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Today's question was submitted by Simon:

Simon Woodward
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Have you ever banned a class of games from your playlist? For example games that include torture, games that portray women disrespectfully, games published by EA?

Here are Simon's thoughts:

manukajoe wrote:
I am considering banning shooters. While I enjoy the gameplay and the stories, in the back of my mind, something about pointing at a person and clicking their life out feels disturbing. For the same reason I don't enjoy stealth-kill games. Whereas in melee combat it feels more personal, a fair fight. I'm not sure yet what I would do with games which have one-hit-kill bow and arrow (e.g. Tomb Raider).


Thank you for your submission!
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Simon Lundström
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Can't say I have, for the reasons given.

I have banned GENRES of games because I know I won't like them, but I guess that this thread is not about "what genres do you avoid", so no need to mention those.

Out of moral reasons, or principle reasons … hmm… no, I can't say I have. Interesting question. Games that include torture, disrespect for women or such, I'm very unlikely to like, so I simply don't buy games that look like they contain such stuff, but it's not a blank state boycott.
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Geoffrey Burrell
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I never have banned any class of games from my playlist but I do have a preference of turn-based strategies.
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I was expecting the question to be about blacklisting a genre due to intense dislike. But it sounds like it's more about squeamishness or moral compunction.

I've experienced it, but over time I find I've been successfully working to overcome it. I do avoid games which go too far toward being gory and disgusting, but that's easy for me since I mainly play strategy games anyway. In those, I used to avoid evil alignments and be unable to bear backstabbing an AI opponent; I wanted to be the good guy and always have a stand-up fight. Lately, though, I'm fine with doing whatever works best. Sometimes it's simpler and more fun to play the evil, deceptive destroyer.

I can relate to Simon's comment about first-person shooters, though. My stomach knotted up whenever I had to shoot an officer or guard dog in Wolfenstein 3D, and I'd probably still feel that way. So I don't play that kind of game. I think I'd feel the same about melee combat too, though; it's not just shooting.

However, I'm perfectly OK with combat flight sims or submarine sims, where it feels like machine against machine. Sneaking around and torpedoing a defenseless enemy merchant ship is just my job; I don't give a thought to lives lost, as I'm only concerned about tonnage sunk, and about surviving.

My concern, when I play a game, is strategy and tactics--how to cleverly achieve a goal. The setting makes it more fun, as I can meanwhile sort of pretend to be a military commander or something, but that's secondary. If the game makes the setting the main thing and tries to get me "up close and personal" with my enemy (or friends, for that matter), I resent that and reject the game. I want more abstraction than that, more distance from the personal dimension.
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A class of games? No. I mean I don't play Sports games because they bore me out of my mind, but that's not really what we're getting at.

Are there games that I won't play due to content, regardless of their other merits? Of course.

Some of the recent news stories about the development of Mortal Kombat 11 are depressing - developers/testers having to refine/adjust/test gruesome, photorealistic, anatomically grisly fatalaties hundreds of times, and becoming clinically disturbed to the point of seeking medical help and wanting to quit their jobs.

(Of course there's a whole side discussion to be had about Mortal Kombat, but the new one achieves a gut-level repugnance that, to me, is totally foreign to the often-comical violence of the older MKs).

And I like fighting games. I enjoyed NRS's immediate predecessor to MK11, which was Injustice 2.
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I've also never banned a class of games, though I think that's because I have been fortunate enough not to encounter a large amount of content that I deem particularly egregious. That, or perhaps more likely, I've not taken the necessary time to acknowledge egregious content. That said, I don't think I've ever had a game cross my (admittedly arbitrary and undefined) moral line.

As JohnRayJr pointed out on another QOTD thread awhile back though, God of War III has a particularly questionable (at best) scene. I never made it that far in the game, thankfully, but I'd imagine I would have had a similar reaction to it. Would it make me stop playing? I don't know, honestly. But as Simon points out, I will admit that I've had a few passing thoughts when it comes to multiplayer shooters that make me stop and think for a second. I mean, it really is kind of odd that we've made games all about shooting people. That moment of reflection is always stopped by me ultimately thinking "well, it's just a game." But it's still a bit weird if I think about it for a bit.

