National Institute on Media and the Family

Posted: June 23, 2007 in Video Games

This morning I read another article on Manhunt 2 over at IGN. After I read the article and alot of its comments I became angry and frustrated so I decided to blog again about this. I’m going to put some quotes on this blog that were made by the National Institute on Media and the Family regarding the publishing delay of Manhunt 2, and then add my comments below.  I’ve looked over their website this morning as well and I encourage anyone who reads this to do the same so that you can begin to understand who they are, what they do and what they claim they are not. In case you don’t want to review their website they are a non-profit “watch dog” group who’s purpose is to police the country for things they believe are harmful to children and/or the American family. The group is lead by psychologist Dr. David Walsh. Ok let’s go…

Quote #1: “Take-Two’s decision to temporarily suspend distribution of Manhunt 2 is a victory for parents and children,”

My comments: Please explain in more detail how this is a victory for parents and children? A victory for your children maybe but not my family!  As a 34 year old father of two young children and a gamer you’ve given me nor my children any such victory. You’ve actually showed mothers and fathers that no matter what they find acceptable for themselves and their children in their own home, you are going to put political pressure on any company who might consider releasing a game that’s rated Adults Only, thus trampling our right to choose as US citizens and parents.  No my friends this is not a victory for parents or children in this country, it’s a political and financial victory for your organization.  I know that my wife is capable of deciding what is and isn’t appropriate for ourselves and our children and she knows that I am as well. Why does this organization feel the need to make that decision for us?  You weren’t going to buy this game or allow your kids to play it anyway so how have you been victorious?  Actually you have been victorious in negating my right to choose by helping to pressure publishers and retailers into delaying, possibly canceling the game.

Quote #2: “Because of the their thoughtful decision to give Manhunt 2 its strongest rating, ‘Adults Only,’ the ESRB has sent a strong message to Take-Two and other game makers that they no longer can push the envelope on gratuitous violence in videogames. The ESRB showed real leadership in assigning this rating and further evidence it is making significant progress in keeping extremely violent and graphic materials out of children’s hands.”

My comments: ESRB sent a strong message to Take-Two? What message is that exactly? Assuming that the ESRB is not under any political pressure and that they honestly believe the game deserves an Adults Only rating so what?  Look out big eye opener there! I’m all for ratings on the various types of media that exist, including games that contain “gratuitous” violence and sexual content but that’s what the ratings are there for, to alert the consumer to the type of content they are considering for purchase. These games are created for an adult audience and the rating should reflect that but this rating doesn’t help keep the game out of the hands of minors or children who’s parents don’t want them playing it. This only keeps it out of the hands of adults who have a right to play it and parents who don’t find anything wrong with violent video games. Children, especially teenagers, who are not as naive as these groups think, will get their hands on things from time to time that aren’t particularly good for them. It’s the responsibility of the parent or guardian to protect children of all ages, not the government, or a fanatical watchdog group.

Quote #3: “Hopefully Take-Two has learned from its Manhunt 2 experience and will undertake preventive measures to ensure its future games, including Grand Theft Auto IV, are appropriate for families and gamers.”

My Comments: Wow! Now it’s not only the responsibility of the NIMF to police media content it’s the responsibility of the publisher or creators? It is up to us as individuals to be socially responsible, not any artist, publisher or business. If you disapprove of the content in a book, music, video game, television show, etc. show them you disapprove by NOT buying or watching the material or content.  Why do groups like this or even individuals believe that we need someone to make decisions for us?  Do they really believe that we are incapable of rational though?  No would be the answer to that question.  Aside from gaining political or financial favor these groups want to force their values into the minds and households of this country. It’s not enough that they believe in the things they believe in.  They need everyone else to agree with them. Those that argue the loudest are usually the ones that aren’t secure in their beliefs so who are you trying to convince NIMF, us our yourselves that this type of game is harmful to anyone?  In addition to that, who gave you the right to deem anything appropriate or inappropriate for anyone but yourselves?  Who died and made you King?  You are no one’s Lord and Master, you are a group of individuals that in some fashion profits from the things you do all the while you slowly help to erode the right to choose, to read, to view, to play, to speak, and to express. If you were able to peer through the windows of every family home in this country you would find extreme diversity in morals and belief systems so stop trying to make decisions for everyone and accept the fact that there are those of us out there that don’t believe the things you do or share your opinions!  What people bring into their homes should be their choice and their’s alone.

