Thursday, February 22, 2007

M-rating on it's last legs? Don't believe it.

An article up on GigaGamez is suggesting that M-rated games could become few and far between in response to increasing media attention on violent games being sold to minors, particularly in light of Gamestop's decision to fire employees who sell them to kids.

The author likens the M-rating to the MPAA's NC-17 rating for movies, the implication being that just as most theatres won't show NC-17 movies, game stores won't want to carry M games.

The problem is that games already have an NC-17 rating: it's the "AO-Adults Only" designation that GTA infamously got slapped with a couple years ago due to its hidden fellatio mini-game. You may have heard something about it.

Just like NC-17, stores won't carry AO rated games, although strangely it's not a problem for NC-17 movies to be sold at places like Best Buy which won't carry AO games. Hypocritical? You bet!

You see, games are in the middle of the same political wrangling that has targeted both the movie and comics industries in the 20th century. Before games came along and took the magnifying glass off of the other two interests of every well rounded nerd, they were both the popular scapegoats for irresponsible parents everywhere.

Now while a crackdown on sales of M-rated games to minors would logically seem to lead to a decrease in their overall sales, that point of view fails to take into account that by and large those kids foiled by this will just have their parents by the game for them.

In my years managing a GameStop the times I turned a kid down on an M-rated game purchase were exponentially outnumbered by the times where his mom or dad (or 18 year old older brother) walked right in and bought it for him.

Will increased attention result in some lost sales? Probably, but nowhere near the sales publishers of games like Gears of War, God of War, and other super violent games whose names may or may not be abbreviated GoW, will lose if they water down the experiences fans expect.

You know what parents REALLY don't like in games? NUDITY. They couldn't give a rats ass about the violence. Little Billy can rip the wings off of harpies all day, so long as his impressionable young mind never finds out what lies underneath a woman's blouse. I honestly expected God of War II to forego the infamous sex mini game with bare-breasted women because I personally witnessed dozens of teens get denied the game simply because of the "Nudity" descriptor on the back of the box. It's still going strong in GoWII though and the game will sell easily a million copies, if not twice that.

All of this nonsense is a result of the ever pervading public opinion that by definition, video games are for kids. The industry is still in it's infancy and those of us who were kids during the NES-era are still relatively young. While all this seems intimidating now, it WILL get better as those of us who grew up with games get older and exert more influence, just as it did for movies and comics. By then, some new pastime will arise to turn the youth of the world into murderers and video games will be an accepted part of our culture.

This post was brought to you by the letter M and the number 17. You can thank me for the lack of nudity later.

Source: Rated M becoming the NC-17 of Games? - GigaGamez via Game|Life

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