About movies, videogames, violence and censure
In the last couple of years we've been getting reports saying that the videogame industry has gotten similar or even greater revenues than the film industry. This fact is starting to show off in events like the last week's worldwide release of Halo 3 by Bungie/Microsoft, which has been prepared and advertised with a marketing campaing that remainds (or even overtakes) those paid by the Hollywood greatest studios. And it has gotten a huge success, with first week's revenue comparable to those achieved by 'Titanic' or the more recent 'Spiderman' saga.
I'm not as interested in the exact figures as I am in the fact that the videogame industry has become adult in many ways. What surprises me is that for Halo 3 we've seen movie-like TV ads, and all kinds of written ads in newspapers, magazines and bus stops around the world. Seems that someone in Microsoft (or Bungie or both) suddenly woke up one morning and thought ('Hey, if the Warner Brothers can do it, so can we'). I'm not naive enough to think someone got hit by an apple and discovered the gravity law, but you get the idea.
So, we have a new huge competitor in the entretainment bussiness. And it is really starting to behave as such. The ad industry is happy to have a new big customer in town. The market is ready for it. But is everybody so ready? Let's talk about the social part of this.
First of all I want to point a couple of facts that led me to the thoughts I'll expose below: In the last week we've seen a new 'censure' fight, this time between Rockstar Studios and the British Board of Film Classification’s (BBFC) regarding the release of the sequel of their acclaimed horror game, Manhunt 2. The classification has been denied (twice now) and it still cannot be released for sale in the UK. And it is not the first time, nor the only company and not the only country were this kind of problems arise (Germany and 'Gears of War' being one of the most recent and controversial). In most of these cases, the 'Whatever-board-of-videogames-classification' wants some modifications made in the game to soften its violent or sexual content.
So, based on that, I've come to the conclusion that society (or at least some goverment branches in charge of movie and videogame classification) still consider videogames a kid's issue. My argument being that no one ever claimed that Terminator 3 or Saw II blood be turn green or body pieces being deleted from screen. What's the point in making those exigences to videogame manufacturers? Don't we think that parents can be trusted to control what their children play in their own consoles in their own homes? But they can be trusted to control if their children watch an +18 rated movie in the theater in the mall? Or is it that we trust the girl selling movie tickets but not the one selling videogames to check how old is her customer? (and please, don't bring up the 'piratery' stuff, its much easier to download an illegal copy of a movie than doing the same with a videogame, wich requieres a minimum technical knowledge to crack).
So here is my complaint: I'm 30 years old, and I belong to the Pong-Space Invaders-Tetris generation. I've played the first videogames ever desgined, I've seen the industry come bigger and bigger. And here I am, with a brand not-so-new XBox 360 and an HD-TV in my living room. And some days I want to see and old-fashioned movie, say 'Casablanca'. Others, I prefer 'Save Private Ryan'. Some days I enjoy a driving videogame (loving ForzaMotorsport 2, currently) And some others I want to shoot the bad guys (Call Of Duty, lets say). And yes, I can purchase porn from my cable TV vendor or buy it in my video-rental shop if I please, since I'm old enough. And why not, some day I might want to play a bloody-criminal videogame. I like Manhunt. I might buy Manhunt 2 it if it comes out for the XBox. And I WILL purchase Grand Theft Auto IV, no matter how many implicit or explicit sex scenes it might contain (hell, I'll enjoy them). And I see no earthly reason for some to forbid that. Add as many +18 labels to the box as you want. I'm (wide) over 18. I will play it. I'll have my children or my friends' children not play it. But please, let me choose. We (again, the Tetris generation) have grown. The technology has grown. You watched violence, death and porn on TV in the 80's. I want to play death, and I want to play porn (my alter-ego in videogames is so complex now that I think he'll enjoy it too :D)