Tobold's Blog
Monday, August 23, 2010
UK to ban all multiplayer games

The UK defence secretary, whose ministry of defence apparently is in charge of regulating video games with military in it, finally realized that in a multiplayer game somebody has to play the bad guys. As he finds that unacceptable, he calls for a ban of Medal of Honor, no doubt followed by a ban of all other multiplayer games in which one side can play the bad guys. If it is not okay for players to play the Taliban, then of course you can't allow them to play terrorists in Counterstrike, or Germans/Japanese in World War II multiplayer games. I hope they make an exception for playing Horde against Alliance.

Possible solutions include modified multiplayer games in which both sides see themselves as playing the good guys, and the other players as the bad guys. Although I have trouble imagining that WWII shooter in which you play the heroic British soldiers defending the beaches in Normandy against the evil German invasion. Or the modified Medal of Honor where it is the British soldiers that set off bombs with a mobile phone remote control. I'm afraid the British will have to stick to single-player games.

Curiously enough we have here a politician who apparently isn't worried about video game violence in general. As long as a game shows only British and American soldiers killing various enemies, or even civilians, that appears to be okay with the UK ministry of defence. It is only games where players can play the bad guys and shoot down British and American soldiers which the UK defence secretary wants banned. He says: "It's shocking that someone would think it acceptable to recreate the acts of the Taliban. At the hands of the Taliban, children have lost fathers and wives have lost husbands. I am disgusted and angry. It's hard to believe any citizen of our country would wish to buy such a thoroughly un-British game. I would urge retailers to show their support for our armed forces and ban this tasteless product." Isn't it good to know that through the acts of the British army no children ever lost a father nor a wive lost a husband? I'm not quite sure how the British army manages that feat, maybe they have special ammo that automatically swerves around enemies with wives and children.

And the man just *got* elected, so he doesn't even have the excuse of deliberately spouting nonsense likely increase votes. He really means it! Poor Britain!
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I feel the urge to make a comment.
But I am speechless :)

Sometimes I feel like the Anglo-Saxon world is drifting. Drifting somewhere, where it is dark.
The quickest way to get a bad decision repealed is to enforce it vigorously. A model-swapping mod that puts IEDs to the hands of British troops should be simple enough to make. Although I doubt that it will be needed in this case, because the backpedaling has already begun.
Don't worry Tob, the coalition will be out of power soon enough and we can get rid of these titanic cretins.

Besides, I wasn't really planning to buy MoH anyway ;p
In the country I live in the government is currently on a very aggressive campaign against video games labeled as 'too violent', trying to put a full stop to any imports. when you go through the list of games suggested for this, it makes you cringe at what's up for blacklist and what isn't.

the bigotry connected with games and the scapegoating that has been going on for years now makes me want to go up the wall!
what ever happened to self-responsibility (also to responsible parenting? why do little kids get to play these games in the first place??).
Joke: the NATO forces achieve the "no widow or orphan" goal by bombing the whole village.
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Wasn't it just last week that we all had a hearty laugh at the Chinese for replacing abominations with wickermen? Joke's back on us, I guess ;)
Should we be allowed to play the "evil side" in games?

Yes, absolutely! Especially if it is well done and puts you into a (good!) moral dilemma. As soon as you start to understand why Arthas burned down that village before the plague could spread, you are on a good path. This is the moment you learnt something.

As long as you consider it obviously wrong to burn a city full of sick people that can spread a mortal plague, you are dangerous yourself !

(Disclaimer: WoW example, just because many people know WoW. And, of course, WoW never went deep enough into that moral dilemma.)

It is dangerous to only let players play the good guys, because it makes you blind to any grey colors. You start to think that the world is black and white; and you are always white.
This idea is the first step on your way to black. Or the dark side :)

On a Taliban related note:
If you cannot understand why somebody sacrifices himself to kill people and if you cannot understand why people build and deploy bombs, you will have a hard time dealing with them.

At least if you don't want to make it like Dschingis Khan and simply kill everyone suspicous. That also works very well.