Ultimately, I haven't banned any specific games or class of games, mostly because I've never had a moment stand out as being reason enough to do so. That might say a lot about me as a person. Fortunately, I don't think most of the games I play are all that notable in the violence/morality department. My hope is things stay that way.
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manukajoe wrote:
Something about pointing at a person and clicking their life out feels disturbing. For the same reason I don't enjoy stealth-kill games. Whereas in melee combat it feels more personal, a fair fight.

That's interesting because it runs counter to a longstanding complaint about modern warfare. Countless people have complained that machines (from crossbows to cannons to machine guns to bombers and ICBMs) make warfare too impersonal and seemingly sanitary, thus encouraging war. The argument is that things were better in ancient times, when most fighting was hand-to-hand, up close and personal. In that situation, a soldier is forced to face the enemy, overcome all natural compunctions, and shove in the blade. And because that's so horrible, it discourages war.

But it sounds like Simon finds it less horrible to hack off limbs, gouge out eyes, or rip open bellies than to just shoot somebody.

And in a weird way, I guess that's what those who complain about modern warfare are saying too: that doing something horrible face-to-face and one-on-one is at least honest and limited; doing the same horrible thing from a distance and on a larger scale multiplies the horror while partly concealing it.

But to my mind, concealing the horror is the very thing that makes such violence in games tolerable--even enjoyable. Nuking a rival city in Civilization is easy, once you make up your mind to do it: you push the button, see a mushroom cloud, and then feel relieved that that enemy city that had been causing you so much trouble isn't there anymore. Your only worry is retaliation in kind. If that's not in the offing, life is good.

In contrast, any game that doesn't conceal the horror obviously remains grossly and explicitly horrible. Don't ask me to play the role of a vampire biting necks or a werewolf tearing out throats or even a spearman plunging my weapon into another human body. That's the very horror I want to steer clear of or remain blind to.

Distance helps. If I only have to fire a rifle and see a tiny image in the distance fall to the ground, I can handle that. Better still if I can fire a torpedo and watch its impact on a distant ship through my binoculars.

Abstraction also helps. And all games are abstractions, no matter how realistic they're designed to be. Games boil down to mathematics; all we're ever really doing is manipulating relative numeric values. That may be more obvious in chess than in Mortal Kombat, but it's always the case. If it were any more real than that, we wouldn't be doing it.

So, my aversion is to any up-close, graphic, one-on-one horror. As critics of modern warfare like to point out, that aversion is what will dissuade people from waging war. When it shows up my hobby, it's going to dissuade me from playing games. And that's the last thing I want.
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I have no problem with violence unless its mean spirited. Its honest, far more honest than dominating someone socially, emotionally or economically. While I dont promote violence, I think its hypocritical to deny its place, without it we would all be British subjects, and without its constant threat we would all be slaves. Not to mention all the money we spend to have someone else do our violence for us.

I wont play free to play games, MMO's and 4x's, while I feel like I had fun while playing them afterwards I just think 'what a waste of time'.
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Games with predatory monetization practices. I have to constantly remind myself that I want better gaming practices to stop me from buying games like the new star wars battlefront.

Content related reasons for banning a class of game strikes me as possibly overzealous and could lead to missing a gem.
I am very close to saying horror games but there might be something out there in horror that I might like. Games that make their focus violence or grotesque or otherwise shocking I stay away from so I guess I can say I ban upsetting games.

I worry a little about those who see video game violence so connected to real violence. No matter how real it's still imaginary.

on a lighter note, I can say I also 'ban' adult games. I am loose with banning because curiosity gnaws at me. I mean come on, how explicit can they get? What do people get out of such a game? But I'm too cheap to actually buy a game and find out; heck, the price of having it in my steam library would probably be too high of a cost.
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I banned games with SecuROM DRM from my playlist for a while.
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Aside from doing what prior comments do (publisher/developer, predatory monetization, "adult" games, and harmful DRM), I also do "soft" bans of individual games.

I can get really into specific games and I'll play them until the thought of launching the game makes me sick. Until recently, Wurm Unlimited was in this bucket.
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No but I probably should. Anything with competitive multiplayer, really. I mentioned in another thread that I'm far too competitive for my own good and I've done and said things I'm not proud of in the heat of a match.
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I ban most first-person POV 3D games in which the protagonist moves. The first game I played like that was Descent. I played for twenty minutes one afternoon and I was still sick the next morning. I can usually handle first-person POV 3D games where the protagonist is in a moving vehicle like auto racing games or combat flight simulators, but Descent was no good and almost everything on foot is bad. I won't even watch someone else play.

