T2 CEO: Government Should Not Determine the Games You Buy

Eurogamer caught up with Take-Two Interactive CEO Ben Feder for a wide-ranging interview which is now available on the site.

While much of the conversation deals with various T2 games, Feder did touch upon the Manhunt 2 controversy and the notion of government censorship of games:

We firmly believe that games are art. A), we have the right to produce art. B), the consumer should have the right to make their own choices, providing the labelling on the package is clear about the content of the game.

Apart from that, I don’t think it’s the role of governments to determine what you or any of your readers can, or should, buy. They should be able to make their own choices. Government has no role in that at all…

Asked whether the interactive nature of games requires them to be viewed apart from, say, movies, Feder said:

It’s not a difference with distinction… It’s as if to say art as a painting is different than art as a sculpture. For sure they’re different art forms and they use different mediums, but they’re art nonetheless – they’re forms of expression.

That, at least in the United States, is something that’s guaranteed by the constitution, and in democracies in Western Europe there are very similar concepts about the ability for individuals to express themselves. If you stifle that, then society and the economy pay a pretty heavy toll.

Of particular interest given the ongoing RapeLay controversy, Feder was asked whether T2 might theoretically permit edgy developer Rockstar to create a game featuring sexual violence or abuse of children, Feder commented:

Look, I suppose there’s a line somewhere. I don’t think we’ve even come close to it. At the end of the day, we’re also a commercial enterprise and we do intend to turn a profit with our games. That, in and of itself, provides a certain boundary beyond which we won’t go.

I suppose there are more lines [beyond] which we’d be uncomfortable, but I don’t think any of our games in the past, or any of our games that I’ve seen in development, come even close to that.

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  1. 0
    Pierre-Olivier says:

    Since when the government represent the public?

    In this case, the line is made by the creator. He choose how "hard" his product is, but he gives himself a limit where he’s confortable to create (not sure if I explained well). If he is asked to create something beyond that line, he’ll feel unconfortable and probably refuse. He himself would not got beyond.

    And this is called (if I remember well) having standards.

  2. 0
    GusTav2 says:

    I can’t think of anyone else that I’d like to draw the line …

    Assuming a representative democracy – I’d argue that if one accepts that a line exists, then the only body with proper legitimacy to seek to draw up that line must be those representatives who represent the public. No other body can have a better claim; as they can only represent their own private interest.

  3. 0
    sirdarkat says:

     I was talking about Gus not Take Two Ceo but I agree that the Ceo is stating that the public will more or less create a line through what they are willing to purchase but lets face it if you make it someone is probably creepy enough to buy it =).

  4. 0
    E. Zachary Knight says:

    No. He is saying that the government has no place in dertermining that line. They have no place telling you that you cannot make and or buy a game because it crosses a line they create.

    He is saying that any line is determined by the buying public. If the mass public thinks a game crossed a line, they will not buy it and the game company wil not make any money off of it and not go there again.

    E. Zachary Knight
    Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA

    E. Zachary Knight
    Divine Knight Gaming
    Oklahoma Game Development
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  5. 0
    sirdarkat says:

     I see what he is saying … if the government has no role in what we can purchase then their is no line if there is a line somewhere than obviously an agency of some sort (most likely government controlled) will be created to make sure the line is not crossed.

    See that is the problem with Art of any form.  Is there a line; is there a proverbial point at which your expression is not allowed because you went to far.  By our Constiution (at least American) there is no line because we have freedom of speech (which covers expression) but even then we have drawn lines look at the Protect Act it covers art that depicts fictional characters. 


  6. 0
    ZippyDSMlee says:

    And corporate should not chose what I do with media in my own bed room…..


    I am a criminal because I purchase media,I am a criminal because I use media, I am a criminal because I chose to own media..We shall remain criminals until Corporate stay’s outside our bedrooms..


  7. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I’m not denying the antecedent. I did say "negative implication." Denying the antecedent would require that I say something like "the neccessary and inescapable conclusion to be drawn from ‘we don’t do ‘X’ because there’s no profit in it" is ‘we will do ‘X’ because there’s profit in it.’" Saying that the negative implication of Statement A is Statement X is not the same as saying that the absence of Statement A forces the conclusion of Statement X. 

    And I’m also not saying that boundaries other than the profit boundary don’t exist for T2. Saying so would be rather silly considering that Feder himself states that they are other unspecified non-profit boundaries (as he refers to them, "more lines") which constrain T2.

    However, what I am saying is that if a given boundary is drawn on the basis of a determination of the point at which profit ceases and loss begins, then any commercial activity which results in profit lies on the near side of that boundary. To state the same thing but by way of negative implication, any commercial activity which results in loss lies on the far side of that boundary.

    You’ll notice that I also said just because an activity lies on the near side of the boundary (i.e., the profit side) doesn’t neccessarily mean that T2 must engage in that activity. Rather, I said that if they did engage in the activity, doing so wouldn’t be crossing the boundary (at least, not as long as the activity remained profitable to them).

