Ian Bogost: Console Makers are the REAL Censors + a Challenge to ECA, GP

August 28, 2007 -
Colbert Report veteran Ian Bogost (left) dishes on the Manhunt 2 re-rating controversy and judges console makers to be wearing the villain's hat:
First-party licensing in videogames creates another layer of censorship that makes it impossible to release Manhunt 2 on consoles, since the manufacturers refuse to license (and therefore manufacture) games at the AO rating. [An NC-17 film] may suffer from reduced distribution... but the film will still physically play on projectors at any theater. Same with DVD, which they can release for direct and retail sale.

A number of commenters... are calling for... an AO version for PC sold outside the traditional videogame retail channels... I suspect such a move is financially unimaginable in contemporary videogames...

But game devs and publishers are going to have to start making moves like this if they also want to continue making calls for the protection of games as speech. Who will take this argument seriously if game creators are so willing to compromise their intentions?

Bogost also issues a challenge to the ECA and GamePolitics:
I admire Hal Halpin, Dennis McCauley, and the other folks at the Electronic Consumers Association and GamePolitics.com. But I think the ECA is sorely mistaken in seeing Washington as the main cause of their problems. The first front in the battle for unfettered speech in games is the one between developers and the first-party console manufacturers about what qualifies as a game, whether it be about a rating or its theme/topic/content. That's where the issue becomes one for "consumers." So I challenge them to take on Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo for their offenses.

Ian is making some assumptions here about ECA that are not well founded. I don't want to put words in Hal Halpin's mouth, but will say on his behalf that this issue is already on his radar. In fact he's spoken of it recently on the EGM podcast, on the PWNED Radio podcast and in the GameDaily Biz piece mentioned elsewhere in today's GamePolitics.

In my view, the topic is a complex one, largely driven by gaming's origins in the toy business. While games as an art form have grown exponentially since the days of Intellivision and the Atari 2600, many people still view video games as child's play. In fact it is largely a youth culture medium, notwithstanding the industry's claim that the average gamer is 33. (is it sacrilege to say I have a hard time buying that one?).

Myself and others (most notably, Sony's Phil Harrison) have argued from time to time that even the term "video game" needs to be discarded, since it is associated with toys, and thus with children.

So the game industry finds itself under a microscope. The issue of sales to children is a big one for critics like Leland Yee and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood. And for the Federal Trade Commission, which studies the industry's marketing practices in relation to kids.

For their part, the console makers don't want to be accused of licensing porn on a machine that's sold at Toys'R'Us. The major game publishers are largely public corporations that don't want to be seen as being in the porn creation business, either. Developers have largely adapted to these parameters, although some are clearly frustrated.

And it's not just the Big Three console makers. Even if Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft were willing to license the AO version of Manhunt 2 to run on their systems, major retailers would not stock an adults only game.

Aside from the games-as-toys bit, there is an unfortunate issue of terminology: Adults Only.

What a poor choice of name for a video game rating. Tell me, outside of the ESRB's system what does "Adults Only" conjure up? The common interpretation is porn, or at least some sort of adult fare based around sexuality.

So there's a lot of work to be done. The dilemma is steeped in culture, politics, finance and technology. It's not one that will be fixed quickly. But here's where I do agree with Ian Bogost:

It's time to start the dialogue.


When are people gonna learn that adults play the games too?

I assume somebody can come up with a better idea for a name than 'Adults Only'. I mean, it is intended for consumption exclusivly by adults. What do you want it to be called? And more importantly, the phrase has nothing to do with sexuality whatsoever, and to believe so is a foolish idea.

:: Looks over at Zippy ::
Hmmm.... I wonder if Mr. Bogost lurks in the GP Forums. Most notably in the ESRB discussion area.

NW2K software

Then again, I guess great minds think alike?

The article by him was 2 days ago. Still, creepily familiar.

NW2K software

Being that both the XBox360 and PS2, PS3 are perfectly capable of playing porn (via their DVD playback functionality). The Argument that Microsoft and Sony don't want to be seen as a porn playing device seems rather weak.

I have no problem with retailers who don't want to stock certain titles, at least I have the option of buying an AO title online if it will at least play on the console. Sony and Microsoft are helping perpetuate the myth that AO video games are porn by banning them.

