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Tuesday, August 02, 2005

FragDolls Go To War

This AlterNet story about War being Fun brings up the odd mashup of attractive girl gamers being on tap to help sell another of UbiSoft's creations, namely America's Army. While this is pretty standard fair for the gaming industry ... and I actually have a lot less problems with paying girl gamers to stand beside a game than someone who could care less if it was a first person shooter or chewing gum they were selling ... they bring up an interesting point:

"America's Army" offers a range of games that kids can download or play online. Although the games are violent, with plenty of opportunities to shoot and blow things up, they avoid graphic images of death or other ugliness of war, offering instead a sanitized, Tom Clancy version of fantasy combat.

Which brings up something of a predicament for the "violent games are bad for you" crowd.

What if these games are simply not violent enough? Forget for a moment the preteen or tween market. They don't need booth babes to convince them to buy violent materials, their parents will apparently do that for them. We're talking here about the same teenagers for which military recruiters all over this same nation are trying to sell the idea of going to a far away country, meet people and blow the hell out of some of them. We're talking about kids that are apparently mature enough to understand death and dismemberment - otherwise why would they be having this conversation?

If that's true - doesn't America's Army constitute a kind of false advertising? Why not make the game as bloody, grisly and hard as war itself? Do we have a problem with M games which are honest and upfront about the kind of gore they splash on the screen or with T games that mask the fact that when you shoot someone, they bleed.

I stopped by a suburban game store yesterday. I noticed Black Hawk Down is rated T and Resident Evil: Outbreak is rated M. One is apparently violent ... the other violent and gory.

Which is really the actions of the responsible society? Should we be rewarding Novalogic for portraying a military action that actually took place in, you know, reality as less realistic than a zombie attack?

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