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MMOWTF

Every week, MMORPG.com resident cynic Dan Fortier adds to his MMOWTF blog, expressing his opinions on MMORPG issues.

Author: Dan_Fortier

Putting the Own on Censorship

Posted by Dan_Fortier Friday February 8 2008 at 1:07PM
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I’m back this week, much to the chagrin of readers everywhere to ramble on a topic of some recent relevance: Censorship. This week’s topic was inspired by the recent good news that Age of Conan would not be censored server-side due to pressure by the ESRB in order to maintain the Mature rating they were shooting for. While all the folks with nipple-phear will still be able to block all the unwanted nudity on their whim, we who are anticipating a AAA MMO title with an edge will still be able to indulge in some carnage with our half dressed avatars at our leisure. I will control the horizontal and the vertical again this week so sit back and try to enjoy it.

There is a bigger picture to this story that at least bears a cursory examination. With the current emphasis on easy and polished projects, the desire to really break the mold is mostly suffocated under a barrage of demands for mechanics that don’t isolate subscribers. Releasing a game that pushes the limits of the M-rating might seem like a dangerous venture until you stop and think about who really buys games and sticks with them.

You can talk all you want about WoW bringing the masses to MMOs, but the hardcore demographic who typically are the most loyal and spendthrift of the gamer crowd are drawn like flies to the blood and gore zapper with dangerous regularity. All things being equal, I’ll always play a game with more grit than glamour and it’s not a coincidence that most older players feel the same way. Obviously though, a game has to have some depth to keep your interest beyond making your character do jumping jacks for hours on end in order to have any lasting appeal.
 

As time goes on, more and more things move into the area of being socially acceptable despite attempts by some to hold on to the antiquated views of the good ol’ days. Games are no different and unless the Amish make a run for public office, I’m sure things will continue to slide away from the puritan mind set as time goes on. All the Jack Thomson’s in the world have to die sometime and one day we’ll look back and have a laugh about a game being censored for virtual nudity. Till then, Funcom has scored  a major victory for those of use stateside who don’t want to have to run some crazy proxy to play an unedited game. Let’s hope it has a better launch than Anarchy Online though.

Ultimately, it might just take a game like Age of Conan to really fuel a trend of anti-sissiness and bring out some creative ways to bring more edgy themes into our genre. While it might seem like a drop in the bucket compared to the mass appeal of subscription  whores out there, there are those who appreciate a game with a spicy kick that doesn’t leave a bad taste in your mouth afterward.

That’s all I got this week. Hopefully I can get those creative juices flowing a bit stronger in the coming weeks as it starts warming up. Till then hop on your virtual box and take a stand on this weeks topic and I’ll be watching. See yall again soon.

- Dan Fortier

Rollotamasi writes:

The thing that amazes me about this whole thing is how important a few nipples seem to be.  People FREAKED out because there wasn't going to be any nipples.  People said they wouldn't play the game because there wasn't going to be any nipples.  I said from the start that AOC was going to be nothing but a bunch of immature little kiddies that made a lot of WoW players look like Harvard scholars.  The great nipple outrage of 08 I think goes a long way to prove me correct.  AoC is supposed to have group breaking PvP.  Ground breaking combat.  And people are worried about...nipples...

Fri Feb 08 2008 2:16PM Report
eric_w66 writes:

I have to disagree with the hardcore demographic being the most loyal (spendthrift I'll pass on). I find that the hardcore demographic is the LEAST loyal of any type of player. They burn themselves out quick and move on to the "next big thing" hoping it'll somehow satisfy their very picky appetite (an appetite that never spells "commercial success").

As an older gamer myself, I don't go for the grit over the glamour. I go for the Fun over the Boring. And I think most people do too, old or not. A game could be grittier than 45 rated sand paper, and still suck. It could be as glamourous as Gwenneth Paltrow or Sean Connery and still suck. I want a game that is Fun first, the rest is gravy. WoW, for all its faults, is Fun to a lot of people who enjoy a wide variety of things. That commercial success will be hard to duplicate, but I think most commercial AAA title MMO's want to TRY to at least get some of that pie.

I've noticed that the more a game concentrates on PvP, the less successful the game is. MMORPG's are not suited to long term PvP goodness, as the few people enjoy that kind of hard-core open pvp gankfest style of game tend to end up playing by themselves (DAOC, Shadowbane, Fury...).

BTW, I believe the game was/is going to be censored by CD key/account, not by IP. So the German box will never be able to see gore, no matter what proxy you use.

Fri Feb 08 2008 2:47PM Report
Terranah writes:

It's not about nipples.  It's about censorship, real or percieved.  And it's about corporations and/or governments placing pressure on companies to conform to a standard which violates individual rights.

