Adults Only: Ian Tit Appropriate?

Adults Only: Ian Tit Appropriate?

A slightly modified version of this article originally appeared on my blog some time during the English Civil War.

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Ian Bogost is a sage amongst milder herbs. According to Bogost , we’re all a little to blame for the failure of the original Manhunt 2, Carmageddon, Fahrenheit, and every other game deemed too ‘adult’ for retail acceptability. Bogost, who is the founder of Persuasive Games, conceives a need to critically assess the ramifications of the label ‘Adults Only’ (AO): the decisively fatalistic rating which the US’ ESRB deemed appropriate for Manhunt 2 in June 2007.

Reading this statement, I think that Bogost is outlining a failure of duty (and the existence of a duty!) on the behalf of those that produce, distribute, and enable the playing of games:

“A number of commenters… are calling for… an AO version for PC sold outside the traditional videogame retail channels… I suspect such a move is financially unimaginable in contemporary videogames […] But game devs and publishers are going to have to start making moves like this if they also want to continue making calls for the protection of games as speech. Who will take this argument seriously if game creators are so willing to compromise their intentions?”

To use a civil rights analogy (why not): I think that we as gamers should consider the example of Dr. King, who successfully displayed that a valid and effective strategy to bring an end to discrimination is to avoid an adversarial mentality and instead to persuade those who would discriminate (against games as a worthy medium) that we should be recognized as members of the community with a valuable contribution to make.

We can achieve the respect of doubters in a number of ways. We as gamers can take it as our duty to show our favorite games to our friends, relatives, and people who would really prefer we didn’t. We can tell people why we love games, how the media tends to report only on the negative aspects of gaming, and that ‘Adults Only’ should not be demonized because a lot of gamers are just that: adults. We can praise the efforts of the many developers that strive to exceed expectations and to produce something truly exceptional. We can reject the studio that fails to defend its creation when it comes under criticism for being ‘too extreme’. Games are a creative vision. Developers: for you to submit to outside interference is like poking yourself in the eye, suddenly that vision becomes blurry and indistinct.

4 thoughts on “Adults Only: Ian Tit Appropriate?

  1. The flip side of this is the utter disregard people have for ratings on games at the moment as it is. Parents don’t give a shit, kids don’t give a shit, shops don’t give a shit. So long as there is a legal adult buying a game, even if they know it’s for a minor, no one cares. So the fact that there even is an Adults Only rating doesn’t really make such a huge impact. ‘Adults Only’ should by those games marked with an 18 certificate. Surely everyone over 18 is an adult? So what’s the point in having an extra rating on top of that. It’s really rather silly.

  2. In America there isn’t any 18 certificate. Like an R-rated movie, a game rated Mature has the number 17 on it. If you want something to be 18 only, the ESRB’s only option is the Adults Only rating and all the stigma it carries. Of course, you have to have either ID or a parent with you to buy an M-rated game, but the fact that you can without being an adult means a a lot of folks well under 17 can end up with these games., which fuels outrage and cries of “Won’t somebody think of the children?”

    If you were aware of how the ESRB rates things before, I apologize for rambling, but your above post made it sound like you thought America had an 18 rating and a seperate Adults Only rating, which isn’t the case.

    P.S.: Very much enjoying the site, keep up the good work!

  3. Yeah, I was mostly thinking of that from an English perspective, but, to be quite honest, having a 17+ rating is just stupid. What makes a film acceptable for 17 year olds, but not adult? They should just move it to 18+ and do away with the Adults Only tag.

  4. Well, the idea is that the rating is for materials that would require parental discretion but wouldn’t necessarily be inapproriate for someone just because they haven’t reached the age of consent. In reality though, it just means that the market for games sold only to adults doesn’t exist, and somethings that might be better suited for that rating will be shoved down to M. There’s a ridiculous range of games in the M-rating: Half-Life 2 was rated M but so was Manhunt.

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