So, aside from elections, Tuesday was a very important day for all you gamers out there! It was the day that the Supreme Court heard California's case on violent video games. In short they want to classify games into two categories, violent, non-violent, and determined by following a test which broadly asks if the game has any "morbid violence" and does it have "any serious literary or artistic value"? Well shit, just wait till I get to my art paragraph, and as for the "morbid" well, a /b/tards morbid and lawyer's morbid are two TOTALLY different morbids. Hell, when you play Mario and fall into lava I would say that is morbid as hell. This new system would not take into account the 4 tier, E, E10, T, M, system already used by the ESRB, which not only rates EVERY game released in the USA, but is also widely held as the BEST media regulator out there. Books have none what so ever, and I've been dipping into R rated movies since 8. Games are the BEST self regulated industry in the USA. That doesn't seem to be enough for California though; they want to add, in addition to the ESRB's rating, their own black and white rating, violent, non-violent.
Take a second to imagine what that would be like. A mom walks into GameStop and picks up a game, on one side you have a T for Teen rating that, in detail, says why it has been given a T rating, on the other corner you have an 18+ sticker with a nice big ol' "USA FEDERAL GOVT." logo with no other explanation. What the hell do you do then when you have two things telling you two different things?
Alright, so onto this whole art thing. "Wait right now Zach, before you start I dare you to say that Super Mario is art, or that something as bloody as Gears of War is art, hell, try to defend Manhunt and S.T.A.L.K.E.R.!" Well, I will. Artistic expression is a term that is most often given to something like a great symphony, or a masterpiece work of fine art, or a touching movie, or a book that inspires and captivates millions. Well, it is, but not always. The elements of fine art are: Form, Line, Shape, Color, Texture, Space, and Value. The principles of art are: Emphasis, Balance, Harmony, Variety, Movement, Rhythm, Proportion, and Unity. These are known to anyone who has taken any kind of art class, or has a general appreciation of art. Now while these are usually only applied to fine art I feel that they can be applied to everything and anything. When you read a book, do the words not give a Form, or structure, is the prose not Harmonious, or at least making an attempt? Does music not give Rhythm, or Unity? Are Space, Value, and Color not important to all movies? Yes they are! But think about it deeper than that, does dancing not convey a harmony of its own, its own form as well, the way you talk has a rhythm, the clothes you wear give emphasis to whom you are at that moment, and THAT is artistic expression! Citizen Kane is art, but every book doesn't need to be Citizen Kane to be art, someone's D&D story is just as much an expression of artistic value as any other literature. Yes, Bach is an artist, but so is Jay-Z and even Soulja Boy or Justin Bieber. Yes Picaso is an artist, but I would also fight to defend the artistic merit of a little girl's scribblings. Everything we do is an expression of self, and, through that logic, an expression of artistic belief, of subconscious values that we put into our everyday lives. The Laptop I'm typing on is just as much art as the pictures hanging on my wall, and you bet your ass that the games in my drawer are as well, everything from Mario, to Assassin's Creed, to Pokémon and Postal. It is all art, and that makes it worth defending on its own.
Now I know what you're thinking, "But Zach, I'm already older than 18, and this is to save the impressionable minds of 5 year olds!" Let me start off by saying 5 year olds are sick fuckers to begin with, secondly, this goes beyond protecting kids and into suppressing the Freedom of Speech. I believe that is somewhere in a little thing called the Constitution, but I may be wrong... no wait... yea, it's there, it is even #1 on the list, that must mean it is important... Well, it is.
Now, your petty rights and civil liberties aside, let me explain what this means for the REAL issue here, the games. Imagine, again, that you are a game developer. You want to make a new game, but you also need to make money... "Hmm," you say, "I need to make some money, what game could I make to reach as large an audience as possible?" Well, you would go with some kiddy shit if the law passes.
"But Zach," says you again (the real you, not the game dev you), "These game devs make pretty artistic and niche things, they don't always want to make money; violent games will be made due to the simple demand for it." Well, what about publishers? They don't give two shits about someone else's artistic expression, they care about being in the black, and to that extent they will more than most likely always go with a game that will not find them being sued by the government in some way.
"But Zach," say you again, "look at EA and Activision, they are of the gamers for the gamers, they won't care!" Ha, really, Activision, you think Activision cares about you... That aside I guess I could agree with that, BUT, what of GameStop and Wal-mart? Will they even want to risk it? There is a reason you don't find porn in Wal-mart, they don't want to get sued for whatever reason, risk management. Does the profit from carrying said item outweigh the potential gains they can make, and when Marry Sue comes in bitching about her son's corrupted mind after buying, and giving him a game that had a big RATED M FOR MATURE on it you can bet Wal-mart won't want any part of it.
"Alright Zach, Jesus... no black and white labeling, I get it, but what about ESRB, you already said they were good, why not just have their ratings be law like they do with movies?" Well, for one, get your facts straight, I could take a four year old to see a rated R movie if I wanted to and not get arrested because movie ratings are enforced by the theatre, not the government. Go ahead, try it, bring you little sister/ brother and go see Saw or something. Secondly, giving the ESRB the power of law literally gives them, a non-government backed company, the power of the Federal Government, just as much as say, CIA, CBP, or any other govt. agency. Do you want a visit in the night from some CIA Video Game Police? Such a thing is unprecedented, and, once again, leads to censorship of games by way of devs/ publishers/ retailers not wanting to carry M or T rated games for fear of govt. retribution.
"Well shit Zach, I feel like I'm in the know now!" Well you are not, there are many more things I can go on about, but I've ranted for long enough, and most, if not all of you won't even get this far, but let me give you one last parting bit of knowledge. Not too long ago the USSC (United States Supreme Court) ruled against a law that would prevent the distribution of Animal cruelty fetish videos, which means if you can find some dog fighting, killing, maiming, slaughtering DVDs, well then congratz, you can watch them right in front of the local police station and legally get away with it. However, should the Supreme Court rule in favor of California, were you to pop out that DVD and pop in God of War 3, or hell, maybe even something like Heavy Rain, since I would argue it is "violent", they would snatch your ass up. So just remember Sparky being stomped on multiple times until all you can see is a furry, bloody mess is okay, but artistic expression through technological programming and design is not.
So come on people, do you really want to let some politician make his name off of this while not know what he is talking about and fucking us over in the process. Oh, and while I'm at it, I guess I should say that the politician in question is the fucking Governator himself, yes, the man who made his name off of movies like Predator, the Terminator and True Lies is fighting to stop kids from being corrupted by violence. I used to love that guy before he was a hypocrite.
Listening to: DMC OSTs.
Playing: Super Street Fighter 4.