up the exact scenes in question just to see how bad they were. In truth, they’re a lot tamer than what you’ll see in Hollywood movies, let alone pornographic offerings (of which Mass Effect is supposedly part of the family).

    In related news, I’m extremely eager to play Mass Effect, but I’m going to wait until it gets ported to PC (with Microsoft as the publisher, it’s all but assured…) since I don’t particularly feel like spending another couple of hundred dollars on a machine that only plays games.

  28. Insanodag says:

    Well, I would like to point to the UK mediastorm regarding Manhunt. This isn’t just a US issue. Honestly, though, it is only natural that conservatives would be sceptical of new forms of media and their impact on the minds and behaviour of their players and on society in general, and I do think that it is good that these things are brought up.

    I would of course prefer these debates to be slightly more informed, and using less hyperbole, but that will change. After all, the gamer demographic is not only growing, but it is also growing older. In twenty years, people like Kevin McCullough, will, if not gamers themselves, most likey have friends or familymembers who are avid gamers. The ‘scary unknown’ factor will be gone.

    I think we only need to look at the hysteria surrounding comic books in olden days. There still is a law on the books in the UK prohibiting import of ‘Horror Comics’. It is not the most widely enforced law, but it is still there. However, you would be hard-pressed to find anyone seriously launching a diatribe against the pernicious effects of comic books and demanding that law-makers do anything about it.

  29. Phlux says:

    Zaxares: Microsoft published Mass Effect, but Bioware has since been bought by EA. I’m not sure what this means for the future of the franchise, but EA is not huge on PC ports. Most EA games that hit the PC started life as a PC game, not on a console.

    That said, Xbox 360 games are supposedly not difficult to port to PC. If there is money to be made, and Bioware did not agree to Xbox 360 exclusivity, a PC port is possible.

    It’s a fantastic game, and everyone should be able to play it.

  30. Yonder says:

    I think that a compromise between “ignoring the troll” and “playing into the troll’s hands” would be to have people link to the google cache of the page instead of the page itself. That way people that cared enough to post in the comments about how much of an idiot he is, or email him, or whatever, could do so. But all the people that just wanted to read the article to see what the hullabaloo is about could read it and move on with nary a page count or ad hit for sad idiot.

    At least that is my understanding of how google cache works, is that incorrect?

    EDIT: Woah, this is the first time I have posted since the little picture dudes were instituted, mine is sweet! And the edit function is nice too.

  31. roxysteve says:

    [snook] Then you have to ask yourself what you wish to gain before you engage.

    When someone does something like this (lies about something controversial to start debate) there are a number of factors to consider:

    First and foremost – do the game’s manufacturers (who have the most to lose) consider it worthwhile to act in defense of their product? If not, you’d better forget it. If the guy whose pocketbook is directly targeted won’t act there must be solid business reasons why not.

    Second – are “your side” serving the cause well? I’m sorry, but the answer here is a resounding “no”. Incoherent rants, swingeing attacks of a personal kind and pages of curse words are only helping bolster the other guy’s position. He is arguing that the gaming community does not posess the self control to deal with adult themes (whether or not that is what the game is about, which is another issue entirely) and such responses show everyone that he is right. Since he controls the publication of the points of view on his blog, responding to it will never work to your advantage. Ever.

    Is arguing the facts relevant? Again, the point really isn’t the specific game but the nature of the people playing it. Arguing about the veracity of the inflamatory statements is pointles because on the one hand he simply retreats into “it seemed so to my eyes” territory and on the other the game manufacturer has yet to object to his characterization. If they won’t, they reinforce the impression that the article was factual. Anyhing you say on the subject will be bent to serve the other guy’s viewpoint. “Well, that’s what I would expect the sort of person who plays this game to say”.

    Yes it is annoying. Thinking you can get the guy to publicly admit he wrote garbage without a legally compelling reason to do so is, however, naive.

    Look, I take part in a number of activities in my own time that could be viewed negatively by someone. I play with trains. I play kid’s games. I dance naked in my garden after dark calling Darke Thinges from Beyonde Ye Corneres of Tyme down on my neighbours. I’m not unsympathetic to the cause and I am disturbed that the guy would apparently fabricate (I haven’t seen the material in question for myself) evidence. I just don’t think what I’ve read on his blog or even here is helping you, the gaming community, to address the situation.