There's nothing against shooting people here. First-person soccer would be as evil as first-person shooter. It's just the motion sickness.

I like Crusader Kings.

Oddly, I don't generally have problems with motion sickness in life aside from this class of video game, though I do get shoresick pretty bad after being at sea for days, but getting to be at sea is a rare occurrence for me.
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VanillaCokeMule wrote:
Anything with competitive multiplayer [...]


Honestly, now that I think about it, sometimes the community in a multiplayer game is far worse than any of the violent/graphic content.
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Patrick Carroll wrote:
manukajoe wrote:
Something about pointing at a person and clicking their life out feels disturbing. For the same reason I don't enjoy stealth-kill games. Whereas in melee combat it feels more personal, a fair fight.

That's interesting because it runs counter to a longstanding complaint about modern warfare. Countless people have complained that machines (from crossbows to cannons to machine guns to bombers and ICBMs) make warfare too impersonal and seemingly sanitary, thus encouraging war. The argument is that things were better in ancient times, when most fighting was hand-to-hand, up close and personal. In that situation, a soldier is forced to face the enemy, overcome all natural compunctions, and shove in the blade. And because that's so horrible, it discourages war.

But it sounds like Simon finds it less horrible to hack off limbs, gouge out eyes, or rip open bellies than to just shoot somebody.

And in a weird way, I guess that's what those who complain about modern warfare are saying too: that doing something horrible face-to-face and one-on-one is at least honest and limited; doing the same horrible thing from a distance and on a larger scale multiplies the horror while partly concealing it....
It's not really about the gore. The games I play don't have realistic or gory melee combat generally (Tomb Raider or The Last of Us might be exceptions). Mostly there's no blood, it's just whacking the enemy with a sticklike object until they fall over and disappear in a puff of purple smoke or something.
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Ian Kelly
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I mostly banned Ubisoft games, except that sometimes I end up buying something like Far Cry Primal or Assassin's Creed: Odyssey anyway because I forget it's an Ubisoft game. I almost might have lifted it recently because I'd like to play Anno 1800, but then they made it an Epic Store exclusive, so now I guess I won't.

I have no need to ban EA games because they publish very little that interests me to begin with.
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I've had a long-time ban on EA games, which I only broke last year by paying for a month of EA Access... and regretted it after being treated like a moron by their decision to not let me pick the language for Titanfall 2. Had to basically break the terms of service to play in English. Idiocy.

Also, they just stopped putting out stuff that I'm interested in, so that helps make it less of a pain in the ass.
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Nope. I don't ban for actual content, per se, though I have little interest in uber-gross violent games or Hentai crap.

BUT I have banned most Japanese games, since they all suck most of the time with a few rare, VERY RARE exceptions. I've also banned MMORPGs since they usually suck. Most crappy 8-bit looking lame Indies. And I've banned any and all MOBA-style games, they suck the worst.

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I don't play or watch any M-rated games. And I stay away from most T-rated games, exceptions being like The Return of the King, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I also don't like bathroom humor, "mild" lyrics, religious mythology, or immodestly-dressed women. So that list includes reasons why I don't like the E-rated games Pokemon Sun and Moon/Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
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wytefang wrote:
Nope. I don't ban for actual content, per se, though I have little interest in uber-gross violent games or Hentai crap.

BUT I have banned most Japanese games, since they all suck most of the time with a few rare, VERY RARE exceptions. I've also banned MMORPGs since they usually suck. Most crappy 8-bit looking lame Indies. And I've banned any and all MOBA-style games, they suck the worst.

I think blanket bans like this (Japanese games and MMOs) can be quite useful, even if they are blunt instruments, since they narrow the amount of new games you have to consider, which is already a lot to deal with. 90% of the time they do what you want. Occasionally you might hear of a particularly good game in the class you've banned and then you still might check it out.
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TCG Kirby wrote:
I don't play or watch any M-rated games. And I stay away from most T-rated games, exceptions being like The Return of the King, Super Smash Bros. Melee, and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. I also don't like bathroom humor, "mild" lyrics, religious mythology, or immodestly-dressed women. So that list includes reasons why I don't like the E-rated games Pokemon Sun and Moon/Ultra Sun and Ultra Moon.
I'm trying to figure out what games you DO actually play? R-rated games with modest clothing and no religious symbolism?
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manukajoe wrote:
It's not really about the gore. The games I play don't have realistic or gory melee combat generally (Tomb Raider or The Last of Us might be exceptions). Mostly there's no blood, it's just whacking the enemy with a sticklike object until they fall over and disappear in a puff of purple smoke or something.

