It seemed impossible to think that we would move into an era where censorship, restricted game releases based on regional cultural differences and the exhibition of women in bikinis would become the cornerstone of video game discussions across the web in 2015. Well, they have. And legendary game developer American McGee, famous for id Software’s original Doom and EA’s Alice games, has spoken out against the gaming media’s advocating of censorship and content policing.
Over on Facebook McGee explained his stance after making a few tweets in support of Play-Asia, who is carrying Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 following Tecmo Koei’s announcement that they wouldn’t release it in the West due to the fear of backlash from cultural critics and organized campaigns of hatred. McGee stated…
“I get tired of commenting on this sort of thing. Always back to the same question about free expression and a free market. If one thing’s alright and the other’s not – who decides? Why? Where’s the “Big Book of Moral Correctness” these people are reading from?
“Here in China they have that “Big Book” – it’s called the Ministry of Culture. They decide what can and cannot be on TV, in games, books, music, etc. They ensure content creators never show more than the approved surface area of skin. Any political or social commentary in your entertainment products – they check against the party line.
“Can you guess how else they use that here in China?”
They have curfews and designated hours for how often youth can engage with online media and gaming as well. They even have concentrated militarized reformation camps to “rehabilitate” those who are addicted to the internet and gaming, and will even fine and punish parents who they find allowing their kids to engage in more content than what they’re allowed to consume. One teenager died in one of the camps after failing to show improvements in his addiction to online media, as reported by ABC News.
In making the posts on Facebook and tweeting support for Play-Asia, McGee encountered a few people who felt as if he was enabling attacks on those who identify as “Social Justice Warriors” standing against Play-Asia and their selling of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3. One user begged McGee to stop speaking out on behalf of Play-Asia and the creative rights of developers, stating on Twitter…
@americanmcgee people are being harassed on a near-constant basis because of their actions. Please. Please stop.
— Butterball Starr (@SupergiantStarr) November 26, 2015
I attempted to find out more about this individual to ask them why they would be against free speech and supporting developers who want to exercise their creative freedoms, but the person is using a #GamerGate auto-block list.
Nevertheless, McGee’s post sums up a warning for the kind of people calling for censorship, saying…
“Ultimately, these people in the US who are calling for censorship (in any form) are working towards a goal shared by governments and corporations around the globe – control of free speech. The “tools” for the suppression of free expression these activists acquire today will be the same tools used against them by the government the next time they question some rights issue or corporate action. They are digging their own graves (and ours too).
“So, my thought… free boob will destroy freedom of expression. Obviously. You’ve been warned wink emoticon”
The fascinating thing about it is that Koei Tecmo feared a media backlash from cultural appropriators in the West, and that’s exactly what happened even with them not releasing the game outside of Asia. There’s an image floating around on Kotaku in Action and 8chan of journalists attacking the Dead or Alive series and fulfilling the prophecy that Koei Tecmo foretold on their Facebook page. Check it out below.
McGee draws a comparison between the outrage from the media over Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 with the release of his Alice game from long ago, stating in the Facebook post…
“”Alice” almost didn’t make it to retail shelves. It was the first M-Rated game EA ever published, and was nearly labeled “AO” (Adult Only) by the ESRB.
“There were those who resisted the idea of Alice’s antagonist being a psychopath pedophile. It “went too far.” The voice actor who played Bumby asked not to be credited for fear of association with such a vile character. Good on EA for having the guts to fund and publish a game with such a powerful and provocative story.
“[…] Do we really want to live in a world where artists are told what they can and cannot create? It’s a simple question – with only two possible answers: Yes or No. If you support free expression, then you must support ALL free expression. The other way leads to a slippery slope, which history has shown countless times leads to a Very Bad Place.”
Right now the cultural appropriators, oftentimes referred to as “Social Justice Warriors”, are praising the lack of a regional release of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, and justifying the removal of bust sliders in Xenoblade Chronicles X; it’s also about removing sexually suggestive camera angles in Street Fighter V and altering quests in games like Blade & Soul that these same cultural appropriators deem as “culturally insensitive”. But what happens when they come for more fighting games? What then? What happens when it moves into the genre known for overt violence? What happens when it’s Doom or any of your other favorite shooting games that they deem spread “toxic masculinity”? What then?
Do you finally stand up and say “enough!” after your favorite title gets gutted and censored because the creators instituted culturally “toxic” elements? Or do people finally wake up after the rehabilitation camps are instituted for gamers who become addicted to content propagating “problematic” themes?