Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's Testimony on Game Bill

February 26, 2009 -

Earlier this week GamePolitics posted exclusive transcripts of testimony at Monday's hearing before a Utah House committee which was considering Jack Thompson's video game bill.

Among those appearing before the committe was Thompson ally Gayle Ruzicka, the politically formidable head of the ultra-conservative Utah Eagle Forum.

As we reported, Ruzicka, in an urgent tone, beseeched the committee to approve the Thompson bill: 

These [games] are the kind of things that are training our children. This is the vile stuff. The Grand Theft Auto games are cop-killing murder simulators. And when [Devin Moore] was faced with being arrested he knew exactly what to do. He knew how to aim... at the head and each time killed these [officers]. We don't want this for our children. Not at all. Please, please vote yes today on this bill.

 

Anything we can do to protect our children from the violence, from the filthy pornography that the only way they can get into the pornography is being good at the game. They work hard and get to certain levels and when they get to the high enough levels then they get into the pornography - filthy, vile stuff that you would be appalled and never want your children to see. And then as a reward, they get to kill the women...

Ruzicka's protestations caught the attention of game design blog Third Helix where the author tackled her claims, point by point:

...our industry never steps up to defend ourselves in light of their lies. [Ruzicka is] referring to the Grand Theft Auto games, of course, and her inaccuracies are numerous:

    * There is no pornography in GTA, unless your definition of pornography is “any sexual content or reference of any kind”. The closest thing you’ll get is the Hot Coffee mod for GTA:SA, and the (brief) male nudity in The Lost & The Damned. The comically-low resolution of the former, and the non-sexual nature of the latter, clearly distance them from any generally-accepted concept of pornography.

 

    * GTA does not have “levels”, as it is primarily a sandbox game. The closest analogue is “missions”, which do not always have a strictly linear progression, and the games’ content does not become any more explicit as players progress.

 

    * Explicit content is not used as a reward for gameplay. It is simply the overall tone of the games, and many well-regarded movies do exactly the same thing.

 

    * Killing the prostitutes is not a reward for anything at all, nor is it encouraged. It does provide a marginal “reward” in that you gain a small amount of cash — should you choose to pick it up — but this amounts to virtually nothing in the overall game economy and is not generally worth doing.

I understand that people like Ms. Ruzicka are concerned about their children (and other people’s children, too, apparently). But it would be nice if the things such people are afraid of were actually real, and not inventions of rumor and fevered imagination...


Comments

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

My mistake, thanks for the correction.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

No problem.

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

The funny thing about Fox News attacking Mass Effect is, if you dig deeper into the website's Tech section, you would find an article by a journalist that gave it an amazing positive review.

GameSnooper

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

 Objection! WE DO DEFEND OURSELVES! Over and over again, but we can only take so much. Why have we lacked on defense lately? 

1. Nothing we say seem to be heard by those against games. They continue to treat GTA as the spokes-game for the industry, regardless of its small portion.

2. Games are so quickly reaching mainstream, so eventually and soon, the arguments will be ignored, then completely dropped, just like movies and all other "controversial" mediums before it.

The war for freedom is nearly over. These little skermishes are nothing to freak out about.

 

 

"What's the point? This world is beyond redemption; let the [heathen] cattle have it!" - Vorador, Soul Reaver 2

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

"The war for freedom is nearly over. These little skermishes are nothing to freak out about.

"What's the point? This world is beyond redemption; let the [heathen] cattle have it!" - Vorador, Soul Reaver 2"

Your signature, as well as being ironic, doesn't fill me with much hope.

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

What we've lacked on defense lately -- and always -- is a strong pro-game presence in the very forums where the anti-game presence lies. Our critics aren't selling their message on gaming blogs and forums, they're selling it on the local evening news and in political meetings like the one that approved this bill.

We defend our industry vigorously, but we've only been defending it to each other. My parents, for example, don't read GamePolitics, but they do watch FOX News. Guess which viewpoint they're getting, exclusively?

third-helix.com | Game design, music, and politics

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

And that is one of the reasons the ECA exists. To get gamer representation to those areas. AS people we watch those channels and shows as well as read those newspapers and magazines. It is our responsibility to call them out when they get the facts wrong.

