Extra Punctuation: What is Mature Anyway?

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The point Yahtzee made in this article that I most sympathize with is his problem with the "Violence = Regulate, Sex = Ban" mentality. I think it's quite telling that our Judeo-Christian value systems have always denounced sex as inherently sinful, but for the longest time were perfectly accepting of torture and horrific methods of execution. Remember the Crusades? IMHO, if the Catholic Church were truly the representative of a loving and benevolent God, the Templars would have gone into the Holy Land to learn about medicine and art (and possibly to pick up Arab chicks), instead of going there to kill everybody they could get their sword-points on in order to reclaim some patch of dirt.

Certainly sexuality is not something to be treated with frivolity in real life (neither is violence, for that matter), but I think if we followed Yahtzee's advice, and incorporated a mature attitude towards sex into our media (and stopped worrying so much about whether or not looking at dicks is going to damage your children's moral fibre) we'd have a better world. Possibly a world with a lot more rashes, but still...




Theres a reason the coyote gets smashed with a giant mallet instead of the Roadrunner whipping its cock out and fucking him. If you cant see the difference...I dont know how to explain it to you.

Except the coyote doesnt show realistically his entire body crushed into a massive pulp, as his intestines spill out, his blood covers the ground, and you watch the inside of his skull, as well as his bowels emptying on the floor. Yeah, realistic image makes it sound bad doesnt it? We're not discussing cookie cuttered violence here. That mallet to the head in the kids eyes is like a fist to the shoulder.
No one is asking for sex to be taken less seriously than violence, but violence is considered better than an act of love.

I do see what your saying. Perhaps violence is simply easier to cartoonify? If thats a valid description. Its easy to over-the-top gore to where its out of that realistic zone and pointless. Thats harder to do with sex.

There's some tentacle anime out there that would care to disagree with you. That stuff's pretty far from realistic.

I think George Carlin said it best when he said: "I would rather have my child watch two people make love than watch two people trying to kill each other."




No, MK fatalities are literally impossible for the most part, A manly man could do what Kratos does.

One is possible one is impossible. Perfect difference. (I guess you cant really bone a Goddess)

Sex and violence, in the real world, don't work the way they do in God of War. Neither does architecture. (Because everything is stylized in that game.) So no, there isn't a huge difference.

What does stylized have anything to do with it, thats a filter that is a different thing entirely to the content. I can put a black and white filter over a porn and stylize it and its still a porn. The violence is ripping horns of a ogre, the sex is having sex with a woman.

That's kind of silly - unless the sex you have is with bizarrely-proportioned people who don't use birth control and lasts 30 seconds, I don't think you could call God of War sex "realistic" with a straight face. In other words, the whole "unrealistic/stylized violence against imaginary creature = okay, unrealistic/stylized sex between imaginary people = WILL SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN!1!!" argument doesn't hold water.

If parents took care of their children instead of relying on someone else we wouldn't have this problem(and probably a bunch of others). Wait, here in we don't have this problem... we have no ratings (as far as I know).

So A Serbian film is a synonym for brutality now, eh?

Did anyone else hear Zap from Futurama when they read, "What are you, gay?" I did.

Good points all around, as usual Yahtzee. My favorite part though was, "Interesting, isn't it, how violent games never flinch at themselves or spark much controversy (not these days, anyway) but sex, an act of love, is what terrifies people." Says a lot about the state of the human race right there.
Good point about the magic trick in Batman too. I've seen more people be unnerved by that than anything in a video game.

ESRB ratings are just age restrictions/guidelines. They should probably just get rid of the "mature" label and use something else that sounds more like an age (such as everyone 10+ or teen). Hell, why not get rid of the Mature rank altogether and just start using Adults Only for those games. That's basically what Mature already means, while AO currently is basically a ban. Kick out mature, replace it with AO, and then just have an actual banned rank or something. And then people can stop trying to insist that Duke is mature just because the box says so.

It's really just the United States too. They're the ones who are most Vocal about it, if nothing else.

Don't start this shit again. Plenty of other countries in the world are just as hung up on it. Hell, some are more hung up: Ubisoft isn't brining their Wii Dare game to the UK because they were crying about the trailer showing people playfully spanking each other. I'm pretty sure that makes them even bigger prudes. But the point is, it's not just the US, so again: don't start that shit.

Well, just to be accurate, Geralt has immunity against all deceases including venereal ones. That's why he is lady's man.
Anyway, interesting article, and I must agree that current policy about nudity and violence is seems unfair to me.

I have a dream, that one day my grandchildren will be viewing sexual organs with the kind of apathetic respect that they should, and when I cringe, they will call me an old man and tell me to "get with the times" in whatever derivative dialect is common at the time.

