I posted a little bit about Dementium: The Ward before, and since then the Horror FPS for DS has been mostly off my radar. The game is on schedule for release at the end of October (hooray for Halloween), and I am very interested to see if horror in a portable format will work.
But in the mean time, Dementium’s publisher Gamecock has been publishing their communications with the ESRB in an IGN “director’s diary.” I’m sure everybody knows that game developers get their games rated by the ESRB voluntarily (though no console maker will allow an un-rated game to be published for their system), but were you aware that ESRB certification also requires approval for video game ads and trailers!? The commentary over at IGN (beware, IGN) is sort of fascinating: the publisher made a pretty gross trailer for their game and the ESRB has forced them to censor it. Of course, thanks to the magic of the internet, we can watch the uncensored trailer over at Eurogamer.
The interesting thing to me is that the trailer is actually pretty terrible; it’s really not worth the effort it must have taken them to get everything censored. As with the Rule of Rose controversy, censorship is having the opposite of its intended effect: it has increased attention on work in question.
ESRB, your existence is useful because game developers need a third-party organization to rate their games. Games are a medium that span all age groups, and having a rating is a very easy way to raise awareness about the kinds of games that exist and curb offense from sensitive non-gamers without necessitating litigation. However, your usefulness ends there: you are not our mothers and we don’t need you to tell us what we can or cannot watch. If you want to issue ratings for trailers or whatever, be our guest. But don’t tell developers what they can and can not publish–that’s stepping across the boundary from classification to censorship. And come on, this is the internet–an infinite supply of offensive media far worse than any game commercial is waiting right behind that little Google search box. Any attempt to protect the user is moot; one mis-click and they can have goatse all over their screen. Give us the benefit of the doubt: if we have the internet, we can deal with video game trailers without your approval.