But the industry has a responsibility to do it as well. That should be one of the Missions of the ESA but it seems they would rather hold only a reactionary effort on legislation.

Look at this. We have a bill being actively discussed and almost ready to go for a vote. But the ESA has yet to speak up about it. AS far as I know the EMA has said very little if anything. Why? It will directly effect members of both of those organizations. Shouldn't those members have the benefit of being a member of an organization that actively defends them before things like this get signed into law. Wouldn't it be more beneficial to the industry and tax payers to actually prevent this from being signed into law rather than getting it repealed?

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

Yes individual designers and developers stand up for games, but the industry as a whole has a very low response rate to this kind of stuff.

I can uderstand ignoring blogs and op-ed peices, but when there is a congretional testimony, someone from the industry should be there to make sure the facts are set straight.

AS I understand it, the only person there arguing against this bill was a theatre rep. Where was the games industry rep? Who the crap knows.

E. Zachary Knight
Oklahoma City Chapter of the ECA
http://www.theeca.com/chapters_oklahoma

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

I looked up the minutes of the hearing on the Utah State Legislature's website and there were three people there arguing against the bill and all three were movie industry reps(2 from the theater owners and 1 from the MPAA). Where is the game industry's reps to oppose this pile of crap?

Curiously, one of the legislators that voted against sending the bill to the full House had filed a motion to adjourn the meeting before the vote could be called.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Hornets, Jack Thompson can geaux chase a chupacabra.

Geaux Saints, Geaux Tigers, Geaux Pelicans. Even through the darkest days, this fire burns always.

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

But every time someone fires back, they end up sounding like the comic book guy, as this blogger so deftly proved :p.

I kind of agree with Vake... videogames are rapidly becoming a part of our culture, eventually all these windbags are gonna be preaching to an empty flock.

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

I'm interested to know what about my post came off as "comic book guy". Not that I'm trying to be argumentative or anything, but I think it's important for all of us to develop effective ways of communicating our defense of our medium, and I gather that "comic book guy" isn't one of the more effective ways of doing that. :P

third-helix.com | Game design, music, and politics

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

Specifically referencing his finite disection. I dunno, I never found that to be a particularly effective method of arguement.

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

Point-by-point refutations probably will not change the minds of those on the other side of this issue, so you do have a point there. But at the same time, I do think such refutations are necessary -- at least in the short-term -- for the protection of our industry's integrity in the public square.

The Mass Effect "rape simulator" situation is a good example. Refuting the claim of rape content would probably not have changed the minds of the people who advanced those claims, either in terms of their opinion that such content exists, or their negative opinion toward games in general. But public refutation would have had an effect on all the viewers and readers of those news outlets that carried the story.

As it stands, due to the inadequacy of public refutation in that case, my parents (for example) to this day think Mass Effect is a game about rape, despite my attempts to correct the record.

Similarly, the zombie lie of "GTA gives you points for screwing and killing prostitutes" has, sadly, defined an era. And it was only allowed to do so because it has not been adequately publically refuted. The voices of our misinformed critics have proven far louder and wider-reaching than our own.

-Josh

third-helix.com | Game design, music, and politics

third-helix.com | Game design, music, and politics

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

Excellently well put, Josh. 10/10

Do you plan on sending anything to any politicians regarding Ruzika's lies?

Jack Thompson: future Good Burger employee of the month

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

Which is why... as much as it sucks, I'm all for "laying low." Cuz as you know... Crazy ignorant people will always steal the lime-light, because the even-headed people don't have anything to really scream about.

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate what you were trying to do (plus I wasn't accusing you of being the comic-book guy)... but the bottom line is that the future will simply prove how completely out of touch these people are.

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

You lost me there. Guy comments about how laying low has really bad consequences, yet that is why you are for laying low?

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

"The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing" - Edmund Burke

GameSnooper

 

Re: Game Designer Points Out Flaws in Utah Conservative's

As I remember it EA did thank the fans for defendign the game, soemting EA themselves should have been doing since the alegations were first made.

 
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