    Ignore him until the Mass Effect team stop doing so.

    Or organise and ask, en masse, the presidential candidates to explain to their younger electorate where they stand on this issue, and vote accordingly.

    One more bit of advice for everyone: the “let the parents act responsibly” argument has a falacy built into it that is so wide anyone halfway competent could drive a truck through it blindfold. I’d advise anyone, especially if they don’t have kids, to steer clear of it.

    Steve.

  32. Rustybadger says:

    I have long been puzzled by Americans’ our duality regarding sex and violence, although it is most strongly pronounced in the U.S. Here in Canada, for example, we actually tend to the opposite; you’ve been able to drop F bombs on National TV for years, while violence is limited (ie, no headshots, no flying gore, only dribbling blood, etc.). I’m not sure how much of this is due to regulatory influence and how much is due to cultural tolerance. Personally, I allow my thirteen year old son to play Battlefield 2, but when he was younger, he was only allowed to play Halo (that whole ‘killing aliens vs killing humans/what is fantasy/what is realistic debate). I don’t allow the GTA series in our house simply because they are degrading, not because there’s sexual content. It’s a whole ‘nuther discussion, but personally I feel that games that place the player in the role of a lawless thug are counter-productive, but that’s just me. After my one session playing GTA: San Andreas I felt a strong urge to bathe in acid.

    Totally agree that McCullough is an imbecile, though. Unfortunately, his attitude is pretty common among Conservatives.

  33. Roy says:

    First and foremost – do the game’s manufacturers (who have the most to lose) consider it worthwhile to act in defense of their product? If not, you’d better forget it. If the guy whose pocketbook is directly targeted won’t act there must be solid business reasons why not.

    That there might be business reasons for the manufacturer not to engage doesn’t mean that there are good reasons for consumers or concerned third parties not to engage. There are, in fact, lots of reasons why a manufacturer might not issue some kind of public response- not the least of which is that public responses by large corporations to the criticisms of a journalist (however loosely we must use the term) tends to come out looking like The Big Guy picking on the little guy. It doesn’t look good for a company to say “Hey, that’s a bunch of crazy lies.”

    Responses that come from people who don’t financially benefit can actually carry more weight in a way- our defense comes from a place of enjoying the product. If the criticism is that the product doesn’t have value, a person who finds value in it beyond the financial can lend a strong voice.

    Second – are “your side” serving the cause well? I’m sorry, but the answer here is a resounding “no”. Incoherent rants, swingeing attacks of a personal kind and pages of curse words are only helping bolster the other guy’s position.

    And if those were the sum total of all responses, that’d be fair… but they’re not. Yeah, there are some incoherent rants happening, but there are also some pretty narrow and targeted critical responses that point out “These are the things you got wrong” too.

    Since he controls the publication of the points of view on his blog, responding to it will never work to your advantage. Ever.

    Looking through the comments section, I saw plenty of reasonable responses that pointed out “Hey, you know you got X, Y, and Z wrong. The game doesn’t allow you to do this,” etc, etc. The worst he can do is delete reasonable responses, but it doesn’t look like he’s been doing that.

    Is arguing the facts relevant? Again, the point really isn’t the specific game but the nature of the people playing it. Arguing about the veracity of the inflamatory statements is pointles because on the one hand he simply retreats into “it seemed so to my eyes” territory and on the other the game manufacturer has yet to object to his characterization. If they won’t, they reinforce the impression that the article was factual. Anyhing you say on the subject will be bent to serve the other guy’s viewpoint. “Well, that’s what I would expect the sort of person who plays this game to say”.

    You seem to think that the point is to convince him of something. The point of responding to the inaccuracies of his comments isn’t- or at least, shouldn’t be- to convince him of anything. He’s already made up his mind, and he’s already shown himself to be an unreasonable git who doesn’t give spit about factual accuracy. The point of responding and pointing out the inaccuracies is to make it clear to his readers. There are going to be some people reading that are still on the fence, or that aren’t as strongly opinionated as he is- pointing out the inaccuracies and pointing out the truth isn’t about changing his mind, it’s about helping the person who isn’t as well informed, but is still open, to see a clearer, more accurate picture. It’s an appeal to the people who are still thinking.

