Real life suffering and video games: Where's the line?

The Japanese Tragedy and MotorStorm: Apocalypse

As some of you may know, Sony decided to delay the launch of the third PlayStation 3 iteration of its MotorStorm racing series, MotorStorm: Apocalypse (Motorstorm 3 in Japan), because it features a level called 'Waves Of Mutilation' that takes place during a relentless tsunami. Appearing in the Pro stage of the main Festival Campaign, 'Waves Of Mutilation' is an insane four-lap race that unleashes aquatic devastation on your surroundings as you speed around the track. In the level, you compete against other drivers through destruction as powerful waves cause ships, cars, and buildings to topple under impact. MotorStorm: Apocalypse has been in development for a long time, so neither developer Evolution Studios nor publisher Sony Computer Entertainment could ever have imagined in their wildest nightmares that one of their levels would parallel this real world disaster so closely, but its timing is indeed both incredible and unfortunate. Here's some gameplay of the aforementioned level:
       
  This is, of course, not the first time any of us has played a video game that displays a tragedy where human life was lost. Most of the time, however, massive loss of life is shown in the form of future, sci-fi crazyness like the atomic destruction of Megaton in Fallout 3 or in the form of wars which take place in the distant past (e.g. all them WWII FPS) or are based on fake  conflict (e.g. Modern Warfare) significantly softening their impact. With MotorStorm: Apocalypse, however, these events are still very raw. With the Japan disaster coming tragically unannounced, and the fact that Sony’s new racing title features such potent imagery that we’ve all seen on the news in the last few days, its impact is particularly poignant. The race, which was intended to be fictional, became all too real. Because of this I applaud Sony's decision to delay the game as the most sensitive course of action. Now, for the other side... 
 

The Mexican Drug War and Call of Juarez: The Cartel

First, we must admit that like Motorstorm 3, Call of Juarez: The Cartel has not been released and we have very few details about it so we can't make any final judgements.  We do know a couple of key facts, however: 1) Part of its story will be set in Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico. 2) It will deal with drug trafficking. 3) Violence will ensue. 
From these snippets alone one can already see how many would consider this title problematic. Cd. Juárez  is a hotspot of violence, just last year (2010) the city saw its homicide count reach 3075 people. The city's inhabitants live day to day in fear (they are struggling right now as you read this), scared of a system of violence that the authorities have continuously failed to control. In the middle of this comes Call of Juarez: 
  
  While I am cautious of the whole "Video games incite violence in children" debate, I am painfully aware of the contemporary suffering of these people. The colloquial expression "Too soon" does not even get close to fully describe the level of insensitivity I feel this release carries. Regardless of whether Call of Juarez glorifies cartel violence or not (we will see when it hits the shelves) or whether it functions as a bloody gateway for youth who are already predisposed to a a life of violence by their tragic environment, it is not difficult to understand why a parent would frown upon the idea of their child filling in their playtime with images of the same oppressive aggression that riddles their day to day existence. Nor is it difficult to visualize a victim of the drug war clenching her teeth at the notion that in the living rooms of her city and other parts of the world (particularly the developed world) people are treating her suffering --her present suffering-- as mere entertainment.  
 

The Question

In my opinion then, the video game industry as a whole should take up the social responsibility of respecting people's contemporary suffering; they should avoid present tragic subjects as material for mere amusement. Sony took the right decision when in delayed MotorStorm 3. Sony recognized that its title utilized images that were reminiscent of present, real suffering and that this images were there only for the sake of entertainment. It is too early to tell whether Call of Juarez: The Cartel will utilize its own tragic imagery simply as a tool for amusement or as medium of constructive social critique. But if it is the former (as years of video game history would have us suspect), I believe it insensible --almost insulting!-- for this game to be released at the same time the people of Cd. Juárez are suffering. Ubisoft: The sensible decision is rarely the necessary decision but always the most ethical. 
 
So then, What do you think about the above examples? What do you think about video games that use imagery that is either reminescent or based on contemporary tragedies? Should developers and the industry in general have limits to what subjects they can deal with, particularly those based on real life?
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Edited by Gerhabio

The Japanese Tragedy and MotorStorm: Apocalypse

As some of you may know, Sony decided to delay the launch of the third PlayStation 3 iteration of its MotorStorm racing series, MotorStorm: Apocalypse (Motorstorm 3 in Japan), because it features a level called 'Waves Of Mutilation' that takes place during a relentless tsunami. Appearing in the Pro stage of the main Festival Campaign, 'Waves Of Mutilation' is an insane four-lap race that unleashes aquatic devastation on your surroundings as you speed around the track. In the level, you compete against other drivers through destruction as powerful waves cause ships, cars, and buildings to topple under impact. MotorStorm: Apocalypse has been in development for a long time, so neither developer Evolution Studios nor publisher Sony Computer Entertainment could ever have imagined in their wildest nightmares that one of their levels would parallel this real world disaster so closely, but its timing is indeed both incredible and unfortunate. Here's some gameplay of the aforementioned level:
       
  This is, of course, not the first time any of us has played a video game that displays a tragedy where human life was lost. Most of the time, however, massive loss of life is shown in the form of future, sci-fi crazyness like the atomic destruction of Megaton in Fallout 3 or in the form of wars which take place in the distant past (e.g. all them WWII FPS) or are based on fake  conflict (e.g. Modern Warfare) significantly softening their impact. With MotorStorm: Apocalypse, however, these events are still very raw. With the Japan disaster coming tragically unannounced, and the fact that Sony’s new racing title features such potent imagery that we’ve all seen on the news in the last few days, its impact is particularly poignant. The race, which was intended to be fictional, became all too real. Because of this I applaud Sony's decision to delay the game as the most sensitive course of action. Now, for the other side... 
 

The Mexican Drug War and Call of Juarez: The Cartel

First, we must admit that like Motorstorm 3, Call of Juarez: The Cartel has not been released and we have very few details about it so we can't make any final judgements.  We do know a couple of key facts, however: 1) Part of its story will be set in Ciudad Juarez, in Mexico. 2) It will deal with drug trafficking. 3) Violence will ensue. 
From these snippets alone one can already see how many would consider this title problematic. Cd. Juárez  is a hotspot of violence, just last year (2010) the city saw its homicide count reach 3075 people. The city's inhabitants live day to day in fear (they are struggling right now as you read this), scared of a system of violence that the authorities have continuously failed to control. In the middle of this comes Call of Juarez: 
  
  While I am cautious of the whole "Video games incite violence in children" debate, I am painfully aware of the contemporary suffering of these people. The colloquial expression "Too soon" does not even get close to fully describe the level of insensitivity I feel this release carries. Regardless of whether Call of Juarez glorifies cartel violence or not (we will see when it hits the shelves) or whether it functions as a bloody gateway for youth who are already predisposed to a a life of violence by their tragic environment, it is not difficult to understand why a parent would frown upon the idea of their child filling in their playtime with images of the same oppressive aggression that riddles their day to day existence. Nor is it difficult to visualize a victim of the drug war clenching her teeth at the notion that in the living rooms of her city and other parts of the world (particularly the developed world) people are treating her suffering --her present suffering-- as mere entertainment.  
 

The Question

In my opinion then, the video game industry as a whole should take up the social responsibility of respecting people's contemporary suffering; they should avoid present tragic subjects as material for mere amusement. Sony took the right decision when in delayed MotorStorm 3. Sony recognized that its title utilized images that were reminiscent of present, real suffering and that this images were there only for the sake of entertainment. It is too early to tell whether Call of Juarez: The Cartel will utilize its own tragic imagery simply as a tool for amusement or as medium of constructive social critique. But if it is the former (as years of video game history would have us suspect), I believe it insensible --almost insulting!-- for this game to be released at the same time the people of Cd. Juárez are suffering. Ubisoft: The sensible decision is rarely the necessary decision but always the most ethical. 
 
