Sometimes when writing about a bigger topic, I find my brain attaches angrily! to a tangent or branching topic.
I’ve talked before about our sexually hung-up culture, and will be getting into the nitty of how that has shaped sexuality in gaming (with a little help from Japan) as it currently appears in our contemporary selection.
But this led me to me think about standards and practices committees (also called content-regulatory committees). I have plenty of complaints about the MPAA and the ESRB (which has been, in some ways even worse — a topic worthy an essay …or three). But the era of such agencies may well be passing.
We’re now transitioning to a new state in which we keep online accounts at specific media outlets, on the premise that, once purchased, we can download content from these sites whenever we want. (That may not always be true. iTunes, it appears, only allows — or allowed — a limited number of downloads per license. It’s a good reason not to shop at iTunes.)
This system works satisfactorily so long as there are several competing services. But our economy is rapidly moving towards monopoly and oligopoly markets. So this will probably get only worse.
We’ve already seen it go the monopoly route regarding iOS and Windows 10 (and Windows 8 mobile devices) These companies have intentionally blocked off access to markets outside their proprietary one, leaving the content available to a whole lot of devices regulated by a tiny number of people who have no vested interest in serving their audience.
It smells like tyranny. And this is where I end up fuming, unable to talk about my original topic.
The worst offender (based off what I know) is Facebook, which is more of a content exchange site (even when most of the time that content is what can be written on a post-it, or magneted to a refrigerator.) According to Facebook policy it has been unacceptable (may still be) to post pictures of women breastfeeding their infants. It remains acceptable to post terrorist executions of captive victims. It’s unacceptable to post pictures of classical art (such as The Little Mermaid or Ice Cream (the latter of which resulted in the takedown of a Museum exhibition notification) but it is okay to post a video of someone killing a cat with a blowtorch.
I guess Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t like cats or women much.
To be fair, I have a lot of rage at people who abuse and kill cats (or, really, most animals), and thus my own position may be skewed. Then again, I’m pretty sure that the torture and abuse of small animals is significantly higher on the Not Safe For Work and Not Safe For Children lists than breastfeeding moms, bronze boobies or psychedelically-colored women suggestively eating ice cream.
We’ve seen lesser incidents of committee by tyranny with both Apple Computer and Microsoft with their respective walled gardens. Microsoft didn’t want anything unsuitable for teens in the Windows Store until GTA V couldn’t pass Windows Certification and there was something of a row. In Windows 8 people just didn’t care and didn’t bother with the Metro, but in Windows 10, Microsoft changes the rules whenever it wants, and if it doesn’t want you playing M-rated games (or games that directly compete with Microsoft’s product line-up) that’s it.
More recently, the Apple refused to sell The Binding of Isaac on the Apple Store, on account of biblical references and violence towards children. Outside the Apple store, Binding of Isaac is acclaimed not only for its artistic merit, and for expanding on Roguelike game design (or more accurately, roguelike-like game design). I think Apple has not so much a committee so much as a bunch of Boolean pass / don’t pass policies and then opinionated executives to back them up.
I don’t have something clever to add today. I’m still seething about the blowtorch and the killed cat.
All in all they’re all just bricks in the wall.