  34. Ryan says:

    Hey, Shamus, since you don’t want a American/European flame thread, could we turn this into a Conservative/Liberal flame thread instead?

    I kid, I kid. :)

  35. Rich says:

    So he’s still a moron, but now he’s a backpedaling, spineless moron? Not much of an improvement.

  36. roxysteve says:

    [Roy] That there might be business reasons for the manufacturer not to engage doesn’t mean that there are good reasons for consumers or concerned third parties not to engage.

    Absolutely. But think for a minute: It is the manufacturer of Mass Effect who has been libeled here if anyone has. Your protest will have a lot more gravitas if the person who produced the material in question actually stands behind it. Your legs will appear to anyone outside the argument to have been cut out from under you when you stand proud and the other guy says “If you are so certain you are right, why won’t the writers defend their pornographic trash? Eh? Eh?” (Cue cheering crowds out for blood. Anyone’s blood.)

    Yeah, there are some incoherent rants happening, but there are also some pretty narrow and targeted critical responses that point out “These are the things you got wrong” too.

    If you read the response to that the next day you would see that this nitwit doesn’t care. This is because he knows that in any blog it is the first few comments that carry the most weight in most visitors minds. He knows that he can easily steer the casual visitor to the people making his case for him.

    You seem to think that the point is to convince him of something.

    No. I think that some of the respondents need it pointing out that he cannot be convinced, and that the debate belongs in a different arena rather than at the foot of his soapbox.

    It was just advice to the would-be activist. Feel free to ignore it. I won’t be offended. I’m not personally invested in the result of this “debate” anyway. I could care less whether video games get all the soft-core pron cutscenes pulled out of them.

    Steve.

  37. Yonder says:

    I could care less whether video games get all the soft-core pron cutscenes pulled out of them.

    Actually, you should care. As tiresome as the “slippery slope” cliche is, it does apply here. The danger here is that the idea of games being toys for children will continue to pervade through a larger and larger crowd. Eventually acting as sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy as the stigma of games being for kids leads to less adults entering or sticking with the hobby, leading to less games being made for an adult crowd, leading to less adults…… etc.

    The more pressure and expectation there is for games to provide entertainment and content for children, the more games will be divided into two camps:
    1. Games that provide entertainment and content for children.
    2. Games who’s entire point is that they are not appropriate, without bringing much else to the table. Such as GTA.

    I’m not saying that either of the first sections are bad. You can have a great games with no “inappropriate” content. A racing game, a football game, countless others have no reason for the inclusion of objectionable material. And kids should be able to play games too.

    Similarly there isn’t anything wrong with a stress relieving super violent game, although it’s definitely not for everyone. However I don’t want those to be the only things available, I’d prefer the occasional game from,

    The third category of: Mature, interesting games which explore both positive and negative themes throughly in order to create more believable, fulfilling characters and settings. Like Mass Effect, or The Witcher.

    Not that I’m saying these games are perfect, or succeed at doing what they tried to do everywhere, or that they are the first to have looked at these themes.

    I know that I’ve painted a picture here of an unlikely doomsday scenario, it’s much more likely that the people that buy into what McCullough says were never going to be gamers anyways, and that the number of people like that is shrinking all the time, however I think it’s short sighted to dismiss these attacks as something which will culminate in the removal of “soft core pron” from video games, when the possible extension of such thought can reach so much deeper into the gaming industry, and has already been shown to seriously damage other industry, like with comic books.

  38. Seracka says:

    After reading the townhall my thoughts on the subject are as follows. Rated M games are not going away because, some people buy them.

    That said, PARENTS NEED TO BE PARENTS…guys like this guy seems to be saying…”we need to police everyone’s kid” Man…whatever happened to parents being parents and telling their kids, “Hey no rated M games”. My parents did this, if I brought home a CD with a Parental Advisory sticker they would talk to me about what was offensive to them and why it was offensive. It gave me a chance to understand why this CD was being consficated while teaching me their values.