So then, What do you think about the above examples? What do you think about video games that use imagery that is either reminescent or based on contemporary tragedies? Should developers and the industry in general have limits to what subjects they can deal with, particularly those based on real life?
Edited by ChampionOfTheWorld

All I know is this topic will reach epic proportions in less than 24 hours.
 
Other than that, if No Russian was acceptable, anything is.

Posted by BraveToaster

The same could be said about film and literature.

Posted by Gerhabio
@Axxol said:
" The same could be said about film and literature. "
I don't want to get into a "Are video games art?" discussion but I would say films and literature are also at fault when they deal with contemporary real life events as mere entertainment and offer no constructive social discussion or message. Examples of films at fault are all those "narcocinema" films that they sell at Wal-marts close to the Mexican border. These awful movies are a product of money laundering and both normalize and glamorize the narcos' lifestyle. I haven't encountered any serious literature (only Tijuana bibles and the like) dealing with contemporary tragedies as a simple source of amusement. The reason why I am bothered by video games dealing with such subjects is that video games rarely offer any constructive criticism, it is often only for entertainment's sake that they display tragedy. Now, I have no problem with them doing so with fictional tragedy or past tragedies that are now part of our collective, cultural subconscious but when it is about contemporary suffering it's tasteless and insensitive. What do you think?
Posted by Gerhabio
@ChampionOfTheWorld said:
" All I know is this topic will reach epic proportions in less than 24 hours.  Other than that, if No Russian was acceptable, anything is. "
I doubt it :P 
 
I'd say that No Russian was more fictional than anything else. Also, terrorism in the U.S. is instanced while suffering in Japan is prolonged and in Mexico it is routinized.
Posted by ApertureSilence
@G3RHRT said:
 Also, terrorism in the U.S. is instanced"
Oh yeah, just like in Guild Wars or APB!
Posted by BraveToaster
@G3RHRT said:
" @Axxol said:
" The same could be said about film and literature. "
I don't want to get into a "Are video games art?" discussion but I would say films and literature are also at fault when they deal with contemporary real life events as mere entertainment and offer no constructive social discussion or message. Examples of films at fault are all those "narcocinema" films that they sell at Wal-marts close to the Mexican border. These awful movies are a product of money laundering and both normalize and glamorize the narcos' lifestyle. I haven't encountered any serious literature (only Tijuana bibles and the like) dealing with contemporary tragedies as a simple source of amusement. The reason why I am bothered by video games dealing with such subjects is that video games rarely offer any constructive criticism, it is often only for entertainment's sake that they display tragedy. Now, I have no problem with them doing so with fictional tragedy or past tragedies that are now part of our collective, cultural subconscious but when it is about contemporary suffering it's tasteless and insensitive. What do you think? "
But tragedy in films is often used as entertainment. 
Posted by Example1013

Is it exploitation? Yeah. So is poorism. All you can do is get offended and tell people it's in poor taste. Other than that, yeah, people shouldn't do it, but it's not right to stop people from doing it either.

Online
Posted by Gerhabio
@MurderByDeath said:
" @G3RHRT said:
 Also, terrorism in the U.S. is instanced"
Oh yeah, just like in Guild Wars or APB! "
Haha, I meant that it is fortunately measured by occurrence or event (e.g. 9/11) and not daily.
Posted by ShaneDev

The Motor Storm thing is just pure coincidence and bad timing. I think as Sony is a Japanese company should delay the game or do whatever they need to. The Juarez thing is much different but more dicey since the violence there has been going on and will go on for a while. I know nothing about the game or the place so I don't know how it portrays the people and places. The previous games where also set there and I am not sure why games would get any different treatment than films or books when it comes to on going conflict or events. The game also seems to have you fighting against the criminal elements of the city which is good right. I also don't see the point of telling me about how the people there are suffering, people all over the world are suffering right now from lots of things that are portrayed in games for entertainment. 

Posted by Tim_the_Corsair

In the new CoJ, are you not playing as cops fighting the cartels?

The argument can be made (if this is the case) that, far from glorifying the troubles in this area, the game is in fact presenting a point of view condemning it, allowing the player the escapist fantasy of moving into this terrible tragedy as the noble, heroic modern cowboy and making a real difference to a horribly oppressed people. Wish-fulfilment, essentially.

While this is definitely exploitative of current events, is it any more so than the myriad Afghanistan/Iraq movies and games?

Note that I'm not actually saying I disagree with your point of view OP, just trying to present an alternate view that isn't necessarily my own.

Posted by ApertureSilence
@G3RHRT said:
" @MurderByDeath said:
" @G3RHRT said:
 Also, terrorism in the U.S. is instanced"
Oh yeah, just like in Guild Wars or APB! "
Haha, I meant that it is fortunately measured by occurrence or event (e.g. 9/11) and not daily. "
I know - just funnin' you. Your blog post was an excellent, thoughtful read.
Posted by Gerhabio
@Axxol said:
" @G3RHRT said:
" @Axxol said:
" The same could be said about film and literature. "
I don't want to get into a "Are video games art?" discussion but I would say films and literature are also at fault when they deal with contemporary real life events as mere entertainment and offer no constructive social discussion or message. Examples of films at fault are all those "narcocinema" films that they sell at Wal-marts close to the Mexican border. These awful movies are a product of money laundering and both normalize and glamorize the narcos' lifestyle. I haven't encountered any serious literature (only Tijuana bibles and the like) dealing with contemporary tragedies as a simple source of amusement. The reason why I am bothered by video games dealing with such subjects is that video games rarely offer any constructive criticism, it is often only for entertainment's sake that they display tragedy. Now, I have no problem with them doing so with fictional tragedy or past tragedies that are now part of our collective, cultural subconscious but when it is about contemporary suffering it's tasteless and insensitive. What do you think? "
But tragedy in films is often used as entertainment.  "
Yes, you're absolutely correct, it is also used in literature (who could ever denounce the tragic plays of Sophocles?). I have nothing against this, tragedy is part of the human experience. I only find fault in depicting tragedy when it is still happening for the sake of entertainment. Especially when it's not your own tragedy, like in the case of Ubisoft.
Posted by Gerhabio
@example1013 said:
" Is it exploitation? Yeah. So is poorism. All you can do is get offended and tell people it's in poor taste. Other than that, yeah, people shouldn't do it, but it's not right to stop people from doing it either. "
Oh yes, poverty porn is disgusting. I'm not being militant about this, I don't think we should rise up and infringe on people's right to express themselves. I admit I'm giving an ethical qualification. I think it's awful that people would exploit current tragedies in such ways. I also think that communicating this disgust can go a long way though, hopefully it will prevent it from becoming a trend.
Edited by BraveToaster
@G3RHRT said:

" @Axxol said:

" @G3RHRT said:
" @Axxol said:
" The same could be said about film and literature. "
I don't want to get into a "Are video games art?" discussion but I would say films and literature are also at fault when they deal with contemporary real life events as mere entertainment and offer no constructive social discussion or message. Examples of films at fault are all those "narcocinema" films that they sell at Wal-marts close to the Mexican border. These awful movies are a product of money laundering and both normalize and glamorize the narcos' lifestyle. I haven't encountered any serious literature (only Tijuana bibles and the like) dealing with contemporary tragedies as a simple source of amusement. The reason why I am bothered by video games dealing with such subjects is that video games rarely offer any constructive criticism, it is often only for entertainment's sake that they display tragedy. Now, I have no problem with them doing so with fictional tragedy or past tragedies that are now part of our collective, cultural subconscious but when it is about contemporary suffering it's tasteless and insensitive. What do you think? "
But tragedy in films is often used as entertainment.  "
Yes, you're absolutely correct, it is also used in literature (who could ever denounce the tragic plays of Sophocles?). I have nothing against this, tragedy is part of the human experience. I only find fault in depicting tragedy when it is still happening for the sake of entertainment. Especially when it's not your own tragedy, like in the case of Ubisoft. "
Like another user stated, this was merely a coincidence and bad timing. If Japan feels the need to omit this level from the game, then I totally understand. Look at any work of fiction and you can compare it to a real life tragedy. Do we need to remove those?
Posted by Oldirtybearon
@G3RHRT: The Motorstorm video was beautiful, and Call of Juarez: The Cartel looks interesting. With those obvious statements aside, let's dig into the meat of your post. 
 
