New Video Game Sparks Old Question

New Video Game Sparks Old Question

Gamers are constantly battling the notion that video games have the ability to transform us into mindless zombies incapable of separating the virtual world from the real world. And I'd agree, if, having grown up playing Pac-Man and Super Mario, I would have had an obstinate urge to devour blue flashing spirits and kick retreating turtles that have receded into their shell. But curiously, my psyche never taunted me into living out those 2-D rendered scenarios, nor do I have this desire to clock a prostitute upside her head before mowing down innocent pedestrians a la Grand Theft Auto.

Now, I'd wager that most MPC readers are gamers themselves, and the vast majority of you don't buy into the notion that games, violent or otherwise, have compelled you to relive the experience outside of a virtual setting, just as we don't get the urge to go on a mass murdering spree after watching Natural Born Killers. Nevertheless, video game legislation continues to be a popular topic among politicians, usually in the wake of a senseless tragedy carried out by a psychotic individual, or following the release of a new game that pushes the boundries of taste and realism. But the latest game to make media headlines does neither of those, yet it manages to bring up an interesting question I'd like to pose to my fellow gamers: When it comes to video games, is everything truly fair game? Let me back up a moment and tell first tell you about the title in question.

Amid growing concerns from outside forces, a nuclear facility comes under attack. Your job isn't to fend off the infiltrators (too late for that!), but to recover the two kidnapped nuclear engineers in charge of the program, who also happen to be husband and wife, and were on their way to a religious function when nabbed. Of course, you'll need to kill any bad guys that get in the way, and like most first person shooters, you'll do so with a variety of weapons.

On the surface, it's your basic search and rescue fare, and if the first game by the same developer is any indication, even the graphics are rather tame compared to most modern FPS titles. But here's the twist; if you assumed you would play the part of a US soldier, think again. In Rescue the Nuke Scientists, as it's called, the US troops are the bad guys, and you're part of an Iranian special force. To win the game, you have to rescue the scientists being held in Israel, confiscate laptops containing government secrets, and kill US and Israeli personnel in the process.

According to The Associated Press, the hard-line student group responsible for the game designed it "as a response to a U.S.-based company's 'Assault on Iran' game, which depicts an American attack on an Iranian nuclear facility," further stating that "We tried to promote the idea of defense, sacrifice and martyrdom in this game."

From my vantage point, it's fair game. As much as I disagree with the premise and the concept of gunning down US soldiers, it would be hypocritical of me to proclaim free speech in defense of titles like Grand Theft Auto, Call of Duty, and the like. But what this new game does make me do is ponder just how far I'm comfortable riding this stance and letting my wallet do the talking. When does poor taste come into play, and if boundries do get drawn, who's responsible for making them? The alternative is to continue on without boundries, which could eventually pave the way for games that encourage beheading American journalists and troops, kidnapping and torturing children, and any other sick and twisted scenario someone out there would be willing to recreate from a FoxNews headline into a virtual playpen.

So for all of you out there that, like me, oppose restrictive video game legislation, do you have the stomach to ride that stance to the bitter end? Obviously such titles would never see a Wal-Mart store shelf, but if an online vendor was willing to sell a purely tasteless game that graphically depicted morally horrendous acts that would make Grand Theft Auto's crimes look like a Sunday School jaunt in comparison, would you be willing to defend said title from not being banned?

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Hinterlander

What about Half Life, you're a scientist, albeit not Iranian, the US military is after your butt and you must kill them. I have an extreme amount of respect and support our, American, military men and women, but i enjoyed the game

I will not play the said game in the article, but i'm not a hypocrit so i wont support a ban on it.

I also loved BF1942 playing both the axis and allies.

Noone is getting hurt and i have no intention of ever killing anyone, I can't even think of hunting, but i love action and violent movies and games, to a tasteful extent

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Bin3ry

If anyone has paid attention to the story in this FPS you would notice that, at the age of 9 years is when they began tests on Alma. At the age of 16 is when she was artificially inseminated(hope i spelled that right). With the next F.E.A.R game coming out sometime in the future, under a different title, it will probably continue with the story of this little girl/spook. After playing this game i have had no evil intentions of any kind towards kids and never will. I would totally fight against a company that i thought was even trying this kinda stuff, but as for a game, no one and nothing could have added the creep factor to F.E.A.R better than Alma. Great work Monolith. By the way Monolith is hiring goto http://www.lith.com for details.