About the Anglo-Saxon world: Yeah, that comment may have been a bit over the top. But I sometimes am afraid. And ask myself who might become president after Mr. Obama.
Sarah Palin
It's okay, she'd be out by 2015.
You are trolling your own blog, Tobold ! :)

Let me add that Mrs. Palin wouldn't even be the worst choice.

Imagine some guy/girl who is deeply convinced that the government should tax ONLY

1) to make war
2) to keep citizens safe (no matter the costs or consequences in civil liberties)
3) to always stay ahead of Chinese military spending.
4) considers torture a reasonable tool to "make war on terror".
5) ...

Now imagine a collapsing Chinese economy (housing bubble).
Imagine a $ crisis as nobody believes that U.S. will ever be able to repay the debt without the printing press.
Imagine a civil war in Greece and the other PIGS.
Imagine Japan defeating deflation only to find out that in an inflationary environment 200%/GDP debt isn't really sustainable.
Imagine Israel bombing an Iranian nuclear installation, but failing at it. Imagine Saudi Arabia starting to develop their own nuclear bomb.
Imagine a dirty bomb exploding in ***.

I have a hard time imagining a bright future right now and I'd prefer to have a smart, reasonable, cool leadership in the Anglo-Saxon world.
I have to say, I'm a brit and I awoke to this bollocks this morning... honestly. I always laughed a little at Aus / German outcry over games.

But now it seems it's spread.

Good lord.
It seems to me that many are missing the point here. It's not about the good guys and the bad guys, or even the violence in general.

It's about taking and recreating the acts of a modern-day, real-world threat, for the means of entertainment. A threat that is very much in the everyday minds of millions, and has effected countless across the globe in the most negative and adverse way. A threat that continues this day (and most likely for many more to come) to take the lives of both those who place themselves in harms way, and those who are not.

And you can't understand why this could be found offensive by a vast majority of our countries citizens, as well as it's leadership?

It's simple respect. Respect for your country and for it's armed forces. Something that's found in very short supply in today's world. I applaud these leaders, and hope they hold strong to their values. It's certainly not something you'll find in America's leadership today.
Honestly Tobold, are you auditioning for a job as a tabloid journalist?

Right-wing Tory minister uses outrage at crass exploitative video-game for party-political propaganda is hardly news. Are you trying to suggest that doesn't happen in most democracies? Or that it's anyhting we haven't heard dozens of times before?

As for the game he's talking about, I would guess there'd be a substantial majority of the British electorate who'd take much the same opinion. I didn't vote for his party but I would vote for stronger control of video games and indeed all entertainment media. I've never been an advocate of unregulated freedom of expression and indeed we do not have any constitutional right to it in the U.K.

Yes, it's hypocritical that he's focusing on the evils done by one side while ignoring the evils done by the other. That doesn't invalidate the point that making entertainment from real-life suffering is something we should avoid doing. And if we don't do it by choice as responsible citizens then maybe we need to be protected from ourselves.

Actually, after thinking about it for a while, I think I partly agree with you.

I consider it crude to produce entertainment out of todays struggles. That, however, also applies to the british side!! I'd also consider it crude to make this game if it just offered the British soldiers to be 'playable.

The current conflict in Afganisthan shouldn't be used for pure entertainment. If it is used for entertainment, it should include some moral dilemma or deep thoughts. I doubt that this kind of game will include such things.

On the other hand, I value freedom of expression much, much more than fighting 'crudeness'.

Such things shouldn't be 'fought' with laws and penalthies. They should be fought with blogs and comments in newpapers.
And you can't understand why this could be found offensive by a vast majority of our countries citizens, as well as it's leadership?

What exactly?

I think the point that "making entertainment out of real killing could be offensive" is a completely valid one, which merits at least discussion. But then the movie Schindler's List made $321 million in box office receipts. And there is a good discussion to be had whether the rules about showing real killing in entertainment media shouldn't be the same for films and games, or whether the interactivity merits treating them differently.