You're asking the community if we agree with your opinion that video game developers should "respect the contemporary suffering" of people, and in short form, I can answer no. The main reason for this is because, while your question is loaded and poorly worded, I can see the intent behind it warrants further definition. 
 
Media and art have the right to shed light on hot-button topics, and distant issues that the common gamer/person may not perceive or even be aware of. You argue that The Cartel should follow suit behind Motorstorm: Apocalypse, but those are two very different cases. Motorstorm being delayed is respectful because they depict a natural disaster on an epic scale (one would call it apocalyptic), and I can see the reason behind the delay. There is no narrative justification for the level, and to be honest, the level probably wouldn't be missed if it were cut from the game. However, a game like Call of Juarez: The Cartel being delayed or even cancelled because of the "too soon" argument? No. 
 
The reason for this is because The Cartel is not only providing a spotlight for a major concern in Mexico, but is also attempting to glorify the seemingly futile response of law enforcement to combat the drug cartels that, quite frankly, run much of Mexico. There is a strong narrative justification for featuring Cartel violence as well as doing violence unto the Cartel members. That justification being that you play as (presumably) one of three cops that head to Juarez to mete out justice and try to put a stop to the madness that is ensuing there. It's not that the game is exploiting current tragedy, since you can hardly call Juarez's problems "recent". They've been going on for years, perhaps decades now. While the people who live there no doubt live in fear, this game provides the opportunity to show the rest of the gaming population how bad things really are, and can provide an avenue of tangential learning should the player be interested enough in the topic to know more. That's what games are best at, in all honesty, tangential learning. I learned a lot from looking up historical events like the Third Crusade and indeed Catholic history in general because Assassin's Creed sparked my interest. Turok: Dinosaur Hunter, while being a completely exploitative and graphic shooter devoid of what most would call "artistic merit", also inspired me to learn more about Native Americans and my culture in general. To deny this opportunity to Call of Juarez: The Cartel simply on the basis that there are people suffering now from the problems the game challenges us to face is diminishing of the larger picture. That picture being that The Cartel can offer an insight - even if it is pure fantasy - to a real-world problem that everyone seems to wish was swept under the rug. 
 
This question is like asking of The Punisher should've avoided a recent story arc where Frank Castle heads to a small Mexican village and delivers buckshot full of pain to cocaine manufacturers and their enforcers. While you could argue it was exploitative, I argue it was fantasy that has a place in our culture and society. There are many of us who wish we could take up arms or solve the world's problems as easily as a video game allows us, but instead of that impotent frustration ultimately leading to stupid behaviour, we can channel it into something that is harmless and may lead to knowledge gained by the end user. To dismiss this game because it's "too soon" does everyone a disservice. 
 
Now, I have no doubt that many will play The Cartel and not give two flying shits about the plight of Mexicans in Juarez, but if even 10% of the audience that plays The Cartel decides to dig deeper into the real-world trauma and suffering that those Mexicans are suffering, then every piece of content in The Cartel is justified. Knowledge was gained, awareness has increased, and maybe, just maybe, more people care and are willing to try and help do something about it. 
 
So that's the long answer. Hope I hit the points you were looking for.
Posted by Example1013
@G3RHRT: There's no way to stop the trend of exploiting tragedy. Look at how Hurricane Katrina was politicized. I'll be honest, I thought the outrage against the Bush administration and FEMA was absolutely disgusting. It took them, what, a day to start pointing fingers?
Online
Posted by Gerhabio
@ShaneDev said:
" The Motor Storm thing is just pure coincidence and bad timing. I think as Sony is a Japanese company should delay the game or do whatever they need to. The Juarez thing is much different but more dicey since the violence there has been going on and will go on for a while. I know nothing about the game or the place so I don't know how it portrays the people and places. The previous games where also set there and I am not sure why games would get any different treatment than films or books when it comes to on going conflict or events. The game also seems to have you fighting against the criminal elements of the city which is good right. I also don't see the point of telling me about how the people there are suffering, people all over the world are suffering right now from lots of things that are portrayed in games for entertainment.  "
Yes, you are right that they are different. But this difference makes it more poignant. Sony made the game before the tragedy and took the sensitive position of delaying the game. Ubisoft on the other hand consciously  decided to make it. We still don't know how it's going to portray the conflict but I suspect it won't be a deep analysis of the factors that contribute to the violence or anything constructive (I may be wrong though, we can only wait). I am not making a division with film and books, they often do the same and I find fault in that too but this is a website about video games so I'm talking about that. Also, it is rare when a video game offers constructive social criticism. Now, generalized suffering is portrayed in video games all the time, yes, but it becomes problematic when a specific instance of social suffering is depicted, then it becomes palpable and tasteless. These are real contemporary people after all, not a general symbol for the human condition.
Posted by Gerhabio
@Tim_the_Corsair said:
" In the new CoJ, are you not playing as cops fighting the cartels? The argument can be made (if this is the case) that, far from glorifying the troubles in this area, the game is in fact presenting a point of view condemning it, allowing the player the escapist fantasy of moving into this terrible tragedy as the noble, heroic modern cowboy and making a real difference to a horribly oppressed people. Wish-fulfilment, essentially. While this is definitely exploitative of current events, is it any more so than the myriad Afghanistan/Iraq movies and games? Note that I'm not actually saying I disagree with your point of view OP, just trying to present an alternate view that isn't necessarily my own. "
This is a really good point that I gotta say I had not thought about. Nevertheless, like you state, this is definitively exploitative and therefore unethical. It may not be more exploitative than films and books about Iraq/Afghanistan but it still is. I would also add that some of these movies offer an insight into these tragedies that is informative and constructive. I can hardly say the same about video games with the same settings.
Posted by zityz

Are they planning on cutting that level out? It looks really good looking. Disasters have been around long before games and film have. People basing things of actual places or events doesn't add or enhance violence or anything. If anything it could make people aware of the situation. However. Video games are like movies, they're a fantasy world. So real life environments, Problems happening throughout the world. These will continue to have them wither or not movies, literature or games feature them or not.

Posted by Gerhabio
@example1013: Cynical, but realistic. We can, however, at least in the ambit of entertainment, "vote with our dollars" as the Bombsquad crew says.
Posted by Rockanomics

Hahahaha "We don't want kids to be given a bad impression of Juarez" just seconds after they say it's in the running for murder capital of THE WORLD.

Posted by Example1013
@G3RHRT: Yeah, luckily. It's almost like we have more control over our entertainment than our politics, simply because almost everyone in politics does this exploitative shit to forward their own goals. It's machiavellian in the perjorative sense, but not in the true sense, because a truly machiavellian figure would realize when a good time is to rise above the shit-flinging (the 2006 CT gubernatorial election comes to mind: the Republican candidate, Jodi Rell, ran nothing but commercials that were just "have a 30-second break from attack ads, courtesy of Jodi Rell", with literally not a single attack ad from her camp, and she won). 
 
