Torture Mechanic Removed from Splinter Cell: Blacklist

January 30, 2013 -

A torture mechanic in Splinter Cell: Blacklist has been removed following a negative reaction (according to GameSpot based on a Eurogamer report). The gameplay mechanic let Sam Fisher drive a knife into an enemy's clavicle in an attempt to extract information. During the scene players can press a button to twist the knife as a means to get the information that want from the target.

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Poll: Are Any Video Game Topics Taboo?

August 22, 2012 -

Are there any themes or topics that should never be explored in a video game?

China Uses Prisoners for Hard Labor, Gold-Farming

May 26, 2011 -

According to a report in UK-based paper The Guardian, China has been using its prison population as slave labor.. in MMORPG's. According to the report, prisoners were put to work breaking rocks and digging trenches in in the coalmines of Northern China. By night prisoners would be forced to play MMORPG's to earn virtual currency, which guards would trade for real-world money.

One prisoner, who served three years at the Jixi labor camp for pointing out corruption in his hometown, described the conditions at the camp in startling detail. Liu Dali told the paper that prisoners were forced to play online games to enrich the guards of the prison. The 54-year-old was a former prison guard who made the mistake of "illegally petitioning" the central government about corruption in his hometown in 2004. Dali says that the online slave labor is probably more lucrative than the physical labor that prisoners are forced to do.

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Columnist Equates Violent Games With Acceptance of Torture

May 7, 2009 -

With the national debate over the use of torture raging on, could a steady diet of violent entertainment color some Americans' view of what has euphemistically been dubbed "enhanced interrogation"?
 
Writing for the liberal-leaning Huffington Post, Kari Henley opines:

If we are going to truly come to terms with abiding by moral codes against extreme acts of violence, we first have to start in our own living rooms... We say we "don't f**#$ torture," yet Grand Theft Auto is our favorite video game.
 
Let's face it: Americans are repeatedly exposed to serious scenes of violence when we go out to the movies, watch nightly TV shows, or unwind with video games, all of which drastically decrease overall sensitivity to violence.

To be fair, Henley’s views on the supposed desensitizing effects of violent entertainment appear to come primarily from the claims of longtime video game critic Dave Grossman. After spending a few paragraphs on violent TV and movies, Henley returns to video games:

What about these modern X-Box and online video games? While I happen to enjoy the "G" rated Wii, over 11 million people are spending their time engrossed in the World of Warcraft or Grand Theft Auto where the point is to go around and kill people in a calculated way. Tell me again why this is supposed to be fun and relaxing?
 
It's time to put torture in its place as unacceptable, period, both in our nation's military practices, and in our nation's entertainment standards.

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen...

Wired's Thompson: We Need More Torture in Games

December 15, 2008 -

The controversy continues over a torture quest found in the recent Wrath of the Lich King expansion for World of Warcraft.

As GamePolitics reported last week, the "Art of Persuasion" quest gained notoriety when MUD co-creator Richard Bartle wrote about his discomfort with for the mission's requirement that the player torture information out of a prisoner.

Some were appalled by the quest while others excused it as just a game. However, in a thought-provoking column, Wired's Clive Thompson looks deeper and argues for even more instances of virtual torture in games:

Torture has devastating repercussions. It permanently erodes the character of the torturer and, worse, of the public that condones the torture... From my perspective, Americans aren't thinking very seriously about those consequences...

 

Why? Partly because U.S. officials refuse to describe or admit clearly what they're doing. But equally important, I think, is that our mass culture is filled with wildly misleading ideas about how torture works... Which is why we need more torture in videogames.

Games are excellent vehicles for helping people inhabit complex, difficult situations... What's more, gamers love this stuff. Several of the biggest recent games were praised precisely because the moral acts inside them had long-term consequences. In BioShock, you could either save or exploit the Little Sisters... In Fable, decisions made in the first 15 minutes of play... change the moral tenor of your home town 15 years later...

I'd like to see games that had more torture — and better torture — in them. In this alarming chapter of American history, they might wind up fueling the best public debate yet.

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WoW Lich King Quest Sparks Torture Controversy

December 9, 2008 -

Is it okay to torture prisoners at Guantanamo Bay?

Is it okay to torture an emotionless animated character in The Torture Game?

