Thursday, 17 November 2011

The Games Industry and Controversy. (Possible first part of many, Watch this space)

Notes: This post will be dealing with very delicate matters, so I advise if you are under the age of 18, please read this with an adult. Thank you. 

A few years ago I was in college and my group was given an assignment to create a report and present our findings on a media project that caused major controversy. We were given a list of items or media products, (Films, Tv Shows,) Now I had originally choosen the movie, The Warriors. Classic movie I know but it hadn’t caused much controversy other than a few fights in cinema’s. Football/soccer has caused more controversy than that.

So as my project wasn’t going to be all that good and in search of a better grade, I asked the teacher whether I could switch up my project to something that was a) offensive, b) controversial, and c) something I had seen/witnessed. D) understood and e) could talk about for a period of 5 minutes. That media product was Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. I knew that in circles of people who thought it is their destiny to purify television and the media. Those three little letters would cause a major headache.

I also knew what I would talk about, and that is the “hot coffee” mod in the PC and Playstation 2 versions of the game. In the game your character Carl “CJ” Johnson could have many girlfriends and you had to take them out on dates, eventually if you impressed her enough, you would be invited in for coffee, of which every person over the age of about 17 who has been on a date understands means jackpot. Now in the normal shipped version of the game, what you are meant to see is nothing. You just see the outside of the building you just entered while your mind ran rampant at what you could hear. Heck if you left the stereo on you could listen to that while you took care of business shall we say.

I’m writing this straight from memory as I had played that game to death in the time I had it. (a thought occurred, I should still have it somewhere J) so you can see I should of went with this from the start of the project.

Anyhoo back to the point. The mod hot coffee could only be accessed through I think illegally hacking the game to unlock it. At which point you could actually see how CJ took care of business. Which sent the world mad, that minor citiziens, people under the age of 18 years, were or could be allowed to view such graphic images. I mean it wasn’t enough to make you listen to it like “Fable” which had come out a couple years before GTA and had simulated this. Heck in the eyes of the holy preachers, Fable allowed you to be homosexual should the need or urge arise, and they got away with that scot free.

But the Just and Holy got mad at GTA, and it wasn’t even Rockstar’s fault. Lets review why shall we.

A)     They hid the evidence deep in the code, and to view it, you had to hack the game on the Playstation 2. PC was much easier, just had to find it mind you.

B)      They certainly didn’t give the game it’s rating. Now I’m from the UK and this game was my 18th Birthday Present, for that reason. You had to be over the age of 18 to purchase this game, and in nearly every country in the world, you have to be over that very same age to view what most people offended by this would call this. Adult Entertainment. The problem lied in the hands of the North American or US based authority in grading and granting Certificates for media. They did not give San Andreas an 18, but made it something like a 15 rated title.

C)      Technically most people against call it one thing. I can claim to not ever have seen adult entertainment, but I know it when I see it. This certainly was not that. Infact it was more funny than hidden down the seedy backalleys of the internet. Rockstar abandoned this feature pretty early in the games development. Infact the version that everyone got on their PS2’s was pretty bad, the characters were fully clothed and although their actions would be the one thing that would annoy most upstanding citiziens, but hey, I don’t think there would be anything like teaching your kid the facts of life while mowing down civvies with a combine harvester.  

One thing you can fault Rockstar for though is leaving this content in the game in the first place. I mean what did they expect. The U.S.A went into complete meltdown and fury over Janet Jackson’s nipple, being displayed for less than a second, and in that instance you had no idea what had happened. Yet the poor sods who had the public indecency to air this during the Super Bowl no less got fined millions.

Just like the super bowl incident, Rockstar should of envisioned this being a potential problem and made sure that this never saw the light of day. However I wouldn’t of gotten the top marks available for the project so…

The world is very oversensitive about even about the most insignificant of details. Take Fable like I mentioned earlier, the final decision you have to make in the game is whether to throw away a weapon of mass destruction of which kills anything with one hit, or to keep it by attacking your blind sister. This ironically went without even a murmur which dictates to me that the other forms of media, (Cough Press, Cough) have pre-mediated their target of rockstar and GTA before it even hit/hits the shops, but maybe that just creates a better press for the game increasing sales. Is that a risk that is even worth taking? Who knows.

A very recent example came from the mega-juggernaut that is Call Of Duty. Just before their most recent release, and I have already warned readers about this scene a while back in the blog about this. This information was coincidently leaked a couple of days before the launch of the game. The details released to the press involved a little girl being blown up by terrorists. Now the timing of this information leak suggests to me that they are/were trying to hype the game that one last time. Now with that in mind ask yourself this. Would you buy a game just to see a little girl get blown up? If the answer to that is yes, go to a psychiatrist immediately.

I really do not know if video games, (which is the most profitable out of all media industries) is trying to be more controversial, all I know is, that some of the bigger titles can never go without it. (Yes I am looking at you Rockstar) but what I DO KNOW is that games do not need it. Companies are perfectly capable of producing a superb game with all the war and death and merciless killing attached to it without trying to annoy anyone who will not like it.

Now keep gaming and producing moments for us to publish in all it’s glory here.
Thank you for reading. Mason Cooper out.

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