Quote #4: “As gaming technology continues to change, we hope to continue to work with the ESRB to ensure that future games have appropriate content and context for children. The uniqueness of Nintendo’s Wii gives game raters a new challenge when it comes to first-player shooter games. We take the ESRB’s decision about Manhunt 2 as a positive step in addressing this new challenge.”

My comments: As gaming technology continues to change you hope to “work” with the ESRB to ensure that future games have appropriate content and context for children? Again, this is extremely frustrating. Manhunt 2 is not a game intended for children and was never developed to be one.  It’s initial target audience was an adult audience.  Additionally, why does the NIMF believe all games should be made with children in mind? I would be a foolish parent to say that I can protect my children from anything and everything that I don’t want them to see but when it comes to media, in any form rest assured if I don’t want my young children to see it, they don’t. There’s V-chips in TV’s, parental controls on all gaming consoles and they can’t get to a movie theater without a ride in the car so thank you for your concern but I have it well under control. Oh what’s that you say?  You’re helping to protect other children whose parents aren’t as attentive? Again that’s none of your business either and it doesn’t give you the right to diminish the rights of others. Perhaps some parents find this type of game appropriate for their children and if they do you should be gracious enough to step aside and say “ok we disagree but you’re the parent”.  No, that won’t be enough will it?  Until we hold the same values as you nothing is resolved and our kids are in danger!

It also appears that the NIMF is overly concerned that the Wii’s controller will allow you to stab, slice, shoot, or in general murder characters you encounter through the game. They would have you believe that this is murder simulation and not a video game. That’s all this is, is a video game plain and simple that most very young children will not play.  As for the older kids and adults that do play Manhunt 2 on the Wii, isn’t it a stretch to believe that waiving the Wiimote around like a knife is going to encourage us to do some real killing?  Older individuals are able to discern the difference between reality and fantasy and whether the NIMF thinks it’s appropriate or not fantasizing has never been nor will it ever be illegal. Video games, as well as other media provide a brief escape from reality, something most adults enjoy. Video games are a stress reliever for many people regardless of the type of game being played. The minds over at NIMF are twisted and so full of their own bullshit that they cant comprehend any of us using rational thought let alone themselves.

Next I’d like to quote IGN. “NIMF confirmed to IGN that the organization has not played the game, and it is basing its decision that the title is unfit for release on the same trailers we have all seen (which don’t show any gameplay that is more violent than numerous past games). What is particularly alarming to the Institute is the Wii control which allows players to act out the gruesome killings with the Wiimote.”

Again I have to start with WOW! The mindset of people in organizations such as the NIMF blow me away! They’ve never played the game but are already ready to bring the hammer down on this game and it’s publishers. Do you throw out food before tasting it and state that it’s the worst thing you have ever tasted? Would you review or even recommend the banning of a book ever before reading it or can you claim the story was boring?  You really can’t win with these people because they are “red sky” people who have looked up and seen a blue sky but refuse to see it despite any evidence that supports that fact that the sky is blue.

Next I’d like to talk about the NIMF itself and what they state they are and are not on their website. For those of you who don’t want to go to their site I’ll put their statement here.

“Who we are. Our vision is to build healthy families and communities through the wise use of media. Our mission is to maximize the benefits and minimize the harm of media on children through research, education and advocacy. Founded by David Walsh, Ph.D., the Institute has become an international resource center for cutting-edge research and information on the impact of media on children and families.

