The ESRB Is Full Of It
Posted on Thursday, May 4 @ 18:24:59 Eastern by dUKEIt all started back in 1982 with Smurf: Rescue in Gargamel's Castle. Due to a programming glitch (and a technical limitation of the then-cutting-edge Colecovision), there was actually a way to get Smurfette out of her dress at the end of the game.
Even if you squinted, it was hardly pornographic, as Smurfette’s dress consisted of about eight square white pixels which were replaced with about eight square blue pixels. But that didn’t stop countless squinting twelve year-olds from recreating the effect to great hilarity.
Back in those days, there was no ESRB, but if there had been, would the game’s rating have gotten smurfed-up? Recent events certainly suggest that it would. Both Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas and The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion got their ratings raised for technical glitches of their own; in both cases unused, sexually-themed code that was disabled, but left on the disc by lazy programmers.
I find it especially odd because in order to get to the problematic content, a user has to modify the game’s programming to use the game in an unintended way. It’s like locking up all the Barbie dolls because it was discovered that twelve year-old girls were stripping Barbie and Ken naked and having them perform simulated sex acts when mom wasn’t looking. And trust me, every single girl in America did exactly this. That’s assuming they even had a Ken doll and Barbie wasn’t having incestuous, lesbian sex with Skipper instead.
If that last sentence can’t get me some Google traffic, nothing can.
Which is really my whole point. The world has changed, people, and some of you haven’t noticed. I don’t know if it’s better or worse, but it is changed fundamentally and forever.
Why on earth would anyone care that you can go to a lot of trouble to get odd-looking, topless characters in a game, when the simplest Google search for “boobs" will get you much, much, much, much, much more explicit content (much). Forget searching for “farm sluts".
Comedians like Lenny Bruce and George Carlin used to get arrested for using “foul language,í¢â‚¬? while these days South Park can use the word “shit" 162 times in a single episode, and nobody blinks an eye. So now Oblivion can only be bought by adults 18 or older? That puts the game in the exact same "harmful" category as cigarettes, shotguns, and transvestite midget porn (sorry, you'll have to google that one yourself), and that's just plain stupid. Exactly who are we protecting here, and from what?
In a decade or two, ratings boards like the ESRB and the MPAA will be totally obsolete. Useless. As ridiculous as having a sculpture ratings board to make sure kids can’t see Michelangelo’s statue of David. Meanwhile, it looks like we have to put up with some more knee-jerk, reactionary crap and the ESRB has to kowtow to it in order to stay in business.
As for me? I’m gonna get back to playing with my Barbie dolls.
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