Deliberation on Video Game Censorship

So the nerd deeply rooted in my brain made me focus on the topic of video game censorship.  The two videos I have chosen deal with:

1.) The issue of sexual content within games, specifically the case of Mass Effect

2.) The presence of themes considered too “real” by some, illustrated by the upcoming Medal of honor game

Mass Effect “Sex Scandal”

For those who don’t feel like watching the video, Microsoft Game Studios published a science fiction role playing game called Mass Effect in the fall of 2007.  The game featured the ability to develop a romantic relationship with one of several characters within the narrative, possibly culminating in physical intimacy at the end of a thirty to forty hour courtship.  The video links to a user who posted a Fox News report about the appropriateness of putting such “graphic” material in a game that children will get their hands on.  I chose this video specifically because of the astonishing amount of inaccurate news reporting contained, hoping to find meaningful rebuttal in the comments section.

Analysis of the comments sections shows that the video has indeed been responded to by a community passionate about preventing censorship of their favorite medium.  Vocal as they may be, it is not the voice that people like me really want representing the cause.  In the first ten posts, I was only able to find four that offered any kind of critical analysis, and of those four only one did not contain ad hominem attacks or vulgar language.  At about page three, however, I was able to find a much better ratio of meaningful comments to pointless ones.  Regrettably, only that one page out of the six I read was close to being entirely serious.

Medal of Honor: Too Close to Reality

This video focuses on the yet to be released game Medal of Honor.  The controversy stems from the issue of whether setting a game in Afghanistan, and letting one team control the Taliban, is “too real, too soon.” The link above goes to a Canadian news story covering why the creation and sale of such a game is, in some people’s eyes, unacceptable.  The story additionally contains a quote from the Canadian Minister of Defense, and mentions that the British Defense Minister is calling for a ban of the game.

The comments to this video are actually a little more promising.  I again looked at six pages of comments and this time the average meaningful to pointless ratio seemed to be around six to four.  It was a little bit of a relief to see that over fifty percent of the comments were contributing to the conversation.  While some of the meaningful comments did contain vulgarity, its presence was considerably lower than in the responses to the Mass Effect video.  After seeing this, I think it may be possible that the lower ration for the other video could be due to the widespread hate toward Fox News in general.

3 Responses to “Deliberation on Video Game Censorship”
  1. One of the best reasons I could offer to study comments on YouTube is evident on your first example: more than 10,000 comments!

    What caught my attention in the second video is the Canadian angle. Canada has one-tenth the population of the U.S., so maybe that had an effect on the much smaller number of comments on the second video — and on the greater civility of the discourse there.

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