Sony and MS point their fingers at the retail chains, saying "They wont stock AO titles anyway". Whereas the retail chains point their fingers Sony and MS and say "They don't allow AO titles to be licensed anyway". So they have locked themselves in a circle of inaction.

@Austin Lewis

You'd think they would have by now. 66% of gamers in the US are over 18, with 33 being the average age.

Why does no-one tell anyone these things?


Aren't you forgetting a console maker there?

Personally, my theory is that its the people in the government/legal/other areas that are older who believe all gamers are 12 year old kids looking for the princess in the tower. It's absolutely stupid.

As a medium grows up, so too do the people who take part in it. Gaming started out with simple games that, for the most part, didn't have a lot of GRAPHIC violence. now, we have the technology so that when I shoot that zombie in RE4, its head explodes and I can tell that its a head and not just a square.

I'm not sure, however, that I believe that the average age has been below 18 since the days of the nintendo.

Really, its just the fact that these people are so set in their 'beliefs' that they refuse to shift the paradigm to see the light.

But hey; they've got a good 40 years on most gamers, so its ok.

"In fact it is largely a youth culture medium, notwithstanding the industry’s claim that the average gamer is 33. (is it sacrilege to say I have a hard time buying that one?)."

I think that average age [33] is not the average game player, because how would the ESA calculate that? I'd bet that 33 is the average age of the game purchaser. Which is far easier to calculate.

I'd bet that the average game player's age lie somewhere in the 18-25 demographic. (I base this off of my personal experience as a gamer, and off of my 2 retail years.)

I would like to kow how they came to the conclusion of the average gamer's age. It does seem relatively high. Personnally I wouls think it were closer to the 16-24 range. But maybe they are confusing the average game developer's age with gamers ;)

One question.

Isn't the median age more important in this case?

"A number of commenters… are calling for… an AO version for PC sold outside the traditional videogame retail channels… I suspect such a move is financially unimaginable in contemporary videogames…"

I find the claim dubious, unless Direct2Drive would refuse to release it.


I'm intrigued by the idea of discarding the 'videogame' title, I think we should begin brainstorming for alternatives.

Over here in the UK I've been calling them computer games for years, not really much better but if the idea is to break away from the misconceptions of the current title anything new would benefit. though it would be better to lose the 'game' part.

Interactice media?
Interactive entertainment?

the interactive thing is easier to swallow and its been used vaguely in debates.

i dont know if people could ever just drop the videogame title in an instant but it would be a good start in getting the ignorant masses to realise these games arent for kids, when that message permiates into mainstream culture, I see the videogame controversy dying out soon.

@ Chris

I always liked the term 'entertainment software' It's a bit longer than 'video games' but it has a more sophisticated sound to it.


I intentionally left Nintendo out because the Wii does not play DVDs, since the crux of my argument is that the other two major consoles are already capable for playing NC-17 DVDs.

Since this started, I've placed a lot of 'blame' on the console makers. For it's really THEM who's not allowing the game to be released. Whether or not that is a factor in how the ESRB rates it is still up for debate, but if that fact wasn't there, there would be no debate.

Through stuff like Steam and Direct2Drive and the likes, I really don't see releasing an AO version for PCs as being 'financially unimaginable' as he claims.

However, I have also been saying that Manhunt 2 isn't the game to be fighting for. From my limited knowledge of it, there is much less artistic direction than many games that have to defend themselves. Now, if a game like Bioshock was initially rated AO, and then had to be trimmed down, I'd say it'd be NECESSARY to be fighting for the AO version. But I just don't see the sequel to Manhunt as being worth fighting over. Make the stand so you don't get outright banned, but no need to drum up further controversy.

It's "time to start the dialogue?" I started it six years ago on 60 Minutes, and now the rest of you are catching up.

Here's the main rebuttal to this guy's allegation of "censorship." Pay attention:

In a free society, people are free, in every sense of the word, NOT to participate in something. The "something" here is the distribution of AO games. If Sony and Nintendo don't want that crap on their game consoles, then they are FREE not to have it.

"Freedom" is not defined as anarchism. Freedom is in fact the right of people to do or NOT do things, and only an intolerant anarcho-ideologue like this guy would suggest that Sony and Nintendo do not have the freedom--the right--to reject products for play on their systems.

Freedom, put another way, is what people choose to exercise whether game-obsessed people like that free choice or not. Only in the "gaming community" would somebody have the ridiculous position that gamers have a right to demand that Sony make a free choice that has only one choice--give us what we demand.