Then again, this thread probably won't generate discussion, since I doubt there are a ton of GB users who'd  disagree, making this really one-sided. I do like the idea of putting the word out, though.
Online
Posted by Gerhabio
@Axxol said:
" @G3RHRT said:

" @Axxol said:

" @G3RHRT said:
" @Axxol said:
" The same could be said about film and literature. "
I don't want to get into a "Are video games art?" discussion but I would say films and literature are also at fault when they deal with contemporary real life events as mere entertainment and offer no constructive social discussion or message. Examples of films at fault are all those "narcocinema" films that they sell at Wal-marts close to the Mexican border. These awful movies are a product of money laundering and both normalize and glamorize the narcos' lifestyle. I haven't encountered any serious literature (only Tijuana bibles and the like) dealing with contemporary tragedies as a simple source of amusement. The reason why I am bothered by video games dealing with such subjects is that video games rarely offer any constructive criticism, it is often only for entertainment's sake that they display tragedy. Now, I have no problem with them doing so with fictional tragedy or past tragedies that are now part of our collective, cultural subconscious but when it is about contemporary suffering it's tasteless and insensitive. What do you think? "
But tragedy in films is often used as entertainment.  "
Yes, you're absolutely correct, it is also used in literature (who could ever denounce the tragic plays of Sophocles?). I have nothing against this, tragedy is part of the human experience. I only find fault in depicting tragedy when it is still happening for the sake of entertainment. Especially when it's not your own tragedy, like in the case of Ubisoft. "
Like another user stated, this was merely a coincidence and bad timing. If Japan feels the need to omit this level from the game, then I totally understand. Look at any work of fiction and you can compare it to a real life tragedy. Do we need to remove those? "
No, what is done is done and we should not infringe on their freedom of expression. While many works of fiction are based on real life, it is different when you have a general parallel to an abstraction such as "war" or "drug trafficking" to when you amuse yourself interacting with imagery that is raw from the newspaper. Like I said to another poster,  these are real contemporary people after all, not a general symbol for the human condition. I'm not militant about this and I don't want censorship, I wish for respect. 
Of course, this is all speculative since we do not know how Ubisoft will portray the plight of the Mexican people at Cd. Juárez. 
Edited by Gerhabio
@example1013: Thanks, your input is great! 
 
@Rockanomics: Haha, yeah I know, it's politics. I agree with the journalist in terms of video games inducing violence and what not: You should worry more about resolving the violence than its depiction. Of course, that's not a discussion we're gonna have in a video game website. :P
Posted by Example1013
@G3RHRT: It's no problem. I don't necessarily think I know everything about topics (indeed, I often talk out of my ass, but make it sound smart enough to get away with it), but I like to believe that I put forward good thoughts, most of the time.
Online
Posted by Gerhabio
@KingWilly: Your response is great and very well-thought out. First, I apologize if the question was poorly worded but I think most people got the gist of it. About it being loaded, I think anything dealing with ethics will invariable be loaded as it is all ultimately subjective.  
Now, I believe I understand your point that the "Too soon" argument is irrelevant because violence in Cd. Juárez has been going on for years and because awareness is important. But I have to say that there is a difference between "recent" and ongoing and that the people in Cd. Juárez are affected in the now and are not suddenly immune from it because their tragedy is old.  
I somewhat agree with the awareness part of your argument. It does have the potential to increase awareness. I honestly had not thought about the video game as a tool for communication, but upon reflection I have to say I believe you're giving too much credit to --romanticizing even-- the role of video games in contributing to social awareness in the global public. Like you say, maybe only 10% of people who play  the game will delve deeper into the problems Mexico is facing and maybe a fraction of them will try to help. But what about that other 90%? What will they take from the game in relation to the Mexican people? My fear is that, the game will only reinforce the superficial and dismissive notions that developed countries often have of Mexico: "What's up with Mexico? It's part of Latin America where's there's a bunch of political instability and drugs. Done."  
 
Awareness by itself is not a helpful goal. It is the type of awareness you have that counts. Knowing that "shit's fucked up" is not enough and I doubt this kind of games that deal with contemporary tragedies and their victims (victims that can still be affected in the now by these video games and the views they produce) are going to go full The Wire on us any time soon.  
 
P.S. If I may go in a tangent to illustrate: A good example of the top of my head of how awareness for its own sake is not that good of a thing to pursue is the sexualization of breast cancer in the U.S. Hardly anyone in the country is left that has not seen the pink ribbon floating around in cereal boxes and TV ads. That's great that a lot of people know about it but we also see a bunch of wristbands and shirts that say unsavory things like "Save the boobies" or "I (heart) tatas" with the little pink ribbon on them, effectively obscuring the real preoccupation behind the movement: To save the lives of women not the health of "tits". What if you need to remove the breasts to save the woman? Is she not valuable anymore because she doesn't have the boobs that need saving? What about men? They get breast cancer too? Why is the ribbon pink then? They are meant to feel like they are at the end of the list, this movement is for women or rather for the "boobs" and "tatas" of women. The way you go about achieving awareness is important and it does affect people, particularly those who are contemporarily suffering.
Posted by Example1013
@G3RHRT: those I heart boobies wristbands are tasteless anyways, though. I think it's telling that I've only ever seen hot girls wearing them.
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Posted by AURON570

Honestly I think it's down to the player/viewer. As long as the person playing the game or watching the game is aware that it is JUST a game, and the game itself is presenting a particular view on the subject matter, then no one gets hurt. It's a different story when a person watching it is like "YEAH BLOW THAT SHIT UP, DRUGS GUNS AWESOME THAT'S SO COOL", as opposed to someone who can take a step back and think about what makes the game fun/not fun, what the game says about what people find fun/entertaining etc. Awareness and explanation is key, censorship is not the answer.

Posted by Gerhabio
@AURON570: Yes, and as I mentioned to other posters, I do not endorse censorship but social responsibility.
Posted by Commisar123

I would hoep there would be some ability of video games to make a game of a truly horrific situation to help raise awarness, that being said I don't think Call of Juarez is going to take a poignet veiw of cartel violenc
Posted by fryedrycestyle

I think that if games are to "evolve" as a medium it is perhaps necessary to have games comment on current (or probably more realistically, recent) events. Of course these games have to be crafted in a very considerate, serious manner. It would be no good to have a game that is essentially a Michael Bay movie to have a level in the middle commenting on war and terrorism in a serious manner. Basically what I'm trying to say is that games crafted for the purpose of examining tragic events and not simply for entertainment's sake (basically a serious game). Having said that, I don't know enough about Call of Juarez: The Cartel to really say one way or another if it's insensitive to the situation in Mexico but I'm going to guess that it isn't one of these games. So, no I don't think there should be boundaries that developers should be wary of as long as they approach the subject matter in a thoughtful way.

Posted by Oldirtybearon
@G3RHRT said:
A lot of great points.
Awareness by itself does more for a cause than simply letting the situation run on auto-pilot. The 10% margin I brought up is still better than 0%. All you can do from a motivational standpoint is make people aware of a problem, from there it is up to each and every individual to make the choice to do something about the problem, if they even feel a desire to. The 90% who are unmoved by the plight in Juarez would likely never have given a shit to begin with, had they been informed through traditional, more news-oriented means. That's the sad fact of the world we live in - despite all of our interconnection and the closeness the internet and various devices bring us, at the end of the day far-off problems are still far away. Out of sight, out of mind, as the axiom goes. 
  
