Moral Kombat Movie Trailer Released - Film Explores Game Violence Controversy

January 3, 2007 -
Independent film maker Spencer Halpin has just released the trailer for his upcoming film Moral Kombat, a documentary which explores the controversy surrounding video game violence.

Those appearing in the film are a diverse group, including former ESA boss Doug Lowenstein, Dr. David Walsh of the National Institute on Media & the Family, Jack Thompson, reporter Dean Takahashi, game designer American McGee, ECA president Hal Halpin, game violence critic Lt. Col. David Grossman, and MIT's deep thinker Dr. Henry Jenkins.

In discussing Moral Kombat with GamePolitics, Spencer Halpin said:
I knew that I wanted my first feature film to be a documentary and was hoping that it would be both topical and hopefully shine a light on a subject that needed it. The more I learned about violence in video games, the more compelled I was to tackle the subject matter. It's so visceral... The interviewees are really intelligent, interesting folks who all care very passionately about the issue, which makes the story that much better in my opinion.

Halpin, who labored on Moral Kombat for over three years, is currently seeking a distribution deal. Toward that end he will be showing the production at several upcoming film festivals.

We're told the film's budget was about a million dollars. Halpin said he is especially excited about Moral Kombat's score, which should be available on the film's MySpace in the near future. For an interesting Apple feature on some of the tech behind Moral Kombat, click here.

Full Disclosure Dept: Spencer Halpin is the brother of ECA president Hal Halpin. GamePolitics is an ECA partner.

Comments

@ZippyDSMlee Says

The most you will get from a game is that pulling the trigger makes the gun shoot, sometimes you have to reload, and it is hard to hit a moving target while moving.

The ballistics in most games is of the most basic sort. You have to lead a target slightly and sometimes compensate for the distance of the target.

Okay i re-read your comment now, ignore my mild over reaction.

I disagree, games give you a negligible understanding of fire arms. Nothing that could be quantified at all.

Here's a little questionaire we can give to the right-wing media whores like Jack Thompson:

QUESTION ONE: Watching something even remotely violent or suggestive on TV will instantly turn my child into a:
A. Filthy homosexual!
B. Psychotic mass murderer!
C. Degenerate drug addict!
D. All of the above!

QUESTION TWO: Why do you want to censor the media as opposed to just tellign your kids which shows to watch or games to play?
A. I rely on TV to raise my kids for me and don't want to be bothered with taking responsibility for what they do
B. I love telling other people how to raise their kids, it feeds my ego and insecurities
C. I'm trying to market a book championing myself as a crusader for right-wing cultural values
D. All of the above!

can you think of any more questions?

Here's something new on the subject of the movie. Today's Penny Arcade strip and blog post raked the trailer over the coals with their usual characteristic snakryness. It should be interesting how they and other gaming comics will receive the movie when it comes out.

http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic

Ouch. Who's got a Band-Aid?

@Daniel

"However, the misspelled Kombat means they probably got the title from the popular game that started the controversy over violence in video games."

ORLY?!

Your observational skills are uncanny! Thank you for pointing this out for all of us here at GamePolitics. I don't think any of us would have recognized the wit in using the controversial game "Mortal Kombat" and changing it to "Moral Kombat". I'm... I'm simply baffled. Thank you.

@ hayabusa75

Oh, I just realized. I misread it. It's Moral Kombat not Mortal Kombat. I didn't notice the absence of an r and since Kombat is spelled with a K, I thought it said Mortal Kombat automatically. I sometimes overlook small details like that. I'm sorry my bad. However, the misspelled Kombat means they probably got the title from the popular game that started the controversy over violence in video games.

FPS can give you a advantage ,think of t as a 10-15% bonus in the understanding of the mechanic's of projectile weapons however in the end its not going to substitute training on range and dealing with kick back,weight,breathing,ect,ect,ect,ect .

If this is one sided it should be burned at the stake,.........

@Daniel:

I'm not seeing any mention of Mortal Kombat. Point it out or cut and paste it or something.

This gives me an uneasy feeling. Still looks worth looking into.

@ hayabusa75

I didn't think that Boon or Tobias were involved. I thought that some of the design team was involved because they mention Mortal Kombat in this entry. I know Boon and Tobias would never turn against video game violence.