But the story here is not about turning real killing into entertainment, but where somebody drew the line, and what this line reveals about him. He never complained about World War II shooters, although the killing shown there is just as real. He never complained about Modern Warfare 2 where the player kills civilians. He doesn't even complain about soldiers killing terrorists and civilians in Medal of Honor. No, it is ONLY the "player being able to play terrorist" part that he is complaining about. That reveals a hypocrisy paired with a lack of information which is frightening.

By the way, apparently Liam Fox, the UK defence secretary, got his story from Fox News (no relation). And while he thought that would be a good story to adopt, he failed to notice that there are no British soldiers in Medal of Honor. Oooops. I'm sure there are a lot of UK citizens which are a lot less offended by virtual US soldiers dying in a game than they would be offended by British soldiers dying in the same game.
Agree with Tobold on this one. No reservations.

If we couldn't derive entertainment from tragedies anymore then there are a lot of films, books, plays etc that we should immediately ban.

"Taste" cannot be made rule of law. And if some right winged liberal clowns are always spewing crap about personal responsibility they should abide by that.

Because, you know, play MoH without feeling the urge ok killing germans/japanese/civilians/americans etc...
Because, you know, people can play MoH without feeling the urge ok killing germans/japanese/civilians/americans etc...
It’s weird that gamers defend game companies even when those game companies adopt provocation as a marketing ploy. If the game was set in Made-Upistan it would play exactly the same, and have zero controversy (and therefore zero free marketing).

I also don’t subscribe to the idea that people can be reasoned out of being truly offended by something. No matter how many awesome blog posts we make arguing about it, people who are offended by the game will continue to be offended. Nor do I find their offense unreasonable.

A ban would never happen, even if the good minister got his way. Given such adversity EA would simply “move” the game to a made-up locale with made-up enemies.

It’s curious that gamers are so vehemently opposed to such an innocuous change. Gamers tend to circle the wagons a bit too quickly, I think.
"I hope they make an exception for playing Horde against Alliance."

I can't see there being a problem with it. After all, the Horde are the good guys. :)
A very interesting link on that topic.
My apologies for veering off topic, but I just find it hilarious that the word "liberal" is so often used as a pejorative term. One moment it's the "damn Communist liberals", the next it's "right wing liberal clowns".

"Possible solutions include modified multiplayer games in which both sides see themselves as playing the good guys, and the other players as the bad guys. "

This is exactly what "Americas Army" does (or did at least)...

Do they realize that Call of Duty and Counter Strike are probably the most popular games played by the Armed Forces, atleast US?

We had USO sponsored CoD tournaments on XBox.
It is just politics as usual. It is done everywhere, regardless of country, continent, or political leaning.

My question would be - does anyone really care? How is this even an issue? What would be the end-game (pun intended) of legislation that prohibits video games, movies, music, etc, involving war or killing? Is this an issue that politicians and society needs to address?

I say it is a political thing because the only point here is that Fox is trying to make a name for himself. Wrapping yourself in your flag and spouting off empty rhetoric and platitudes is usually what a politician does to get his name mentioned in the press. In this case, I'm sure that there are a lot of important issues that voters are concerned about. I can't imagine video game violence being on any list, hence this is just a big show where Fox check-marks his particular stance in relation to UK patriotism (loony stance) and will hopefully be "awarded" for it later.

My question as someone not familiar with UK laws, (ignorant American here) can the defense ministry regulate/ban games by will, or do they have some policies and procedures that they would have to go through in order to effectuate any changes? i.e. could it be possible that games could be banned by the defense minister himself, or would parliament, a committee, the PM, etc, have to do it, and if so, what would the proceedings look like?
Incredibly moronic.

Aren't most games traditionally one side v. the other side?

Doesn't this mean the Taliban win, if we're never allowed to fight against them?

Who cares if a simulated Taliban wins a game? It's... wait for it... a game.
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"liberal" in europe isn't the same as in us.

here liberal is more of a libertarian/conservative as in libertarian in economy, conservative in customs. ;)

those are the ones that say that people should be free to starve, be unenployed or go without healthcare but should not be free to choose which books to read or games to play...
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