260: Reviewing Blood, Sex and Magic

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Reviewing Blood, Sex and Magic

Many sources review games based purely on how "bad" they are and don't care whether they are any fun. Fintan Monaghan examines a few of the websites and censor boards that describe the level of sex, violence and magic in games.

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Whenever I find myself "Reviewing Blood, Sex and Magic" I find it necessary to listen to "Blood Sugar Sex Magic."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2i93xgCsSQ

I believe the CCGR panel would have felt thoroughly dirty after analysing Diablo 2's Necromancer.

In fact, I think I'll go look if they analysed Diablo 2 at all. I bet it'll be hilarious.

Reporting back: They havent! >=(

I hate all censorship (please read Milton's Aereopagitica for the many reasons why), but this article amused me quite a bit. Living next door to anti-magic Fundies, it never occurred to me that their fixations could be used for good. Perverting the reports of government censors also makes me smile. All knowledge is worth having.

Fintan Monaghan:
or the biotic powers of Mass Effect.

Isn't the biotic powers explained "scientifically" in the game? Also, there's no worshipping to any higher power involved.

The most religiosly objective in ME I can think of, is wether to help the hanar get a permit to spread the word of...of... whoever it was again. The Enkindler, was it?

Did anyone else get a chuckle when they read "space furniture" in the Mass Effect 2 description?

It always amuses me that the fringe Christan groups that are so anti magic, always forget that the Bible has a description of necromancy in it. So if they get there way they will have to ban the Bible. However the anti censorship mob are just blind and full of unreasoned prejudice.

Rick1940:
Whenever I find myself "Reviewing Blood, Sex and Magic" I find it necessary to listen to "Blood Sugar Sex Magic."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P2i93xgCsSQ

You know, when I saw the title, I instantly thought about that too XD
Too bad no one has any reviews about the "sugar" content of games... ;)

albino boo:
It always amuses me that the fringe Christan groups that are so anti magic, always forget that the Bible has a description of necromancy in it. So if they get there way they will have to ban the Bible. However the anti censorship mob are just blind and full of unreasoned prejudice.

Lest we forget Exorcisms and the very famous Hermetic "Magic" of the Renaissance. Christianity actually has quite the history with magic, I suppose it just depends on what you consider "magic" and what you don't. Personally I would consider a great deal of religious ritual and practice quite "magical" in nature... full of incantations and ingredients chanted and invoked to produce the desired effect.

Though if one also considers that most of these groups are probably American (no insult intended there, this is just history) and probably Protestant (Calvinist specifically) drawing on The American Puritan Tradition, it's not surprising that they have such a negative view of magic, Puritanism eschewing the intensely ritual (and arguably magical) nature of Period Catholicism and Ancient Christianity as being Pagan Hold Overs and not representative of "the true church" as they wish to see it.

This one made me laugh.

"The violence occurs throughout the gameplay and is its main focus. The player has at their disposal a range of weapons from a pistol to machine guns, shotguns and grenades. While weapons such as the pistol and small machine guns cause blood to spurt from characters' bodies when they are hit, higher-powered items such as the machine gun, shotgun and sniper rifle are capable of blasting off limbs or even heads, with chunks of flesh seen falling to the ground. The environments (e.g. walls, floors) are also covered with blood in the area where characters have been shot. LEFT 4 DEAD 2 includes frequent sight of such gore, and the player is generally unable to progress through a level without shooting hundreds of enemies, with an arsenal of realistic weapons that cause bloody damage throughout. In comparison to the first game, it is now possible to create more specific damage to zombies - for example a shotgun blast to the body may result in the gory sight of an exposed rib cage, and limbs are frequently seen being blown off in a spray of blood with more detail and variety than witnessed previously. At '15', the BBFC's Guidelines state that 'violence may be strong but should not dwell on the infliction of pain or injury. The strongest gory images are unlikely to be acceptable.' With the aforementioned strong gore present as well as the ability tofrequently inflict pain and injury to enemies, the game went beyond those boundaries and so an '18' certificate was required.

The game also contains mild and moderate language, such as 'shit', 'ass' and 'mother-f'ing'."

Thanks for that, think I'm going to do some browsing.

laryri:
Did anyone else get a chuckle when they read "space furniture" in the Mass Effect 2 description?

Yeah, though not quite as much of a chuckle as "future-blouse". It's like the writer of the quoted document needed to remind everyone "This is sci-fi!" every few seconds. Spaceman removes alien girlfriend's antigravity shirt on orbital couch!

