The following is a re-post of my post from About Game Design, posted November 1st:
I realize there will be a ton of people disagreeing with me here, but I think people overall are way too touchy when it comes to politics, religion and violence in games.
And I don't think video game makers should have to be more careful than movie makers. If it's okay to have in a movie, it's okay to have it become gameplay.
There IS a big difference between movies and games. Movies are passive, all you do is receiving while games are active and you're performing actions within a magic circle.
However, they're both crafts and products created most often as entertainment creating fiction.
Of course, everyone has to be considerate of our cultural rules and the law, even if they differ around the world. But aside from that, I think it IS okay to have a game where you take the role of a sadist out to torture civilians. It might not be for everyone, and it shouldn't be sold to just anyone, but I don't think the developers would be doing anything wrong by creating that game.
Developers should also be able to express strong religious opinions in games, but if the game isn't of that particular culture's favorite flavor, it would never see the light of day. I'm not saying I'm a big fan of Jihad or whatever, but I wouldn't be upset if there was a game about it in the shelf of the retailer.
As I experience it, it seems movies can get away with more stuff than games. Maybe because it's been around longer or maybe because it's often executed with more skill than games.
I'm not saying I find a lot of pro-Jihad movies on the shelves here either.
Right now there are articles online about how horrible it is that you can kill civilians while trying to infiltrate a terrorist group in Modern Warfare 2. The journalist describe this act as very brutal and awful.
But tell me, why is it more brutal to kill a civilian than a soldier?
Anyway, there would be absolutely no problem with having that scenario in a movie. It could even be called a strong and effective scene. Why should game developers have other social responsibilities?
There's a poll on Aftonbladet.se, a large Swedish news paper where the question is:
- Should video games be able show terrorist deeds against civilians?
66.4% out of 22557 people voted "Yes, of course". Another 12.9% said "Yes, if there's a good reason" while the rest said no.
I'm glad about 80% said Yes and I hope the attitude will spread.
I think game designers have the same social responsibilities as any other person and no stricter "rules" due to the media of gaming. And I think it's about time people loosened up!