Is it okay to carry out a World of Warcraft quest that requires the player to torture a prisoner?

boingboing reports on the controversy generated by one Richard Bartle, himself the inventor of the MUD genre. It seems that Bartle recently came across a mission in WoW's Wrath of the Lich King expansion that gave him pause:

Basically, you have to take some kind of cow poke and zap a prisoner until he talks.

I'm not at all happy with this. I was expecting for there to be some way to tell the guy who gave you the quest that no, actually I don't want to torture a prisoner, but there didn't seem to be any way to do that. Worse, the quest is part of a chain you need to complete to gain access to the Nexus, which is the first instance you encounter (if you start on the west of the continent, as I did). So, either you play along and zap the guy, or you don't get to go to the Nexus.

I did zap him, pretty well in disbelief — I thought that surely the quest-giver would step in and stop it at some point? It didn't happen, though. Unless there's some kind of awful consequence further down the line, it would seem that Blizzard's designers are OK with breaking the Geneva convention.

GP: Kotaku reports that the quest at issue is The Art of Persuasion. The in-game instructions for the quest are as follows:

It is fortunate you're here, <race>.

You see, the Kirin Tor code of conduct frowns upon our taking certain 'extreme' measures - even in desperate times such as these. You, however, as an outsider, are not bound by such restrictions and could take any steps necessary in the retrieval of information.

Do what you must. We need to know where Lady Evanor is being held at once! I'll just busy myself organizing these shelves here. Oh, and here, perhaps you'll find this old thing [torture device] useful....

133 comments

With Controversy Comes Increased Online Traffic to Torture Game

July 2, 2008 -

 

When violent video game controveries flare, it's often said that critics are unintentionally increasing traffic to the game in question.

Such appears to be the case with The Torture Game 2.

The amateur, online game has been attracting no small amout of attention lately, including a parental alert from watchdog group the Parents Television Council.

The free game is available at online gaming portals Newgrounds and Kongregate.

But a message posted by Newgrounds guru Tom Fulp documents that the controversy is actually bringing many new players to the game:

The latest controversy has been surrounding The Torture Game 2, a fun little ragdoll physics engine that lets you do all sorts of horrible things to a lifeless dummy. Sensible Erection put together a gallery of all the fancy artwork you can create with TG2... at which point Derek Yu made a post about it on TIGSource and a whole debate erupted.

 

MSNBC picked up on the TIGSource debate and posted their own article about the game, but the real fun came when FOX News weighed in with a Fair & Balanced video, expressing their disgust while showing real-time footage of the person being tortured. Hey! At least we slapped a MATURE rating on the game and made you click a link to view it... Fox just dumped it into every living room in America!

 

As a result of their efforts, many more people are now enjoying The Torture Game 2.


 The Fox News video mentioned by Fulp appears at left.

Parents Television Council Issues Warning on Torture Game

July 1, 2008 -

Last week GamePolitics reported on the controversy surrounding The Torture Game 2, an amateur online offering in which players inflict injury upon a defenseless human-like figure.

One News Now reports that media watchdog group the Parents Television Council has issued an alert to parents about the game. The site quotes PTC exec Gavin McKiernan:

The Internet can be a great resource for kids...  [But] parents need to be aware that there's [sic] so many negative things they can be doing – from chat rooms, where they expose themselves to sexual predators, to violent and depraved games and so-called entertainment like this.

 

 ...any kid who's sitting around playing the Torture Game or whose parents are allowing him to play Grand Theft Auto at home, is opening themselves up to a lot of potential negative repercussions that they may not realize for years.

 

 

68 comments

Will Torture Game Spark New Controversy?

June 26, 2008 -

 

In 2006 it was Danny Ledonne's thoughtful, yet highly controversial Super Columbine Massacre RPG which sparked outrage among politicians and pundits.

Last year it was the appalling V-Tech Rampage.

Will The Torture Game 2 be this year's controversial amateur game?

MSNBC's Winda Benedetti writes about The Torture Game 2 this week. The online-only affair is available for free on Newgrounds and other sites:

...it’s a computer game in which you, the player, are asked to do horrible, unspeakable, and totally sick, sick, sick things to a defenseless man-like person tied up in some dark room from which he has absolutely no hope of escape.

 

...this dangling ragdoll offers you a canvas to do with what you will — stab him with spikes, flay the skin from his body with a razor, pull his limbs off with your bare hands, paint him every color of the rainbow. 