Your fears are completely valid, and while you may think I have a romanticized notion as to what games do for the general consciousness, I do believe that awareness - whatever its form - is a worthy goal to aspire to. For some people, all they can do is inform others, and that is enough. At the end of the day it's a personal choice to get involved in any given situation. If Call of Juarez: The Cartel inspires just 10% of the people who play it to learn more or try and help in some way, that is a bigger victory than all of the promotional campaigns and news stories have done to reach this demographic of people. Let's be honest here, most gamers are self-important and only really care about issues that effect them. That's not a condemning statement, nor do I mean it as condescending. It's just how we see the world, from where I'm sitting. Given that context, having a game that appeals to us as well as seeks to inform us of a major problem we were probably unaware of before is worth the "exploitation" (for lack of a better term). To me, the benefits far outweigh any potential loss one might perceive, because once the game is out there and in people's hands, it's down to them to either ignore or decide to learn more about the issue. 
 
As for your tangent on breast cancer, there is nothing wrong with levity. Breast cancer is a very serious concern and my best friend's mother managed to beat the bastard after three years and a shit-load of chemo. I was with my friend through that struggle, and it was hard. That said, I don't find "Save the Boobies" shirts as demeaning or diminishing the impact that breast cancer has on women, but even so are a great promotional tool for awareness. The common idiot may see a serious, grim-faced ad for breast cancer and stare at it with as blank an expression as he would watching starving, emaciated, fly-covered children from Africa. If the shirt that says "Save the Boobies" moves him to feel something, or compels him to laugh, then it is a success. Appealing to low-brow humour is as valid a way to reach people as only speaking to those of a higher intellect. You can find them appalling or disgusting if you want to, but given the choice between "Give money to breast cancer" t-shirt or the bright pink, "save the boobies" shirt, I'd choose the latter because the message is just as effective, while providing titillation to people who see it. Something like that slogan is something you will remember far more than a generic "I support breast cancer" ad that most people's eyes would simply glaze over if they saw it on the street.
Posted by Napalm

I got a lump in my throat watching that MotorStorm video. I may not feel so bad about it if it weren't called, "Waves of mutilation."

Edited by Gerhabio
@KingWilly: Our views are different but I believe your outlook valid. You consider that 10% worth the 90% who doesn't care while I perceive the 90% to be more of a threat than the 10% is a benefit. Again, there is no clear cut and I value your opinion. 
 
On the tangent however, while I understand that at the end of the day money is money (for cancer funding), there are better ways to increase awareness and support for cancer. In the long run, the sexualization of breast cancer is exacerbating the plight of women more than it is helping it.  Maybe I did not communicate my point to well the first time, let me restate:
Breast cancer is a horrible illness that affects thousands of people each year. Again, I understand the need to want to show support and raise awareness for the suffers and survivors of such a horrible  disease. However, I question the methods used to garner support and awareness. It seems that in recent years breast cancer awareness has shifted off of the people battling the disease and onto breasts themselves. As examples, I have seen two breast cancer support shirts/wristbands that forced a facepalm on me. The first shirt was worn by a male and said “If you love um, rub um” the second was also worn by a male and said “Save the tatas” (this is the wristband). I took issue with both because they erased the women they were made to help. Breast cancer awareness is not about saving breasts because men love them, breast cancer is about saving women because women are people and people matter. Shirts that use “catchy” or “funny” slogans that erase women are not showing breast cancer support or raising awareness for breast cancer, they are raising awareness and support for the sexualization of women.  Women are more than just a pair of breasts. If the only reason that you want to support breast cancer is so you can have breasts for a sexual purpose, you’re doing something wrong. Not to mention that many men get diagnosed with breast cancer as well, a demographic that already gets erased by the mainstream breast cancer awareness movement, and that these displays of anti-feminism are incredibly offensive to women who have lost a breast. 
Prostate cancer is also diagnosed at a similar rate yet no one is sexualizing men's bodies.
Posted by Oldirtybearon
@G3RHRT: I understand your point of view, but I will have to respectfully disagree. Thanks for the debate, though.
Edited by Gerhabio
@KingWilly said:

" @G3RHRT: I understand your point of view, but I will have to respectfully disagree. Thanks for the debate, though. "

Wait, about the first thing or the tangent? You don't think there's better ways to increase awareness for breast cancer, or that it is unfeminist? You dont have to respond, I was just interested on what you had to say.
Posted by Oldirtybearon
@G3RHRT said:
" @KingWilly said:

" @G3RHRT: I understand your point of view, but I will have to respectfully disagree. Thanks for the debate, though. "

Wait, about the first thing or the tangent? You don't think there's better ways to increase awareness for breast cancer, or that it is unfeminist? You dont have to respond, I was just interested on what you had to say. "
All of it. It was a good bit of discourse, and I do disagree that the marketing itself (which is what awareness really is) is anti-feminist or promotes sexualized objectifying of women over their struggle against breast cancer. That very well may be the thought behind the men you see wearing those wristbands and shirts, but the marketing itself doesn't hold that intent. It's a bit like blaming the tool for user error, in my opinion. That said, I don't think we're going to learn anything new in this debate. We've both laid our opinions and thoughts bare and there's really nothing left to say, from my end at least. 
 
It was a good bit of fun, though.
Posted by Gerhabio
@KingWilly said:
" @G3RHRT said:
" @KingWilly said:

" @G3RHRT: I understand your point of view, but I will have to respectfully disagree. Thanks for the debate, though. "

Wait, about the first thing or the tangent? You don't think there's better ways to increase awareness for breast cancer, or that it is unfeminist? You dont have to respond, I was just interested on what you had to say. "
All of it. It was a good bit of discourse, and I do disagree that the marketing itself (which is what awareness really is) is anti-feminist or promotes sexualized objectifying of women over their struggle against breast cancer. That very well may be the thought behind the men you see wearing those wristbands and shirts, but the marketing itself doesn't hold that intent. It's a bit like blaming the tool for user error, in my opinion. That said, I don't think we're going to learn anything new in this debate. We've both laid our opinions and thoughts bare and there's really nothing left to say, from my end at least.  It was a good bit of fun, though. "
Well, I certainly did learn a couple things. And I will consider the outlooks you provided in the future. Hopefully you consider mine too if you ever encounter the need to return to similar discussions.
 
To finish I would say that the intent is irrelevant because the sexualization is happening regardless. 
 
Well, thanks for commenting on my blog!
Edited by xhaktmtjdnf

What's appropriate or not is a real subjective matter and I doubt any conclusion is going to be reached here.  However, I think most people have a fairly good idea of what society as a whole thinks is appropriate. It's unlikely any game will aggressively break with what is considered appropriate by the general public.  EA , Activision and other big publishers have too much money at stake. We've seen the public speak before no "Six days in Fallujah" or Taliban in "MOH".  What's ultimately appropriate is a subjective call, but I think most publishers will choose to behave with tack.

Posted by MikkaQ

Glorifying cartels? No one complained about the "El Mariachi" movies. 

Posted by Example1013
@G3RHRT: @KingWilly: To be honest, on the issue of those wristbands and shirts, I would think that people would know well enough to see that those shirts are just using a clever/funny/mildly erotic statement in order to draw attention, as opposed to saying "oh, we're saving the breasts for sex". 
 
This is why I have a huge problem with sooooo much feminist opinion, is that it's based on what something could be interpreted to mean, rather than on what something is interpreted to mean. 
 
For instance, I'll use a discussion brought up in both my philosophy and sociology classes: the use of -man as a suffix, for instance in the word "yeoman". My professors both said that the language sends a subtle message about who should be doing the job (as in the difference between "men's work" and "women's work"). But I completely disagree with this on every level. I feel that the gender of the job isn't intrinsically linked to the label, and that the language doesn't indicate a gendered occupation. The word "yeoman" is a perfect example, because the first time I heard the word was when I was like 6, watching Star Trek with my dad. And Captain Kirk called one of the generic woman crew members "yeoman", and I thus learned that all those words that use -man as a suffix give absolutely no indication of gender whatsoever. 
 
