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Brought about as a result of a CaptainBus/Sean Daisy fever dream, Debatoid offers one proposal with two sides; two users give the case for and against the proposal and you vote for the outcome.

Debatoid changed its name to MassDebate, but don't fret; the principle of controversial topics, smart candidate and avid discussion remains at the forefront! Vive la mÍme chose et la difference!

If anyone wants to volunteer a topic or submit their interest in being a contender then please PM MassDebate, email captainbus AT gmail DOT com or message _SeanDaisy on Twitter.

Debatoid Debates:

Do FPS games prevent videogames' cultural relevancy?
The proposition: As long as FPS games are our most popular genre, videogames will not be taken culturally seriously.
Debatoid rejects the proposition!

Will Mario still be New and Super in 2036?
The proposition: Super Mario platformers will still be released to critical acclaim and commercial success in 25 years time.
Debatoid accepts the proposition!

JT Murphy
Corduroy Turtle
Are scores necessary in video game reviews?
The proposition: Scores are necessary in video game reviews.
Debatoid rejects the proposition!

Andrew Kauz
Are zombies an overused gaming concept?
The proposition: Zombies are an overused gaming concept.
Debatoid accepts the proposition!

Ali D
Game In A Box: Endangered in the next 10 Years?
The proposition: In 10 years time physical media will become marginalised.
Debatoid rejects the proposition!

Are video games trying too hard to be like movies?
The proposition: Video games are trying too hard to be like movies.
Debatoid accepts the proposition!

Can sex have a positive role to play in video games?
The proposition: Sex has no positive role to play in video games.
Debatoid rejects the proposition!

Does portable gaming represent the dominant future of video games?
The proposition: Portable gaming represents the dominant future of the video game industry.
Debatoid rejects the proposition!

mrandydixon (PC)
Sexualchocolate (PS3)
rexwolf2 (Wii)
Nihil (XBox 360)
Debatoid Special: Which platform is best for home gaming this generation?
The proposition: The PC / PS3 / Wii / XBox 360 represents the best that this generation's home gaming has to offer.
Debatoid selects the PC!

In 25 years, will controllers with sticks/buttons be rare in gaming?
The proposition: In 25 years, controllers with sticks/buttons will be rare in gaming.
Debatoid changes into MassDebate and rejects the proposition!

MassDebate Debates:

Byronic Man
Is XBOX Live a dangerous precedent for basic online service?
The proposition: XBOX LIVE sets a damaging precedent by charging a premium for rudimentary online service.
MassDebate rejects the proposition!

Has rhythm action gaming had its heyday?
The proposition: Rhythm action gaming has had its heyday.
MassDebate rejects the proposition!

Sean Daisy
Are videogames too focused on destruction?
The proposition: Videogames are too focused on destruction.
MassDebate rejects the proposition!

Is there eough racial diversity in videogames?
The proposition: There is enough racial diversity in videogames.
MassDebate rejects the proposition!

Are videogames addictive?
The proposition: Videogames are addictive.
MassDebate rejects the proposition!

Has genre distinction lost its relevance?
The proposition: Genre distinction has lost its relevance.
MassDebate rejects the proposition!

Following (28)  

Welcome to the results of MassDebate! This week's topic concerned genre distinction, and proved to be a less popular topic than most. It could be argued that such a subject does not exactly fire the emotions. It's not as exciting as talking about sex or violence. Nonetheless, it is an important point of discussion to consider the language in which we describe our hobby.

Handy pointed out that the genre terms we use nowadays give little credence to the experience we are letting ourselves in for. Elsa insisted that genre classification as it stands is still valid, as the gameplay elements are what shine through in a title, no matter what. The consensus amongst the comments was that genre classification does more good than harm.

Congratulations to Elsa on her victory and commiserations to Handy on his defeat.

Here are some of the highlights from the comments:

Many thanks to everyone who commented on this week's topic.

MassDebate will be taking a short break and will be back later in the year. I have been concocting some ideas for a review of the Debatoid season and a MassDebate Special during the hiatus period, so don't expect to have to wait too long before MassDebate returns, but for now I must bid you goodbye, and see you soon.

