Let's face it. The discussion on video game violence and it's effects on society is old hat. We all know our opinions and no one is getting anywhere in the debate. Personally, I thought that eventually it would burn itself out just like the controversy over Rap Music in the 90's, Heavy Metal in the 80's, and Rock 'n Roll during the years before that. We as a community of like-minded hobbyists must continually strive to change public perception of the gaming community and EA, along with various other developers/publishers, needs to join in the fight rather than giving anti-gaming groups more reasons to hate us all.
Dante's Inferno, tentatively scheduled for a February 2010 release, has once again entered the public view with it's most recent announcement concerning one of it's myriad achievements. During a "Naughty or Nice" press event, it was mentioned that there would be an Achievement for killing an undisclosed number of unbaptized babies. In the defense of our protagonist, the little rugrats are running around with sickle-like appendages, but apparently the International Nanny Association (INA) have taken exception to the gamer goal.
In an official response, they stated, "the INA is opposed to video games that promote and encourage players to 'kill' babies, even in fantasy play. It is our opinion that this type of play may promote violence towards children. The name of the trophy or achievement, 'Bad Nanny,' is offensive to our association in that we strive to promote and educate the public regarding the selfless work nannies do to support families by providing quality in-home child care."
The ESRB's response was quick and, as always, vague, "…it should be understood that our job is not to censor potentially tasteless or objectionable content nor dictate to publishers what type of content they may include in their games. ESRB’s role is to objectively evaluate a game’s content and assign age and content ratings that will be helpful in allowing consumers to make informed choices." Obviously, they are once again passing the buck. Honestly, why wouldn't they.
Now, I laughed when I read all of this. I admittedly have a sick, sick sense of humor, but then the realization struck me that this sort of nonsense is exactly the type of idiocy that the news media and government thrive on to make our lives more difficult. The PR history for this title has not been exactly stellar. With the Comic Con "Sin to Win" fiasco and the Greed "bribe", this latest nightmare can only serve to ignite the anti-gaming fires once again.
I understand, as well as many of you, that these are merely games, not to be taken seriously. Yet, with parents, teachers, and politicians looking over our shoulders and pointing fingers, these sort of antics can only encourage their misguided wrath. I shudder to think what EA has up their sleeve when their marketing department sets it's sights on Heresy. A free game for the best Twitter picture of a burning church? The more famous the House of God is, the better?
Do you think people are taking this too seriously? Am I? Let's hear your opinion.