Double Agent
No more CC letters, and the people rejoice! - September 28, 2000 - Chris Jones

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this column are those of the participants and the moderator, and do not necessarily reflect those of the GIA. There is coarse language and potentially offensive material afoot. I wish it were time for Cheers, but it's not; it's time for vengeance! Don't say we didn't warn you.

True story: I'm sitting in my lab section today, waiting for a student to ask a programming question or something. To pass the time, I'm playing Tetris, and a fellow TA is sitting across from me and writing computer code. So to strike up a conversation to pass the time, I say,

"So who's funnier, Rodney Dangerfield or Thomas Pynchon?"

He thinks a moment and replies,

"Rodney, definitely."

"Why do you say that?"


"You don't know who Thomas Pynchon is?"

"No, of course I know who Thomas Pynchon is. He was Balki on Perfect Strangers, right?"

I dunno, maybe you had to be there, but that's the funniest damn thing I've heard all year.


You might not go psycho from Quake

I fail to see what is wrong with marketing to kids. Unlike tobacco (which is bad for anyone, but in a free society, should be an option availiable to adults) videogames are not neccessarity corrosive to one's well being. Some kids can handle violence, some kids can't. That determination should be made by parents, who are ideally situated to be gatekeepers to their children. When I was a kid I saw commercials for R-rated movies, and and partly as a consequence, wanted to see those movies.

My parents, using what they knew about the movies, and what they knew about me, took me to see only the movies they deemed appropriate. Now the government, which arbitrarity decides what is appropriate for entire age groups (and believes that eighteen year olds are markedly more mature than seventeen year olds) wants the media to market only to 'appropriate' age groups. I think this is part of a troubling trend, where government aids and abets parental abdication of responsibility. I cannot understand why people have kids if they do not have or are not willing to invest the effort it takes to raise one properly. I do not think it is right or fair for the goverment to force the media to become a surrogate parent because a child's real parents cannot be bothered.

- Mark

PS - Chris, if you're looking for an rpg, pick up Ogre Battle, not PE2. Personally, I am a big fan of survival horror games (I've played the RE series, Fear Effect and Silent Hill) and I thought PE2 was a strong entry into the genre. While it doesn't reinvent the wheel, the targetting system is an clever refinement of the standard survival horror combat system, the weapon selection is large and extremely varied, and the character design is brilliant (Aya is more gorgeous than ever and her enemies are uglier than ever). The only glaring flaw I can think of is the lack of voice acting (although the writing is pretty decent). Rather than being a mixture of survival horror and rpgs (as in PE1), PE2 is Square's take on survival horror.

As much as anything, that's why I find this debate a bit upsetting - the assumption seems to have already been made that minors can't differentiate right and wrong, that not only can't kids handle violence but that if they see any advertising for violent games, they've got to play them. It's a rather one sided conversation, to say the least.

At the same time, parents can't possibly be everywhere, no matter how committed they are. I didn't want my parents around me 24/7 when I was a teenager, and they respected that. But they would have had to be around 24/7 to stop me from seeing an R movie or playing a violent game. That said, maybe it's not a bad idea to have some kind of government guidelines.

I always puke when I'm punched, personally
Well, I don't know what it's like in the US, but over here, almost noone save adolescents goes to gaming arcades. Two of the seminal games when I was growing up were Street Fighter II and Mortal Kombat. Both targetted at adolescents, both highly successful (in fact, SF2 is what sold the SNES over here, basically) and both very violent. Mortal Kombat featured decapitions, heart removals, oceans of blood (the "stuck pig" syndrome), SF2 more cartoonishly violent, but let's face it, most characters responded to a gut punch by puking. Yuck. Unsure how much these contributed to the "Yob culture", which appeared to be entrenched beforehand, but it's still quite worrying.

Ciaran Conliffe

Mortal Kombat was just dumb, as far as I'm concerned. Frankly I don't have a problem with really violent games being highly regulated, the problem comes with the arbitrary way M ratings are tossed around. Soul Calibur features numerous scenes where people are run through with large swords, but it's a Teen game because there's no blood. MGS for the GBC has a hero who goes around breaking people's necks, but gets a mild rating. If there was a clearer idea of what we're being protected from, it might be easier to swallow this stuff.