Sean Daisy

Welcome to MassDebate! We take a controversial topic, form a proposition, and set two contenders the challenge of stating their case in favor of and in opposition to the proposition. After which, users may vote to decide which contender they support. Rules for voting are at the bottom of the blog, but it is recommended that you read the contenders' cases before you cast your vote.

The proposition: Genre distinction has lost its relevance

Handy argues in favor of the proposition:

Games, even in just the last decade, have changed immensely. Games have expanded, so many games take so many elements from other genres that theyíve become hard to pin down in any one group. Sure some games will always fit nicely into their genre, Gran Turismo will always be a racing game and Street Fighter will always be a fighter. But so many games today borrow from other genres, or outright defy classification altogether that the whole system seems a little outdated.

Take Borderlands for example, best described as an online four player co-op FPS RPG, thatís a mouthful, and thatís with three abbreviations (co-op, FPS and RPG).

Genre descriptions donít seem to give us a very good idea of the games they represent anymore. Look at games like Mass Effect 2 and Final Fantasy XIII, both RPGís yet they couldnít be more different; an open ended third person shooter and a series of corridors with menu based combat.

Even within that categoriesí sub-genres the games still donít fit the description. Proportionately speaking, most Japanese role playing games donít involve any actual role playing, the player makes no decisions that the story and it plays out in a linear fashion. Until the game proves otherwise Ė we just assume JRPG is shorthand for ďLong-ass game with lots of numbersĒ

Who here thinks of Demonís Souls as a JRPG? Because thatís exactly what it is and Iíve not heard anyone describe it that way, our perceptions of what makes a JRPG have changed to the point where the genre name no longer describes what we expect from the game itself.

Or games that take queues from other genres, like the games that experiment with sandboxes, what is a sandbox game? A game with an open-world in which players are given freedom, there are many optional distractions and missions can be tackled non-linearly. Thatís great, except for L.A. Noire, and Shadow of the Colossus, and Mafia 2, and No More Heroes and so on....

And thatís not even taking into account that sandbox games are already just a mishmash of other genre mechanics only added to an open-world. Most sandbox games are an open-world plus other genresí travel mechanics and combat system. For example Open-world + Driving + Third Person Shooter = GTA, Open-world + Free running + Hack and slash + Stealth = Assassinís Creed.

Even Call of Duty Ė something constantly derided as a bland, run of the mill FPS Ė uses an RPG style progression system in its multiplayer. Thatís the most popular feature of the most popular game and even that borrows from another genre.

Then there are the games that donít fit in any category, what type of genre is Katamari Damacy in again? Rolling kleptomania simulators? What about Typing of the Dead? Mister Mosquito? Heavy Rain? Noby Noby Boy or Seaman?

Thereís also the idea that the genre itself doesnít matter to the consumer in lieu of what else the game offers. How many people have you heard saying they canít wait to play Catherine, except for the puzzle parts? You know, the puzzle parts that make up the actual gameplay? I donít really like FPS games but I know I canít wait for Bioshock Infinite. Games can have so much to them these days that the genre doesnít even matter that much sometimes.

And then of course thereís the wonderfully vague ďAction-AdventureĒ genre, which encompasses pretty much every game ever made except maybe those train sims. Basically the fallback for when a game tries anything new or is a little hard to describe, because they donít quite fit in any traditional genre, or maybe they fit into three or more at once.

Uncharted, Batman: Arkham Asylum, Darksiders, Yakuza, Dead Rising, Enslaved, God of War, what do these games have in common? Nothing. Yet they all fall into the Action-Adventure category, because weíve got nowhere else to put them, or sometimes too many places to put them

At the end of the day, when you hear what genre a game is in you still donít know what youíre in for. Only until you watch footage and read reviews will you start to get the picture. And I think itís a good thing too, that games have expanded and evolved so much, itís just that some of our terminology hasnít.

Elsa argues against the proposition:

My initial thought when I received the note saying I'd been picked to argue that genre distinction has NOT lost it's relevance was "crap!". I've played Borderlands, Uncharted and other games that blur the lines of being in a specific genre, so my initial thought was that so many games now combine elements from various genres, that genre distinction is almost useless... but on further thinking I've come to the conclusion that genre distinction has not lost it's relevance - at all.

