The ESRB And Jizz Eaters

At a nearby Microplay (Canadian game retailer chain), I asked the clerk if they were pulling San Andreas. He said to me that no Microplay stores are going to stop carrying it and that they already card people that want to buy the game, so the rating change doesn’t make a single difference to them. Wow. A sensible reaction.

The other side of it is that they directly benefit from the other retailers’ over-sensitivity. Where as some of sellers are writing off the millions of dollars of used GTA inventory, Microplay gains all the sales they lose. Seems like a good business decision to me.

But this got me thinking. What, really, is the difference between being carded for an M game and being carded for an AO game? The ESRB site says Titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older and Titles rated AO (Adults Only) have content that should only be played by persons 18 years and older.

The difference is 365 days (366 on a leap year). The difference between being able to buy an M-rated game and an AO-rated game is the difference between a 17 year old and an 18 year old. So, based on the US’ equivalent movie ratings, a 17 year old can no longer buy Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas because of some animated polygonal sex (where no genitals are visible), but they can buy 1,001 Ways to Eat My Jizz, Part 3: Biscuits and Gravy Edition, which I would assume has a lot of cock. Non-rendered cock. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot.

Yes, stores have the right to pull this off their shelves if they wish. Christ, Wal-Mark won’t sell newspapers if they aren’t giving them blow jobs, so they can certainly stop carrying whatever games they don’t like (not that I like it. Corporate censorship (Telus in this case) is becoming more of a threat than government censorship.) That’s their choice, and that choice should reamin like that; it shouldn’t be forced on the retailers by clueless politicians and a lame duck ratings board. Rockstar acted quickly and has paid a steep price for what is a third party modification (you can’t access the content without a circumvention device/hack.) Anything further directed at them is no longer about the issue; it is about gain. Personal or political gain.

To further prove that claim, there is now a civil suit alleging that Rockstar engaged in false, misleading and deceptive practices. They didn’t. They were just stupid about leaving some legacy code on the disc (which isn’t accessible!) What gets me about the lawsuit is the following (emphasis mine).

A woman upset that she bought the video game “Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas” for her 14-year-old grandson without knowing it contained hidden, sexually explicit scenes sued the manufacturer Wednesday on behalf of consumers nationwide.

Let me repeat that titles rated M (Mature) have content that may be suitable for persons ages 17 and older. She should be sued for negligence!

Rockstar has made mistakes, yes, but this is getting out of hand. The fact that a crappy inaccessible sex scene generates 34129 times the attention than, you know, grand fucking theft and murder says more about American culture than anything about the video game industry.

The additional consideration that this is worth a Federal investigation also speaks volumes about the nature of politics. What is it about games that makes them worse than the worst of sequential media? Is added interactivity, at the cost of a severely reduced level of reality in the representation, that much worse? Even if it’s poor and badly designed? If interactivity is the big taboo here, then one could easily make the argument that porn movies are inherently interactive. You know what I’m talking about.

There’s so much idiocy in this topic that it can not be contained in one post. In part two, the ESRB will fight to the death against regionality!

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