As I write this article, I am playing a few bouts of King of Fighters ’99. Oh how simple it was back then. Just a collection of sprites, no nude codes or hacking or anything profane, aside from the odd Mai animation.
These days things are a bit different. We have PC’s for modding, and a larger fanbase of gamers and developers who don’t know when to quit. In case you’re wondering, I am referring to the changing of Oblivion’s rating from Teen to Mature due to the discovery of topless female models (and also due to more violence and gore than previously thought, but I call BS on that). If you are to read all of the opinions and news posts about this, then all of the following are true:
– The “mod” uses data that Bethesda already put in the game. All one has to do is change a text file so that the character mesh is missing undergarments. For some, this means that Bethesda screwed up.
– The mod is done by a third party. The only ones at fault are the gamers who uncovered it, and Bethesda is completely innocent.
– Bethesda themselves say the ESRB screwed up by not taking a close enough look at the game.
– This is all stupid.
You see, regardless of who is at fault here, this is just another example of why the gaming industry is targeted so much by politicians and special interest groups. On a whole, we are an incredibly, and I mean incredibly, immature group of people. The kind that still laughs at stupid Nintendo Wii piss jokes and makes up names like “Hot Mead” for this fiasco (bet the guy who made that one thought it was really clever). We allowed Rockstar to not only create the Hot Coffee scandal in the first place, but don’t cry afoul when they blatantly lied about its existence. Gamers, developers, writers, all of us are simply hypocritical and childish. Perhaps this article is too, but that won’t stop me from breaking things down.
Bethesda: You know how much trouble Rockstar caused. A smart developer might want to try to steer clear from any sort of unnecessary nudity. Or maybe not. Don’t tell me you didn’t expect anyone to find it. You all should know how good your mod community can be. Furthermore, is there an actual, honest reason for including nude meshes? I can understand that characters models are rendered separately from clothing, but must you go that extra mile with the full frontal? It very well might be that you were insisting on realism, but then again no real person fights goblins in the nude. Perhaps you were going for an artistic and tasteful portrayal of the female body, or maybe, as Jay so excellently put it, this is all the result of a bunch of lonely geeks who wanted to render some boobies. It very well might be that there is a valid reason for including this in your game, but you should have thought this out just a tad more.
Gamers: How many comments of yours have I read in which you completely ignore the fact that this stuff was built into the game? Yes, it requires a third party outside of Bethesda to make the change, but there is no new and original content added to it. So why then are you immediately getting up in arms about this, defending Bethesda to the death while damming the rest to hell? Where is the outrage at Bethesda’s shortsightedness? There is nothing wrong with defending developers and fellow gamers, but please make sure you do some homework about it first. No one, politician or otherwise, is going to take us seriously if we cannot take an objective look at ourselves and our hobby or hold those accountable for what they did. I know we all joke about fanboys, but this is getting absurd…
ESRB: So they say that you didn’t take a good enough look at the game. Then why do you exist? Is it not your job to uncover things like this? I’m sure Bethesda wasn’t hiding anything from you. They submitted the game for review, and based on your initial criteria, it was suitable for teens. Now it isn’t. Instead of patting yourselves on the back, why don’t you realize your system is flawed, and that certain steps need to be taken in the future to ensure that these kinds of mods don’t exist? If you continue to turn a blind eye at things like this, it just creates more trouble for everyone. Furthermore, how can you say the game contains nudity when technically it is inaccessible straight from the box? When I see a rated R film I know I’ll find something in there that justifies it. With Oblivion, one still has to jump through some hoops to get to this content, hoops that most gamers won’t know about or even care to find. I’m not trying to accuse of false advertising, but this fiasco just further complicates the question of “what makes a mod a mod, and who is accountable?” Maybe the ESRB, or someone else should look into that.
I’m not asking for much from the gaming industry. I just want some developers who have some tact and taste when it comes to in game content, and actually give me reason to agree with their decisions instead of pulling the “art” card and leaving it at that. I want gamers who think with their brains and not with their crotch, who will read articles and can actually make a decision on their own instead of believing whatever news clip or misinformed journalist’s blog they come across first. And I want a regulatory group that will actually stand up for us when things go wrong, and tries to make sure nothing goes wrong in the first place.
I want gaming to grow up. Think we can do it folks?