Censorship: Won’t Somebody Please Think of the Pixels?

Life is much easier for artists who don’t even think of venturing into obscenity.  As popular as pornography is to the masses, so too is the public sentiment of moral outrage. Opinion columns, comment threads and social media echo chambers will never cease to be free of reams of outbursts against the latest film that went too far, or how a certain video game has sexual content that isn’t completely consensual between the characters. What is permissible in fantasy seems too often down to what people will be willing to shout about, rather than the taboos in question being examined with care.

The forces of censorship acting on different forms of media – books, film, television, anime, video games, online spaces – are not disparate: they are connected by common threads of government pressure and moral panic expressed by the public.  Those who choose to perform thorough research on the value of prohibiting the sale of ‘obscene’ films, images and video games are more often deemed suspect rather than significant. But while lines of acceptance can be easy to draw for one’s self, drawing them for a community requires an appreciation of everything that’s at stake. Continue reading →

Mind Games: How Psychonauts Crafts its Characters

It can be hard to find video game characters that speak to the player as specifically video game characters. Many collections of polygons given lines of dialogue are simply an attempt to capture a cinematic figure. Games, as a medium, are about interaction. Dialogue trees and skippable side-quests can give the player the feeling that they are actively choosing to develop one character over another, but it’s rare for the entire gameplay experience to function as a method of constant characterization. We shoot the bad guys, we collect the secret items, and we wait until the next cutscene or dialogue snippet to get more of the story, and more ‘flesh’ for our cast.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

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