Recently, I got wind of the fact that Atlus USA will ship Catherine
with different box arts to selected retails. This kind of move is been attributed to American Puritanism’, with the classic ‘God oh God think of the children’ mentality. First, I do not think they are wrong here. If a retailer says they will not sell a game with certain cover arts, it is within their rights to do so. Atlus is not changing the game itself, so I see no reason to be alarmed.
Image by meteorscrap. Please, visit his blog at http://www.destructoid.com/blogs/meteorscrap/catherine-boxart-change-an-interesting-dilemma-200101.phtml.
But that let me thinking about censorship. Here in my country, there are too many politicians eager to censor any form of media. First, it does not matter if games are art or not, but as a media able to pass information, I do believe they must not be victim of any special form of censorship. Games are not toys, games are not made only for children; they are just a form of media. So, I believe that games must receive the exact same treatment given to movies, TV shows, magazines and other form of media.
They are action figures.
Politicians love censorship. They will always try to find any excuse to use it. Why? Because it starts with ‘protecting our children’ and soon they are ‘fighting subversive, dangerous thinking’ in media. Do not let they fool you, they do not care if a game shows some skin or have someone shooting other guy in the nuts, they just wants a excuse to put a censorship and have control of the information. In established democracies it is harder to do it, since you have different politicians with different views. That is why democracy still is the best way of government. But given the chance, they will not hesitate to censor the hell out of any media form.
One of the reasons of the outrage in games nowadays is parents worrying about games turning their kids in criminals. Weirdly, the same parents who worry about violent games are the same ones who do not read the ESRB/PEGI/CERO classifications or at least reads the box of the game before letting their children buy it. They just desire to give $60 to their kids and let them buy whatever they want, as long as they do not bother the parents when they are busy with adult stuff, probably seen Fox News or Oprah. In reality, the most concerned about games parents are the laziest ones.
The media already blamed all new forms of media for violence. Comics, Rock and Roll, Heavy Metal, 80s action movies. The truth, parents wants a magical, easy to use formula that will grant well adjusted kids. It cannot be complicated, because they have no time or willingness to put an effort and actually raise their kids. It is way easier if government creates a law and the magical formula be enforced to everyone.
'My son became a alcoholic criminal because of games, not my bad parenting skill'
Game developers have their responsibilities, too. They must inform correctly the parents about the content of their games and make everything possible to assure that when someone buys a game, they will not be surprised with the content. The rating summaries in the box are a good start, but I feel that they are lacking in more effective ways to do it. There are no campaigns in more mainstream media about how the ratings works, where parents can find this information and how to prevent that inappropriate content reaches immature audiences. Make TV ads, for example, explaining the ratings and maybe less parents will be concerned about ‘hidden’ things in the games. The more you inform an audience, less space for false claims exists.
If everyone knows this exists, maybe they will bitch a little less.
My last piece of comment is that we, gamers, should make our part too. When someone posts something untrue in a forum, for example, it is our job to tell the true. But we must watch the way we do it. Being all aggressive, using offensive language and making life threats will not help to diffuse the image many associated with gamers, that we are immature, aggressive beings. It is not easy, but changing people’s mentality relies too much in giving the right info. And it is a job who involves everyone.