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JNorman

seems to me like a war of propaganda. everyone has their lines drawn, and everyone knows when another crosses it. so all i gotta say is WOOPIDIE DOO!! i dont care if they dont let it be released, i can in good conscious, defend one form of something under statutes and not defend something else under the same statutes. something about the duality of man comes to my mind. the reason i can defend against this game is because the constitutuon was set up to defend americans and our way of life,i could go on, yada, yada, yada. theres a long story behind everything.

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sackynut

Since it is free speech, and it is their opinion, they are allowed to produce this game, Im all for free will and choice.

Getting people to buy it is another question, not many American gamers are going to want that game. Remember that games are about the gameplay, not the political plot behind them. If I hated America, I:
1. wouldnt purchase a game and kill Americans, I would protest or voice my opinion.
2. Wouldnt agree with these opinions. I mean, as much as I support free will, this plot is very ridiculous. In fear of sounding like a die hard republican, this is on par with the Palestinian TV show Mickey Mouse rip off that told little kids to destroy Israel among other things.

What I dont understand is that, instead of protesting Manhunt 2 (or other games) why just not buy it? Let people who want it to buy it, and dont buy it yourself. Take responsibility for yourself, and not others.

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Talcum X

As it is free speech, anyone can make a game about anything these days, it's those who buy who create the demand on what type of games get produced. Was it bad taste for Lucas Arts to create Tie Fighter, not just X-Wing? Of course not, it's fantasy. In fact, I enjoyed Tie Fighter more than X-wing. Just given the current state of the world and the US involvement, yes, it's just bad taste IMHO.

Just as long as the creator of the SIMs don't come up with SIM Nuke Lab, where you build your own pletonium reactor, and learn all the fundimentles of nuclear bomb construction and play a nuclear version of "Opperation" Takes a steady hand to place the Happy fun ball in the tube. Kind of like your own version of the Manhatten Project. Was a then-cool movie, but I don't recommend trying it at home, kiddies.

*******
Every morning is the dawn of a new error.

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oihorse

It's gotta be a free ride in both directions as distasteful as it might be in certain occasions - when it comes to creating the games.

Otherwise the fight is hypocritical.

Distribution, however, I think is a completely different argument. I see no reason why stores, ISPs or other avenues can do what they'd like to facilitate or halt distribution of said material depending on the tastes of their customers.

You shouldn't' stop people from making it, but you can't make people take it.

Horse

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Abstrakt

"a purely tasteless game that graphically depicted morally horrendous acts that would make Grand Theft Auto's crimes look like a Sunday School jaunt in comparison"

I would be first in line!

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dc10ten

Video games are similar in fact to movies or books. "Rescue the Nuke Scientists" has a storyline, and a questionable one at that. I think because of the storyline, there would be a lot, if not most, people that would not play the game (based on the storyline)...at least.... Americans wouldn't. I think there are plenty of people that hate the American Government that maybe they would enjoy playing a game like this. Even so, it's still a game.

It is no more than a story (or at least an idea). Some people may want to play it (more so people from outside the U.S.) but, people should be allowed to be given a choice whether or not to play it.

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Neilage

hmm...I love games like GTA and Manhunt, and I would object to a super-violent killing game. There has to be a line though. An Army game where you gun down fellow americans is just across that line. This line moves though; 10 years ago GTA would've been unspeakable. So if things continue the way they are, you could soon be gunning down american troops for points.

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cup

As you said, Paul, "vote with your wallet."
As morally ambiguous (at best) as some may find the game, no person or company is forcing any one to buy it, or to play it. Just like GTA (which, might I remind people, couldn't be purchased by a minor anyways, due to the game's rating.)
~Cup
*nearly every day of my life is some kind of computer hell*

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Pr0LifIC_onE

I agree with you whole-heartedly, however, I do occasionally get the urge to jump on walking mushrooms after playing SMB. DOH!

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nedwards

How do Russians feel about games pitting us against Soviets? Germans and Japanese people about WWII games? Arabs about any number of games that occur in the middle east?

It seems kind of hypocritical to endorse violent games that depict good Americans against the evil Other but take offense at games that reverse this. Is this really good taste, or just nationalism?

In any case, we've already seen Postal, Super Columbine, and JFK Reloaded. There've always been reprehensible games out there, but I'd rather restrict them at the store level (have Wal-Mart ban them) than at higher levels (government bans). These games appeal to (hopefully) very limited segments of the populace, and the market will reflect that.

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