    Now some parents don’t care and I suppose that if stores will not sell that game to the kid as per the rules, then in some cases the parent will go and purchase it for them. The thing is there are guidelines in place and they should be enforced but, people should have a choice at teh same time if they want to buy that kind of game.

  39. NobleBear says:

    *sigh*
    Yeah, I’ve been following this over at FtB. There are some good people over at Townhall whose writings are characterized by extolling or criticizing things they actually know something about. This guy however is a sanctimonious ass. Everything he rails against is is really summarized in two points:

    1)Pay attention to your children.
    2)Use discernment.

    But I guess, as Tycho points out, you don’t get as many page hits that way.

    The Waltz, Comics, TV, Rock’n’Roll and now Videogames…
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKu2QaytmrM
    What he said.

  40. roxysteve says:

    [Yonder] Actually, you should care. As tiresome as the “slippery slope” cliche is, it does apply here. The danger here is that the idea of games being toys for children will continue to pervade through a larger and larger crowd. Eventually acting as sort of a self-fulfilling prophecy as the stigma of games being for kids leads to less adults entering or sticking with the hobby, leading to less games being made for an adult crowd, leading to less adults…… etc.

    Speaking for myself, the world could do with a few less adults. If banning stupid FHM-class artwork means fewer adults, “ban away” I say.

    Why should I care about your video games when you don’t care about my kid (I warned you to stay away from the fallacy-riddled “better parenting” argument)? Such laisee faire “me first” attitudes – a legacy of the 80s we could well have lived without – are at the root of the issue.

    To adopt that same line of argument, I don’t get my Science Fiction fix from daft computer games, and therefore wouldn’t miss them at all. I get it from the huge body of published SF books. Were they to stop selling those in the US I would go to the UK (via Amazon and my UK friends) where, judging from the selections available, the market for it is bigger than the US anyway. Were they to ban my doing that, I would fall back on the library of stuff I have amassed over the years and will never be able to re-read in toto if I started now.

    Were I to care about the Video Game Pron issue, I would read and follow my sage advice about getting my voice heard where it counts most.

    Steve.
    (Born and raised in the Land of The Page Three Girl and therefore not automatically appalled by nude nakedness when I find it depicted).

  41. Shamus says:

    Roxy: Are you using hyperbole to make a point, or are you arguing in FAVOR of more censorship?

    I will never read FHM, but I still manage to get through the day without wanting to take that right away from others. I don’t care if the artwork is stupid or not. High art? Low art? Do we have to submit our art for public approval before it’s “allowed” to go to press?

    This is exactly why I closed comments on the previous post. I am horrified every time I see a discussion like this open up and see just how much I’m surrounded by petty tyrants who can’t WAIT to see their values and preferences forced onto everyone else.

    EDIT: The “petty tyrants” is aimed at the folks at townhall, not Roxy.

    Gimmie a break. I’m runnin on like 3 hours of sleep here an I’m not sure if I remember how to type.

  42. Roy says:

    Why should I care about your video games when you don’t care about my kid (I warned you to stay away from the fallacy-riddled “better parenting” argument)? Such laisee faire “me first” attitudes – a legacy of the 80s we could well have lived without – are at the root of the issue.

    That’d be fair, maybe, if there weren’t those wacky ratings systems. You know, the ones that state that a game is for Mature Audiences? I fail to see how it’s fallacious to think that it’s a parent’s responsiblity to set boundaries for their own children, not for me, as an adult. I can think that a child probably shouldn’t be playing a game, but still think that adults should have access to it if they want. If you don’t want your child exposed to violence, you should have every right to say “I don’t want my kid playing Call of Duty.” When you start suggesting that nobody should be able to play Call of Duty, though, you’re now moving beyond controlling your child and into trying to control everybody. Saying that we should care about censorship is not a suggestion that we shouldn’t care about The Children, too- it’s a suggestion that caring about The Children- even your children- shouldn’t be used as an excuse to legislate morality or engage in wantom censorship.

    edit: Or, yeah, what Shamus just said.

