StateCraft: Update

StateCraft: Update
Won't Someone Think of the Children?

Bonnie Ruberg | 28 Mar 2006 11:01
StateCraft: Update - RSS 2.0

Then, there's the trouble that videogames are widely considered toys for kids. Gamers know that game enthusiasm isn't limited by age and that many titles are complex and hardly childish, but the general populace associates gaming with Mario and Luigi, with children glued to their GameBoys. Thanks to the popularity of the Xbox, this image is changing, but those who have their panties in a twist over videogame sex are, by nature, more conservative and reluctant to see the shift. They think they are defending kids. And kids and sex - so our social taboos tell us - should never mix

The truth is, even if videogames were once the realm of children, they've grown up. They've become art. As art, they're entitled to incorporate whatever material, sexual or otherwise, they choose. In claiming the need for legislation to regulate games, parents and government officials are attempting to knock videogames down from their art status. They're saying, "No, we still have power over what you show the world." Moreover, they're refusing to acknowledge games as art in the first place.

Maybe what drives these concerned citizens is not just rigid morals, but fear of change. On the surface, videogames seem so easy: So easy to stereotype as an anti-social subculture, so easy to peg as a worthless pursuit, so easy to fit into the large scheme of "corruption." But the medium Americans thought they knew is changing, pulling the rug out from under assumption.

Videogames have become something that can't be controlled, and, as such, swarms of people have taken up the challenge of controlling them - like children told they cannot, and so they must.

Beyond even this, though, these activists seem to fear a change in themselves. Videogame sex brings us face to face with the uneasiness of our technological age. Whereas before, we were turned on by real human bodies (granted, bodies mitigated by a screen), we are now faced with the attractiveness of digital forms: naked avatars, rendered breasts, button-mapped seduction. The fact that this intrigues us is, in an understandable way, frightening.

In order to protect ourselves, are we displacing our fear onto our kids? Or, maybe, this evolved attraction is all the more eerie when we view it in our children.

Perhaps this answers, too, why we allow normal pornography its place, while attempting to legislate videogame sex into oblivion. We're trying to legislate away our own unease and confusion; we're looking for a way to regulate ourselves. But no bounds, legal or otherwise, can stop the evolution of attraction, or of games.

Bonnie Ruberg is a videogame journalist specializing in gender and sexuality in games and gaming communities. She also runs a blog, Heroine Sheik, dedicated to such issues. Most recently, her work has appeared at Wired.com, The A. V. Club, and Gamasutra.

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