Mass Effect: It’s for Grownups!

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Jan 15, 2008

Filed under: Rants 1 comments

Sigh. I wrote a long tirade. It was not at all satisfying. The target of my ire was an easy mark. This wasn’t even shooting fish in a barrel. This was shooting fish in a saucer. Dead fish. I’m posting it anyway, but I’ll warn you now there are better things to do with the next five minutes.

“Townhall”. That sounds nice, doesn’t it? You know, where everyone in the village gathers to talk about the new bridge, have bake sales, and post incoherent polemics about how they would like to dispense with everyone else’s rights. Kevin McCullough wants to know what the presidential candidates think of Mass Effect. Actually, he wants to know what the president would “do” about the game. Here is how he describes it:

It’s called “Mass Effect” and it allows its players – universally male no doubt – to engage in the most realistic sex acts ever conceived. One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images they wish to “engage” and then watch in crystal clear, LCD, 54 inch screen, HD clarity as the video game “persons” hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of.

This is, in the most generous rendering, a carefully targeted missile of misinformation. A more clinical appraisal might call it a pack of damn lies. The description makes it sound like this is some sort of pornographic game featuring explicit sex and full-frontal nudity. “Mass Effect” is a sci-fi game about galactic warfare, spaceships, zap guns, aliens, and that sort of thing. If you pursue a particular side-quest your in-game persona can forge a romance with one of the other characters in the game. If you do this you will get a “love scene” – you know, like they’ve been doing in the movies since before I was born – between the two characters. I have not played it myself, but I’ve been told (and just now checked on YouTube) the the scene shows us naked buttocks. A girl’s bum. For crying out loud. You do not “control” the action, or even the camera. It’s a cutscene. A thirty second cutscene in a forty hour game.

The scene is, in fact, quite tame and could easily appear unedited on regular network television. I wouldn’t let my kids watch it, but that’s because I’m such an awesome parent I can raise my kids without the help of The President of the United States of America or Kevin McCullough. Keep in mind that what McCullough is calling “the most realistic sex acts ever conceived” is a love scene featuring a blue-skinned Asari Scientist female named Liara T’Soni. I’ll admit to not getting out much, but I’m pretty sure most people wouldn’t call that sort of thing “realistic”.

There are already multiple systems in place to prevent “kids” from buying M-rated games. Most stores refuse to sell to minors, and there are helpful stickers on the box so people can know what the game is rated and why. Video game ratings are actually a lot more robust and informative than movie ratings. Given these various safeguards, what is this uninformed alarmist looking for in the way of an answer? What exactly does he expect of the President? I can only conclude that since preventing kids from buying these games isn’t good enough, the next step is making sure the games don’t get made in the first place.

Kevin McCullough is yet another a miniature tyrant, covering his message of government censorship in the candy-coating of protecting the children. He doesn’t even know what he’s talking about. He’s heard about the game third-hand and decided that nothing short of action on the part of the federal government can remedy this non-problem. He’s completely divorced from the very concept of freedom.

Now, one idiot all alone can’t do much harm, but he’s not alone. Non-videogamers represent a very large, paranoid, bipartisan group of voters. Not playing videogames seems to have afforded them a copious supply of free time for them to spend poking their noses into other people’s business. You can’t reason with these people. They are old enough to have seen this same thing come and go with radio, movies and television. If they don’t know better by now – if they can’t wrap their heads around the concept of personal freedom – then they are beyond hope. All you can do is wait for them to die and hope they don’t vote away too many freedoms in the meantime.

Comments closed. I’m too angry to moderate this discussion in a reasonable manner.


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