I'm gonna need an ID before I let you walk out of here with that Pokemon, son...
You know, you should have let this one go.

It's pretty simple. Resident Evil (for example) has an M rating. Return of the Living Dead (to use a comparable example) has an R rating. If you want to rent an R-rated movie, you need ID or an adult to rent it for you. Same thing (should) go for an M-rated videogame. Some video stores don't check ID for movies. Most do. Few (currently) check ID for videogames. And that's really the problem. If the rating system isn't enforced, then it's worthless. At that point, the pressure will be on for government regulation because self-regualtion doesn't work. And that will suck. Just ask gamers in Europe, particularly Germany.

As for nailing Square and id, I think that's way off base. Videogames are like movies, not like tobacco or alcohol. They are marketed to teenagers (or lower - "Pika, pika!"), but so is everything else. Who do you think is the demographic target for "Scream" and all those other slasher flicks?

Orin (who remembers being ID'd trying to see the Twin Peaks movie)

So what are you saying here? The rating system can't be enforced, there's no other solution, so we're all gonna end up without any mature content in games at all? Man, what kind of attitude is that? Keep thinking that way and we'll end up with nothing but Mario.

Besides, the only time I've ever seen any kind of violent game marketed towards kids was when Resident Evil commercials were shown during The Simpsons, and that was years ago. I still want to know where this image of Pikachu pimping Quake is coming from.

Curse of the threes
Hello Chris, you basterd.

I have a totally unrelated question (I mock your suggested topic! ::mock, mock mock::), I was at the arcade today, and I decided to play Tekken Tag, and Tekken 3. I'm not Tekkens hugest fan, in fact before today, I'd never even played through a game of Tekken, or even beat anyone who was even vaguely good at it. But today I practiced a bit on T3 (losing almost perfectly in every second match) before moving over to the TTT machine and watching other people play. This one guy beat the game with Lei and Hwoarang, and then beat 5 other decent players before I stepped up to play. I chose Hwoarang and Law, and beat the guy easily, I thought I got lucky, and I wanted to leave before he could give me what for, but then he put another 50 cents in, and I beat him again. Then he left and I fought through 2 other guys, winning easily each time. What the hell is happening to me? Maybe I need to have that "talk" with my Dad about becoming a man or whatever.

I guess I need something intelligent game related right? Is it just coincidence that NES had 3 main Final Fantasies, SNES had 3 plus Mystic Quest, PSX has 3 plus Tactics, Gameboy has 3 Legend games plus Adventure, and Wonderswan (will) have the 3 NES FF's, plus the first SNES FF (4)? Or is it a deliberate pattern designed to confuse me?


P.S. I play my handheld games on a Neo Geo Pocket Color, and that's the way I likes it!

Dunno much about Tekken, except even someone pushing buttons randomly has to win sooner or later.

I'm glad you bought the Final Fantasy thing up, because I've personally never bought into this theory that even FFs are story oriented and odd FFs are system oriented. It's pretty bloody obvious that FFs are designed around putting three games on a system - the first a more standard FF as developers adjust to the system, the second an experimental FF, as the programmers branch out, and the third a showpiece as the programmers show off their mastery of the system. Take a look at FF 4 and 7, 5 and 8, and 6 and 9, and tell me it's not true. Even what we know of FF X and XI seems to back this up, although FF 11 may be a bit more of a change than we're used to.

Disjointed but true
Ok this is kinda disjointed and such but I think it gets my point accross.

I fail to see the basis of the current situation, as least in contex of how much can a minor see, etc. For one, most gamers (ages 18-21 or so is our average age if memeory serves me correctly), are NOT minors, so it makes no sense that gaming companies would try to target a group that is small percentage of their income, and who usually cannot buy their games anyways. No money there, and that is what it is all about. Also, if memory serves me correctly don't they already have those little ratings in the corner? M for mature, T for teen, etc. Also, considering what most people in their pre-teen/teenage years at school, TV, or anything is already beyond what is in most video games, at least in where I live (burbs/city). If parents bother to look at the games they are buying they should have a fairly decent idea of what is int hem, and what constitues the rating if they watch their kids play.