This guy needs to go back to school to be taught what freedom really is--it's the ability to choose what you want, not what somebody else tells you you have to do.

It's called a free society. Deal with it, dude. Jack Thompson

I'm kind of shocked, Dennis, that you of all people would have trouble accepting that the average age of an adult gamer is 33. From what I've gathered, we're pretty close in age and I'm 36, so we've both grown up together with video games and seen them through their earliest days of Pong and Space Invaders and lived throught the Golden Age of the arcade era and the first consoles. Now we both play WoW and I'm sure we both have a couple of consoles as well as a PC in our homes (I've got both an Xbox and a PS2 as well). To this day then, we're still gamers. So why is it such a stretch to believe that as gamers grow, the technology and the games grow with them?

It's the same with cartoons, also largely percieved as a child's medium. Still, many adults enjoy cartoons whether they openly admit it or not, and there are an increasing number of animated programs geared towards adults.

I still think "Video Game" reamains the most succint description of this medium. Anything else would be too much of a mouthful. As you said, the problem is cultural in part, but that will change as time moves on. We just have to wait unfortunately.

But Bogost is right, if there's any one party to blame in all of this, it certainly is the console manufacturers. Even if it is their right to determine what games can be played on their systems, they're fools for not recognizing that adults like to play games too. I agree with Hal, and that they should take a moment and re-assess their position on this. I would like to think that maybe if they see a strong demand for Manhunt 2 they might, but I doubt it.

It's too bad this couldn't have happened with something like BioShock which many have been praising for its artistic merit among other things. At least that game has helped to legitimize the argument of games as art.


I believe the reason that the PS2, PS3, X Box, and 360 are all capable of playing porn is less sinister than that. They are capable of playing DVDs. Most DVDs are rated by the MPAA. Porno is not. The MPAA set themselves up so they could (after the porn industry started), but those making it felt that paying the MPAA to give them a 'X' rating was ridiculous and skipped that step (its voluntary, just like the ESRB) and slapped there own 'XXX' on their products.

Allow me to share a story I read in a magazine once. Sorry, its not word for word as I read it a few years ago.

A couple had used their PS2 to play multiple DVDs. On every DVD, they had to unlock the parental controls to allow the DVD to be played. Eventually, they bite the bullet and decided to play a porno, but it started right up without any problem. The explanation from the magazine was, that many porn DVDs have no ratings programmed in and such don't trigger the locks on the system.

So, its not that Sony or Microsoft allow porn to be played on their systems as much as it is that porn falls outside of the original design concepts. They could probably fix it by setting it so that unrated DVDs kick off the security system, too.

For their part, the console makers don’t want to be accused of licensing porn on a machine that’s sold at Toys’R'Us.

On the other hand, wasn't the Xbox 360 marketed as "for adults"? Most of it's first run titles were all M rated, while Nintendo took the "T & lower" path for most of it's titles.

So it sounds really sad that M$ would bill it's console as "mature", but "not that mature"... C'mon M$, just fess up and admit that the whole "mature" BS was just a marketing ploy to entice teens to want to buy the Xbox...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

You should be able to use the ps3 and 360 however you wish, they are already able to play porn from DVDs so they already are porn machines. Its not even a solid argument there. Sure they might not want it to be used for porn, but it already can be so well there isn't much they can do besides be sure you can't interact with porn in the form of the game.

I just can't get behind the idea that you must regulate yourself so the government doesn't regulate you. It kind of defeats the purpose of not having the government regulate you. I'm under the impression that the main reason we are doing it is because we fear the government doing it since thats the most popular reason I hear for people wanting to keep the ESRB. Fearing the government in that way is not the right way to look at the issue. We should do what we want to do not because we are afraid the government might step in but because we feel the need to do it. I personally don't think regulation is ever the answer to any problems.

Yes its mainly the big three and retailers, but you can't just leave out the ESRB. We would be just fine without it, just have companies label their own products and get over it. No need for the game industry to censor itself.

Jabrwock - On the 360 elite box it says rated E-M

But I also should have added that on the original 360 box it was rated E

@Terrible Tom

"On the 360 elite box it says rated E-M"

Yes, but their marketing strategy has been that unlike those "pansies" over at Nintendo, Xbox is all about shooters, gory sports, adult-ish themes, and other "M" rated titles. They had "E-M" stuff, but most of the biggest titles were M.

