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MMOWTF: Mature Ratings and "Da Bewbs"

Posted Oct 26, 2007 by Jon Wood

MMOWTF: Mature Ratings and "Da Bewbs"

In this week's MMOWTF column, Dan Fortier takes on the ESRB's "Mature" rating and suggests that there is very little mature about an M-rated game.

Now that you’ve turned away in disgust or given me your undivided attention I shall commence! It struck me as a beautiful contradiction that the things that most would consider to be for ‘mature’ audiences typically act like Pavlovian bells to the hoards of immature hounds looking for something to drool on. Things like blood, gore and exposed mammary glands are often effective ways of drawing in a crowd prior to sucker punching them and grabbing their lunch money. It’s not so much a bait-and-switch tactic as a cheese on a mousetrap or shiny light on a bug-zapper. This week I am going to play with the hand grenade that is adult content. Frag out!

As long as testosterone and libido have driven the sales of products to the male demographic, there has always been a medium ground that Devs were loath to cross. Games like Red Light District and BMX XXX remind us that we are not complete slaves to instinct and that a poorly made game with nudity is still a poorly made game. The trick is to dish out enough violence and sexual innuendo to keep the animal mind interested yet still provide enough fun and challenge for the rest of our brain. A game needs to deliver more than virtual pron to be a hit, but the forbidden fruit is often enough to get the interest of folks who would have otherwise ignored the game.

Why would kids be interested in a game that is designed to exclude them? You think the answer would be simple, but even factoring in human nature this is a tough nut to crack. For example, any of the above and more can easily be found in excess with a few clicks on the Internet. Why would someone want to spend all the time and effort getting into an MMO that has these things instead of just following the path of least resistance? Sure MMOs are great interactive playgrounds and the only thing better than getting your jollies by yourself is getting them with a ton of people you don’t know! If we follow this rationale then it might seem that Developers are trying to double-dip by grabbing the ‘target’ audience and the ‘wanna-be target’ audience as well.

Read the whole thing here.

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