 

I had a sculpture banned from a public showing in my area because my female sculpture had nipples.   And this was not some risque or salacious type pose.  I had another sculpture of a male nude which when I went to the art show had been taken off the display by a worker and placed under a shelf with the front facing the wall.

 

Ever since these incidents I have been very sensitive about art and censorship.  So for Funcom to stand by their artistic vision and remain true to the lore, I salute them.  They have my respect, and atleast a couple months subscription.

Fri Feb 08 2008 4:24PM Report
starbead writes:

There is no CENSORSHIP!!!  Funcom was always free to release the game with any content they desired.

Funcom CHOSE to seek an M rating and had to meet the rules required to achieve that rating.  However, they were free to go full-frontal with sex-centered mini-games if they wanted to.  But they didn't.  They wanted an M rating so the idiot parents would still buy it for their idiot teens and the idiot teens could still buy it if they know which store doesn't check ID on M rated games.

The people crying censorship are usually the first to "blame the parents".  But if a teen can get a game without his parents, the parents aren't at fault. 

The no-nipple protest proves once again how inaccurate the "Mature" name really is.  The problem is that an M rating isn't taken as seriously as an R rating for a movie.  Better enforcement of ESRB guidelines and better ratings by the ESRB (nudity in an M is fine, GTA 3+ should be A rated for violence).  The ESRB is supposed to be a tool for parents, but as long as a piece of trash murder simulator like the GTA3 gets an M rating instead of an A and nipples cause a frenzy, it is hard to take them seriously.

Fri Feb 08 2008 6:50PM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

Starbead is correct when he stated that this is not about censorship but about going for a certain game rating so they would see the largest retail offering, If anyone is censoring the conan lore it's Funcom themselves, and all in the name of the mighty dollar. 

 

Fri Feb 08 2008 7:51PM Report
Unicorns_Pwn writes:

Crap, no comment edit function. I'm going to put on my suit of grammar nazi protection +1

Fri Feb 08 2008 7:53PM Report
daelnor writes:

To the guy that lumped Shadowbane, DAOC and Fury together...you are utterly clueless.

Shadowbane flopped because it was poorly developed, not because of being geared towards pvp.  Fury is a Korean grinder..enoug said.  DAOC was very, very successful for its day...it is very old now.  People still play AC darktide servers.

I agree that free for all kill people anywhere pvp gets lame, because there is no good way to police it.  However, lumping DAOC with those games as a pvp failure is ignorant.

Sat Feb 09 2008 2:59AM Report
eric_w66 writes:

DAOC's all PvP server is a failure... the all PvE server has 7.5x the people as the all PvP server.

DAOC's realm vs realm combat was a failure too, with one side dominating most of the time. Or am I merely dreaming that they had to try to offer people new high level chars on servers with sides out of balance to try to even them up? ;)

Sat Feb 09 2008 10:06AM Report
Tekaelon writes:

Congratulations to the author whose well written BLOG entry finally encouraged me to register with this site.

 

First I agree with an earlier post that asserts hardcore gamers (especially MMO players) are NOT the bread and butter of a successful game. Hardcore game players typically burn themselves out sooner than the casual player. A jaded player is not easily impressed no matter how in-depth the content and polished a game might be. It’s this singularity of lifestyle that is constantly pushing them for the next big thing albeit game graphics, more blood and gore, or in this case rendered nipples. :) It’s much more difficult to keep them satisfied and in the end there so called loyalty devolves into a multitude of forum flames.

 

I have no problem with the M rating content that the AoC developers have put into there game. FunCom seems to be more concerned with staying true to the Conan universe than simply producing a cheap virtual thrill. I also don’t think that AoC is relying on this mature content to make or break there game. At least I hope not! Pandering to that crowd is pointless considering that the Internet is chock full of porn far acceding polygon breast and textured nipples.

 

What does bug is that some have insisted that this kind of game content will somehow free us from the drudgery of our sad lives. What exactly does this kind of material do to further us culturally or socially? When exactly did reverting to baser aspects of humanity become a prerequisite for enlightenment?  

 

I’m not in favor of government controlling any aspect of someone life. It’s not for the few to dictate how the many should live. However how far are we to go in the name of entertainment?  The authors comment about us finally be free of such restrictions in the future is nothing short of idiotic. In-game prostitutes and blood splattering do nothing to push games forward. IMHO it does just the opposite.

 

I hope everyone finds what they are looking for in this title. Stating you wouldn’t play a toned down version of the game is sad though because it brings into question why it should be played at all.

 

P.S. I LOVED guild wars mix and match of PvE and PvP. Not being a big fan of endgame raids I  enjoy PvP much more.

Sat Feb 09 2008 12:19PM Report
Wrayeth writes:

I don't agree that refusing to play a toned-down version is sad.  It's not about some incessant need to see mammaries or decapitations - it's the principle of the matter.  Sometimes you have to take a stand against something, and those who would refuse to play a toned-down AoC would be taking a stand against censorship (though there probably *would* be a small minority who wouldn't play because they wanted to see virtual boobies and decapitation).