PedroSteckecilo:

Lest we forget Exorcisms and the very famous Hermetic "Magic" of the Renaissance. Christianity actually has quite the history with magic, I suppose it just depends on what you consider "magic" and what you don't. Personally I would consider a great deal of religious ritual and practice quite "magical" in nature... full of incantations and ingredients chanted and invoked to produce the desired effect.

Though if one also considers that most of these groups are probably American (no insult intended there, this is just history) and probably Protestant (Calvinist specifically) drawing on The American Puritan Tradition, it's not surprising that they have such a negative view of magic, Puritanism eschewing the intensely ritual (and arguably magical) nature of Period Catholicism and Ancient Christianity as being Pagan Hold Overs and not representative of "the true church" as they wish to see it.

I Agree in principal but differ in detail. Yes it is a results of the Puritan tradition but the anti Catholic position didn't always lead to the rejection of pagan hold overs. Take the Free Church of Scotland perhaps the most hardcore Calvinist denomination left in Europe, they believe that the Pope is the actual Antichrist and about 20 years they chucked out the most senior legal official in the UK for attending a Catholic freinds funeral. Yet recorded in the same areas, until very recently, offerings were left to appease the local sea spirits (Selkies) and wide spread belief that some poeple had second sight

albino boo:
It always amuses me that the fringe Christan groups that are so anti magic, always forget that the Bible has a description of necromancy in it. So if they get there way they will have to ban the Bible. However the anti censorship mob are just blind and full of unreasoned prejudice.

The difference is in the way that magic is treated. In the Bible it is universally condemned. None of the positive role models in Scripture use what I'll call "real" magic, or if they do it is made clear that God does not approve of their use of witchcraft or magic.

I personally have no problem with fictional depictions of magic. I'm a pretty conservative Christian, but I love to read fantasy novels. For me the biggest thing is that fiction is fiction. My love of fantasy literature has never once led me to being interested in pursuing "real" magic.

And for those of you who think that sites like ccgr.org are "censoring" video games, maybe you should actually read some of the reviews. The reviewer isn't saying that "These games should be banned," or even "Christians shouldn't play this game," but rather sets out the various potential appropriateness or morality issues in a game. It's a review for the sake of information from a specifically Christian perspective. But that would be too nuanced for those people who simply think, "Christians don't like magic so any review criticizing its use must be an attempt at moral censorship."

albino boo:

PedroSteckecilo:

Lest we forget Exorcisms and the very famous Hermetic "Magic" of the Renaissance. Christianity actually has quite the history with magic, I suppose it just depends on what you consider "magic" and what you don't. Personally I would consider a great deal of religious ritual and practice quite "magical" in nature... full of incantations and ingredients chanted and invoked to produce the desired effect.

Though if one also considers that most of these groups are probably American (no insult intended there, this is just history) and probably Protestant (Calvinist specifically) drawing on The American Puritan Tradition, it's not surprising that they have such a negative view of magic, Puritanism eschewing the intensely ritual (and arguably magical) nature of Period Catholicism and Ancient Christianity as being Pagan Hold Overs and not representative of "the true church" as they wish to see it.

I Agree in principal but differ in detail. Yes it is a results of the Puritan tradition but the anti Catholic position didn't always lead to the rejection of pagan hold overs. Take the Free Church of Scotland perhaps the most hardcore Calvinist denomination left in Europe, they believe that the Pope is the actual Antichrist

Whilst being true the term 'Antichrist' has had extra connatations added that aren't fully in keeping with it's implied biblical meaning. Technically speaking an antichrist is merely someone who speaks the opposite of Christ and there can be more than one.

"Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son."
1 John 2 v 22

Anti-smoking is someone against smoking. Anti christ is someone against Christ. As Catholism adds to the Bible and is based more on images, idols and works than Jesus' message of salvation through grace alone then the Pope is an antichrist. He is not the antichrist.

EDIT: And in a wonderfully irony I post here as a Christian with a badge symbolising my perfect knowledge of the Harry Potter universe!

Vorocano:

albino boo:
It always amuses me that the fringe Christan groups that are so anti magic, always forget that the Bible has a description of necromancy in it. So if they get there way they will have to ban the Bible. However the anti censorship mob are just blind and full of unreasoned prejudice.

The difference is in the way that magic is treated. In the Bible it is universally condemned. None of the positive role models in Scripture use what I'll call "real" magic, or if they do it is made clear that God does not approve of their use of witchcraft or magic.

I personally have no problem with fictional depictions of magic. I'm a pretty conservative Christian, but I love to read fantasy novels. For me the biggest thing is that fiction is fiction. My love of fantasy literature has never once led me to being interested in pursuing "real" magic.

