John Romero is hurting the game industry

John Romero, co-founder of id Software (Doom, Quake, etc.) is seriously out of touch. He has posted a series of blog entries claiming, and then retracting the claim, that game modders are hurting the industry. His comments were prompted by the ESRB's change in its rating for Oblivion from Teen to Mature.

This is old news, but it is worth mentioning even now because:

1. Romero's comments are wildly inaccurate. He claims the ESRB changed the rating for Oblivion because "some modder" added nudity to the game. The ESRB did mention this fact in its statement, but it is NOT the real reason they changed the rating, and Romero fails to address the main reason at all.

2. The press repeated Romero's statements, further spreading the misinformation and giving it a lot more validity than it deserves.

In fact, the nudity mod issue is a red herring.

It's just a convenient excuse for the ESRB to correct a mistake in the way they rated Oblivion to begin with.

I think the ESRB ratings are stupid for many reasons, but we live in a Puritan society, so it's to be expected I guess. In any case, ESRB ratings are fairly similar to the way movies are rated, so we should all be used to it by now.

The closest analogy would be a movie in which nude scenes were cut before release to gain a PG-13 rating. If some fan got ahold of the cut footage, spliced it back together and released this "unofficial" version of the movie, would the ratings board then go back and change the rating to R? No, they'd consider such a suggestion absurd, and yet that's almost exactly what we're seeing here, assuming the "hidden content/breasts" argument is valid at all.

In reality, Oblivion probably deserved an M rating for many other reasons, some obvious and some less obvious.

The obvious reason is the very large number of mutilated, bloody corpses in the Oblivion gates. Along with the various corpse mashers, etc., the game really is quite grotesque in places. I don't mind this at all and I think it is appropriate for the story, but if I'm in a spot like that in the game I do pause it if my daughter comes into the room because I think it would give her nightmares.

The more subtle reason is the storyline. It's a very mature story containing a lot of "sacreligious" themes, much like Morrowind did. To me, this is one of the best aspects of the game. However, most people would classify this sort of thing (assuming they're smart enough to recognize it at all) as a "mature theme".

The ESRB just used the nudity issue as a convenient cover story for the fact that they failed to rate Oblivion correctly, and Romero should've recognized this as the obvious subterfuge it is.

Romero should either put more thought into his commentary or stop posting such bad information.


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