Experienced Points: Sex, Violence, and the Wii

By Shamus
on Nov 20, 2009
Filed under:
Column

How the heck can the Wii help us have more games with sex & violence?

Perhaps this is more hope than theory, but even die-hard cynics are allowed occasional dalliances with pleasant speculation.

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20525 comments. Hurry up and add yours before it becomes passé.

From the Archives:

  1. Sphore says:

    Great article Shamus! A really interesting look at that which usually goes unconsidered.

  2. Magnus says:

    Fantastic article.

  3. Heron says:

    So true.

    My dad once saw me playing Counter-strike. His comment? “That makes me dizzy, how do you do that?”

    He’s not a stranger to computers, by any means, and he used to enjoy playing Super Monkey Ball on the Gamecube with us, so I definitely agree – the Wii is the way to solve the problem.

  4. Patrick says:

    I really liked your article and I think it raises several good points but I think you might be missing something.

    Recent political polling has shown that right now a significant number of people who previously identified as either Republican or Democrat now identify as Independent. Most of these people have the same feelings and preferences they had before they have just chosen a different self identification.

    I think the same thing may happen even if millions more people pick up the Wii. People that I have spoken to (understandably a small sample size) frequently resist identifying as a “gamer” even if they play Facebook games, flash games, or Wii games. They see the title “gamer” as only including the “hardcore”. Unfortunately many “Hardcore gamers” do the same thing and it continues to widen the gap between the groups.

    Please don’t misunderstand I am very frustrated with the media and general public using gaming as a whipping boy and I wish people would come together and see gaming as just another hobby. I am just not sure I see it happening any time soon.

  5. mark says:

    The difference between COD:MW2 and the other games you mention is that MW2 is SUPPOSED to make the player feel uneasy about their actions. It makes you squicky on purpose.

    I’d have very little problem letting kids play MW2 compared to the likes of GTA4. I’ve been playing a lot of ‘The ballad of gay tony’ recently, and its been a rule of mine (since very near the start of GTA4) that if anyone hits me with their car, they MUST die. It started because its annoying the way nico would just flop over at the slightest tap, but now its like an insult…

  6. Sleeping Dragon says:

    Interestingly enough a lot of people disagree with your final conclusion Shamus, a huge of parents that spend their money on Wii precisely in the vain and misplaced hope that it will turn their kids into baseball players, or skiers, or whatever.

    What I find annoying is that people protesting game violence/sex assume that giving it the 18 tag should’ve made it bannable altogether. I mean, when the idea first floated around I thought “hey, that’s actually kind of cool, it will finally be clear that not every game is for kids and that there are adult games with mature content”, apparently I was wrong and this means “this game isn’t for kids so it shouldn’t exist”.

  7. Carra says:

    It’s all a clear sign that the gaming industry still hasn’t matured yet.

    The Mass Effect outrage was one big joke. I’ve played the game, you couldn’t even see a single pixelated boobie. Let alone seeing them have sex.

    Other media are a lot worse. I’ve read Lolita this year, a book about an adult man who loves girls and has a sexual relationship with them.

    I’ve watched movies like Ken Park where you can see people masturbate. I’ve just seen Leaving Las Vegas which had a scene where a whore is raped by four students.

    Then there’s the huge 18+ sticker which is being put on those media (although I do wonder if books have a rating). Kids shouldn’t be playing call of duty.

    So really, what’s the problem?

    I do have hopes that it’s something that will be solved if the audience gets older. In twenty years the people in power will have played call of duty themselves as a kid.

  8. Heron says:

    “In twenty years the people in power will have played call of duty themselves as a kid.”

    Carra, sometimes that scares me as much as anything else ;)

  9. Gary says:

    I play video games AND watch movies…. I still don’t want smut and such entering into the video game universe, just as I would love to see it taken out of the movie universe….

    Then again, I am probably the minority.

    So, in a way I agree with most of your article Seamus, but I disagree with the part that says that sort of stuff should be ok, because it is ok in movies. I definitely think that the boomers are in dire need of gaming education, and that they go overboard a LOT. But I for one am happy that rampant sexuality hasn’t seeped into games.

  10. MintSkittle says:

    @Gary: Never heard of H-games? The smut has already invaded the video game universe. Even Shamus has stumbled across a trailer for one.

    http://www.shamusyoung.com/twentysidedtale/?p=720

    And, unfortunately, I don’t think it’s ever going away.