A very valid point Yahtzee I don't understand (as several others have stated) why sex is filtered far more than excessive, crazed violence. Sure I can understand rape and the like being heavily censored but sex is not a bad thing. Hell I believe that if there was more sex in the world today it would be a much happier place.

Men are by definiton not mature, and since most games are made for the immature gender games themselves are not mature.

Come on lets admit it. We like tits, we like gore and violence. And we especially like it if the immaturity is hidden away ever so slightly so we can pretend to be mature. Thats what maturity means, being immature in a way so that we aren't confronted with our immaturity.

Personally I see Yahtzee's point of view as one that brings many good questions to the table. The ratings system could use with an overhaul in this day and age anyway. But when sex or violence are brought up in any media format, people tend to go up in arms about it, yet parents still buy mature rated games for their children...Honestly it should be up to the judgment of the parents to know what not to expose their children to at different times in their life. Yet we still have issues with video games being pegged as the culprit for children's problems, when it's obviously the parent who is to blame...video games do need a more "up to date" ratings system, but the real filtering power lies with parents. If the child is interested in those types of media and is of an emotional maturity where they can understand them, then let them experience the media.

Are ESRB ratings with content descriptors a useful guideline? Sure. But they're just a guideline. Unthinkingly relying on them without personal reflection is basically outsourcing your parenting to bureaucrats running down a checklist. Maybe your 9-year-old is fine with decapitations, or maybe your 12-year-old is horrified by them. The ESRB can't know that.

If you raise your children in a loving and supportive home, with values and integrity, then you give them tools to deal with the dark things in our world. Then you don't need to shelter them from every little thing. You can't guarantee your children won't be traumatized, emotionally scarred, or hurt by the world--though I think trauma is far more likely to come from other people instead of popular media--but you can give them a stronger chance.

Yahtzee has a point. I think this illustrates it very well.

And while America isn't the only one, we certainly make the biggest deal out of it.

I don't think a rating of mature/immature is a good axis. I think the axis of Serious/Silly or Deep/Shallow is a better way. Mass Effect, Fallout, Heavy Rain would be on the deep/serious side and DNF, God of War, and Mortal Kombat would be shallow/silly.

Also in my opinion the less realistic violence is the MORE it desensitizes and the more damaging it is. TV action shows show people getting shot and falling over silently. When more realistic depictions would be a lot of screaming, twitching, gurgling, begging and last but not least crapping in the pants.

I have a dream, that one day my grandchildren will be viewing sexual organs with the kind of apathetic respect that they should, and when I cringe, they will call me an old man and tell me to "get with the times" in whatever derivative dialect is common at the time.

-starts slow clap with tear in eye-


It's really just the United States too. They're the ones who are most Vocal about it, if nothing else.

Don't start this shit again. Plenty of other countries in the world are just as hung up on it. Hell, some are more hung up: Ubisoft isn't brining their Wii Dare game to the UK because they were crying about the trailer showing people playfully spanking each other. I'm pretty sure that makes them even bigger prudes. But the point is, it's not just the US, so again: don't start that shit.

I'll admit that I could've phrased that better. What I mean is, while a lot of other countries are a lot more prudish (MINE being an honest example), they aren't the world's dominant cultural super-power.
For better or for worse, a lot of people follow in the US' footsteps when it comes to cultural viewpoints. The US changing it's viewpoint would simply be more influential than others.

You pose some very interesting points Yahtzee. The age rating system is flawed because it only gives you an age to which you can play the game, not listing what your letting yourself in for. I reckon we shoudn't have age ratings, but rather warnings about what content is in the game. Like Blood, references, drugs, sex etc. If the person still wants to buy it then they should be able to regardless of age because not every kid is not not going to understand it. Kids should be able to learn about these things as quick as possible because there going to be surrounded by it a whole lot. There is the issue of abusing it, but thats why you also teach them about the consequences of there actions and the do's and dont's.

I am all for a rating system so parents will know if its a childrens game or if its an adult game. its in the middle where it gets hazy on how they get rated. and that there are multiple rating systems for different media with differant criteria for the rating. I think game rating system should be the same system as movies. this way there is one major rating system so stupid parents dont need to know multiple. and games should be held to the same standards for ratings as movies and not like they are treated now wich is worse in some ways (example RC in Australia) when movies can have the same gore and sexual content get rated and released. And once they are under the same rating and the same rules for sales/rental should apply. argument over, and if you buy your kid an adult game or movie when he is 10 then its your lousy ignorant parent fault for not looking at the rating but he sure as shit couldnt buy it himself.

'Fuck it' has always been my preferred option in most circumstances.

Wait, that sounded better in my head...

Ah, well. Fuck it.

I agree with the points raised in this column, but there's something I simply can't shake.

What if there are no male reproductive organs in Mortal Kombat X-Ray moves because they exclusively shows muscle and bone?

To illustrate my point, here is an image of the male human skeletal muscles:


This would explain why there are no "dicks" visible, without necessarily implying anything else.

