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Every week, 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