So they target the mature crowd, but "not too mature"...

But they'll allow porn HD-DVDs on the 360...
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

"You should be able to use the ps3 and 360 however you wish, they are already able to play porn from DVDs so they already are porn machines."

Indeed. You can even play, *gasp*, UNRATED movies!
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Jabrwock - Yea I can agree with you, I was just saying the ESRB ratings as shown on the box.

I don't think that Ian's challenge to the ECA was that unfounded. I mean the ECA hasn't really made anyone a target besides politicians. If they did we might see a few advertisements that say something along the lines of "stop the big three and retailers from censoring our console games" I don't expect them to take my issues with the ESRB to heart, they are obviously big fans of regulation. But really all the ECA ads I've seen was based around keeping government out of video games. Thats it.

Sorry guys but thats the EASY fight. If the ESRB were to shut down and the government would begin censoring video games then consumers and game developers would have a legitimate case when it comes to the government violating the constitution. Thats an easy fight... The big three, retailers and the ESRB aren't listening and they don't even care... and we don't have a legal standing against them so basically all we can do is whine about it.


"I think that average age [33] is not the average game player, because how would the ESA calculate that? I’d bet that 33 is the average age of the game purchaser. Which is far easier to calculate."

I'd say that 33 is about correct, but that encompasses the entire spectrum of gamers. The number is skewed by the casual market (Popcap, RealArcade, Pogo, etc.) where the average player is much older, and the primary method of distribution is through the internet. My assumption is that if only console gamers were counted, then the average would drop drastically into the high teens or low twenties as you have noted.

Hurm... hadn't thought of the change from the "video game" title to something else - would definetely be a step in the right direction.

But other than that, yes, we need to take the console makers to task for giving the idiots who shout out against games as evil more ammo. We also need to take the ESRB to task for being wholly ineffective in what they're meant to do, and revamp that system.

I thought the average game purchaser was 40....

Mark Lucherini - Visually Interactive Art?


while manhunt isnt exactly an artistic game, should that prevent us from supporting it as free speech, free speech by definition is unhindered, even if we dont like whats being said they still have a right to say it. The same goes for manhunt 2, even if its objectionable, they should still have the right to have it made. Not defending any one game because of content is just part of the slippery slope.

@ Mark

I will use the same analogy I used with Tom here:

Sure we could do with outthe ESRB, just as we can do without seat belts in our cars. We can get along just fine without them. But the moment we get in a wreck and we are flying through our windshield, we will wish we had something to hold us in the car.

The same goes for the ESRB. Sure we could get along fine without it, but the momet another ‘Hot Coffee’ happens or something similar, we will wish we had it.

The ESRB is the seatbelt. It is what prevents this industry from being splattered all over the pavement. Sure we will have wrecks (Hot Coffee is an example of this) but if we did not have the ESRB, the damage would have been far worse.

For you I would add this:

Sure if you get in a wreck, the seatbelt may break a couple of ribs, but at least yu are still alive.

"For their part, the console makers don’t want to be accused of licensing porn on a machine that’s sold at Toys’R'Us. The major game publishers are largely public corporations that don’t want to be seen as being in the porn creation business, either. Developers have largely adapted to these parameters, although some are clearly frustrated."

I find this comment a little off considering you can already play porn movies and surf the internet with some of these consoles where you can also access this content. There are parental controls on the systems for a reason. If they have no intention of having AO games then remove the option to restrict just AO games.

I agree with almost everything in this post. Couple comments:

First, I'm glad to see you clarify the places where Hal has discussed this issue. I was just chatting with him about it too and I know that you guys are aware of it. My concern is that your constituents don't, but rather think the ECA is a beltway lobbying organization.

Second, I agree that the retail channel is part of the problem, and the historical issues you point to here are absolutely true. That's another area the ECA needs to focus on. But the first parties are undeniably a part of the problem. I can't even make an Xbox game and sell it at a lemonade stand on my street because of first-party licensing.

Third, as we've discussed before here, I think the term video game is fine and here to stay and must be protected. New terms are not the answer.

That analogy doesn't make sense. How is the ESRB's rating system protecting my life. Seatbelts protect everyone, the ESRB protects children and parents. Enough said, end of story. Sure you could argue the ESRB was around we would have government intervention but ya know what... Thats a fight which people are willing to fight. Its a violation of our constitutional rights and really I wouldn't find it difficult to get people involved in it. We would have a legal case against them... enough said.

