“Are video games art” isn’t a question to any gamer. Gamers have been debating this point for a long time against people who are quick to dismiss the medium as just a pass time for kids and adults who live in their mom’s basement. But how many artists go back and change their creations after public outcry?
Movies have offended and let people down for generations but aside from reboots and releasing altered special editions, what is out there is what the consumers get. Steven Spielberg digitally removed all of the guns from the police in E. T. and replaced them with walkie talkies and there has been criticism from fans of the original expressing their disappointment with the change. But he’s the director of E.T. and like Star Wars creator, George Lucas, the decisions are his to make. But video gamers have more of a sense of entitlement that the products released should be what THEY want regardless of the studio’s original artistic intention.
Mass Effect 3’s ending was changed after enough people hit the Internet and complained about it. God of War Ascension ‘s trophy title was changed after players were offended and took to the Internet. Right or wrong what kind of standard is this setting for developers and the games they make?
With movies and TV, the loudest opposition is around violence and sex and this has been the case with video games as well.. The difference is this generation has the loudest voices for censorship coming from the video game community itself and is creating a self censoring environment in the future.
No radio host has faced more calls for censorship than Howard Stern. He’s offended listeners from minorities to women and there was a scene in his movie, Private Parts, where his bosses have a meeting about it. They said the average fan listened to Stern for an hour and a half but the offended listeners who hated him listened for two and a half hours. The same things are happening in video games where people are playing games they don’t like to complain about it and censor it instead of just playing something else. Some of these “critics” aren’t even purchasing or playing the game, but want to take away everyone else’s right to play it as is.
We laugh at Jack Thompson for making ridiculous arguments against video game violence but despite his methods, his goals are the same as some current gamers. There are people out there who want video games to be what THEY want them to be despite the original intention of the studio or the people that actually like the game. With the Internet every gamer can potentially have a platform as large as Jack Thompson and on Twitter, Facebook and blogs we are seeing more people using their voice to censor things.
Activists will make the argument they have a right to be able to play a game and not be offended, but is that really a right? They have the right to not play the game at all but do gamers have the right to have “art” changed? Do we have the right to have endings altered so they’re satisfactory to us? What rights (if any) do developers have to deliver their original vision of a story? Will all games need to appeal to all groups of gamers by not having any offensive material at all for fear of backlash? WIll every game need to have the option to create a character so every group feels included (black, white, gay, straight, male, female)?
Despite the intentions and reasoning, censorship is censorship and I think we need to ask ourselves does it matter who’s doing it? This time the argument may be on your side but it’s only creating a blueprint for your opposition.