Four big names on four gaming issues: sex, violence, content ratings, and gaming design

Censored - Image 1David Jaffe, Peter Molyneux, Greg Zeschuk, Cliff Bleszinski – four of the most creative minds in gaming industry share their thoughts on the four things that sell: sex, violence, ratings, and gaming design. Get their take on the the consumers’ perception, the fun, the taboos, and the necessary.

Four of the most creative minds in the gaming industry share their thoughts on the four things that sell: sex, violence, ratings, and gaming design. David Jaffe (Twister Metal, God of War), Peter Molyneux (Populous, Fable 2), Greg Zeschuk (Neverwinter Nights, Mass Effect), and Cliff Beszinski (Gears of War) comment separately on consumer perception and what would make a good game.

Looking at the polls conducted by What They Play, parents would like to see less sexual content on games than violence. Here’s what they said:

Bleszinski: Based on the current state of popular thinking, I wouldn’t touch sexual themes with a 10 foot pole.

Jaffe: Sexuality in games is really hard to express right now.

As far as violence is concerned, here’s their take:

Jaffe: Honestly, I donÂ’t know how I feel about it. There are days where I love it, and am grateful for it, and days where I think the level of violence in our culture is spiritually bankrupting us.

Bleszinski: I’ll gladly put a chainsaw in your face, because I think of the violence in Gears of War are slapstick.

Kratos - Image 1

Talking about sex and violence, Jaffe says that the ESRB lacks consistency with other media when it comes to giving ratings. “LetÂ’s face it, a PG-13 movie would be an M rated video game.” he said. “It really reflects that the ESRB looks at games as toys, or more importantly, that they are worried about being sued or going in front of the Senate.”

The analogy is accurate. If M-rated TV shows like The Sopranos became video games, then they would receive the very nasty AO or “adult only” rating. Receiving such a rating would pretty much banish a game into obscurity. Not only do platform holders Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo have strict AO policies, major retailers such as Target and Wal-Mart also refuse stock AO games.

So how would they go about the designing, given such circumstances?

Molyneux: We know the broad rules”; “If it’s too violent, it won’t sell in Germany. If it’s too sexual, it won’t sell in America. What you end up is avoiding gratuitousness.

Zeschuk: We really believe in the ratings, and itÂ’s important that over the course of these huge experiences that the whole game world weÂ’re creating makes sense.

Sex sells. Violence sells. It’s sometimes sad that games often turn to those two in order to become “fun.” Not all games, but certainly a big number. Let’s face it – it’s fun. We all thought playing Kratos was totally wicked, and we had fun picking up hos in GTA. I guess it’s a great reprieve for us all that titles like LittleBigPlanet are still out there, proving that we’re not all about the sex and violence.

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