Still, a bit too convenient to be entirely coincidental. I just thought I'd throw that out there.

Rating video games as mature should be based on intellectual stimulation and difficulty. Puzzle games and insanely difficult games (but not those that are simply annoying) that kids and stupid people can't solve should be called mature video games.

While I'm a little late to the argument, referring back to the guy who was comparing God of War-style combat and sex with reality as being over-the-top-but-possible...not so much.

If you want a game that includes realistic violence against titanic foes, realistic meaning someone with adequate strength and endurance could probably do at least the majority of the combat maneuvers the main character executes in the game, you don't want to use God of War as your example. You want to use Shadow of the Colossus. The protagonist barely demonstrates any particular proficiency with his sword work, his main efforts are comprised of 1) holding onto to something and 2) climbing something, with some running and swimming and horseback riding thrown in for flavor, and his kills have definitive, obvious consequences both in their results as pertains to his goal and on the boy himself, each kill darkening his place in the world as he goes on - stylistic representation of remorse/guilt/consequences in general, yes, but more than most games provide.

Now, in a setting that presents violence like that, I wonder how the game might have come across if, between the final colossus kill and the final battle, there had been a peaceful moment where he actually got the girl in an equally believable fashion? That seems like a potentially useful area of discussion for this kind of topic as opposed to just debating which games have the goofiest violence-to-sex ratio. Maybe it's just me.

This has always bothered me, cuz when you think about it, which is more mature, "Heavy Metal" or "Toy Story"?

What was more horrific? That one chick getting cut up by Alien hordes, or Woody and his friends being thrown into furnace?

What was more horrific? That one chick getting cut up by Alien hordes, or Woody and his friends being thrown into furnace?

Definitely the chick getting cut up.

Does that make it more mature? No.

I have looked up rating boards like the ERSB, and found that they have no guidelines at all. Its all done by a volunteer who plays the game for any amount of time, then out of his/her judgement picks if the game is an E all the way to an AO. While the movie boards have guidelines to the G rating to the R rating. Thus leaving all game ratings unconsistant and almost as accurate as the next weeks weather.

Well, I gotta have to say that the chock takes it, simply because she actually is cut up.
Woody and his friends on the other hand end up in a furnace but they are saved before anything happens to them.
The chick is dead and cut up.
Woody lives....
Now, if we had been treated to a montage of woody + friends slowly melting away, their faces literally melting, mimic getting out of control, maybe the speaker in woody belly sounding one last time, though not finishing his sentence, then it would have been way more horrific.
Especially if there had not been any music or sound at all, and if Pixar had managed to make it seem tasteful.
Heck, Woody would still take the price if they had just ended the movie the moment he grabbed the hands of his companions, with their deaths being implied but not shown, the way it is, Heavy Metal takes the cake.
Although the cake is still eaten by the self-dismemberment in Heavy Rain.
Seriously guys, that was a brutal, brutal, hard to watch scene and I never want to have to play it again, although I probably will.

P.S. I admit it: I am a man and I love me some tig ol bitties.
I love seeing virtual men get killed by virtual means and explode, brains and bones and guts everywhere and blood all over the screen.
I am not offended by Mortal Kombat NOT showing me the various genitals of their contestants. Why do you all want to see virtual dicks so
I can be perfectly happy with a game the plot of which does not make sense but which features awesome gameplay, gore and violence.
Case in point: Prototype.
Most games are badly written and if I want a good story, I shall read a book.


What was more horrific? That one chick getting cut up by Alien hordes, or Woody and his friends being thrown into furnace?

Definitely the chick getting cut up.

Does that make it more mature? No.

I would disagree personally on the grounds that character investment was more intense for Toy Story.

Hullo there. Genuine thirteen-year-old. From what I've seen and demo'ed of DN:F (I don't want to buy it - inb4 pocket money jokes), it appears to be a piece of juvenile, asinine, objectifying, quasi-misogynistic (I added the prefix because of the hordes of people who seem to think that preventing hatred [and it is hatred {really, I can't think of a single reason within the context of the game to have naked ladies other than because <Haha, nested brackets, you've forgotten what I was talking about>...well, naked ladies }in every sense of the word] is an affront to free speech) Frankenstein-ic, zombified, petrified, archaeologically fascinating, and fundamentally, necessarily *immature* game.

Or, you know. It's kinda lame.

Would calling it "Sophomoric Adult" be a better description? We have to be careful not to conflate the literal meaning of mature with the meaning of mature as it is used for ESRB ratings. In the literal meaning, we are talking about a person who has a high sense of responsibility, self-accountability, and integrity. We are also talking about a person who is capable of putting the needs and desires of others before his/her own(the property of self-sacrifice). The mature person is able to take a balanced, reasoned approach to life and has a high level of self-discipline and self-control.