And for those of you who think that sites like ccgr.org are "censoring" video games, maybe you should actually read some of the reviews. The reviewer isn't saying that "These games should be banned," or even "Christians shouldn't play this game," but rather sets out the various potential appropriateness or morality issues in a game. It's a review for the sake of information from a specifically Christian perspective. But that would be too nuanced for those people who simply think, "Christians don't like magic so any review criticizing its use must be an attempt at moral censorship."

Totally agree with what you say. You might want to join this group here: http://www.escapistmagazine.com/groups/members/Christian-Escapist-s-unite

It's a quiet group that goes through periods of activity. A little haven in the big bad internet world.

Vorocano:
I personally have no problem with fictional depictions of magic. I'm a pretty conservative Christian, but I love to read fantasy novels. For me the biggest thing is that fiction is fiction. My love of fantasy literature has never once led me to being interested in pursuing "real" magic.

My issue is that there are people who seriously believe real magic exists at all.

Vorocano:
And for those of you who think that sites like ccgr.org are "censoring" video games, maybe you should actually read some of the reviews. The reviewer isn't saying that "These games should be banned," or even "Christians shouldn't play this game," but rather sets out the various potential appropriateness or morality issues in a game. It's a review for the sake of information from a specifically Christian perspective. But that would be too nuanced for those people who simply think, "Christians don't like magic so any review criticizing its use must be an attempt at moral censorship."

See my above statement.

Do you seriously not realize how stupid the site sounds? 'The game depicts magic. Magic is harmful. Therefore the game can potentially be harmful.'

IT. IS. NOT. REAL.

laryri:
Did anyone else get a chuckle when they read "space furniture" in the Mass Effect 2 description?

That and future blouse. It's as if they were trying to sound as stilted and old as possible.

The CCGR site is odd. Some of the reviews are quite well done until you get to the crazy bits that think magic is real. It is surprisingly tame though, even GTA isn't lambasted since that reviewer at least sees the satire inherent in the series.

I have only seen one of the romance options in ME2 (2, if you count Liara's) so the future blousery makes me curious. (There's only really one possibility tho)

It's an old cliché that American censors are more hung up on sex, while the Brits are more bothered about violence

And yet us Brits have Bottom.

Edit: Though a point I don't understand about Christians. This is a group whose regognisable icon is a man who used terrain hacks, inventory cloning and possibly a Soulstone. Or, magic.

It's things like this I like, it's easy to think of a censor as soulless, humourless individual who hates your petty gaming and all who play it. It's a fun idea because it makes us feel very la Resistance but it's not true. Censors have a sense of humour as much as anyone else and most likely enjoy what they do, they are just doing their job.

That line about unzipping "future blouses" always makes me chuckle - it's just so perfunctory and yet utterly ridiculous. Future blouses!

Silly Christians.

Loop Stricken:

Edit: Though a point I don't understand about Christians. This is a group whose regognisable icon is a man who used terrain hacks, inventory cloning and possibly a Soulstone. Or, magic.

You should take a religious anthropology course then! Extremely interesting (although I had a fairly engaging professor, so YMMV).

And I freaking loved that "future-blouse" phrase. It really makes you realize the cultural context of the rating that the article was getting at. A "future-blouse" is not even so serious an issue because, hey, the science-fiction premise in which this game's action takes place is not even so serious.

It's even more impressing than the Christian site's perspective because the description is otherwise so mechanical and disinterested, but then they throw in that phrase and describe one of our culture's viewpoints.

Formica Archonis:

laryri:
Did anyone else get a chuckle when they read "space furniture" in the Mass Effect 2 description?

Yeah, though not quite as much of a chuckle as "future-blouse". It's like the writer of the quoted document needed to remind everyone "This is sci-fi!" every few seconds. Spaceman removes alien girlfriend's antigravity shirt on orbital couch!

Oh man, an antigravity shirt would be so awesome!

Formica Archonis:

laryri:
Did anyone else get a chuckle when they read "space furniture" in the Mass Effect 2 description?

Yeah, though not quite as much of a chuckle as "future-blouse". It's like the writer of the quoted document needed to remind everyone "This is sci-fi!" every few seconds. Spaceman removes alien girlfriend's antigravity shirt on orbital couch!

I'm curious about the difference between a bed and a "bed-slab". Aren't most beds rather slab-like? I'm thinking that the censor was being intentionally silly. There's just no way they were serious.

Those are my three favorite things!

This is the their appropriateness rating for Bioshock.