    As for getting the boomers some game time, I’ll point to my parents for some suggested titles. My mom plays The Sims with its many expansions, and my dad has Railroad Tycoon.

  11. Cuthalion says:

    I kind of agree with Gary. (As for H-games, I generally don’t hear about them much. I hear they’re big in Japan though.)

  12. Eric(Ninjews) says:

    You can’t play MW2 on the wii. I think what you propose will lead to baby boomers enjoying peggle like games and such, but ultimately the “smut” games will still be considered evil.

  13. Daemian Lucifer says:

    This form of hypocricy is far,far,far older than video games.And it is tied to religion,race and sex.

    Example1:South park,and numerous other cartoons,movies and jokes,depict catholic priests molesting children,cooking inocents,and other extremely gruesome things,yet a single cartoon in newspaper that depicts muhamed,which isnt nearly as bad as those Ive mentioned,causes a huge world outcry,not just from muslims,but from those afraid of muslims might do.

    Example2:look at american law:Kill someone of your race,and youre just a murderer.But punch someone of different skin colour,and you did a hate crime,which is far worse(ok,its not really that bad,but you do get worse sentences for hate crimes than for those same things done against members of your race).

    So yeah,people are irrational idiots,and when enough loudmouths agree on one thing,you will get a huge media outcry,even if those idiots are outnumbered 1000 to 1.

    @Gary

    You can still choose not to play/watch those things,without making people that want to play/watch them suffer because of that.

  14. Someboringguy says:

    Some people should understand that, despite the fact that violence and gore could and will affect a child’s psyche, those games are NOT for kids.Can’t they read?If it says adults only, or 21+ it means that it’s not for kids.
    What they do it’s as if they bought a porn magazine to a six year old and ,after he became a pervert, sued the pornographic industry.
    Anyway, I wonder myself, what would those people that make such a big deal out of the naked scene in ME would say about hentai games.

  15. Gary says:

    @DL : I can choose not to play them, but why ruin a perfectly good game with unnecessary content?

    If there were a way to adjust the level of inappropriateness (a la Duke Nukem 3d’s Parental Lock) then I wouldn’t mind as much. But if they are just going to throw that kind of stuff willynilly into games that I otherwise might want to buy, then it does affect me.

    I feel the same way about the countless movies that add unnecessary things as well.

    I still don’t think these people realize how much more money they would make if they added a parental lock, or if they produced clean versions of movies. Yes there is a population that like the ‘dirty’ version. But there is also a large population that would like a clean version (and I bet it would be more palatable to the older non-gamer types as well. Parental Locks and clean versions would mean that NO ONE is left out, you get the smut that you want and we get the game that we want.

    It isn’t really censorship if you give the consumers the choice of which version to enjoy.

  16. modus0 says:

    @Gary

    So, having 1,337 different ways to kill or maim someone, often in realistically explicit detail, is more acceptable than nudity and sex?

    I personally have an issue with people that cry out that nudity (something almost every human is exposed to, harmlessly when bathing) is less acceptable and more dangerous to our kids (who honestly wouldn’t care about it, if we didn’t instill modesty in them) than something that has no other purpose than to hurt people.

    Of course, I’ll also advocate that throwing something like sex or nudity into a game that otherwise doesn’t need it (like say, most FPS games or fantasy RPGs; Duke Nukem excepted) is inappropriate, just as putting violence in a Barbie game would be inappropriate.

    But if the game’s plot would make it a reasonable inclusion, then I don’t see a problem. Include the content, and increase the age rating of the game. No controversy needed.

  17. Daemian Lucifer says:

    @Gary

    Why is nudity automatically unnecessary?For example,the sex scenes in mass effect and dragon age are way more imersive than fading to black of other RGPs.And they are tasteful as well.They are no more smut than some paintings you can see in museums across the world(even less then some).To me,these scenes are art.Also,they are optional.

    Also,blood on characters and equipment is a nice detail in dragon age,and just adds to immersion.

    However,I do agree with you that adding random nudity and gore just to attract certain audience is a bad move.However,I usually dont play such games.The last one I know of that had a random sex scene was fahrenheit,and that one wasnt really random but due to budget cuts.But,removing such things where they are needed in order to get a PG rating(for example AVP movies)is just as bad thing,in my opinion.

