July 1, 2011

Rants of a Gamer Girl: Criticism Does Not Equal Censorship

On Monday, The Supreme Court announced their ruling in the case of Brown v. Entertainment Merchants Association (representing the video game industry).  I was ecstatic.  Despite how often I write about the horrid depictions and unnecessary violence against women in video games, I’ve never called for their censorship.

To give a little backstory and context of the Supreme Court case, the law in California was an unprecedented restriction on media.  Films are self-governed by the MPAA, not the law, and it works.  An employee at your local theater who sells a ticket to an R-rated film to an underaged kid, is not criminally liable.  While, the video game industry has an equivalent with the ESRB, the law that Leland Yee proposed would hold cashiers and retailers criminally liable for selling an M-Rated game to a minor.  Especially absurd, considering the FTC report released earlier this year, that rated the ESRB as the most successful self-governing body in the entertainment industry.  X-Play’s Adam Sessler does a great job of explaining the ramifications of this law being upheld in his most recent episodes of Sessler’s Soapbox, available here and here.

There seems to be frequent confusion in the interpretation of my posts – that by expressing frustration with misogyny in the video game industry, that I have a problem with violence in video games, or I think they should be subjected to censorship.  It’s certainly not the case.  I find people like Jack Thompson, and Carol Lieberman abhorrent.  Using video games as a scapegoat, and making up information as you go along has potential to be incredibly harmful.  Leland Yee, is similar to Thompson and Lieberman in his views on video games (he certainly has a history of falsifying statistics), and almost succeeded in setting a federal precedent for restricting the freedom of speech.

I view video games in the same way I view every other form of media – with a critical eye.  Writing about Victorias Secret’s stupid ad campaign doesn’t mean I think they shouldn’t be allowed to market their products, and writing about the incredibly sexist attitudes held by the video game industry doesn’t mean I think their games should be banned from sale.

In my first post on Feminist Fatale, I wrote that despite my disgust with imagery and depictions of women in media, I “believe in…having the right to publish.” It’s an opinion that extends to video games. I hope that by writing about video games, consumers will learn to demand better from the creators.  The writers, designers, and developers shouldn’t be forced to limit their creations by the government.


1 Comment »

  1. [...] that barring minors from purchasing explicit games is unconstitutional, how can anti-censorship feminists invested in free expression communicate their criticisms and future [...]

    Pingback by Girl Gamers, Women Developers, and the Search for Feminist Video Games  | Women, Action & the Media — July 15, 2011 @ 8:56 am

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