First off, why do we use genre distinction? One of the main reason is simply description. Genre distinctions in video games describe gameplay elements. An FPS game is a "First Person Shooter". The view is first person and a primary gameplay element in the game will be shooting. There may be puzzle elements (as in Portal), there may be RPG elements (as in Borderlands) but the easiest way to ascribe a gameplay description to those games is still to simply say "it's an FPS game" and gamers know what is meant. There are some people that don't like the first person viewpoint and it may make them naseuous or dizzy - regardless of other aspects of the game, they may not like the game simply based on the simple "FPS" descriptor. Some people love "platformers". The plots, settings and characters in these games can vary greatly, but when talking of a platformer, gamers know that the game will involve a lot of jumping, climbing, swinging, bouncing or some other means of traveling between platforms. Genre distinction is very simply a linguistic short cut and part of the language we use when describing video games.

Now that we've established the importance of the descriptive necessities of genre distinctions we come to the second reason that genres are important to gaming - classification, or the ability to group similar objects. If you purchase a new console that already has an established library, one of the easiest ways to find games you might like is to simply view the games available according to their genre classification. Books, movies and music all use genre distinctions as classification so that people can find similar media. Games are no different. The genre distinctions of games (unlike books or movies) don't revolve around plot or setting, but instead use gameplay elements - a more important classification system to gamers. Just as many movies and books have multiple genres, so too do games, but this does not negate the importance of having a classification or multiple classifications. There simply needs to be some way of organizing similar games so that people can find games with elements that they enjoy (or alternatively avoid games with elements they dislike).

Genre distinction in video games will never lose it's relevance. Over time it will increasingly become more and more important as game libraries continue to grow and as more and more games are produced. As new genres are developed, they add to our language. "Rhythm" games will incorporate responding to music as a primary factor in the gameplay, and "Motion Control" games are an indicator that we won't be sitting on our butts playing the game and may need peripherals.

Using genre distinctions is the easiest and best way we have of describing what kind of game it is, what other games it's most similar to. Genre distinction is part of our gaming language, our culture. This will never change. So, no. Genre distinction has not lost it's relevance. If anything, it becomes more relevant and more important than ever as gaming continues to grow.

Very simply... can you imagine describing a game without using genre distinction? Can you imagine looking at a large list of upcoming games without genre distinction? Would you rather see the listing for "Scivelation - release date: TBA 2011"... or would you rather see "Scivelation - shooter - release date: TBA 2011"?

Many thanks to Handy and Elsa for their contributions.

Now, the ground rules for voting:

1. The users that set out the MassDebate (Handy and Elsa) are not eligible to vote. (we can guess where their allegiances lie)

2. Feel free to comment at any point before, during or after you have voted.

3. To vote, begin your comment HANDY or ELSA depending on whether you support the proposition (HANDY) or you oppose the proposition (ELSA). The rest of your comment can be used to, you know, comment.

4. Only comments that begin with HANDY or ELSA may be considered in the voting process. Ensure you are spelling your vote correctly and placing it in capitals.

5. One vote per user. Only your first vote will count; there are no do-overs. Do not spam the comments. Donít bully other users into voting your way. Letís keep it clean. Donít be a wang.

6. Your voting should be based on the strength of the arguments set out by the contenders. Though your opinion may go some way towards forming your decision, do try to be as impartial as you can muster.

7. Any failure to undertake these rules or any ambiguity surrounding your vote may damage the chance of your vote counting. Whether or not your vote ultimately counts is at MassDebate's discretion. Maximise your chances by voting correctly.

8. The vote total will be accumulated and the results given on Mon 15th August. Ensure you get your vote in by Sun 14th August for your vote to count.

Welcome to another MassDebate! Unsurprisingly, videogame addiction proved to be a gritty subject and we had quite a fracas in the comments as people felt they could not vote either way, with a lot of to and fro on the intricacies of the argument. ManWithNoName illustrated the reward inducing mechanisms put in place to secure and compel the player, threatening the weak willed. Caiters explained that there are those who could suffer from addiction from the most benign of behaviours, which is no fault of videogames themselves.