The representation itself isn't what determines the meaning. The meaning can only be determined upon interpretation. And thus, the marketing itself isn't harmful to women unless people interpret it in a harmful way. And realistically, no one would look at an "I heart boobies" t-shirt and think "he/she's trying to sexualize the issue." I think most people would look at it and go "cool, he supports a good cause." I may still think it's tasteless in its evocativeness, but that doesn't mean I think it's harmful.
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Posted by iam3green

that is pretty weird timing for something like that to happen. they should delay it for a while as it is just weird for that to happen. i guess stuff happen all the time like that.

Posted by DrBendo

I wholly disagree with just about every position you've taken. Production of media comes with no intrinsic responsibilities. There is no reasonable argument to the contrary.
 
Of course, you're suggesting something more akin to courtesy. However, I see no reason to extend courtesy in the case of Juarez. The Motorstorm delay is reasonable. The unforeseeable coincidence of the disaster in Japan provides good reason for a delay. Aside from sensitivity to a sudden misfortune, the delay is a good business strategy. Surely, they will sell more units with a delayed release.
 
The Juarez situation is entirely different. While the infrastructure in Japan is doing a remarkable job addressing the problems and will recover in the near future, the cartel violence, as well as violence in general, in Juarez is a quagmire unlikely to resolve in the foreseeable future. The authorities have done a piss-poor job for decades; corruption and incompetence at nearly every turn are largely responsible for the situation. Mexican authorities aren't giving any indication that their failures will soon cease. As such, a delay would be unwise. Are the developers to shelve the game for another thirty years in hopes that things will improve?
 
Given that a delay is inappropriate, the question becomes whether the game should be made at all. I don't see a compelling argument for making drug wars off-limits for games. If such games are made (which they inevitably will be), then why should they not take place in an appropriate setting? Clearly, the game would not be as effective were it set in Manitoba. It makes perfect sense for a game about the mafia to take place in New York or Chicago, for a game about killer gorillas to take place in Rwanda, and for a game about drug cartels to take place in Juarez. There's no appropriate setting for a crime story that does not face problems with crime. The people of Juarez face high murder rates, rampant drug smuggling, plenty of sexual assault, politicians that cannot be trusted, a police force that oscillates between impotent and criminal, and an infrastructure that is unreliable at best. A game that makes the area look dangerous is hardly worthy of their concern.
 
As for the tangent regarding breast cancer, you're quite wrong. There is nothing misogynistic in the least about the "Save the Boobies" campaign. In terms of raising awareness, the campaign is a resounding success. Sexualizing the matter not only does nothing to downplay the disease, but it is necessary to appeal to the desired demographic. You read far too much into the campaign, and your suggestion that it "erases" the women or prioritizes breasts over health is absurd. Breast cancer is a major concern for women of a certain age, but young women are not too worried about it. It is considered an older woman's danger. By taking a sexual approach, the point is made that young women should keep an eye on breast health, too. The campaign also appeals to men in a positive way. While a vast majority of men in any age range are anti-breast cancer, there aren't many ways to get young men to take a more active interest. The "If you love 'em, rub 'em" slogan, in particular, is a good idea. Most gynosexuals rather enjoy handling breasts; it's a rather common pursuit of young men. This slogan brings to mind that lumps can be noticed through groping. If men have breast cancer in mind during petting, they'll be much more likely to notice potential problems. Women, especially young women, don't do enough self-examination. Their partners are probably going to be handling their breasts much more than they, so why not make them aware that they can hit two birds with one stone? If one can add a sexual element to important safety, then everyone wins; a fun protective measure will be taken much more often than a dull, clinical one. In the last few years, as these ostensibly tacky campaigns have grown, the portion of early detections discovered by a woman's partner have increased. This isn't necessarily due to the campaigns, and there haven't been enough studies to prove causation, but early indicators are positive. Gynosexuals are already interested in breasts, so it makes perfect sense to get them interested in breast health.
 
The reason that you don't see sexualization of prostate cancer is two-fold. First, as a society, we don't really care about men's health. Women's health is a major industry as well as a common topic, but men's health takes a backseat, even among men. If you ask women what their health concerns are, many of the answers will be gender-specific; if you ask men, they'll be overwhelmingly gender-neutral. The second reason is that a prostate simply isn't sexy. These breast cancer promotions aren't so much sexualizing the issue as they are taking advantage of the existing sexual aspect. That can't be done with a prostate.
 
There are far larger problems to be addressed with breast cancer. There are countless charities for it, and a surprising number of them are utter shit. A huge amount of money donated goes to overhead, and many awareness campaigns raise money just to pay for more awareness campaigns. A lot of the charity walks spend most of what they raise to pay for permits, ribbons, and commercials. Very little money actually goes to research. Charity corruption is more prominent with breast cancer than most causes. The tacky campaigns to "save boobs" should be low-priority for complaint, as they are generally not raising money or being billed as charities; they're simply selling clothing and accessories as a business.

Posted by wickedsc3

Simply put games are fake just like movies.  Take one of the bigger recent uproars, I seen no problem in being able to play as the afghans in medal of honor's multiplayer.  Because it is not real, and anyone who meets the games rating should be able to play what the developer intended the game to be.

Posted by Gerhabio
@example1013 said:

" @G3RHRT: @KingWilly: To be honest, on the issue of those wristbands and shirts, I would think that people would know well enough to see that those shirts are just using a clever/funny/mildly erotic statement in order to draw attention, as opposed to saying "oh, we're saving the breasts for sex". 
 
This is why I have a huge problem with sooooo much feminist opinion, is that it's based on what something could be interpreted to mean, rather than on what something is interpreted to mean.  For instance, I'll use a discussion brought up in both my philosophy and sociology classes: the use of -man as a suffix, for instance in the word "yeoman". My professors both said that the language sends a subtle message about who should be doing the job (as in the difference between "men's work" and "women's work"). But I completely disagree with this on every level. I feel that the gender of the job isn't intrinsically linked to the label, and that the language doesn't indicate a gendered occupation. The word "yeoman" is a perfect example, because the first time I heard the word was when I was like 6, watching Star Trek with my dad. And Captain Kirk called one of the generic woman crew members "yeoman", and I thus learned that all those words that use -man as a suffix give absolutely no indication of gender whatsoever.  The representation itself isn't what determines the meaning. The meaning can only be determined upon interpretation. And thus, the marketing itself isn't harmful to women unless people interpret it in a harmful way. And realistically, no one would look at an "I heart boobies" t-shirt and think "he/she's trying to sexualize the issue." I think most people would look at it and go "cool, he supports a good cause." I may still think it's tasteless in its evocativeness, but that doesn't mean I think it's harmful. "

I won't be able to change your mind with a post, example 1013, but since you're in college I would recommend you take a couple Women's Studies courses and maybe some feminist anthropology or linguistic anthropology (with a focus on gendered speech). Your words have been very intelligent and impressive throughout our conversation and this piece is very well written as well. But I must say I think you are terribly wrong here. Complacency will not get women out of their marginalized status.
 