    And yes,adding more options to a game would be the best way,but sadly,most game developers today dont care or cant afford to implement them.

  18. Strangeite says:

    I am a Gamer, but a real Gamer, the kind that still play pen and paper RPGs, but I used to play a lot of video games.

    I don’t play that much anymore. And the main reason I quit was because I got bored.

    I like video games with an excellent plot, beautiful graphics and interesting game play, but I don’t really care for gratuitous violence. From talking to my video game playing friends, it appears that the majority of the games that fit my criteria are the more violent games.

    What happened to the Knights of the Old Republic, Final Fantasy, hell, even the King’s Quest type games?

    I would buy games written for adults, but not all adults care for shooting people in the head.

    Give me 20 orgys over 1 murder any day of the week.

  19. Pickly says:

    It’s somewhat interesting to me that individual gore (as in the FPs and RPg type games that people are taking about here) gets a lot of attention, but strategy type games where, theoretically, thousands or millions of deaths could be occurring, plus various other destruction caused, don’t really get noticed.

    (I same “somewhat” interesting because I see fully why this takes place, it’s mostly logic type inconsistency that requires a bit of thinking.)

    I haven’t really played games with “realistic” gore (The goriest games are probably diablo games, or possibly starcraft with its bloody corpses left over, so it’s hard to say how I’d find that sort of thing. My best guess is that I wouldn’t really notice the gore unless it was really extreme, since I’d be focusing on the gameplay.)

  20. Hipparchus says:

    I’m just happy that wharever damage is done by the current ungaming politicans to video games, while be undone by future gaming politicans of the next generation.

  21. Simon says:

    No reason or common sense will matter until society produce the next thing that can be used to score political points. Until then, it will be a continual uphill battle for games to gain public acceptance. It won’t matter even if 90% of all households are playing games and all the parents/normal people could potentially understand games, because games as is simply too useful as a tool politically. I don’t necessarily mean big party politics, but at all levels – as something to exaggerate and blow out of proportion if it will accomplish the goal, be it control or selling more news, or pinning blame on someone else.

    I don’t think in the short-term the Wii/Casual game market will change this. Just look at how the Wii/PC “Casual Game” market is given its own label and how those who play them are not classified as gamers. They are not generally perceived in the same way.

    It’s not that the guys at the top who can make a difference don’t understand games. They understand it just fine. But it is far, far more useful as something that is misrepresented.

  22. Simon says:

    Double-post – bad form, I know, sorry. But just to add, if you take the figures for the “casual game” market for say the last 5-8 years, I think you will find it frighteningly high – higher than “normal games”, in fact (when I last checked 2008). Games are already extremely main-stream with tremendous market penetration in the average population. It’s just they are not classed as gamers and the players don’t see it as the same thing, because gamers are weird freaks, games are for children, and they are adults so they could not be playing games – it’s just software recreation. Strange, isn’t it?

  23. Girl Gamer says:

    A lot of really good points have already been made, but I just wanted to add that 24-hour cable news and 6 hojillion internet news sites also add to this problem. There’s simply not enough interesting things happening in the world for all these news outlets to fill their screen time/article quotient and pull in the biggest audience possible. So they invent things that aren’t really news and take some minor thing and blow it up into a big sensation. Games make an easy target. There have been enough stories about how bad they are now that it just gets easier and easier to pull in traffic by having a headline like “Videogame Makes Boy Kill Puppy.” Even gamers read it, link it, write about it, talk about it, etc. It works, they got viewers/readers, so guess what? Next slow news day = more about how bad games are. It’s one example of the reason why I hate the modern news industry.

  24. Decius says:

    Maybe it’s because I haven’t seen the SP airport level in MW2, but I don’t see the problem. It’s a pretty good clone of the airport level in Counter-Strike. (The original CS, if it makes a difference.) I only say that because rough sketches of the two are indistuighable.

    Seriously, have we become so OMG TEH TREEORIST! That we can no longer say “Hey, it’s a game, and in the game you play/kill the terrorist.” It’s no different than an actor saying “Hey, it’s a movie, and in the movie I play/kill the terrorist.”

  25. Dreadjaws says:

    I know this article was created like three years ago, but I’m puzzled about what it is about. What am I missing? Is this supposed to have a giant comic between those small paragraphs? Because the text is all I see. Or is it just a question you’re asking to the readers?

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