It could be argued that both sides were a hair's breadth apart, but it is important to note that a hair's breadth is still distinct: Videogames are either intrinsically geared to render players to become dependent upon them, or they are not.

This is a website for videogame aficionados, thus the consensus of opinion would be that videogames can be enjoyed healthily by anyone. However, as mature folk I hope we can have more discussions like this where we can approach a topic which may be considering some of the less salubrious aspects of our hobby, yet consider both views on their merit. It is only by facing against criticism with eloquence that we can defend our pastime, or accept its failings.

Congratulations to Caiters on her victory, and commiserations to ManWithNoName on his defeat.

Here are some of the highlights from the comments:

"I think they are addictive. Wanting to keep playing them more and more makes it so. Of course that addictiveness isn't to the point where you "for most people" die, or anywhere near there."

Byronic Man
"The distinction is quite a pedantic one - we know that gambling can be addictive, does that mean gambling is addictive? Surely anything can be addictive, by that measure. Add the condition that only those which display the typical traits of addictiveness qualify, and video games surely still count."

dr spaceman
"Unfortunately, there's a couple times a year when someone dies or tries to sell their children in order to maintain their gaming habit, and it's hard to argue that such people are not addicted to their game."

"In essence, I don't see that video games are generally addictive. They certainly can produce addicts, and certain games are geared more towards addictive behaviour, but due to the fact that most people have played games and show at best low-level signs of addiction, I cannot support the proposition.

For a further comparison, many people get highly involved in sporting events (playing and spectating), board and strategy games, and other forms of entertainment (reading, collecting, etc.). While these individuals may be addicts, again I would hesiitate to call these activities addictive when applied to the general populace."

"Video games are no where near a hardcore drug, or pot or even caffiene in terms of an addictive substance, And since I cannot group them all in one group of 'addictive substance' I can't agree with ManWithNoName."

"I know a ton of gamers, and I simply have not come across many (or any) who I'd say are addicted, at least in a way that requires some kind of external impetus (as opposed to just a bit of willpower) to break the addiction."

Corduroy Turtle
"I remember watching an episode of a show called My Strange Addiction in which a woman was addicted to eating the foam out of couch cushions. Yeah. I agree that addiction can manifest itself in many situations but lets not slap that label on anything just because of a few glaring exceptions."

Isay Isay
"Any vice, ritual, stress relief be it drugs, alcohol, rageohol, workohol, etc. can cross over into addicition if one allows it to."

"Whether video games are an addiction or not, as long as you play in moderation and don't let them have a negative effect on your life it doesn't matter what you call the degree of your obsession."

"You can't point at food and say it causes addiction just because there are a handful of people who excessively eat. So in the same case you can't point at video games as being addictive."

"ManWithNoName presents a good argument that games are designed and marketed to exploit our naturally compulsive behavior. However I don't think participating in systems designed to keep us playing force us to abuse them to the point of having a psychological dependency. Labeling games as addictive just doesn't quite seem right."

"All forms of entertainment can be addictive to people in some certain measure, its just important that you should have all good things in moderation."

"When any activity begins to have a financial impact (spending money people don't have), when it starts to affect a person's relationships, when it has an impact on their ability to hold down a job or go to school... it's an addiction and a problem."

"I have to agree that games are at least somewhat addicting. There are plenty of reports of people playing games to the point of neglecting some key responsibilities in life and even playing to the point of death in some cases.

As mentioned, some personalities are more easily addicted to games than others and not everyone is addicted. However, we've all seen the documentaries about how people just completely lose touch with reality and sink into a game world. I've seen close friends of mine lose jobs over MMO addiction, flunk out of school and destroy relationships. It sucks. But when someone gets to that level and they shut out friends and family in order to play, I think its safe to call it addiction."

"Games like Call of Duty or World of Warcraft can obviously be massively addictive, but it depends upon the person and what they get from it, some people can get a lot of enjoyment from being able to achieve and attain in either, but others will find nothing. I'm sure there are some people addicted to CoD who would find WoW boring and vice versa. I've known loads of people who were heavily into iPhone or smartphone games in general (you know the small, $1/£1 games you get) and they'll play them for hours upon hours whereas I can't stand games like that... but put me in front of a PC loaded with a copy of Half-life or Deus Ex and I can just go on and on.