I would say that your argument would only be valid if we were not living in a society in which objectifying women is the implicit standard. When you learned about yeoman and were exposed to how this could be negative you should have become aware of how power dynamics between genders are complex. In the example of yeoman it is indisputable that the word is gendered. It ends with -man for a reason, this is not a coincidence regardless of how history, with its precedent of feminism and women fighting to be represented has changed society enough for Star Trek to have a woman be called one. Words in English and the way they are used contemporaneously do represent the hegemony which is male. Just look at how many words are male as morphemes and are only female when they add a suffix to them! This is no coincidence. Moreover, people do internalize the hegemony where males are superior to females, the sexualization of illness is but one example. Continuing with the linguistic theme, just make a list of all the common gender-specific insults you can think of. Done? How many are male? How many are female? If you didn't cheat yourself I bet most were either female or neutral but not male and I would be willing to bet good money that most of the female ones are sexual in nature. Sexual qualifiers are myriad for both men and women but most male-specific ones are positive and along the lines of "player", "playboy", "pimp", "stud", etc. Most female ones on the other hand are negative and attack supposed promiscuity: "Slut", "bitch", "whore", "skank", "wench", "tart", etch. Another point: Most words that are ameliorated (become positive after being originally negative) in the English language are male-specific: A couple decades ago "mack" became ameliorated as "mack daddy" and recently "pimp" became also positive. Most words that go through pejoration (becoming negative from the original positive or neutral) are female: "Hussy" in the 16th century was a contraction of housewife but now is negative (and of course, it has the sexual connotations), more recently "housewife" itself came under pejoration because of the TV show Desperate Housewives and now under descriptions of occupations, married women who stay at home go for the more neutral "homemaker". 
Let's not lie to ourselves as men: Women in our society are marginalized and the hegemony is male. Saying otherwise would be denying privilege. People have more restrictive expectations for women than men in terms of sexuality, relationships, job market, academics, etc.  Feminism is not there to divide people, example1013, and real feminists don't go around judging whether something could be misconstrued but observing what IS already affecting views on women and pointing it out. Many people think, "We don't need feminism anymore, women have rights now and can vote" or "Feminists are close-minded, we're all the same" and yet Girls Gone Wild continues to grow richer and to sexually exploit young women by reinforcing what is expected of them (to sexually parade for men) and yet we see buses lined with ads of American Apparel with young women in sexually suggestive positions, and yet "master" means someone in control while "mistress" carries a heavily sexual connotation.  
People think feminism is unnecessary or extreme and yet most of their politically correct ideologies and value of egalitarianism comes from the social change brought about by feminist movements that aggressively demanded for this equality. Their job is not done and they are not assuming people misconstrue or being belligerent toward them. Society DOES keep women down.  There's a reason why Captain Kirk called that generic woman a  "yeoman": Because feminism fought for years so that that could happen and the -man there is a vestige of a patriarchy that still survives as the undercurrent of our society. 
 
Sorry to flood you with all of this but I can see you're a smart person and I implore you to explore feminism more deeply and get rid of cultural preconceptions: People may not see the I love boobs shirt and say "that's sexualizing illness" but that's because for them this is normal, this is ok, this is an acceptable course of action. A feminist sees this because they know what social undercurrents culminated in such message. They know this message appeals to the masses because the sexualization and objectification of women also does.
Posted by Gerhabio
@drbendo:  
 I'm going to answer this as shortly as I can since I've already wrote like 10 pages of replies today (heh).
Why is courtesy appropriate in Japan and not in Mexico? Because Mexico won't be solving its problem soon? That would be a problem with the developers and their decision, it's not like they got artistic incontinence or something. The drug war in Mexico is not the same as the mafia or the Taliban in Medal of Honor because the drug war is an ongoing problem that still affects people. The Mafia is hardly a visible problem in New York now and members of the Taliban won't be playing or hearing about Medal of Honor. But people in Mexico may hear about or play the game. Furthermore, many games are very effective at conveying a theme without having to target a specific place, no lest a present time. You can always fictionalize a place. 
 
About the breasts thing, I think I got a lot of my points down in the reply to example1013. 
But  basic pointers: 
It seems you are justifying the means by the ends. Remember, I have nothing against the support of breast cancer but I  think the means they are using are objectifying women. You say it yourself, they use the sex of women to attract men to the problem. They centralize boobs as the center of attention instead of the women --the people-- suffering the cancer. 
The reason I mentioned prostates was not to deliberate on whether boobs or prostates could attract more contributors. It was meant to point out how women in general are more sexualized than men. This is also the reason why women, who may have internalized this, talk more about their sexual health and men are more neutral about it. The prostate might not be sexy like boobs are considered sexy (at least not to heterosexuals) but it is related to male pleasure and sexuality and yet cancer prostate campaigns don't have things like "Save the schlongs" or anything similar, it is only with women. 
Lastly, yes, there are bigger problems with cancer campaigns than this but this IS one of the problems and implying that because there are bigger problems this one is irrelevant is silly. There are bigger problems in the world than the Japanese disaster such as abject poverty, hunger and violence but that doesn't mean we're going to forget about the Japanese plight. My complaint is valid for it affects women in the long-run and not just the ones affected by cancer.
Posted by Example1013
@G3RHRT: I guess I should've clarified. My philosophy course was philosophy and gender, taught by one of the Women's Studies professors. We spent the entire course dealing with the issues you've described. And I can't help but disagree with you on the issue regarding language. 
 
For instance, the word "woman" is the most basic word to use the gendered suffix, because women are defined in this society as "not men". I really don't want to get into too deep of an argument, because that would require talking about the definition of women as "the other" and all of that, which I feel isn't exactly relevant to the point I'm trying to make. 
 
Basically, language in and of itself holds no intrinsic meaning. Language's meaning can only be applied relationally within a context, and as such, there is no such thing as a true abstraction. Think about this: if you heard someone speaking ancient Sumerian, would you have any idea what they were saying? 
 
The answer is no, because Sumerian words have no meaning to you, since you have no context (in this case, context and definition can be used interchangeably). Thus, the use of what has historically been a gendered suffix ("-man", in this case) will only be used to define gender within the mind of someone who has been taught that it defines gender. Since I learned that the suffix didn't define gender, whenever I see it, I don't automatically assume the role to belong to one gender or another. This is simply due to how I was socialized. Thus we could easily socialize the next generation to see traditionally gendered suffixes ("-man", "-or", "-ess", etc.) without a gender, and could easily streamline the language to exclude them. The fact that we still use separate suffixes in the first place is, in my opinion, more harmful to women than the use of a male gendered suffix, because it would be a lot easier to remove gender bias by removing gendered language than by actively shifting the paradigmatic interpretations of the words in people's minds, especially since those paradigmatic interpretations are partially subconscious, and thus not completely malleable. 
 
So in other words, using the word "yeowoman" alongside "yeoman" is, I feel, more deleterious than simply using "yeoman" as a universal term, because the use of separate gendered words does more to further the idea that there is a difference than the use of a term that would traditionally only cover one gender. I know that I'm in the extreme minority in my opinions, because I support women's rights and women's equality, but I don't fully support feminism and the entire doctrine I learned, but I don't really give a damn, because I think it's more telling that I've been able to formulate my own unique opinion on this, rather than simply taking sides. 
  
 
I was going to add more in response to your last two paragraphs, but I feel like I've mostly covered what I want to say. However, I will discuss the issue of sexualization. 
 
Girls Gone Wild is exploitative, blatantly. But that's because it's produced and intended for that sole purpose. That doesn't mean that sexuality is exploitative, however. I watch porn, for instance. But I don't objectify any of the women in the videos, and I specifically avoid watching anything that involves either pure acting or some type of male fantasy being acted out. I don't find that arousing. I find imagery of women enjoying themselves arousing, and thus I'd much rather watch a woman feeling genuine pleasure in what she's doing than some video of a girl fake screaming/moaning and asking for the male actor to fuck her harder. I also don't enjoy watching clips of drunk women, because they clearly have no clue about what they're doing and are in no position to be video taped, placing it in an extremely exploitative (and unappealing to me, I might add) category. 
 
I'll add at the bottom that language is constantly evolving, and that we can change the way words are used. Just look at the word "nigger" (I don't care what anyone thinks, "N-word" is a hypocritical cop-out; if you don't want to say the word, don't craft a sentence that would use it, rather than just using a euphemism to try to get away with it). There are still people who use it as a perjorative towards blacks, but I doubt you'd find many white people willing to use the word at all. That's changed a ton in the past century.
 
