Cathode Tan - Games, Media and Geek Stuff
logo design by man bytes blog

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Does The Wii Add A New Moral Angle?

Rockstar Games (which is synonymous with controversy) recently announced the production of "Manhunt 2" for various consoles, including the Wii. While Nintendo has always allowed third-party developers to produce M-rated games for its systems, the company has still managed to appeal to a family audience, mostly through its own mascot characters like Mario, Link, Kirby and Yoshi. So those who claim violent games are marketed to kids might be looking at Nintendo more than Microsoft or Sony, whose consoles are squarely aimed at that 18-34 demographic. Nintendo's own reputation might work against it when parents see Mature games for a system they thought was squeaky clean.

But the new problem is the Wii itself. While most virtual violence is done by tapping buttons and rotating your thumb, the Wii's unique motion-sensing controls add realism by letting players go bowling or play tennis just by mimicking the movements. For games like "Manhunt 2," that might also include swinging your arm to stab someone or beat them with a baseball bat. That much realism can only add to the controversy over video game violence.
-- Kid-friendly Wii won't escape controversy much longer

It's an interesting point. A key aspect of the debate on video games is the user participation. I don't adhere to the "emulation is brain washing" theory that gets BatJack so excited. The distance between virtually firing a gun and actually firing a gun is hardly crossed by a more realistic controller. Still - if a morally questionable action in a game requires more participation to trigger - would that lower the number of people willing to do it? Is there a cost versus reward ratio between the amount of energy required to try kicking the hooker against seeing what will happen with said hooker?

tagged: ,


Patrick said...

Sounds like a hell of a lot of fun to me.

On a side note, I once had a roomate who was extremely Christian and studious. One night I walked into his room to ask a question about my new Mac, and he was playing Manhunt.

Josh said...

Yeah, I'm not against it - don't get me wrong. I think it will be interesting to see if it's immersion, apathy or what that raises the bar of what people are or aren't willing to do in a game.

The psych student in me wants to say that nothing short of actual punishment will do much to change it.