Who we are not. We’re not anti-media and do not advocate censorship.
We know that a certain amount of media can entertain, educate and even inspire.”

So now we can add hypocrites to the list! I believe it when they say they are not anti-media and that they do not advocate censorship…of course that’s as long as you agree with what they say and believe in or share the same moral fiber as they do. Sadly hypocrites is the strongest word I can think of here but I think it fits perfectly. In reality the group doesn’t care about our right to choose and decide what’s good and what’s bad for ourselves. They feel, as so many self reighteous groups do, because media that they find inappropriate exists they must show us the error of our ways and help us make these decisions. They don’t care about freedom of expression or freedom of speech. Its about how much political favor and money they can get by striking fear into naive adults. You see they aren’t Anti-media, they’re Anti-your media and Anti-my media, but are Pro Their-media.

This is always such a frustrating topic both to think and write about. While I do not agree with what these groups or it’s individuals say or believe in, I do stand up for their right to speak out against the game or anything else for that matter. That’s exactly what they should be doing speaking out, not acting out, strong arming businesses, publishers, retailers etc. These groups only speak for themselves and the members of their organizations.  They don’t and shouldn’t be allowed to speak for you, me nor any of our children.

Like it or not groups like this will always be around because again there is something to be gained by all of this. In addition to that these groups continue to thrive because they prey on the fears and morals of people whom are generally naive, uneducated, ignorant, and frightened of the world. These people prefer to hide themselves and their children from the world and look at it through rose tinted glasses. Instead of hiding from life, they ought to try exposing themselves and their children to these things and educating themselves about media.  All media may not be appropriate for everyone but it’s important to remember that parents are capable of monitoring their own children and that children aren’t the only ones viewing media, or playing video games!

If violent video games truly and honestly made players duplicate what they played and/or saw there would be millions of murders on a daily basis committed by us video game “addicts”. When have anyone gone out and eaten a mushroom hoping it’d make me 6 feet taller so they could go stomp on a few turtles?  You haven’t because that doesn’t happen.

“Why dont you try reading books instead of burning them”
Henry Jones Sr. from “The Last Crusade”

Comments
  1. Can I say thank you first of all? I have been up in arms about this and I do feel that the AO rating is deserving but this should by no means keep the game out of consumers hands. The approach of NIMF has been an immature one and on top of emailing them over it, I have also contacted Rockstar and Nintendo and the ESRB. I would love to see Manhunt 2 in its true form and am glad that people like us can feel so strongly toward the preservation of free speech and creative properties.
    Good rant my friend!

  2. Isaac says:

    You’re a very articulate man. Video game fans need more of these kind of industry advocates. Very well thought. You, pro-active gamers and members of the gamepress and the industry in general should unite to make an organization that advocates for video games, and gamers rights as an artform. I don’t know if I’ll ever visit this site again, I wish I could, but time is precious, so if I don’t, keep up the good work.

  3. Chris Waffle says:

    You said it, bro. If video games, TV, movies, heavy metal music, etc…caused people to act violent, we would be currently living in a world similar to “Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome”. It’s time to tell NIMF that We Don’t Need Another Hero. Maybe we could get Master Blaster on the case asap.

  4. Chris says:

    Thank you adults who realize how friggen stupid this all is. I wonder if NIMF intentions are to ban every single “MATURE” game on the planet? so that we as “ADULTS” have no freedom. Games are for everyone of any age, which is why we have the damn rating system.

