Experienced Points

Experienced Points
Sex, Violence, and the Wii

Shamus Young | 20 Nov 2009 17:00
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You know what could really help us get past all these "sex and violence in videogames" controversies? The Wii.

The recent outrage over the airport level in Modern Warfare 2 strikes me as being just as overblown as the Mass Effect controversy of 2008. Why are people making a big deal about this now? We've seen much worse in the past, with not so much as a harrumph from the mainstream press. More importantly, we've seen much, much, much worse in movies.

Andy Chalk beat me to the punch on this issue, pointing out that the airport sequence of Modern Warfare 2 pales in comparison to what you can do in Far Cry 2. And we can go back even further and find games that were even more outrageous by today's standards, even through they hardly elicited a raised eyebrow at the time.

  • In Deus Ex, almost everyone was kill-able, with the exception of a small number of plot-centric characters. Civilians, police, allies, and even children. There were people who played through the game, making a point to kill every single living soul in the world. (Of course, it was also possible to go through the entire game and only kill a single person, which people also did.) In Deus Ex 2, it had the same "kill anyone not central to the plot" freedom, with the addition that there was an entire academy of children you could murder. Classrooms. Of kids. To shoot.
  • Likewise, the first two Fallout games allowed you to purge to world of life, including the kids. In Fallout 3, you could nuke an entire populated settlement off the map, as well as gun down a majority of the otherwise friendly people you meet. You could also round up people and sell them into slavery. (Although, the kids were invincible in that one.)
  • In the Hitman games, you can kill just about everything that breathes. (Although the game can get to be really, really hard if you try to do so.) Plus, you know, you're a hitman.

I'd say all of these games are tangibly more shocking than Modern Warfare 2. Either the potential body counts are higher, the killing is more pervasive, or the victims are more tragic.

Similarly, the Mass Effect controversy made a big deal out of seeing half of a character's bum years after the Leisure Suit Larry games had given us animated cartoon boobs, depictions of various sexual fetishes, and a missile silo full of penis jokes and phallic imagery.

Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas was pulled from the shelves at Walmart because it was possible to hack the game and see crude animated figures having awkward sex through their clothes, but it's still possible to walk into a Walmart today and buy movies like Eyes Wide Shut that will show you something a lot more scandalous than that.

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