Friday, June 22, 2007

Re: AO....(Huh!)...What is it Good For?

There are a number of responses that went through my head in response to your points, and I think I've limited them to 3:

1. Unless you've played the game, and we haven't, we don't know what kind of game it is. Violence is not inherently cutting edge. It's from Rockstar so we'll assume its going to be at least a good game, but being on the "cutting edge" in this case, and in all other AO cases, would just mean that they allow severe sex and violence. While there is a certain amount of draw to that, its not that overwhelming. "Cutting egde" for video games is seen as something different, which explains why anyone has purchased a PS3 over a 360.

2. Publishing the game = lawsuits = negative perception by parents. There is a 100% chance that they would be sued, and not just by Jack Thompson. Parents buy many of the systems for their kids. This would be big press if the system were the only one publishing such a game and that would be how it was branded in parents' minds.

3. AO ratings have their place just as NC-17 has its place. No one wants to make an NC-17 movie because most theaters won't carry it. Some artists choose to go that way and that's their choice, but they have to distribute the movie so people can see it - it ends up in art houses and in DVD sales, which in this case are analogous to the PC. If you want to keep someone from breathing down your neck, you put it somewhere without someone to sue. And the super-violent movies that the game has been likened too (Hostel, Saw, etc) have sometimes had to be recut inorder to make it into theaters. That's why their "unrated" DVD versions are so important. They know they'd hit NC-17, so they make the commercial sacrifice.

So what does that mean? First of all, Rockstar should have seen it coming. And the solution isn't that appetizing - publish the full game on PC and then publish a watered down version on the Wii and the PS3. Sure, Gamespot says it would lose some of the story, but I doubt that it would take a full overhaul to get it under. Dark violence is okay, Manhunt proved that, but apparently there is a limit. Oh, and if they do that, they better make sure that the cut pieces are lying there on the disc like some Hot Coffee.

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