Benedetti admits to being troubled by the game, and sought out its creator, 19-year-old Carl Havemann of South Africa, who told her:

I never thought of it as a stress reliever. The only thing I meant it to be was something simple and pointless meant only for entertainment... You're supposed to make anything you want out of it... I don't mind people disliking my game, but some of them are too serious about something so simple and basically meaningless.

Likely to add to any eventual controversy is a feature which allows players to customize the face of the torture victim.

GP: Just as they have with SCMRPG and V-Tech Rampage, it seems inevitable that political figures will point to The Torture Game 2 as a justification for legislating games. However, non-commercial products like these are beyond typical legislative attempts, which focus on ratings and point-of-sale.

UPDATE: Fox News did a piece on the Torture Game...

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Andrew EisenAs it happens, Chinatown Wars is the only GTA game I've played.04/19/2014 - 10:43am
Papa MidnightWith GTA5 (to date) failing to even provide indication of a PC release, I'm realising that this might be the first GTA game that I have not played (outside of Chinatown Wars) since the series inception.04/19/2014 - 8:14am
IanCSo im guessing a bunch of edutainment games, which a lot of people elsewhere are going gaga over, dot count as classics? Okay. If you don't mind me, i have a sudden urge to play Putt Putt....04/19/2014 - 6:15am
MaskedPixelantehttp://www.joystiq.com/2014/04/18/playstation-99-cent-sale-discounts-tokyo-jungle-super-stardust/ Weekend long PSN flash sale. So much stuff is 99 cents for the rest of the weekend.04/18/2014 - 5:59pm
Adam802http://www.polygon.com/2014/4/18/5627928/newtown-video-game-addiction-forum04/18/2014 - 4:14pm
Matthew Wilsonit is a video talking about why certain games/products/consoles do well, and others do not. he back it up with solid research.04/18/2014 - 3:56pm
Andrew EisenI'm not keen on blind links. What is it?04/18/2014 - 3:45pm
Matthew Wilsonthis is worth a whatch https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MyXcr6sDRtw&list=PL35FE5C4B157509C904/18/2014 - 3:43pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 3: Night Dive was brought to the attention of the public by a massive game recovery, and yet most of their released catalogue consists of games that other people did the hard work of getting re-released.04/17/2014 - 8:46pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 2: If Humongous Entertainment wanted their stuff on Steam, why didn't they talk to their parent company, which does have a number of games published on Steam?04/17/2014 - 8:45pm
MaskedPixelanteNumber 1: When Night Dive spent the better part of a year teasing the return of true classics, having their big content dump be edutainment is kind of a kick in the stomach.04/17/2014 - 8:44pm
Matthew Wilsonhttp://www.giantbomb.com/articles/jeff-gerstmann-heads-to-new-york-takes-questions/1100-4900/ He talks about the future games press and the games industry. It is worth your time even though it is a bit long, and stay for the QA. There are some good QA04/17/2014 - 5:28pm
IanCErm so they shouldn't sell edutainment at all? Why?04/17/2014 - 4:42pm
MaskedPixelanteNot that linkable, go onto Steam and there's stuff like Pajama Sam on the front-page, courtesy of Night Dive.04/17/2014 - 4:13pm
Andrew EisenOkay, again, please, please, PLEASE get in a habit of linking to whatever you're talking about.04/17/2014 - 4:05pm
MaskedPixelanteAnother round of Night Dive teasing and promising turns out to be stupid edutainment games. Thanks for wasting all our time, guys. See you never.04/17/2014 - 3:44pm
Matthew WilsonAgain the consequences were not only foreseeable, but very likely. anyone who understood supply demand curvs knew that was going to happen. SF has been a econ/trade hub for the last hundred years.04/17/2014 - 2:45pm
Andrew EisenMixedPixelante - Would you like to expand on that?04/17/2014 - 2:43pm
MaskedPixelanteWell, I am officially done with Night Dive Studios. Unless they can bring something worthwhile back, I'm never buying another game from them.04/17/2014 - 2:29pm
PHX Corphttp://www.msnbc.com/ronan-farrow/watch/video-games-continue-to-break-the-mold-229561923638 Ronan Farrow Daily on Video games breaking the mold04/17/2014 - 2:13pm
 

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