Sat Feb 09 2008 1:22PM Report
Wrayeth writes:

 P.S.  This is not to say that I don't like breasts just as much as the next red-blooded male, but still...

Sat Feb 09 2008 1:23PM Report
BadSpock writes:

I just think it's stupid and pointless.

Excessive blood and gore? Doesn't make something more "mature" or "adult" in my mind. Why? I know it's not real in a movie, and in a game obviously it's just pixels.

Sure, I'll say "Wow that was cool!" the first couple of times I see something graphic and violent, but after a while it won't even phase me anymore.

And nudity? Come on. You have to be kidding. It's a video game. Most ridiculous and childish idea ever. I honestly hope this game crashes and burns because they were stupid enough to add digital nudity.

To me, the only thing that matters is the game play. Pretty graphics can only hold my interest for a very short period of time, if the game play sucks, I'm gone.

In a MMO, the second most important factor to me is Community, and this game is going to bring the very, very worst and most immature out of their parent's basements just because it does have excessive gore and virtual nudity.

It's ridiculous. It's ridiculous how much people care about it, and in all fairness it's pathetic.

I play MMOs to have fun, and to have fun with other people. Not to get my rocks off goggling at virtual nipples.

The female body is one of the most beautiful things on this planet, and trust me boys, it's much better IRL then a couple of nipple-shaped pixels well ever be.

I'll say it again and say it loud, WORST IDEA EVER Funcom, enjoy being the new "target" for Fox news, parent groups, etc.

Sat Feb 09 2008 3:17PM Report
brostyn writes:

This game will have the same percentage of teen players as WoW. Its stupid and childish to put nudity in a game. Why do it?

I've never seen a bared breast at Kroger, my work, or anywhere else in a public place. That hasn't made me feel less immersed in the world I live in.

This idea will backfire. Teens will be everywhere in this game. Worse, is the geeks and old men who only see breast from their google searches will be encouraged to make remark after remark about "hot tits". We'll see a nude woman surrounded by 25 pervs in a circle jerk online. Sorry, that is not a game I want to be part of. That's flat out embarrassing.

 

Sun Feb 10 2008 8:42AM Report
Drakon911 writes:

I think the whole deal sounded like a publicity stunt. I was considering trying the game when it first came out, but now I'll probably wait. It seems as if they are trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator with the whole "we've got blood, guts, and BEWBS!" thing. I agree that censorship of games in the US is very messed up. Look no further than the whole GTA hot coffee fiasco. Over the top violence = A Ok! Simulated sex between graphically rendered consenting adults = Ban this game and burn a few people at the stake!

So as the poster above stated, why draw attention to yourselves UNLESS you want the free publicity? Oh and major legal bills.

Mon Feb 11 2008 7:33PM Report
malachidark writes:

daelnor you're completely wrong about Shadowbane and Fury, but mostly Fury. Shadowbane wasn't poorly designed, it's just incredibly old and has bad graphics and controls. Fury is NOT a 'Korean grinder', in fact it's not even Korean!!! It has no lvls, how can it be a grinder? I don't think you've even played Fury...

Tue Feb 12 2008 12:19AM Report
joeyboots writes:

I agree with ya Mala, lol, yeah i shot milk out of my nose from laughing so hard at daelnor's observations. Shadowbane was handicapped from the start, not because of it's pvp-heavy focus, but because the game was under-marketed/advertised, and the graphics were obsolete at launch, not to mention the controls were like trying to drive with your ear. Fury had a subpar dev team, most of which was fired shortly after it launched, but the words "Korean" and "Grinder" have no place in a discussion of this game, as the game was developed by an Aussie company called Auran, and there is no pve, thus no grind. The entire game is comprised of different pvp gametypes, in other words, you only fight other people. If you consider pvp'ing endlessly, as grinding, then I'll give it to you, but you and the rest of us know better than that.

Tue Feb 19 2008 10:43PM Report
joeyboots writes:

I agree with ya Mala, lol, yeah i shot milk out of my nose from laughing so hard at some of these observations. Shadowbane was handicapped from the start, not because of it's pvp-heavy focus, but because the game was under-marketed/advertised, and the graphics were obsolete at launch, not to mention the controls were like trying to drive with your ear. Fury had a subpar dev team, most of which was fired shortly after it launched, but the words "Korean" and "Grinder" have no place in a discussion of this game, as the game was developed by an Aussie company called Auran, and there is no pve, thus no grind. The entire game is comprised of different pvp gametypes, in other words, you only fight other people. If you consider pvp'ing endlessly, as grinding, then I'll give it to you, but you and the rest of us know better than that.

Tue Feb 19 2008 10:46PM Report

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