For all the people wondering why JT is in the movie, perhaps it's because it's less hassle to put him in it than leave him out of it. Can you just envision the "they deliberately left me out" cries from him? He'll spin it into some BS about Spencer being afraid to let him speak or something.

I think the trailer was just to rile people up. Halpin knows the majority of the people who will go to see this will be gamers, so the trailer has to pique the interest of the fringe. From a business standpoint, it makes more sense to quote the idiots in the previews.

@Daniel:

"I don’t know why Mortal Kombat creators are helping to make a documentary about violence in video games."

What are you talking about? There was no mention of Tobias or Boon. Or Midway, for that matter.

Mortal Kombat is my favorite game. I don't know why Mortal Kombat creators are helping to make a documentary about violence in video games. People have to stop attacking violence in video games and focus on things that matter and are a threat.

So is Spencer Hal's evil twin?

The first movie was pretty true to the canon storyline (except for that bizare business with Reptile near the end). The second one.... The dialog was really corny and certain parts were really screwed up (Jade is black, not Asian).

Hopfully this one will do better.

I'm also looking forward the the Halo and third Resident Evil movies.

I usually hate movies, but I'll give this one a chance. Cool special effects though.

Not going to judge the movie based on its trailer. Doing that for games is rarely good from my experience anyways. I just hope it's going to be decent.

I doubt the trailer represents the movie in full. remember, Hal and Spencer are brothers. if spencer made a biased movie, lets call it "Ferenheight GTA" they would have a falling out much like anakin and obi-won.

then they'd have a duel like in episode 3. If the Halpins stand against each other, heaven help us. Given the power Hal has weilded, such a clash of titans may very well tear the Earth asunder.

Plus, only fatties make biased documentaries.

@point09micron

Isn't it implied?

Interesting how they mention using flight simulators used to practice for 9/11. They neglect to mention, however, that the plan was almost certainly formulated beforehand. Bin Laden didn't just play Pilotwings and decide "hey, we can use this to strike at the great satan!"

@Vladimir
Yay! I'm not the only one who's played those games! Granted, I only played the Abe games because I never owned an XBox.
I thought it was an unusual choice, as the violence in the Oddworld games is not only completely justified (Everything Abe does is to free his people and bring peace to his ancestors), but Abe himself is completely without a means of attack (Granted, he can possess his enemies and have him attack others, then blow up...)

As for the flight simulator argument. Yes, they can be used as a teaching guide. When I first came to college in 1998, I had the F-16 game, which said on the box that the military uses it to help train its pilots (although I'm guessing they use a mock-up of a fighter cockpit and not a keyboard). They bring a high level of realism to the table in terms of controls, physics, etc. I never could get past the 3rd stage because after I dropped my first giant bomb, my plane was too unbalanced to reach the second target. I'm sure that even if I logged hundreds of hours, I'd still be shaky if I took a real plane up, but I'd probably do better than I would without them, and it certainly would be enough for me to crash the plane into a specific target.
However, there's two important things to bring up:
1) As has been brought up before, there is a huge difference between a flight simulator and an first person shooter (or third person). Despite what JT says, there aren't simulators. You don't need to worry about weapons jamming, safeties. When reloading isn't completely removed from the game it's simplified to the point where any bullets left from one clip are magically transfered to the next. These games do nothing to teach a child how to fire a gun that a kid couldn't learn from watching a movie. They don't teach kids how to fire a gun, and nobody has given any real evidence that they have any more effect on a child's sense of right and wrong than any other form of media.
2) Yes, the terrorists allegedly learned to fly from a flight simulator. Video games are supposed to increase a child's hand-eye co-ordination (and the Wii will only make this moreso), so a kid who played video games might be a slightly better shot, simply because of this. However, is it illegal to know how to fly a plane? Is it illegal to know how to shoot a gun accurately? No. In fact, if I understand it, if you have a gun in the house, you're supposed to make sure the child does know how it works so he's less likely to do something careless/stupid. My point is that trying to claim video games are bad because they teach you how to do something is effectively saying that that particular knowledge is illegal. It's the purest violation of the First Ammendment I can think of.