Terrible Tom,

Your anti-ESRB stance is well known, and normally I don't care to rebuke you, because you are entitled o your opinion. But you are either showing your age, or being willfully obtuse, when you think, "We would be just fine without [the ESRB]."

Look into the history of rating systems in general. Without them, there is a very real parental outcry for governmental involvement (Read: Censorship) in media. Creative media producers learned the lesson very well after the Comics Code. Watch your own, or have the Feds do it for you. Pretending the government isn't ready and willing to censor media is just downright foolhardy. Add that history to the current political climate (Hillary and the Blue Crew courting the Right-of-Middle class, and the Red-Blooded Morality Police from the far-right - Brownback's ilk - wanting to make their religion manifest as law) and you get why we 'fear' governmental oversight.

Tom, the ESRB does the job the industry created it to do, and the job it is currently PAID to do. Yes, the ESRB needs improvement. They have allowed their ratings to slide, thereby making AO the narrow useless rating it is now. But for 85% of parents - it works. The ESRB needs tweaked, not scrapped.

@ Ian

Thanks for coming in a skeaking up.

I always thought of the ECA as more than a lobbyist organization. You can't be for the consumer and not take industry issues to the console manufacturers, the retailers and the ESRB. There is just no way around it. Consumers need a voice in every direction.

As for first-party licensing, that is the first step we need to take. If we can get the console manufacturers to be more open about licensing, then the retailers will eventually follow in step. Consoles need to change first.

Why is is so hard to imagine older gamers? Anecdotally, I'm one of those gamers who skews the age that high, as are a number of my friends and co-workers. Baby Boomers, the largest demographic wave in America were young adults when the first arcade and console games were popular and a part of their mainstream culture. We didn't stop gaming just because we got older ... though we may have changed the type of games we played.

The kids who played those first game consoles in the 80s are now 30 somethings (someone who was 10 when ColecoVision shipped in 1982 would 37 right right now!). On line casual gamers, who form one of the larger game playing, not necessarily game buying, demographics tend to be older.

And those in their 30s, 40s, and 50s (and yes, even 60s!!) have the disposable income to buy games.

Where's the mystery?

AO = Adults Only = Porn ? and that is GPs problem with the rating... the name?

Because it links itself to porn yet many AO games contain "porn" and gratuitous violence so what should it be called then? M-17? M-21 ?

The ESRB's job-one is to inform parents not confuse them and the points made by Bogost and GP regarding the complexities are valid here. The console makers and the retailers play more of a hand and rightly so, its their bread and butter.

Video Games ARE toys and no amount of renaming or justification will change that. You can not go back in time. Pondering and lamenting the name and the context is a waste of time unless you're suggesting that a console maker come forward and make a console just for adults and only sell it to adults and call it some sort of "Interactive Experience Machine". What then? How will this change anything? We have one of those machines already, its a called a PC. [or a Mac if you're me].

I think that the ESRB is doing a fine job given the time frame and circumstances and yes they need to develop and expand and add more transparency but they are not and should not be the focus of where the most change in the industry is needed.

Developers who want to expand the limits of content that include adult themes need to be prepared to sell their wares on the PC and if they're complaining that shrinks their market unfairly then maybe they should consider making another kind of game. Movies adjust their content all the time and as it turns out the most popular movies are in the PG to PG13 range in any genre. the Majority of people want their entertainment in an easily accessible format and the only game/console makers that seem to understand this is Nintendo.

if you want your games edgier... go play it on a PC and leave the MAJORITY of people to their games please.


How to allow Ao games without allowing porn:

Re-write the rules so that Ao games can be allowed on the system if they are personally approved by the console manufactors, that way Manhunt 2 and the punisher can get in, and porno adventures 3 will not.

Or you can allow ALL Ao games on the systems and tell Washington to stick their complaints where the sun don't shine.

I'm sorry but I just can't agree with any policy which holds the parent's opinions higher than any others. If the ESRB is to exist it should look after all of us, not just the ones with children.

You shouldn't fear your government, your government should fear you. And they aren't ever going to fear us if we are willing to roll over and die before we are even decide if we are willing to fight or not. Have you any idea how weak that we look? If I was a politician the game industry would be a deer stuck in my headlights. Scared, confused and dumbfounded. We'd rather do the same thing the government would do except less restrictive instead of standing up for the problem itself which would be to end all censorship of art, in this case video games.

