Sunday, July 18, 2010

Ernst knows what's good for ya

Sigh. Another idiot that wants (violent) games to be forbidden. This time the fame goes to our own minister Ernst Hirsch Ballin. We Dutchman like to be known as progressive, open minded people. Legally smoke weed and space out with the hooters in Amsterdam, gay-power to the max, abortion, euthanasia, stuff yourself with mushrooms, free from religion, and so on. We used to laugh on America when we heard some petty discussions (drugs are bad mmkay, weapon shops ok, Michael Moore stuff). But while America is finally trying to scrap that famous f*BEEP*cking BEEP from their televisions, we start to forbid more and more. And for the wrong reasons.

To be more specific, our minister Ernst wants to fully forbid violent games because the 18+ labels do not work. Little kids still play Grand Theft Auto, and that is horribly wrong. Of course, everyone protests when his (bad) habits are questioned. Ask someone to quit smoking, drinking or playing bloody games, and you’ll get a defensive answer. So, are games really 100% innocent? I don’t think so. But guys like good old Ernst, Hillary Clinton or that moron Jack Thompson have to do their homework before yelling stupidity.

To clarify the mindsets of these people; Hillary was “shocked” by the Hot Coffee mod. That’s right, kids that are 16 or older still shouldn’t see 2 low-poly puppets having sex (with their underpants still on). Ernst tries to forbid anything that might hurt the Lords feelings, and instructed to arrest a cartoonist that made a silly joke (freedom of speech). And Jack stated that even The Sims is an adult game because little children can hack(year right) the game. I’ve seen the naked Sims indeed. They look like… a naked Barbie of my daughter. I’d better buy a chastity for Barbie before mr. Teddy Bear and Tyrannosaurus are on top. But ok, they still have a point.

Off topic (or on-topic, as this is a development blog), this week I was busy with the HUD. When picking up something, scripts can show dialog forms, play sounds, pause the game, or Sepia/blur the background. The challenge was to make it fully adjustable. If I want another dialog in the future, it should be possible without even touching the engine code.

I won’t play or watch something abusive when my little daughter is around. The reason is obvious, I don’t want her to have nightmares. And more important, she should not start thinking that beating up grandma’s, stealing cars, swearing or decapitating zombies is normal behavior. So, in essence these people are right when stating that (young) children should be protected. Though I’ll have to admit that I saw Jaws when I was about 5 years old, played Doom and Crusader No Remorse when I was 11/12. Never had any problems with aggression though. Same thing for most other people I know. My parents didn’t close my eyes when boobs showed on the TV, neither forbid me to play Carmageddon. All they did was simply keeping a close eye on me, and intervene when I would start showing “bad signals”.

As many other parents, they handled blood, sex, drugs and rock&roll on a stolid way. The right way. You all know what happens if you explicitly forbid girlfriends or alcohol; the more reason to try it out! Example, here in Holland where softdrugs are legal, we most probably use far less than our neighbors where drugs are still illegal. Then again, parents shouldn’t be laconic on the matter either. Children have to know what’s right and wrong. Same thing with games & internet. Pull out that internet cable if those kids are 24/7 online, simple as that. Like with most temptations in life, you have to moderate, taking the right doses.

Forbidding violent games is unnecessary, hypocrite, and on top, it won’t solve the real problems. As often with these subjective “researches”, causes and consequences are swapped. Many banana’s grow in the jungle because there are monkeys. I bet a Jack Thompson never even played a game, except Tiddly Winks maybe. In other words, conclusions made on a very wrong foundation. Everyone is free to have an opinion, but guys like Ernst or Hillary Clinton actually have the power to make policies, and that makes them dangerous(ly stupid). Well Ernst, I doubt if you read this filthy blog, but… Forbidding is:

Every incident inspired or otherwise related with games is one too many. But honestly, how many crimes came out of a game? We had a few psychopaths such as the Columbine boys, or wacko’s that kill each other because their virtual Goblin sword got stolen in World of Warcraft. But compare those numbers to all other criminals, rapers, Ted Bundy’s, pedophiles and other scum. You defineletly don’t need a game to get berserk. Typically, the most violent regions are usually places where they lack Wii’s and Xboxes (Somalia, Middle East, Ghetto’s, …). Also our own violent history moments such as WWII, throwing tar over each other, or crusades were written in gameless times. I doubt if Stalin, William Wallace or Alexander The Great had a Commodore 64. In short, gaming is not a significant causer of violent behavior. Maybe it makes kids anti-social, when playing too much. But that is still far away from hurting people.

Do not worry. This weapon fires confetti, no violence was used in my game

I’m not saying that games do not have any influence at all. But the same things can be said about movies, books, gangster rap or heavy metal. How about alcohol or football? These two things actually do cause quite a lot of violence, vandalism and family drama’s. Should we scrap them? Of course not. Because there are still millions of people that enjoy a football match or beer without getting crazy. Should those pay for the deeds of a “few” idiots? If we would banish alcohol and football, we’d better start to forbid about anything. Violent news items, boxing, nudity, radio, controvert art that might hurt the feelings of some... There is a name for systems like that: dictatorship. Just censor and forbid everything. Problems solved.

The funny thing is that guys like Ernst have a quite strict religious background. Erm… That’s fine with me, but if one thing caused millions of deaths and intolerance throughout the past, it is religion. That man wants to protect our children for games and other impure things, but it’s perfectly fine if they read about unbelievers burning in hell in the Bible, Quran or another religious book. Well, Southpark perfectly covers a lot of these issues. And again, people that feel offended by that series often don’t get the clue at all.

Not solving the true problems:
We can blame games, internet or Marilyn Manson. But why do we never look at ourselves? Was everything perfectly fine if the Columbine boys didn’t get a Nintendo? Of course not, their problems lied much deeper. Think about their environment, the way they got raised, problems at school, and so on. If it wasn’t the game that triggered them, something else would have done it.

Violence and lusts are in our nature. Therefore we look for ways to ventilate. Get drunk, go to a bondage club, beat your wife behind the curtains, go kickboxing or fitnessing, watch Predator on TV, or control yourself by strictly following a religion/lifestyle. Most peoply can do this very well luckily, others have little problems… There is no way to prevent this, other than trying to raise our kids the best we can. They have to learn how to deal with problems, desires and temptations. Taming the beast is an ever existing challenge, with or without games.

Forbidding everything is a way of shoving all the garbage under a carpet. If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist. But what happens if the crap starts peeling out anyway? Typically people that never faced a certain problem or temptation will react frantic. Simply because they can’t place it. Religious or dictatorship systems try to control this with punishment (hell, captivity), but I rather lead my way based on sense instead of fear.

Just another pic of that room, including a test monster. I which I had more rooms to show, but I only have one pair of hands! About the floor reflection, a cubemap nearby the camera is updated each cycle, allowing realtime reflections on any surface. The cubemap is blurred and downscaled a few times so objects can pick a blurry reflection as well. I still have to implement mirroring for 100% accurate reflections though (for water and such).

Well I can write another thousand pages on subjects like these, but I think you get the point. I’d like to add though that they simply don’t have the right to decide for me what's good or bad. Games are just another form of art and demonstrate one of Westerns great goods; freedom of expression. If our leaders start messing with that, we’ll get ourselves bombarded back into the dark ages.

So Ernst, mind your own business. I know there are bad parents that let their kids play violent games all day without ever doing a check up, but I’m not the one to blame for that. Rather than restricting everybody, you’d better concentrate on bad upbringing. I’m not forcing you to play violent games or to watch porn, so please don’t force me to stop neither. Thank you.

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