Appropriateness 24.5/50 Killing in self defense -4 Blood/Gore -5 Swearing -5 Sexual references -3.5 Provocative clothing -3.5 Sex outside of marriage promoted -3 Rebellion against cultural norms -1.5

Ok, how is sex outside of marriage promoted? That particular relationship ended badly for BOTH sides. And I guess I'm blind, but what is the reviewer calling provocative clothing?

Also laughing at the "Rebellion against cultural norms" listing.

Always interesting to note that those doing the censoring are often the dirtiest of all. Often, it is the things we hate most about ourselves that we punish others for.

laryri:
Did anyone else get a chuckle when they read "space furniture" in the Mass Effect 2 description?

Space Furniture - All the greatest designs now available from Pi-kea

Futurama joke, couldn't get the actual Pi symbol to appear, kept showing as π.

Censorship is always made out to be something wholly evil, and, well, it is, but the censors themselves usually aren't. The guys who get to see all cultural products before anyone else (and who need to comprehend it and contrast it to other works) end up being highly cultural people.

I love the dry style of censorship reports. Although I find its allure fleeting.

This is the second time this week in which I'm reminded of a screenplay-like thing I'm writing in which a caller to a radio show says that games have a negative portrait of magic, a Christian anti-game advocate (heavily based on Mr. Thompson) agrees, and the caller reveals himself to be a Satanist who is angry at magic in games because they make it out to be to easy.

sigma83:

IT. IS. NOT. REAL.

Or so you think. *pokes Voodoo doll*

Fintan Monaghan:
Reviewing Blood, Sex and Magic

Many sources review games based purely on how "bad" they are and don't care whether they are any fun. Fintan Monaghan examines a few of the websites and censor boards that describe the level of sex, violence and magic in games.

Read Full Article

I have to say I found some humourous comments in your review, the one that caught my eye was about how the English critique gaming. I am probably biased, but I do remember the old black and white horror movies, and perhaps the English tend to look at gaming blood and gore from a "gothic" point of view : Gothic as the original term was meant, not gothic as it is used today, to refer to how people (certain people) dress.

I also want to mention, that it is REFRESHING to see a review that isn't full of grammar and spelling mistakes, or run-on sentences. Even so-called news journalists (on my homepage web) seem entirely incapable of putting two sentences together without seeming to be confused by that effort. :)

Thank you for an intelligent read. :)

Fintan Monaghan:
"krogan sexual deviants "any sexually active person enjoy salarian flexibility."

There fixed it for you.

But in a more serious tone, to get on religion and magic based on my own limited knowledge of Christian theology, whats the difference say in turning water into wine based on god and someone magically turning water into wine; both smell of witchcraft to me.

Furthermore I never understood the whole "sex is evil" tirade since you need it (currently) for the human race to go on, why is it so evil and hidden?

I strongly suspect from reading the British censor's report that someone on that group has a sense a humor; after reading there vivid description of Bayonetta

Anyway that's just my 2 copper pieces.

codemartin:

Fintan Monaghan:
"krogan sexual deviants "any sexually active person enjoy salarian flexibility."

There fixed it for you.

But in a more serious tone, to get on religion and magic based on my own limited knowledge of Christian theology, whats the difference say in turning water into wine based on god and someone magically turning water into wine; both smell of witchcraft to me.

...

Anyway that's just my 2 copper pieces.

It's not that hard to comprehend, I mean the answer can even be found in basic Dungeons Dragons lore: priests invoke magic by calling on their God's favour.

<Christianity lore>

The Faithfull
God is all powerful, and capable of performing miraculous deeds here on Earth at will. Whether it's performing an excorcism, parting a sea or smiting an army, his followers invoke his power by calling through prayer, and God will answer depending on whether your faithful enough, or if it was his by his design to begin with. Jesus of course being the son of God has the same miraculous powers.

The Foresaken
Lucifer was the top angel in heaven but through his pride rebelled against God. He was defeated, renamed to Satan, and along with his followers cast from the heavens down to earth and became demons. They don't necessarily have physical manifestations but rather are spirit entities, usually remaining hidden but capable of interacting with the real world. Satanic rituals or magic, and what Christians have historically percieved as "witch craft", involve people summoning or invoking these demons/spiritual entities to do their bidding.

</Christianity lore>

While it's fine if people think it's silly, it would be nice if more at least understood why they get so freaked out about this sort of stuff. It's not necessarily that they're bat shit crazy but rather they just have a unique wordly view: Satan and his demons are real and witchcraft & 'magic' is performed by interacting with them.

Wouldn't "future blouses" be the blouse you are not wearing today, but one that you will be wearing at some point further on?

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