    this organization has no reason to get involved at games comes out because most of those types of games are not aimed towards children. further more it’s not the gamers fault for wanting this type of escape from the real world. I mean honestly that crap with the “HOT COFFEE” mod was annoying,it was that dumb parent who was easily manipulated by their child to buy that game. It was the parents neglect to read the Rating Label on GTA SA. That ruined it for “MATURE” gamers. That kid who was murder in LONDON (May he rest in piece) his killer was believed to have been influenced by the first MANHUNT when doctors came to a conclusion they all agreed that he was planning on robbing that kid. Just because you can easily kill someone in a video game doesn’t mean you can easily do it in real life.
    When parents dont watch what their children play. we all suffer because of their neglect, further more I don’t need some idiot telling me what I can play or not play. I hate simply turn to those people and tell them that they are the reason why I stay inside of my house. Because their neglect is what angers people like me. I don’t have a problem with parents buying games for their children if they know what the game contains then be my guest but don’t go whining to congress or anyone about what you allowed your child to have to begin with. Now it really pisses me off the parents decides to attack me for buying a “MATURE” game. Like this past weekend I was at EB GAMES buying GOD OF WAR, when this woman walks in with her 8 year old son, she asked for a copy of HALO 2 the guy at the counter asked her “Is this for you or your son?” she replies “My son.” at that point I butted in and asked her exactly what the hell is she doing? she was trying to defend her own son, who was insulting her, telling her that this game was labeled wrong, I put up a huge fight against this kid and told him that the reason why adult gamers can have any fun, because nimrods such as themselves rip the fun out of everything. Then the mother attacked me for buying a “M” rated game. I countered by pulling my Drivers license’s and told her that I was more responseible than herself. she then demanded that she buy the game and I applaude the clerk for doing this. he refused and banned her and her son from his store. sadly though he lost his store a week after but whatever.
    I used to work at EB Games and when the first MANHUNT came out, I had many parents coming in buying this game for their children who were of age, I remember this one time when a nice couple came in and wanted to get a game for the 10 year old son, who was getting a PS2 for Christmas, and they were looking at MANHUNT and I walked over and asked if they were going to buy it for themselves, they said that their son wanted it and asked them to buy it for him, I asked about old ther son was, and they told me I grabbed the game from their hand and grabbed the remaining copies, and put them in the back of the store, when I got back they were furious with me and asked me why i did that, I proceeded to grab two chairs and locked the doors, i grabbed a playable copy of MANHUNT and loaded it onto our PS2 unit. I made them sit down and play the game and they were horrifed at what they were planning to buy their son, I told them that if I had let them buy this game I would’ve lost my job because I didn’t try to warn them about it’s content, this is also would’ve warped you child’s mind, this game is not for children it for adults. adults like you and me, had I not taken away your copy of that game and not had you play it yourselves then I would be in trouble with not only you, but the head of the company, and ESRB itself, they thanked me for doing what I did and I directed them to game to more of his liking. Well not really but too bad. I still talk with these fine people every month or so telling them which game is okay for their kid, their son hates me but you know what I don’t care, he shouldn’t be playing games like these.

    My fight is for gamers but think about what other things are NIMF going to or help ban in this country. I’m an artist, and a college student, if NIMF continues this bullshit of advocating anything. we as adults will lose our freedom to do anything, this interruption caused by NIMF is a serious invasion towards our freedom of speech but further more towards our freedom of will. I’m planning on forming a organization that is devoted to adult gamers, that will prevent and fucking retarded parent buying games for their children who are under the age limit. and to help dismantle the NIMF organization.
    I’m getting sick and tired of losing out to good games
    seriously if you read that IGN article

    NIMF is apparently keeping a close eye on other upcoming games that could prove controversial.

    what other games? GTA 4
    KILLZONE 3
    HALO 3
    DEVIL MAY CRY 4
    METAL GEAR SOLID 4
    any TOM CLANCEY Game?
    GOD OF WAR 3
    GEARS OF WAR 2
    RESIDENT EVIL 5
    what games could they be fucking planning to take down,
    games are for everyone
    bull shit! games are for gamers and gamers alone, not for some pencil pushers, not for stupid children, not for head doctors who think they know the meaning to life, games belong to us and only us!
    who knows what they plan to ruin after they take away games from us.
    all I know is that this will end before it even begins.

    and your blog is very well put. my friend

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