  8. 0
    JDKJ says:

    What he cleary says is that the "inten[tion] to turn a profit with our games . . . provides a certain boundary beyond which we won’t go." How should this be understood other than to mean that the point at which marketing a game’s content would prove unprofitable to T2 becuase it has passed the point of large-scale public acceptance of that sort of game content is the point (the "boundary") at which T2 sees no merit in marketing the game? How else should I take the statement? Which also means that, regardless of a game’s content, if marketing it would further the intent of turning a profit from the game because there is large-scale public demand for that sort of game, then marketing said game lies on the near side of the boundary. Not that T2 will neccessarily market said game. Just that doing so wouldn’t cause it to cross the self-imposed "profit-point" boundary

  9. 0
    tanj says:

    Or you could read what he actually said.

    "Look, I suppose there’s a line somewhere. I don’t think we’ve even come close to it. At the end of the day, we’re also a commercial enterprise and we do intend to turn a profit with our games. That, in and of itself, provides a certain boundary beyond which we won’t go.

    I suppose there are more lines [beyond] which we’d be uncomfortable, but I don’t think any of our games in the past, or any of our games that I’ve seen in development, come even close to that."

    I Don’t see where he’s implying that he would do something immoral if it was profitable, just that a game would become unprofitable before it got anywhere near that line.

  10. 0
    JDKJ says:

    Actually, the negative implication of "We won’t do ‘X’ because there’s no profit in it" is "We will do ‘X’ because there’s profit in it." And, of course, a business’ business is business. But that doesn’t mean that profit is what should determine the direction of its moral compass. That’s why it’s called a "moral compass" and not a "profit compass." 

  11. 0
    Bigman-K says:

    The whole "protect the children" argument is just complete and utter bullshit as there is nothing in these games that is harmful to children in the first place. Innapproriate or unsuitable for young kids, Maybe, but that is the sole determination of the individual child’s parents and not the nanny-state to decide.

     "No law means no law" – Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black on the First Amendment

  12. 0
    magic_taco says:

    All i’d have to say is;I’d agree 100% with what that T2 CEO has to say, We dont need some goverment that tells us what we can or cant do, As a gamer i even agree with the first post.

    As a gamer, I believe it’s my right to play.

    Everyday all of us are going to be fighting Pro-censorship groups (And a certain disbarred money-grubbing/attention-whore immoral crusader), Right now im glad to be american; I dont understand why we continue to live in a nation were certain people/groups (like JT) use scare-tatics & and the usual BS to throw thier views on people. 

    (Right now i dont know what im saying is actually the right thing to say in this post)


    But video games do and should have the right to be art or something like that.

  13. 0
    sirdarkat says:

     Its a lie their meter only goes down to 7 and even then you have to know the special codes and command line arguments to pass in with your post or it still shows up as a 9.

  14. 0
    GusTav2 says:

    Compare these two statements:

    "Government has no role in that at all"


    "Look, I suppose there’s a line somewhere."

    Two mutually incompatible statements – a prime example of how not to make a convincing argument. The argument can only be that there is no line and the Govt has no role, or that the line exits and the Govt, in a democracy, must have a role in placing it.

  15. 0
    Neeneko says:

    I think the point is that if such a day came, the game will already be suffiently acceptable.  All he is saying is that T2 follows the lead of where cultural ethics actually stand rather then trying to define it’s own.

  16. 0
    tanj says:

    It is shocking to think that a business would try to make money.

    The first question for a business is whether or not an action benifits the company (usually in the form of profit).  If it’s not then there are no further questions.  His response dosen’t imply anything other than if an action is not profitable there is no point in thinking about it any further.  He’s not saying That any action that is profitable is OK.

  17. 0
    JDKJ says:

    I like the way Feder uses the profit motive as the means of drawing the boundary line which T2 won’t cross in determining appropriate game content. Which implies that if there comes a day when there’s profit to be made from a game containing sexual violence or abuse of children, then T2’s gonna make and sell that game. Because if it makes a dollar, then it makes sense.

  18. 0
    mdo7 says:


    Ben Feder, I praise you for what you say.  You’re right, video game are art.  Those people that attack video game, they keep violating first amendment.  Religion has poison their mind.  They keep forgetting about the ESRB and think we need a "big brother" to tell us what we can do, I remember the constitution gave us "unalienable rights", isn’t video game under that "unalienable rights" so that we can enjoy.  People should buy the game carefully.  It’s the parents and the buyer responsibility on what game to buy.  Government should not order us what to play and what’s not. 

    To all the people that want people what game to play and what’s not: You’re acting like Iran regime, Soviet Union, and all the other dictator state.  You almost deliberately destroy the meaning of Democracy, and freedom of speech when you try to go after video game and blaming violence on video game.    

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