  43. roxysteve says:

    [shamus] Yes to the hyperbole thing. Though I can’t for the life of me imagine why FHM would be so repellent to you – you won’t see a pair of unclad buttocks in the magazine anywhere. I can’t see the point in such publications myself, but I was raised in the heyday of Playboy and it’s imitators being openly available from the local newsagent, and I was born in a town with statues of naked ladies on horseback cluttering up the place and riding out of the town clock every hour (Godiva did her ride around my home city, and we are proud of that).

    Other than noting the irony of your comment (with a broad smile on my face) I’ll just say you didn’t read what I wrote originally, or if you did, you read it incorrectly. I was quite careful to avoid any ambiguity there (unlike the guy who actually wrote that censorship would lead to a reduction of adults, which wasn’t what he meant to say but was funny as allgitout in a pythonesque way).

    Please don’t go to any trouble closing the comments. I’ve said all I really have to say on the topic of how to fight the likes of this “journalist”. I’ve also illustrated by example to the people who poked me afterward why I suggested what I did.

    I’ve explained why the battles you (as a community) pick have to be fought on the right ground, and I’ve warned you to steer clear of certain popular lines of approach when you do. I’m not particulalry astute in these matters, it’s just that I’ve seen it all before. Many times.

    I won’t comment any more. Anyone who doesn’t “get” what I was doing only has to re-read the original post and have a quiet think.

    But I must just add one thing, for [Roy], borrowing from his example.

    The fallacy of the “parent” line of argument involves what happens when I keep my kid away from Call of Duty but then let her go round to your house under the impression you are trustworthy, only to have you allow her to play the game. The fallacy also involves the idea (despite the proponent’s own experiences) that a child always conforms willingly to the parent’s guidance in such matters. Understand, I don’t say you personally would actually do any of the above, just that it makes mincemeat out of the cliché that it is the parent’s fault/responsibility etc etc. Using the argument to make a point weakens your point immeasurably and leaves you open to all sorts of silly sidetracking to avoid the real issue.

    Steve.

  44. Allan says:

    That’s not a fallacy, just because you don’t have perfect and complete control over every possible variable doesn’t make the argument unsound.

  45. Shamus says:

    roxy: Thanks for setting that straight. I really was having trouble sorting out where you were going with that.

    And I agree with your main point that engaging people like this is usually a bad idea. I knew it was when I wrote the post, but like I said: I’m weak. Sometimes unloading on an easy target who’s asking for it can be theraputic.

  46. Jeff says:

    Parental censorship is bad parenting anyways. Guidance and putting things in context – that is, understanding, is much better.

    Shield your children from life and life will crush them. Prepare them to deal with life and they’ll conquer it.

  47. Roy says:

    The fallacy of the “parent” line of argument involves what happens when I keep my kid away from Call of Duty but then let her go round to your house under the impression you are trustworthy, only to have you allow her to play the game.

    As Allan points out- that’s not a fallacy. Part of being a parent is recognizing that you can’t control your child’s behavior 24-7-365. At some point you have to accept that your child is going to be out of your sight and out of your control. However, that being said, one of your responsiblities as a parent is to do your best to make sure that the people you entrust with your child’s care are responsible as well. If you don’t want your child playing M rated games, the solution is to discuss these things with other parents that will be watching your child, and to discuss with your child what you do and do not expect of him/her.

    Is this going to be 100% effective? Obviously not- but, then, I don’t think that a resonable person can really think that any method of controlling content is going to be 100% effective. Even if you take it off of the shelves of the stores and make it online purchase only, you’re still going to run the risk that your child finds it somehow.

    The fallacy also involves the idea (despite the proponent’s own experiences) that a child always conforms willingly to the parent’s guidance in such matters.

    I’m under no such illusion. What I’m suggesting is that good parenting will necessarily involve discussing with and laying down rules about content with your child with the full knowledge and understanding that they will not always follow those rules, and that you’ll deal with that when it happens, but that setting down those rules and having dialogue about content is more effective than censorship, and, furhter, doesn’t infringe on other people’s rights in the process.

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