I know thats stepping on a lot of people's toes but dude we look weak. We are bending to the will of parents and ignoring the desire to have access to games where developers can express themselves openly and freely. Its not a balancing act, we should stand up for freedom and let the parents do their jobs, which is to parent and teach their child right from wrong. The game industry isn't supposed to be their parents and either is the government.


I would leave the ECA at once if it became simply a lobbying firm. So would, I think, many of the Founding Members.


@ Tom

How does the analogy not make sense?

The ESRB is the safety net for the industry. Are you willing to drive full speed in a busy highway without you seat belt on and the air bags turned off? I doubt it. Sure the majority of the time, you don't see the need for the ESRB, but when we have cases like Hot Coffee and Manhunt 2 (not singling out R* just using these infamous examples) it is nice to know that the industry will survive. I would rather see the industry come away limping from these events than see it come away in a body bag.

If you don't want the ESRB, why don't you take the stand yourself and not buy any game that is rated by the ESRB.

While we're on the discussion of DVDs,

$500 says Sony allows porno blu-ray discs to be made.

@chris: I wasn't saying don't support manhunt 2. I'm just saying that they've pushed the envelope far enough this round. And it's not even a clear win. So why risk it right now over something not worth it. About the only thing that could be worse than pushing the industry right now is if R* or TT wrote a book titled "If we marketed towards kids".

Because the industry shouldn't need that safety net. We should be okay to express ourselves openly and freely. The ESRB doesn't need to parent the children in the USA and either does the government. When you have a child you should understand that it is your job to parent them, no one else. People are so reliant on the government. Whenever there is a moral problem on a social issue people cry to them about it and they take away our freedom to make that group happier. Does it make the problem go away? No. Does it make the problem better? No. It just takes away some freedom and gives people the illusion that everything is better now that the government fixed it. Thats what we should be fighting against. The government shouldn't be bending to the will of people just because they are offended by art. If they don't like it don't look at it. live and let live. Don't like people being able to express themselves in ways you find morally unacceptable? Tough shit you live in America. We are supposed to be free.

Now we don't even need the government to do this because we are doing it to ourselves. I can't see how we are so willing to subject ourselves to something which restricts our freedom. So the parents are happier? Give me a break. Thats a whole bunch of BS. Has the hunger, desire and appreciation for freedom died? Thanks but no thanks id rather keep the parents happy?

Oh, and at all the people who don't think the average age is 33. Think about how much money you have as a kid. Now think of how much money an average gamer makes once they have a full time job. Where do you think all that disposable income goes. Plus, you need to take into account the fact that while time wise, kids 'may' make up a majority of game hours, that's not what's being measured. If a 40 year old has tetris on his cell phone, and they actually play it more than once a year, I'd consider them a gamer. Just because adults tend to have more responsibilities and less time to 'devote' to video games, or get engrossed in them, doesn't mean they aren't gamers any more. While I personally haven't slowed down a whole ton, I am rapidly approaching the point in my life where I just don't have time to play all the games I want. Eventually I'll be cutting back, and only playing the ones I REALLY want, and I can see at some point being restricted to only a few hours a week tops.

Think of TV. What's the average age of the TV watcher. Now what is the average age of TV watchers that watch over 2 hours at a time. I'm sure the age drops a whole ton. But that doesn't mean that primetime TV isn't largely watched by 30-40somethings. Throw in the fact that playing video games costs a lot more than watching TV, and you can see why a disposable income makes the gaming age sky rocket.

@Central Scrutinizer

But why must they be forced to sell their wares on P.C.? Video games are not just for kids, and if they were why is manhunt 2 going to be released? Why is Grand theft auto one of the top selling games?

Now answer me this. Why should they be forced to water down their games to play into a common misconception? To make those bible-thumping morons happy? To please politicians who can't touch us? Wouldn't it be better if their main concern was their customers and not a small group of soccer moms?

@ Tom

Do you have kids? From you comments, I hope not and hope you never will.

As a father of two soon to be three, I find the ESRB to be very helpful. If I did not have the ESRB rating to look at, then I would have to pre approve every game before I let it in my house. That would require hours of time I do not have. It would be so much easier to take 5 seconds to look at the rating and flip it over to see content descriptors.

