A couple quick links from Gamasutra look interesting enough to get back to later (I think I found them both on Kotaku): Ubisoft’s Clint Hocking on “exploration,” and game designer/theorist Ian Bogost on why we need more boring games.
Also, Game Politics has had a lot of extensive coverage of legislation that would regulate video games. The latest news out of New York is that the state senate passed a bill in just four days, and the state assembly passed a bill (backed by the governor) in just one day. These would fine or imprison retailers for selling certain games to minors. They’re not the exact same bill, though, so the senate and assembly will be looking to compromise on a bill before the legislative session is up on June 21st.
I was inspired to write about this when I noticed some of the wording of that latter bill, which would make a felony out of selling games to minors which depict “rape, dismemberment, physical torture, mutilation or evisceration of a human being.” Actually, that would include quite a few games; I’ve never seen rape in a game, but you can see (even cartoonish) evisceration and mutilation in a variety of games, I think. What is really worrisome about this, though, is that the only games I can think of offhand which show “physical torture” do so for meaningful purposes, or including to unsettle the player. These include F.E.A.R. (the demo has you coming upon a torture scene which eerily disappears as you get close); Metal Gear Solid (in which your ability to withstand torture determines whether your ally lives or dies); and Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory (in which you come upon bad guys torturing a scientist to death, and then have the option to lay his body down to offer him some “dignity”).
Note that all of these examples feature torture that you witness or experience, but don’t perpetrate. The bill as written makes no distinction between these. I’d write more about this, but I just sent an entire paper about this sort of thing out for review last night, so I’ll let you know how that goes eventually.