Also, your paragraphs were kind of a mess on my 15" screen,  but I did read them.
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Edited by Grumbel

Motorstorm is clearly a fantasy setting and really no more evil then the next best Gozilla movie, or actually even less so, as the game is about the setting, not the suffering. If they wanna delay it a few month, because they would expect bad press otherwise, fine with me, but as a game itself I don't see a problem with it.
 
As for Call of Juarez, here is where it gets tricky. I absolutely want games to tackle those real world issues, as they can be a great way to teach people what is happening, present things from different viewpoints and actually be an insightful social commentary. The problem with that of course is that by far most games touching those real world issues don't do that. They do the exact opposite, they present only a single view point, present war as this clean "good vs evil" fight with civilians casualties and they mess up things in plenty of other ways. Games tend to take real world problems and turn it into a flat Michael Bay-type action fest, void of information, commentary or anything else actually useful. And even when a game tries to be more realistic and not present some twisted hyper-reality,  they tend to be generally extremely one sided and provide only a very limited viewpoint (i.e. presenting only a single historic battle, without saying anything about the larger war itself).
 
And thats really the problem, I really want to see that game that tackles a realistic issues in a proper way, but so far I don't think I have really seen any (at least as far as modern console games go).

Posted by Gerhabio
@Grumbel: I agree. 
 
@example1013
said:
" @G3RHRT: I guess I should've clarified. My philosophy course was philosophy and gender, taught by one of the Women's Studies professors. We spent the entire course dealing with the issues you've described. And I can't help but disagree with you on the issue regarding language. 
 
For instance, the word "woman" is the most basic word to use the gendered suffix, because women are defined in this society as "not men". I really don't want to get into too deep of an argument, because that would require talking about the definition of women as "the other" and all of that, which I feel isn't exactly relevant to the point I'm trying to make. 
 
Basically, language in and of itself holds no intrinsic meaning. Language's meaning can only be applied relationally within a context, and as such, there is no such thing as a true abstraction. Think about this: if you heard someone speaking ancient Sumerian, would you have any idea what they were saying? 
 
The answer is no, because Sumerian words have no meaning to you, since you have no context (in this case, context and definition can be used interchangeably). Thus, the use of what has historically been a gendered suffix ("-man", in this case) will only be used to define gender within the mind of someone who has been taught that it defines gender. Since I learned that the suffix didn't define gender, whenever I see it, I don't automatically assume the role to belong to one gender or another. This is simply due to how I was socialized. Thus we could easily socialize the next generation to see traditionally gendered suffixes ("-man", "-or", "-ess", etc.) without a gender, and could easily streamline the language to exclude them. The fact that we still use separate suffixes in the first place is, in my opinion, more harmful to women than the use of a male gendered suffix, because it would be a lot easier to remove gender bias by removing gendered language than by actively shifting the paradigmatic interpretations of the words in people's minds, especially since those paradigmatic interpretations are partially subconscious, and thus not completely malleable. 
 
So in other words, using the word "yeowoman" alongside "yeoman" is, I feel, more deleterious than simply using "yeoman" as a universal term, because the use of separate gendered words does more to further the idea that there is a difference than the use of a term that would traditionally only cover one gender. I know that I'm in the extreme minority in my opinions, because I support women's rights and women's equality, but I don't fully support feminism and the entire doctrine I learned, but I don't really give a damn, because I think it's more telling that I've been able to formulate my own unique opinion on this, rather than simply taking sides.    I was going to add more in response to your last two paragraphs, but I feel like I've mostly covered what I want to say. However, I will discuss the issue of sexualization.  Girls Gone Wild is exploitative, blatantly. But that's because it's produced and intended for that sole purpose. That doesn't mean that sexuality is exploitative, however. I watch porn, for instance. But I don't objectify any of the women in the videos, and I specifically avoid watching anything that involves either pure acting or some type of male fantasy being acted out. I don't find that arousing. I find imagery of women enjoying themselves arousing, and thus I'd much rather watch a woman feeling genuine pleasure in what she's doing than some video of a girl fake screaming/moaning and asking for the male actor to fuck her harder. I also don't enjoy watching clips of drunk women, because they clearly have no clue about what they're doing and are in no position to be video taped, placing it in an extremely exploitative (and unappealing to me, I might add) category.  I'll add at the bottom that language is constantly evolving, and that we can change the way words are used. Just look at the word "nigger" (I don't care what anyone thinks, "N-word" is a hypocritical cop-out; if you don't want to say the word, don't craft a sentence that would use it, rather than just using a euphemism to try to get away with it). There are still people who use it as a perjorative towards blacks, but I doubt you'd find many white people willing to use the word at all. That's changed a ton in the past century. Also, your paragraphs were kind of a mess on my 15" screen,  but I did read them. "  
Sorry for the mess, I'm getting tired.
  I know what you meant by language only having meaning by proxy. And yes, languages are dynamic and so are cultures but never before has a society completely reinvented themselves and history (linguistic and cultural) is important and affects how people perceive themselves and others. And in most of the world throughout most of its recorded history it has been a history of the hegemony of men. Thus the male-specific morphemes and the female-specific modifiers.
  " Thus we could easily socialize the next generation to see traditionally gendered suffixes ("-man", "-or", "-ess", etc.) without a gender, and could easily streamline the language to exclude them.   "  The "easily" part, with no disrespect intended, is a silly assumption. If it were so easy people would have done it already. The few words that we began to change such as "actor"  for both "actor" and "actress" still default to the male variety (which only reflects how maleness is natural or normative). Plus, it is ridiculously difficult to change an adults way of speaking and children learn from those adults and will also absorb any slip ups and internalize the differences. It is possible (and I'm pretty sure it will happen) but across many generations.
 
And speaking of the present as if it was the future or as if it is the ultimate outcome of years of struggle, acting as if oppression, discrimination, and hegemony are a think of history books is another form of social complacency and laziness. I know this may not be necessarily you but the dialogue of "I don't think male when I hear 'yeoman', I'm fixed!" is redolent of such thinking and I hope you don't hold it since you seem so smart (no sarcasm, these are good arguments if disagreeable to what I've observed on the women in my life).

I have a feeling you think of feminism as a something that only works to divide people. I think that's the main rift between of our understanding of gendered power dynamics: "  I know that I'm in the extreme minority in my opinions, because I support women's rights and women's equality, but I don't fully support feminism and the entire doctrine I learned, but I don't really give a damn, because I think it's more telling that I've been able to formulate my own unique opinion on this, rather than simply taking sides  "  
 If you learned that feminism is a side, an antagonistic faction...  And that you have surpassed 60 years of feminist studies. I suggest you discuss this further with your professors (that's what they're for anyway) before settling into one concrete outlook.
 
I'm not gonna go into the Feminism-porn argument because, as you may know, there is enough debate within feminist studies as to whether there is space for it in a truly free society. Also, I'm not sure why you brought it up, I never explicitly said that sexuality is evil. What is evil is the hypersexualization of women. The constant relegation of women as objects for male pleasure at levels that far --FAR-- outweigh those of male sexualization and that lead to female objectification that we see everywhere. In commercials on buses where you have a sexually suggestive woman to sell your product, where it is normalized. We see it in video games too.  You cannot say it is not true that women's appearance is valued more than men's, and usually more than their other personal qualities. If you've ever been around a little girl you'll notice right away that most qualifiers given to them by people greeting/meeting them are about how pretty they are, about how they look.  
 
Well, hopefully you'll get into more than one class or if you have talk to professors about your ideas and what you disagree with and come back and come for another talk, be it to tell me you haven't changed your mind or whatever. :) 
 
At the end of the day I think we both can agree that women and their experiences are important halves of this world and our lives and that we will try to support them and never limit them because of their femaleness.  
 
 
Good chat.
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