Your plan is very biased against parents. So who do we choose to side with. The people with kids who want to choose what content enters their home or people like you who seem to be anti-parent and anti-child?

"You shouldn’t fear your government, your government should fear you."

And they do. They get the most votes (currently) by looking strong in 'protecting' the children. Who has the most votes? Retirees and middle class parents.

You have a strange idea about weakness. If being able to mind our own store, to turn a phrase, is weak, then yes, I guess the industry is. I happen to disagree with your assessment of weakness.

There is a real, valid concern coming from parents, who are still largely unfamiliar with modern gaming, to know what content is in games before the purchase. This is a two-fold issue, stemming from the fact that you can't return opened games (meaning the parent can't review the game themselves), and the previews of gamer press are either jargonesque or entirely rooted in gameplay without parental concerns in mind. (Except GamerDad *swoon*) So the ESRB was created to solve this problem. It was done voluntarily, and internally by the industry (after a few other ratings boards came into being and were scrapped).

"I’m sorry but I just can’t agree with any policy which holds the parent’s opinions higher than any others."

Ahh, but you can't have it both ways. The government (ideally) fears it's people, right? There are more parents than not, especially as a voting bloc, so unfortunately, their concerns are over-represented. I know of only one way to change that, and complaining about a voluntary ratings board isn't it.
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How do you feel about microtransactions in $60 video games?:

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Big PermSora - I was just having a slow day at work earlier. Now I'm home with vidya!08/28/2015 - 7:54pm
ZippyDSMleeSora-Chan: Blender is easy compared to 3Dmax :P08/28/2015 - 6:51pm
Sora-Chantime to take up a hobby? maybe messing around in GIMP to make wallpapers? use qCAD to design somethin? open Blender and stare at it for a couple hours trying to figure what does what?08/28/2015 - 6:41pm
Big PermAlso, yes. I've been spamming the shoutbox. I don't have much going on today, don't judge me08/28/2015 - 3:25pm
Big PermThanks, but yeah. Not sure I wanna drop that kind of cash :P I don't even mind the sound quality of my krakens, it just hurts to wear em after a couple hours.08/28/2015 - 3:25pm
Sora-Chan@Big Perm: I'm a bit of a fan of the Omega Recon3D headset from SoundBlaster. Though it is a bit expensive.08/28/2015 - 2:36pm
Big PermI actually need to look into a new headset. I have those green razer krakens and I would not suggest them. Though maybe they're better for people without glasses08/28/2015 - 11:32am
Big PermI've never heard if Apple was dominant in Japan.08/28/2015 - 11:25am
E. Zachary KnightBeats by Dre? If music videos are anything to go by, they are the only headphones in existence.08/28/2015 - 11:21am
Big PermI wonder what kind of headphones she has08/28/2015 - 11:13am
Andrew EisenMy favorite fighter character/costume of late is Lucky Chloe from Tekken 7.08/28/2015 - 10:59am
Big PermYou might be right, Zippy08/28/2015 - 9:21am
ZippyDSMleeBig Perm: Naw best ever goes to kill la kill!08/28/2015 - 9:14am
Big PermHer costume is amazing. It may be the best costume ever08/28/2015 - 8:30am
E. Zachary KnightLike I said, she looks like a fun character to play, but her costume is really obnoxious.08/28/2015 - 8:29am
MattsworknameMika was always about being a show off and using her but to crush her foes, even back in the alpha days. They just took that and maxed it to the extreme, and I LOVE IT!!!!!08/28/2015 - 5:36am
IvresseJust saw R Mika trailer myself. I do like the inclusion of Vega as the punching bag, especially with that Stone Cold Stunner knocking his mask off....but that ultra move with his face between 4 buttcheeks...class! :-)08/28/2015 - 5:20am
MattsworknameOk, finally got a chance to look at the R mika trailer for SF 5, and I Heart her so bloody much. She just looks like pure fun to play as and is SO colorful. All the YES!08/28/2015 - 3:23am
PHX Corphttp://www.gamnesia.com/news/sony-is-disabling-users-from-archiving-their-ps4-livestreams-of-until-dawn Sony is Disabling Users from Archiving Their PS4 Livestreams of Until Dawn08/27/2015 - 8:47pm
MattsworknameAndrew: SOrry I didnt get back, i went to bed before I saw your post. The Producer is listed as Arbitor36508/27/2015 - 6:06pm

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