UPDATE: 1/16 - 10:00am
Feel free to keep reading, the points I responded to yesterday follow below.
My thoughts from today are found here
... even dare I say - my apology?
...lesbian, alien, hetero...take your pick...
The Gaming universe exploded in anger over the tone and a couple of the specifics of my most recent column, "The 'Sex Box' Race for President."
If the few who wrote me are indicative of the rest of the gaming universe, we know at least they have passion - for their toy-boxes...
Repeatedly they challenged me, called me names, and used some of the most stimulating intellect I've seen to date to point out my error on a point of substance/possibly two...
Here's a sample of the Gamers at their finest (directed at me...):
I hope someone hits you over the head with a dictionary, putting you into a coma. The financial strain on your family would eventually force your son to sell his video games. Your son would have to go several years without a father figure in his life, giving him a handful of psychological and emotional complexes.
Then, years later when you wake up from your coma, you find your son to be a full-blown adult. He lives far away now. You track him down to let him know that youre back. You meet up with his lovely friend Jim, whom he must blow for drug money. You try to change his ways, but he wont budge.
It all comes to a climax when he bludgeons you to death in a particularly heated argument. He then empties your pockets, strips you naked, sodomizes your corpse and uses his connections in the rough part of town to have your body dumped, leading Police to believe you picked up a tranny, were robbed, and then killed.
More than one who wrote me claimed that because he loves gaming so much that I had somehow permanently impaired his world because of the assertions I made in the dangers that sexually explicit games present to the whole of society.
To a person (after being hyped a bit by gaming blogs) and no doubt instructed to flood my inbox with response, the gist of these responses went something along these lines, "YOU LIED, YOU LIED, YOU LIED." Some called me a yellow journalist, some just typed the "F" word something like 27 times, and signed it, "have a good day."
But what was it I was supposed to have lied about? That my friend is the compelling part of this highly emotional drama - if only to one niche of people attached to their X-Boxes.
1. "The most realistic sex acts..." - from the YouTube footage I saw, I still concur, to me these acts are the most realistic put in video games - that I have seen. In the lesbian version one woman's hand appears to stimulate the crotch of the other passing between the legs. Today many of the more perv-oriented gamers took delight in describing for me the detailed description of games they claim are MORE realistic... Ok fine, I'll take them at their word, but for me the statement stands...
2. "One can custom design the shape, form, bodies, race, hair style, breast size of the images..." Evidently the only thing I got wrong on this was the breast size, though I would like someone to explain to me how the female characters end up having different sizes again on the YouTube footage I witnessed with my own eyes... But the rest of it was true. race, hair style, color - etc.
3. "...the video game "persons" hump in every form, format, multiple, gender-oriented possibility they can think of." Again true (not that there are that many combinations of human sexuality to begin with.) But since the makers of Mass Effect decided to throw in a little alien booty both hetero and homo it seems to me that they covered the range. Would these gamers have preferred that the game included bestiality? Later in the column I make a reference to being able to perform sex acts, homo and hetero, with whomever... Ok - you can't have sex with every single character in the game... But between copulating with Aliens, girl on girl, guy on girl, and according to my gamer friends who I checked with - it does not take a great deal of manipulation to add a few extra "kinks" to the mix for those who know a little bit about such things.
4. They also took outrageous umbrage to the claims I made in the column that the game is marketed to teen-age boys. (Though many of those giving me feedback happened to be under the age of 17/18.) The common argument is that because the game is marked "M" that means that no kid under 17/18 (depending on your state) would be allowed access to it. Asinine thinking through and through though. Simply like the fact that movie theaters are this night allowing children underage to purchase tickets, refusing to ask for ID, these games are being sold over the counter by the major chain stores with no enforcement of the age limit suggestions posted on the games themselves. The Gamers act as though the packaging itself is all the responsibility that needs to be taken. Of course they themselves probably started hiding their collection of Hustler Magazine under their beds when they were eleven and have thus a good idea of how the "letter of the law" differs from the "intent." Thus the explanation of why they were so sore with me for pointing out the obvious. The silly "M" label stands for, and accomplishes precious little. (UPDATE 1/16: It accomplished more than I previously understood.)
5. The major criticism the Gamers had for me in their reaction was this challenge: "Unless you've spent the 20 hours of game time it takes to get to the explicit scenes, keep your fat mouth shut!" Many challenges stated that unless I played it myself then I had no business pointing out its objectionably content. Would they say the same of a strip club at the end of their block or hookers knocking at their door? Normal people would not. There is an innate instinct that tells us right from wrong, it's called a conscience. Did I play the game? No. Did I talk to some gamers who had and who knew the possibilities of the game. Yes! Does it make the lesbian, alien, hetero, homo sex that a player arrives at in the game a proper thing for teenagers to be tantalized by? Absolutely not!
Midway through the column I turn to a vision of where such games will lead to in the future, more games using sex as an enticement, more vivid graphics, more, more, more... That is what gamers ascribe to right? Alternate universes where they can escape this world and become caught up in the pursuit of whatever...
The over-arching point of the entire piece, was not even to encourage censorship - though we ARE allowed to censor smut in this nation, and it has been defined already by the Supreme Court. (Thus why we are not Europe with our "blue" channel running on broadcast television nightly.) The real point of the piece was however to say that in the election coming up the next President will preside over a society that does more to push the envelope than any that have come before it.
That society does so at our peril.
Look, if the Gamers need outlets to find adult oriented gaming options - then make them drive to the outskirts of town and be forced to frequent those places that no one wants in the community to get them. By properly removing sexually explicit material from Best Buy, Circuit City, and Wal-Mart we take a step (one that did not need to be explained only a few years ago) in pushing back against the tidal wave of trashy cheap sex that society has ruled harmless, and thus meaningless.
God didn't design it that way, and no matter how many gamer-nerds spam my inbox with profane dreams of seeing my dead corpse sodimized...
I will always speak up!