So I would say it depends a lot upon the person and what drives them as to whether it's addictive."

"I think the majority of gamers are like Caiters said, just people who like fun. Who the hell wouldn't? But those same people are usually smart enough to balance out gaming with sex and backgammon and spelunking or whatever the hell normal people do these days."


So where do we go from here? Despite the general view amongst ourselves that videogames are not inherently addictive, there is nonetheless a strong feeling in the mainstream media that games are a corrupting menace, especially to the youth. They are an anti-social evil, ensnaring the young and impressionable.

Whether we believe games to be addictive or not, we know full well that the portrayal of videogames as pariah manufacturers is sensationalist and damaging. Like sports and hooliganism or intellect and elitism, it is a horrendous stereotype which communities like Destructoid loudly disprove.

Tomorrow we will be talking about something a bit different, and we will be asking if genre distinction has lost its relevance. I'll see you then!

Sean Daisy

Welcome to MassDebate! We take a controversial topic, form a proposition, and set two contenders the challenge of stating their case in favor of and in opposition to the proposition. After which, users may vote to decide which contender they support. Rules for voting are at the bottom of the blog, but it is recommended that you read the contenders' cases before you cast your vote.

The proposition: Videogames are addictive

ManWithNoName argues in favor of the proposition:

The American Society of Addiction Medicine has this definition for addiction:

Addiction is a primary, chronic disease of brain reward, motivation, memory and related circuitry. Dysfunction in these circuits leads to characteristic biological, psychological, social and spiritual manifestations. This is reflected in the individual pursuing reward and/or relief by substance use and other behaviors. The addiction is characterized by impairment in behavioral control, craving, inability to consistently abstain, and diminished recognition of significant problems with oneís behaviors and interpersonal relationships. Like other chronic diseases, addiction can involve cycles of relapse and remission. Without treatment or engagement in recovery activities, addiction is progressive and can result in disability or premature death.

The key words here are the reward, motivation and memory ones. Videogames play a Pavlovian effect on gamers. Take CoD as an example. You kill some people in the multiplayer and are rewarded with a new gun, with a music fanfare and imagery in the screen. That is your reward in the game. The more you play, the better guns and perks you have. That is your motivation, have better guns. The memory of the reward and improvement make you go forward, in hopes of getting more rewards and improvements.

Multiplayer games especially love to create an addiction to their games, as more people addicted to it, means more people paying monthly subscriptions and DLC. Cracked have an incredible article with all the mechanics used to create the addiction in detail, which I will not enter here. But it makes sense commercially speaking. How will you keep players doing the same things over and over again (paying for doing it)? You hard-wire their brains to keep playing.

Arcades did it in their time with the high score tables and points system. You get some points, get a life or credits to keep playing and putting quarters in the machine. Now games like World of Warcraft keep their players by offering occasional rewards. You are compelled to keep playing and paying for it.

We all know horrible cases of addicted players who died because they keep playing for days and not feeding themselves or gaming parents who let their children die because they were too busy with their games. But that is the more extreme cases.

Take the PSN outage for example. How many gamers became enraged because they could not play on-line for a few weeks? Many treated the problem as a life and death situation. This is sign of addiction. Or the achievements/trophies system? Many of us get out of our way to receive this meaningless reward. I mean, most achievements are not linked to a new unlock, it is just a pop-up image and a chime. And yet many of us actively seek for them. Reward, motivation, memory.

Caiters argues against the proposition:

There are two ways to look at addiction: a physical, chemical addiction or more of a behavioral addiction.

Letís take a look at the physical side of things:

You release ďhappyĒ chemicals, like dopamine, into your brain when performing rewarding activities. This is your brainís way of saying that youíre having fun and that youíve done something right Ė and a feeling of elation usually ensues. This is the feeling that you get when you play video games, or participate in a form of entertainment that excites you. Itís also a feeling you can achieve via drugs Ė which is partially the reason why so many are addictive.