As for making violent games that are targetted to minors, I see nothing. Unless you consider the seemingly ONLY game targetted to really young kids, Pokemon *silently wretches* violent, insomuch as you have comepletely unrealistic looking thingies fighting, well, if that is too violent I don't even know why your kids have a system. Unless you are restricted to tetris and the like puzzle games there are _no_ games I can think of that do not contain some violence. Besides, we had MK at about 12 or 13ish and we turned out fine didn't we?

Efrate, eyes bleeding from staring at his computer and console screen for the past 4 weeks.

Dead on, amigo, I got nothing to add. Hope your eyes stop bleeding soon, because that can't be pleasant.

That's Power... M-16 Power!
I've been reading some of the statements made, and while some are based on facts, many are, in my opinion, just made to line their political coffers. For instance, yes, it is true that Nintendo has made games using plastic M16s for the United States Army, then porting it to the arcade, and yes, it is true that Doom was liscensed to the United States Marine Corp and made its way into America's homes, but you must realize that the role of the Government is not to try to play parent to every family in America. That's what parents are for.

In my opinion, there is no visible correlation between "Columbine kids" and video games. Fowever, there is a direct correlation between "CK"s and guns. 100%, or +1 in correlation terms, of massacres involved such firearms. People have been complaining about how Freedom of Speech is such an impediment to this, and that the industry can continue to do what it wants. Technically, that is true. However, maybe we should think about cutting back on the Second Amendment. Firearms are getting a bit too commonplace in America, INHO. But I digress.

As far as whether video game companies have marketed to minors, it's a non-issue to me. Anyone who thoroughly read the expose released by about a month ago would have noticed the line in the report that Nintendo, Sony, and several others "admitted marketing software of questionable content to minors, specifically those under fifteen years of age." That settles it for me. In my opinion, this will all calm down when the first generation of gamers, i.e., those who have co-existed with them since birth, and by that I don't mean Pong, I mean Super Mario Brothers and beyond, will hopefully know what their kids should and should not be getting their hands on.

Hoping this letter doesn't ruin his chances of getting into the FBI in the distant future,
Aleksandrs Bomis

For those of you wishing to delve further into this topic, I suggest you use the following links:
(search for video game violence)

The problem with parents knowing what is and isn't proper to play, even when those parents are gamers themselves, is that things change faster than people are aware. There was nothing even remotely like The Matrix when my dad was my age, so how was he supposed to know how violent it was capable of being? Or how gruesome Silent Hill is? I don't see any signs of the rate of change slowing down, which means that my kids may someday play stuff that'd turn my hair white, even now. At some point you'd think it'd have to stop, but chances are, you'd be wrong.

MGS is kid stuff?
I wonder- if certain games may no longer be marketed to kids, does that mean games are no longer viewed as "kids stuff'?

Oh, wait. The reason they can't be marketed to kids is their focus on pointless violence. So much for that.

In other news, I'd be satisfied if a game reached the level of The Lord of the Rings. Personally, I think the whole action-driven nature of games makes it hard for them to do even that.


You don't think LotR is the literary equivalent of Dragon Quest? It's a great series, no question, but there's not a lot of debate that action's not a big part of the attraction.

500K! No, 400! 300! Maybe a PS2 per state, if we're lucky!
Chris, you non-PS2 hype person you,

Check this out. Three words for you: Oh my God.

ZDNet: GameSpot: Video Games News: Sony Announces PlayStation 2 Availability

Omega Rat, planning new desperate measures to secure a PlayStation 2.

Between this and the announcement that MGS2 will not be a Playstation exclusive, I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever get a PS2. I probably will, if only for Final Fantasy, but man this thing's overhyped. The pleasant squat shape of my Dreamcast looks better and better as time goes by, and if anyone told me to pay up in full on a system today, I'd tell them what they could do with their preorder.

Closing Comments:

My responses may not show it, but I'm much chilled out since catching up on all my work. I can kick back this weekend and get Dewprism out of the way, or maybe just wander around El Nido some more. Groovy.

Meantime, free topic Friday, so send whatever you want to talk about. I'm goin' to bed. Later.

-Chris Jones, wants to see Nintendo market a Pokemon/Fight Club crossover

Recent Columns  
Double Agent Archives
Letters about your dog may get printed, but letters about RPGs and stuff have a better chance.
The FAQ will be back eventually, I guess...