Fresh from some sparring with the ESRB over the Sony PS3 title Lair, Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht sounded some harsh notes about the regulatory board.
At the Games Convention Developer’s Conference in Germany, Eggebrecht slammed the board’s rating system as incomplete and illogical and said videogames are not taken seriously as an art form.
One of his gripes was a tussle with the ESRB over the inclusion of an unlockable cheat treat that spawned a coffeemaker – an allusion to the infamous Hot Coffee mod controversy.
“Everyone thought it was hilarious … but we couldn’t call the cheat ‘Hot Coffee,’ because that would imply we were mocking the authorities investigating Hot Coffee. If you cannot have satire about these things, that is approaching the realm of McCarthyism,” he said.
The Facto 5 President also criticized the absence of a rating between Teen and Mature. Sony sought a Teen rating for Lair, but the developers had to excise some violent elements, such as flying chunks and blood spurts, when the ESRB objected.
“On the one hand they objected to this, but they let us through with a Teen [rating] even though you can use fire – you can set up to five, six thousand people on fire. They burn, they run around and they scream, but of course that wasn’t a problem.”
Eggebrecht urged his colleagues to push the envelope on violence and sexual content but to present it in a way that is artistic rather than gratuitous.