Addiction plays a role when a person is able to achieve a higher amount of dopamine in the brain compared with other ďnormalĒ activities. However, research has yet to prove that video games can cause the release of abnormal amounts of dopamine into the brain compared with activities, or even drug use. In fact, in 2007 the American Medical Association could not definitively say that playing video games can cause a psychiatric addiction. They stated that there is insufficient evidence to label the effects of gaming as an official disorder.

Are video games addictive from a physical standpoint? Research says no, for now.

Now letís take a look at the other form of addiction, behavioral:

Behavioral addiction is usually attributed based on the mannerisms or characteristics displayed while performing a typically ďaddictiveĒ activity that does not rely on drug use. These activities typically include sex and gambling, as well as shopping and some other everyday events. Based on history and personality type, some people are more susceptible to becoming addicted to an activity than others. For example, someone could be addicted to pruning their garden to perfection for whatever reason Ė due to a general feeling of excitement or perhaps some back-story in their history. But gardening is not an addictive activity Ė there is no proof that gardening makes you physically become addicted to the task of digging in the dirt.

I believe the same can be said for gaming, or sex, or any other amusing activity. The reason why we usually choose these activities over others is because theyíre simply more fun, entertaining, or profitable than other tasks. Not everyone is created the same but a large majority of people would choose something entertaining like playing a video game over dusting, or having sex over sitting in a rocking chair, etc. This is also why parents are concerned about their children spending too much time with video games Ė because they are more likely to choose it over important (but boring) tasks like homework.

However, this does not mean that video games are responsible for addiction. People can become behaviorally addicted to anything based on their personality, background, or if they simply choose to. Gaming is not responsible for the addiction.

Are videogames addictive from a behavioral standpoint? No Ė only if you choose so.

Videogames are not addictive from either a physical or a behavioral standpoint. Just like any other recreational or entertaining activity, there is fun Ė and fun is just a feeling that we all want to achieve. There is no physical or behavioral trigger that is associated with the press of a start button. Videogames are simply pleasurable Ė and those who display ďaddictĒ behaviors are either susceptible or choose to do so of their own volition.


Many thanks to ManWithNoName and Caiters for their contributions.

Now, the ground rules for voting:

1. The users that set out the MassDebate (ManWithNoName and Caiters) are not eligible to vote. (we can guess where their allegiances lie)

2. Feel free to comment at any point before, during or after you have voted.

3. To vote, begin your comment MANWITH or CAITERS depending on whether you support the proposition (MANWITH) or you oppose the proposition (CAITERS). The rest of your comment can be used to, you know, comment.

4. Only comments that begin with WANWITH or CAITERS may be considered in the voting process. Ensure you are spelling your vote correctly and placing it in capitals.

5. One vote per user. Only your first vote will count; there are no do-overs. Do not spam the comments. Donít bully other users into voting your way. Letís keep it clean. Donít be a wang.

6. Your voting should be based on the strength of the arguments set out by the contenders. Though your opinion may go some way towards forming your decision, do try to be as impartial as you can muster.

7. Any failure to undertake these rules or any ambiguity surrounding your vote may damage the chance of your vote counting. Whether or not your vote ultimately counts is at MassDebate's discretion. Maximise your chances by voting correctly.

8. The vote total will be accumulated and the results given on Mon 8th August. Ensure you get your vote in by Sun 7th August for your vote to count.

Welcome to the results on a tough MassDebate! It was one of those debates in which the argument is dissected and criticised, with every avenue accounted for. Unsurprising, given the somewhat controversial nature of the argument.

More so than ever, videogames have pushed themselves into gritty realism. Gone are the days of blocky sprites and blooping noises, and here to stay are games with characters of human fidelity in appearance and interaction with the world. As a relatively novel concept in videogames, it would be glaringly apparent that, in order to be taken seriously, videogames need to represent the spectrum of humanity. To do this accurately would inevitably require a diversity of races, such as that which exists in the world today. This is where last week's MassDebate comes into stark relief.

Congratulations to Batthink and commiserations to Keelut2012.