Mature in the sense that the ESRB uses it for ratings simply means that the material contained within is not appropriate for young, impressionable minds. The young, impressionable mind is not always capable of separating fantasy from reality, nor is it always capable of understanding the full consequences of its actions such to be able to engage self-restraint. It may end up imitating actions or utterances that it witnessed at inappropriate times or without fully understanding the consequences. Other times, it may not understand that a particular action is impossible to perform or that a particular state is impossible to obtain, and even when it comes to accept the impossibility of the things, it may not fully understand why. It just lacks the knowledge, insight, and complexity of thought to do so. Such minds do not always understand why certain behaviors or inappropriate or hurtful to others or are apathetic to the harm they may cause as a direct result of their actions. This is the sense of the ESRB mature rating, that the material is inappropriate for young minds that may not have developed sufficiently to exercise the self-control and understanding necessary to handle such material responsibly.

It can be argued that some adults are given to being impressionable and have difficulty with self-control and understanding the full consequences of their actions. Well, such adults are immature and are usually called such. It is true that age does not guarantee wisdom, but the inexperience of youth carries a high probability toward folly(essentially, young and foolish is a redundant statement).

Now, as for true maturity in games, I definitely agree that games, as a whole, are severely lacking maturity in the sense as I outlined in the first paragraph. Many games are really just sophomoric. They are like watching 13-year-olds playing at adult dress-up. The only thing that has really matured about video games is the graphics have gotten better and the play-time is extended(sometimes unnecessarily and beyond what is called for), but the actual content still takes the same immature approach to everything as they always have, be it love, sex, religion, politics, history, education, violence, or just the human experience in general. There is a complete failure to be informative, educational, or enlightening on such subjects, and the usual approach is to sardonically mock and sneer at those things or succumb to mere hedonistic revealry. The general attitude is often "give me what I want, let me do what I want, and then just shut-up and leave me alone", which is more the attitude of a 5-year-old.

Personally, I attribute the failure of video games to mature on the attitude that games must necessarily always be about having fun. While there is nothing wrong with having fun, it is not the only mode and means of enjoyment and enrichment of ones life. This failure to expand to other modes has stunted the cultural and intellectual development of video games for decades and is one of the prime barriers that I perceive as preventing video games from truly aspiring as a medium for expression. It is not necessarily bad having some things that tap the most base thoughts and instincts or are just simply fun. These can often provide quite a carathsis. However, these are not the only possibilities. Yet, the video games industry and community have pigeon-holed video games as a medium into such a narrow regime. Consequently, video games, as a whole and as an industry, have never done any more maturation than improve on graphical detail and extend play-time. But, based on the buying habits of us gamers, this is precisely how we like it to be; so, we should just stop pretending to anything more.

Addendum: An additional thought that just occurred to me, taking the approach to make a video game with a gruff, grim story-line is also not necessarily the mature approach; it only gives the illusion of maturity. While life as an adult can certainly be filled with difficult situations requiring difficult decisions and hardship, it can also be filled with much joy and fulfillment as well. It's often a matter of the choices we make and the attitudes we have as we go forward in life. It is the approach to the subject matter, not the subject matter itself, that truly delineates a mature(mature in the sense as I described in my first paragraph, not the mature rating) game from one that is merely pretending at maturity.

I think the problem is that it's the immature stuff you want to keep away from immature people and not the mature stuff.

Don't feed the trolls, right?

I feel a strange motivation to unthinkingly defend Duke Nukem Forever. It's the same mindless instinct that makes me offended when people talk shit about the UK, even though I don't live there anymore because it's a grey, flat, miserable place more hung up on its past glory than William Shatner. I guess because Duke Nukem 3D was an important fixture in my teenage emotional development, which probably explains why I still greet women by tossing them fivers.


Well I live in the Lake District, Cumbria, where it's nice and green and mountainy so fuck you and your barbeques Yahtzee!

Yahtzee has a point. I think this illustrates it very well.

And while America isn't the only one, we certainly make the biggest deal out of it.

Appropriately, that game is one of the only well-known games released in recent years to never get an ESRB rating because it is only sold online.

Which I think is what ought to start happening. Now that there's no fear of our government stepping in and imposing some sort of rating system on the industry, game companies are free to release their games without a rating. Publishers probably still won't bite, since there are potential lost sales at stake, but at least the whole "if we don't rate our games, the big bad gummint will!" argument is dead.

looks like i'm not the only one who is horrified by the pencil scene

You know all this talk of the double standard between depictions of violence and the depictions of sex reminds me of all that whining and complaining Fox did about Mass Effect 1 and their "Se'xbox'" bits. Really just made me shake my head and want to send a letter to all those who work at Fox to act their age not their shoe size.

Isn't it actually John Yossarian? The author was Joseph Heller...

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