Ah, I guess that makes sense. So you probably don't mind shooting when it's the archer or cannoneer in a Final Fantasy Tactics game (or something like that) taking a turn trying to damage or kill an enemy. It's only the first-person shooter you object to. Especially if there's stealth involved. Because then it feels like you're doing the dirty deed yourself and the victim doesn't even have a chance of hitting you first or hitting back.

I generally stay away from first-person games of any kind. About the only exceptions are old combat flight sims and submarine sims. I'll play those just as a rare change of pace. And since they're games, I don't think about lives lost when a plane or ship goes down. I would have to think about that if I saw the victim's face--even a cartoon face.
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manukajoe wrote:
wytefang wrote:
Nope. I don't ban for actual content, per se, though I have little interest in uber-gross violent games or Hentai crap.

BUT I have banned most Japanese games, since they all suck most of the time with a few rare, VERY RARE exceptions. I've also banned MMORPGs since they usually suck. Most crappy 8-bit looking lame Indies. And I've banned any and all MOBA-style games, they suck the worst.

I think blanket bans like this (Japanese games and MMOs) can be quite useful, even if they are blunt instruments, since they narrow the amount of new games you have to consider, which is already a lot to deal with. 90% of the time they do what you want. Occasionally you might hear of a particularly good game in the class you've banned and then you still might check it out.


In all fairness to the games or genres that I've (sort of) banned from myself, I do, on occasion, sometimes find something that really surprises me, so I'm not quite as strict in enforcing these bans as I claim to be. For example, I had a gift card that I was sitting on for a LONG time and I ended up using it on Resident Evil 2 remake because it looked really cool and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

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Patrick Carroll wrote:
manukajoe wrote:
It's not really about the gore. The games I play don't have realistic or gory melee combat generally (Tomb Raider or The Last of Us might be exceptions). Mostly there's no blood, it's just whacking the enemy with a sticklike object until they fall over and disappear in a puff of purple smoke or something.

Ah, I guess that makes sense. So you probably don't mind shooting when it's the archer or cannoneer in a Final Fantasy Tactics game (or something like that) taking a turn trying to damage or kill an enemy. It's only the first-person shooter you object to. Especially if there's stealth involved. Because then it feels like you're doing the dirty deed yourself and the victim doesn't even have a chance of hitting you first or hitting back.

I generally stay away from first-person games of any kind. About the only exceptions are old combat flight sims and submarine sims. I'll play those just as a rare change of pace. And since they're games, I don't think about lives lost when a plane or ship goes down. I would have to think about that if I saw the victim's face--even a cartoon face.
It's probably different in a chess-like game where the shooting and death is highly abstracted and just represents a game mechanic. I'm thinking of 1st and 3rd person shooters (FPS and TPS) that are more realistic (there's not much difference between FPS and TPS). Mass Effect 3 is a third person shooter, and although they try to dehumanise the Cerberus troops by giving them full helmets and making them genetically altered, i still feel like they are people with (albeit stunted) personal lives and relationships and not deserving to be arbitrarily snuffed out.
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wytefang wrote:
manukajoe wrote:
wytefang wrote:
Nope. I don't ban for actual content, per se, though I have little interest in uber-gross violent games or Hentai crap.

BUT I have banned most Japanese games, since they all suck most of the time with a few rare, VERY RARE exceptions. I've also banned MMORPGs since they usually suck. Most crappy 8-bit looking lame Indies. And I've banned any and all MOBA-style games, they suck the worst.

I think blanket bans like this (Japanese games and MMOs) can be quite useful, even if they are blunt instruments, since they narrow the amount of new games you have to consider, which is already a lot to deal with. 90% of the time they do what you want. Occasionally you might hear of a particularly good game in the class you've banned and then you still might check it out.


In all fairness to the games or genres that I've (sort of) banned from myself, I do, on occasion, sometimes find something that really surprises me, so I'm not quite as strict in enforcing these bans as I claim to be. For example, I had a gift card that I was sitting on for a LONG time and I ended up using it on Resident Evil 2 remake because it looked really cool and I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

Right, but the ban is still useful, right, even if not watertight?
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