Pic of the day: Is ESRB trying to cover their ass? (Screenshot from Oblivion. A very unique screenshot though.)
Oblivion rated M by ESRB
This entry is coded yellow because it is not just about fun and games anymore. It is also about sex, and sex can be very disturbing. Especially to Americans, as seen in the news once again.
Shortly after Oblivion was released, one player created and distributed a modification called "topless". As the name implies, it removes the bra which is stuck on female characters even after the clothes are removed. (The male characters were already topless, just like in real life.) When the bra was removed, it turned out that the females had nipples. Shock! Horror! Shortly after, the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) upgraded the game rating from T (teen) to M (mature). In addition to the uncovered nipples, they claimed that they had not been aware of how much blood and gore there was in the game.
I actually agree with the new rating. The game takes place partly in hell, which in Tamriel is called "Oblivion", hence the name of the game. It comes complete with monstrous looking demons, the occasional human corpse, and quite a bit of blood. The partly dismembered zombies don't exactly help, either. The graphics are photorealistic except for the occasional supernatural element. In this context, there should be no need to consider nipples. Most of us have seen female nipples since shortly after we were born. In contrast, we have not seen zombies and demons, and hopefully never will.
Look, I understand that sex is fascinating and addictive. Even though I can't have sex myself, I am human enough to realize this. In fact, it is probably more on the mind of those who don't practice it. But... God (or Evolution) never intended humans to be children as long as our society wants. Teenagers will have a healthy interest in sexuality and the human body, particularly the body of the opposite sex (if you're lucky). If your teen decides to download a modification of the program so he can take the bra off his pixelated friends, the enemy has already won. It is in any case far preferable over him taking the bra of his classmate to jog his memory of what nipples look like. Not that he won't do that anyway, with 88% probability. (OK, those numbers don't refer to classmates, but it's a good place to start.)
The fact that teens are interested in naked bodies is dictated by nature and can not be changed by the ESRB or by middle-aged senators who already have their own wife and often a mistress or two as well. This was not a problem back when people matured later and married earlier... after all, with a life expectancy of 40 years, you had to get the good things going while you could. The current boiling cauldron of unrequited sexuality is an artifact of the capitalist society and its need for specialization and higher education. But that's hardly something that concerns the software industry. The maturity ratings should reflect the age at which the games will hopefully no longer give you nightmares or other negative mental effects. Nipples don't give nightmares in remotely normal people, and anyway they are easily avoided.
For some reason there has been much less publicity about a later mod for the game, called "no pants". That is not an accurate description, unless by pants you mean panties. Anyway, this mod removes the panties. You can also, according to the documentation, select during installation the amount and color of pubic hair. Upon reading this I realized that I don't really have a preference in pubic hair. The one thing I think about pubic hair is that it itches sometimes. I'm sure the rest of you have strong opinions on pubic hair. Now you can enforce them on your Oblivion characters, as well as all their friends and enemies. Yay.
I have secured for myself both of these mods. Not because I believe that I can have sex with my computer monitor – in that case, the Internet would already have all the nipples and pubic hair any human could need in a lifetime – but Oblivion is not just a great game, it is also an awesome illustration tool. And in case I am going to write about sexual topics again (not exactly my area of expertise but hey, it draws curious readers like free beer...) In that case, I am likely to illustrate them using Oblivion rather than photographs of myself. At least if they include underwear or lack thereof. For which I assure you that everyone should be grateful. See above about protecting people from nightmares... ^_^*
Visit the archive page for the older diaries I've put out to pasture.