Anyway, I'm going to agree with the others and hope that the trailer is sensationalized to get a bigger audience and that the movie itself will be even-handed.

[...] About three years ago, I flew down to Boston to do an interview/filming for a documentary on game culture and violence called Moral Kombat. As noted at GamePolitics, the film has been in the works for a while now and they’ve just released a trailer at YouTube… [...]

As I remember from the news reports about 9/11, the terrorists attended flight school here in the states. So why not put the flight school in the spotlight for training these terrorists?

I expected to disagree, but not be disgusted. Connecting video games to 9/11 for shock value? That's too low, you dishonor those poor people Mr. Halpin.

Its a trap.

If this trailer is any indication, the movie is a "crusifiction piece" of videogames. It looks more like anti-games as a medium, and not as an industry. Also, any movie that wants real documentary cred will not have someone like JT in it.

How about a film about the dangers of crackpot documentaries, with a call for regulation of the medium?

I'm just tickled that they used footage from Oddworld in the trailer. One of my favorite games, donchaknow. Hee hee.

@Rammsoldat

I doubt the trainer taught them to fly 757s or 767s. I could be wrong but he taught them to fly planes used in general aviation.

Simulators, especially to big ones can be used to teach someone to fly a plane. I think most pilots are required to do simulator time every year.

I'll have to admit, as one sided as the trailer was, i still want to see the movie. But if the movie turns out to be crummy and one sided, i'll just walk out and hang around the arcade for a bit.

"Oh BTW ive noticed alot of american kids online in gears of war, and i mean ALOT. As much as i think jack is a steaming pile of shite i have to agree that its far too easy for them to get mature rated games."

Ya, i'v noticed that a lot too. A lot of online games have little kids that show up and ruin the fun. They get there hands on the game by ushually one of two ways, uncaring/dumb parents giving them to their kid to shut him/her up, or they borrow them from friends/older siblings. The sad part is, no matter what we, or any one else dose, they will get the games, they will enter our survers, and they will spam the chat and grenades.

The last thing Jack needs is soemthign else to toot his horn about. And I'm not gonna bother with a trailer, I'll just wait and try to see the movie.

Ive seen and interview with the head of the flight school the 9/11 terrorists attended, he didnt look like a copy of flight sim to me.

And why the hell do people keep talking to jack thompson, hes shown dosens of time that he dosent know what the hell he's talking about when it comes to games. He dosent know what user created content is, he thinks the boy on boy kissing in bully is hidden ect ect.

Oh BTW ive noticed alot of american kids online in gears of war, and i mean ALOT. As much as i think jack is a steaming pile of shite i have to agree that its far too easy for them to get mature rated games.

About the guy who made the comparison between terrorists learning on flight simulators and teens playing first person shooters, this argument is ridiculous and completely without merit! If this film is balanced, then a lie like this should not have been included.

Flight simulators (the professional ones seen in the trailer and which the 9-11 terrorists are said to have trained on) are designed to be as close as you can come to actually flying an aircraft without being in one. Everything, from the layout of the controls, to their response is tailored to provide an authentic experience so that would be pilots can get a taste of what flying is actually like. That's why they are called SIMULATORS! They simulate the experience!

Now, take a teen playing a first person shooter. He is using a mouse and keyboard/joypad. Nothing in any first person game simulates anything like real life. The weapons are exaggerated to make it seem more action packed. A video game can't teach people how to use the sights on a real gun, how to compensate for it's weight and recoil, how to reload it, etc.

Let's say I go insane someday and decide to shoot up a bunch of people, I have never held a gun much less fired a shot in my life. All I've learned from videogames is how to move a cursor around a screen with either a mouse or my right thumb on a joypad. Look out world!

Simulators are highly technical and specific pieces of software, designed to give an authentic experience to facilitate training and learning. You can no more learn to be an expert shot from playing Doom or Grand Theft Auto than you could learn to be an expert driver by playing Mario Kart.

'Still, I hope for accuracies sake, Mr. Halpin includes notice of jacks bar complaints, ethics charges, and current contempt hearing.'

