Crybullies Want to Regulate Problematic Content in Virtual Reality

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By Ian Miles Cheong | 6:30 am, December 27, 2016

Virtual Reality is the latest space for game designers to explore and express their creativity. The freedom offered by VR is only limited by a creator’s imagination and there’s a lot of “thinking outside the box” to be done before we’ll see some truly innovative works.

However, this freedom is threatened by progressive ideologues who want to turn VR space into a “safe space” and prohibit developers from creating transgressive art deemed “problematic” in any of the numerous ways it’s possible to be.

With every art form, from comic books to video games and TV, under close scrutiny from the perpetually outraged, it’s no shock that the social justice crybullies have directed their aim at VR.

There are calls for the industry to create new regulatory rules for VR space, forcing developers to inhibit players from performing certain actions—all under the guise of harassment prevention. In the Japanese VR version of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, players can grope the virtual characters. It is distasteful and the furthest thing from “art,” and most developers will certainly know better than to add such content to their games. However, the argument that such content needs to be further regulated (or banned) will only hinder any artistic expression afforded to creators.

One can only defend transgressive art to a certain extent, and the game industry’s own Entertainment Software Rating Board already regulates such content to prevent minors from accessing it, with well-defined categories and content guidelines. Further regulation would be a serious overstep.

The problem with creating new industry standards and regulations to prohibit such content is that it would be done based on how much outrage it gives to the perpetually outraged, who have already condemned game designers for giving players moral choices.

They are now calling for violence in VR to be illegal, which would render the creation of games like DOOM and Fallout 4 a crime, and their players into criminals if played in VR.

Using the rhetoric of social justice, indie devs like Robert Yang are demanding that progressives wrestle VR away from the marketplace—away from consumers whose taste in entertainment is catered to by game designers who are themselves consumers. It’s a given that most creatives will simply create the kinds of experiences they themselves would like to experience.

“So in this current political climate, it’s up to us to act decisively, and act now. We need comprehensive action on multiple levels, before it’s too late. If VR turns out to be successful and vital, then we’ll thank ourselves for our foresight to prepare; if VR turns out to be a failure and waste of time, then it’s OK because we’ll have wasted only a few years on it,” writes Yang. “I think the main goal should be to insulate VR culture from conservative gamer culture’s ‘demands’ and imposed norms.”

The irony is that in calling for VR to be a “safe space,” Yang’s own creations, which have already been banned from streaming service Twitch.tv for sexual content, would be the first casualty of his crusade.

Ian Miles Cheong is a journalist and outspoken game critic. You can reach him through social media at @stillgray on Twitter and on Facebook.

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