Here are some highlights from the comments:

"Games really aren't that diverse when it comes to actual human races. Garcia Hotspur, for instance, is a Mexican bad-ass, but Mr. Garcia doesn't represent a race, only an ethnicity. As a Hispanic, how can you make a Hispanic look Hispanic if Hispanic is not a race? Garcia could be a blonde with blue eyes and still be Mexican. Is being Hispanic only defined by your name? I'm Hispanic, yet I don't have a Spanish name... See how complicated it is? "

"I want the diversity, but also the bravery, interest and dedication to bringing some actual culture to these pallet and cheekbone swaps to represent some beyond marketing demographics. I wish as much for the "white male" characters even."

"I feel like some races should tackle other occupations that don't align with stereotype."

dr spaceman
"There can never be enough diversity in video games, because attempting to represent all the different people who play video games is beneficial to all of us, spreading awareness and acceptance and hugs and kisses."

"You'll also notice racial diversity within games occurs most often in games with rosters or groups and often as supporting characters. Most developers are content to have a white male with a shaved head to relate to their playerbase, creating the canonShep effect."

"Places like IGN are still think it's a risky decision to use a black lead. I really hope people aren't that shallow..."

"I think itís utterly insane that Yakuza is the only Japanese game about Japanese people who actually look Japanese, I donít see how thatís a good sign when itís the only game that does that even within its own country."

"Cole is more of an action-movie representation of the cool black guy. It's the Will Smith/Bad Boys approach, where the character fears nothing, treats everything knowingly like a game and generally has a quip for everything. Not that it wouldn't be realistic, certainly not in the context of the storyline, but I find him less relatable because he's hyper-realised character."

"The problem is not how much minorities are portrayed in games, because they are portrayed a lot. It is the quality of the portrayal. It still is heavily stereotyped, with Latins as drug dealers, Arabs as terrorist, Russians as unhappy former KGB/soldiers, etc...There is no diversity in the portrayal of the 'races' (a word I hate, I prefer ethnicity). "

Occams electric toothbrush
"I feel like a lot of games have become good at including an ethnic character but that seems to be where it stops. They rarely are fully realized characters who convey the views of their culture beyond the stereotypes we are all aware of. Maybe games aren't in a place technology-wise or writing-wise where they can have those fully realized characters but I think in time (and much sooner rather than later) we will get that true ethnic diversity."

"Overall, I do think that we are seeing racial diversity and the trend is in a positive direction (MAG allows for various races to play for any faction... unlike the old FPS division of blond white guys on one team, and middle eastern "terrorists" on the other team."

Byronic Man
"If the issue is that too many ethnic representatives in video games are just charicatures, I don't think you can argue against the proposition either because this problem very much includes vanilla-white characters, too. Overall, writing in the medium is just flat out bad - that's not a qualm of any overbearing ethnic uniformity."

"For a black character, [...Dudley from Street Fighter III/IV...] keeps a wide berth of the usual stereotypes. For a Brit, yeah, he's a pretty broad stroke - he's a scarfed kipper and cockney orphan sidekick away from becoming the nadir of easy dime-store British-ness. And I guess the value of trading one stereotype for another is questionable, but you should keep in mind, semi-offensive cultural stereotypes are pretty much Street Fighter's stock-in-trade. You're still coming out way ahead of India, Jamaica, Russia, and poor Brazil, who don't even get a Brazilian, but a green monster whose real name is Jimmy..."

"I don't think we'll ever have "too much" diversity in games at this point, and honestly I'd rather have a select few robust, diverse characters with strong depth vs a thousand lousy half-assed characters with color thrown on them."

"I would argue that it's more an issue of developers being afraid to create interesting and unusual characters because they're afraid players won't like them, and it'll ruin sales, than racial bias per se."

Mr Andy Dixon
"We should celebrate ALL diversity -- no matter how unbelievable -- lest we end up with a bunch of boring characters based solely in reality. These are videogames, after all; they're meant to be fun!"

Isay Isay
"I want a realistic, down-to-earth game...that's completely off-the-wall and swarming with magic robots."

Corduroy Turtle
"Look at Madden Football guys. I think video games are doing just fine."

Many thanks to everyone who contributed in the comments. Somewhat of a change from the billing, tomorrow we will be arguing: Are videogames addictive?

Sean Daisy

Apologies for the lengthy delay on getting these results to you! I was planning on not holding this up much later than Wednesday.