Thing is, strictly speaking that has little to do with his opinion on games. Daft part is the fact I never had a problem with him not agreeing with us, Jack Thompson is neither the first nor the last person in the world to have an opinion different to mine. My dislike of him started when he proved he was willing to be a sell-out in order to achieve his goals.

For all of his Moral Crusading, his willingness to resort to unethical behaviour, and sometimes downright vindictiveness, in order to achieve his goals is, in context, actually worse than the storylines of some of the more violent games. Usually in the games people have to be pushed to the edge before they break, Jack Thompson ran to the edge and jumped off.

I'll admit, the trailer has my curiosity piqued, and I rather find myself wanting to see what the full documentary has to say. I will say this, however: I will sorely disappointed if the whole thing takes the same negative tone that the trailer had. It barely put a defense up for games, and seemed, rather, to bash them. Though if they manage to get video game haters to see it with the expectations of having video games proven violent, and then it shows the positive side of gaming, I will be very happy.

*crosses fingers that this sinks Jacko's boat*

/seriously, waiting to see his reaction after it's out - ought to be worth a laugh

Ok, it looks like there is atleast some hope for this being a balanced film... Looking at some of the comments on youtube, one of the commentors said that they have seen the film and that it is balanced... i guess the film is already finished (and has been shown a few times), and they're just waiting on distirbution. Can't really speak about anything about the commentor, but atleast it's something... slightly better then our own guesses based on the trailer.

WHile I think the movie is a good idea, I would hope that it is not the one sided schlock the trailer makes it out to be. In all truth, what I know of Mr. Halpin and his brother, I have a hard time beliving for one instant that it's a totally anti game film. But if the trailer is at all acurrate, then I'm appaled to think that someone who could conisder themselves an unbiased person would select JT as one of the front runners of his film, given Jt's actions of recent.

Admittedly, by the point much of it had happened, the movie was probably nearly finished or was finished, so it's perhaps understandable that jt was at the time thought to have some form of credibility.

Still, I hope for accuracies sake, Mr. Halpin includes notice of jacks bar complaints, ethics charges, and current contempt hearing.

We'll see.

Alright. Am I the only one that has a MAJOR issue with Jack Thompson being anywhere NEAR this film? Kudos for getting both sides of the argument and all, but can we get someone who ISN'T a complete moron with jackass tendencies? The NIMF president was a good choice, why JT?

Sorry for the double, but a thought occurs to me. There's a Chapter in Kent's (?) "Ultimate History of Video Games" titled Moral Kombat.

The flight sim argument is an iffy one at best.

However, with a highend joystick/yoke and throttle setup, you can get a basic idea of what flying the plane would be like.

The only reason the argument could hold any water is because the terrorists didn't have to deal with the 2 hardest parts of flying any plane. Take off and landing.

THe could have learned in smaller planes then used the flight sim to get a better understanding of the larger plane. The newer versions of MS flightsim pretty much completely recreate the cockpit of the planes you can fly down to every switch.

To get the plane to the towers would take a bit of basic navigation, then pure visual nav. With a basic understanding of the planes flight characteristics and careful and small turns, one could target a large landmark.

So yes, they could have learned basic avation principle in a flight sim. Why, because in a flight sim, you are simulating flight, with realistic controls as realisticaly as possible. Using then visual presented in the game to adjust in cockpit controls.

In an fps you are not manipulating a gun and using 2 hands to aim, you are not looking down the sights to aim.

For a minute there i thought they were goning to make another Mortal Kombat Movie *shudders*

But yeah this should be good to watch, also good that the director is interviewing people on all sides of it

[...] Source Share and Enjoy:These icons link to social bookmarking sites where readers can share and discover new web pages. [...]

I, too, am being (cautiously) optimistic about this, and I sincerely hope that the attitude of the trailer is purely a marketing gimmick designed to pull people into theaters and get them to watch the movie.

Heck, that'd be great. Imagine all the potential critics (the anti game types, not reviewers) he could lure in and "break"...

How the hell did this guy come up with the idea that the terrorists learned how to fly through a flight simulator?!?

The ESRB is involved in this film in a very fair way. It educates you on every aspect of the industry and all of the associations . The trailer is a teaser - nothing more. I have seen this film and it is not biased. You leave making own opinion and it spurs much debate.