It was originally intended that falsenipple was going to put forth the argument against the proposition for this week, but unfortunately he has not been available, so after a fruitless search to find someone to argue against the proposition in time I stepped up. I have to say I am surprised at how one sided the result came out, but it is not to say anything against Malik's argument, which I believe was sound.

Ultimately, the argument was going to be a struggle with a crowd who are accustomed to the variety of games that are out there, and are accepting of those titles that do have violent content. In hindsight, Malik had the tougher job; to try to convince us that what we have and enjoy isn't necessarily the ideal.

Many thanks again to Malik for his contribution, and commiserations on his defeat.

Here are some of the highlights from the comments:

"This proposition is akin to arguing that books are too focused on romance, due to the large number of romance novels. Sure, there are a lot of harlequins, but that doesn't mean that mystery or history readers can't find new titles consistently."

Occams electric toothbrush
"Malik makes a good point at the end about games covering a wider variety of subjects but I see that as the direction games are currently heading rather than just where they need to go."

"I don't think the "problem" with games being too focused on destruction is that they won't be accepted by a broad audience due to a lack of appealing content, I think the "problem" would be a lack of variety for the current gaming community, or having a harmful effect on the gamer."

The Silent Protagonist
"We don't really have a shortage of non-destructive games out there and many have endured and continued to appeal over the years. Animal Crossing, Tetris, sports titles, music titles - there's really too much to list.

I guess if I had any criticism of destruction and violence, it would be that its not really the only way a game has to be designed.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and the Deus Ex games are games I can actually play through and avoid killing most if not all the time. Peace Walker places an emphasis on building an army of mercenaries and you can't really recruit if you kill everyone. You can play through all of a Deus Ex game and two options you have among others are that you can avoid confrontations or talk your way out of a situation that could have otherwise ended in violence.

I think that's a commendable design aspect and something we could use more of."

"One of my favourite new games actually talks about death more than it does create it. The game is [i]Portal 2[i] and if I recall correctly you don't actually ever kill anything."

"It's funny that you both brought up The Sims, because one of my favorite things to do in The Sims was to destroy the houses and families that I created. I know that's not the way the game is meant to be played, but it's still an option for gamers. The same can be said about Minecraft and many other games that are supposed to be focused on creation rather than destruction (griefers, anyone?). "

"I'm a woman who likes to wield a big sword and hack annoying critters to pieces, or I love to play shooter games and hear the emminently satisfying sound of a headshot.

I am also a strong proponent that shooter games are not really violent or destructive games - they are more like sports. You play with a team and the mechanics of the game are to get kills and achieve certain objectives, while avoiding getting killed by the enemy (or losing your objectives). The rules of the game lend themselves to a war environment and guns... but that's just background noise and often the real "game" is all about cooperation, strategy and communication."

"Games are too focused on destruction. Is that a bad thing? When given the power of a god in this universe, what would you do. Some would create. Good for you. The rest of us however are going to shoot, kill and maim. Because that is our inherent interest when we are given power. To see how far we can push the boundaries of common sense. "

"While there really is an abundance of games without violence, i wish there were more big budget blockbuster games which could feature this. If nothing else, going without violence typically requires a little more creativity in gameplay besides kill things. Can you imagine a massive RPG or adventure title where killing isn't an option?"

"True, a lot of games are violent and about stuff that involves destruction/violence but the destruction itself is usually merely a byproduct of the action in the game and not the sole focus of the game. And on top of that plenty of games revolve around completely non-violent content and still appeal to adults en masse."

"The thing is, when developers or boardroom execs try to target an audience that goes within the boundaries of what Malik was trying to get at, I keep getting images of those horrible games marketed at kids/girls/ladies that have a 'forced' edge that not only puts off the group that the game was originally intended for, but everyone else too. Quality is also a factor.

I know those types of games are not what Malik would like, but all too often money and power overrides the reason that he wants brought about. It's not just the economics and boardroom policies that have to change, but the whole idea of recognising what the 'outside' target audience wants and expects."

Isay Isay
"Interesting topic to bring up on DESTRUCToid"

The results for the racial diversity MassDebate should be in on Monday as scheduled! Phew!

Sean Daisy