Um...

Huh?

Okay, what I'm sincerely hoping is that the trailer was specifically designed to demonise games, to stir up controversy, to make the film appear to be "gritty" and "hard-hitting" in order to get people to go and watch it. I hope that trailer was pure marketing, and in no way reflects the actual content of the film. But it seems to me that the jaw-droppingly blatant bias in the trailer went way above and beyond selling the film as being about an important current issue, and strayed deeply into the territory of "Hey guys, this is a film made by a horribly biased person who doesn't really understand his subject matter".

I hope the film is sensible, and rational. It sounds like some sensible people were interviewed. Given that we only have one (really, really terrible) trailer to go on so far, I'm still willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. But that was a really poor way to announce this documentary to the world.

I have a feeling the guy is going to get a sued for using the name Mortal Kombat, seeing as how there is a third movie in the works.

Now if he did the usual Mortal Combat that would be fine, when I clicked the link to this I thought it really was a link to the third Mortal Kombat movie, not about the evil that is videogames (poor way to do a trailer IMO, cause it looks entirly one sided and like the maker of the film hated video games).

Okay,
Does anyone remember teh spinoff show of the "x-files" known as "the lone gunmen" (i think.) a year or so before the 9-11, there was an episode of a plane taken control by remote by the antagonist, and our protagonist were able to remove teh remote connection so that the play can pull up and not hit.... you guessed it, the WTC. No proof that the terrorist saw this show, but it COULD have given them the idea to fly the planes into the WTC. When the police were investigating the apartment the terrorist lived, the pc was hooked up to a flight control joystick and rudder pedals.
flight simulator is actually very detailed where you can push CERTAIN buttons and switches in the flight deck. and i think all those buttons and dials would be labeled. all you really need to fly is controls of the ailerons (flight stick) and speed (from the throttle.)

The video, it did focus on the negative questions, but never really answered them. It just made quick statements just to make you think; thats what i thought anyway. It seems to me like the video will go after the questions posed in the trailer.

Doesn't a good (fiction) book draw you into the story that you may forget about reality, while you read? Aren't video games the same? Aren't MOVIES the same way?

"moral kombat" not "mortal kombat"*

That trailer really does leave a bad taste in my mouth... Documentries are supposed to be fair and unbiased but that trailer seems very one-sided. The thing is, the quotes in the trailer make the issue sound far worse than in actual ly is. When it comes down to it, while there isn't really much saying that violent games are a good thing, there is a good amount of poeple who basically who argue against and disprove what those quotes say. Poeple of whome i really wonder if they will be getting a say in this film. Afterall, if the violence in game were causing nearly as much trouble as the critics like to say they are, then their would be plenty of evidence saying so and the gov't probably would not have nearly as much trouble defending their legislation. Overall, it sounds like this will be more of an opinion piece than actual fact...

@Traiklin

The movie is called "Moral combat", not "Mortal combat"...

What a vile and disgusting movie (judging by the trailer).

Just what does mr halpin think he is going to do? This to me seems like a subtle way to make games look bad, at least by the trailer.

They've put Jack Thompson in it, which kinda destroys it overall (I mean the man has never said anything honest about videogames)

and that retarded 9/11 comment just angers me even more.

I am going to make sure no one I know in real life goes to see this.

Quoted from the apple page that was linked (go to the third page)

Ultimately, Halpin wants to help people set their own course. “My view is that consumers need access to information about the content of games so they can make their own decisions about what to buy,” he says. “We need a universal rating system. The industry must take this seriously and provide the information so parents can find out what their child will be taking in.”

Obviously this guy never heard of the ESRB. How the fuck can you make a documentary about violence and censorship of games and not include the ESRB? This means that halpin is either a. stupid or b. biased. Probably b.

Learned to fly a plane from a flight simulator?? That reaks of the foulest BS. First off in a flight simulator you press keyboard keys to adjust speed, rudder and other parts of the plane. Now say a terrorist learns that to fly a plane you have to adjust the rudeer to x degrees mantain x speed and whatever, how the heck is he supposed to figure out what switch in the cockpit controls what just from the flight simulator?
 
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