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Ethics in Computer Games & Cinema
Worksheet #9: Controversial Movies and Games (Pt. 2)
1. Based on everything we talked about this week, do you think A Clockwork Orange is in any
way morally detrimental? Explain your answer (3 points).
2. Based on everything we talked about this week, do you think Hatred is in any way morally
detrimental? Explain your answer (3 points).
3. After examining Pulp Fiction, A Clockwork Orange, GTA V, and Hatred, which one of these
four pieces of media do you think is the MOST morally detrimental? Explain your answer (4
points).
Worksheet #10: Censorship/Ratings for Movies and Games
1. Based on all the points made in This Film is Not Yet Rated, what do you think is
the most problematic issue involving the MPAA ratings system (3 points)?
2. Based on everything we discussed, what do you think is the most problematic
issue involving the ESRB ratings system (3 points)?
3. After everything we talked about throughout the course, what was your favorite
topic? Explain your answer (4 points).
Discussions
Q1. Answer any ONE of the following questions on A Clockwork Orange…
(1) Obviously we’re living in a very different time with a very different film industry, compared to the
1970s, when A Clockwork Orange was released. With that said, do you think a film like A Clockwork
Orange could still be made today?
(2) Was Stanley Kubrick morally in the wrong for treating his actors negatively on set? In other words, is
it worth while to treat your actors negatively for the purpose of creating great art?
Question #2
Because of its incredibly graphic content and controversial themes, the video game, Hatred was given an
Adults Only (AO) rating by the ESRB. Do you think this is a fair rating for this particular game to have? Or,
based on everything we’ve talked about, should it have been given a lower rating (such as an M)?
Question #3
Other than A Clockwork Orange and Hatred, are there any other Video Games, Shows, or Movies that
we can think of as being morally detrimental? Explain your answer.
Question #4
Select any ONE of the following questions to answer. All of these questions concern the MPAA and Film
Ratings.
(1) Do you agree with the choices raters make when it comes to changing a film’s rating based on
Language? If not, what would you do to change this if you had the ability to rate movies?
(2) As we know, the MPAA seems a lot more sensitive when it comes to Sexual Content than violence in
movies. Why do you think this is?
(3) Do you think you could accept Darren Aronofsky’s idea to reverse the current rating system
(regarding decisions based on Violence)? Is this a good idea?
(4) Based on everything we talked about this week, do you believe that the MPAA Ratings system is
problematic, or is it not as bad as our film makes it out to be? In other words, should it matter that
directors have to make changes to their films in order to get a lower rating?
Question #5
What do you think about the way the ESRB currently operates? After everything we’ve discussed this
week, would you say the ESRB is flawed, or would you say it’s not as bad as its critics make it out to be?
Question #6
Which Ratings Organization do you think is better at accomplishing the task of accurately rating a piece
of media: The MPAA or the ESRB? Here, we can consider the flaws of the MPAA. However, we can also
consider just how different video games are from movies, meaning that despite having good intentions,
the ESRB could be as bad or worse than the MPAA when it comes to providing accurate ratings.
ETHICS IN
COMPUTER GAMES
AND CINEMA:
LECTURE TEN
RATINGS/CENSORSHIP
FOR MOVIES AND GAMES
LEARNING
OBJECTIVES
Critically evaluate Film Censorship/Ratings.
Critically evaluate Game Censorship/Ratings.
Conclude the Course.
WHAT IS
CENSORSHIP?
The main idea of Censorship is that
some group of people is being
blocked from viewing/consuming
something they would otherwise
view/consume.
There are many different reasons for
why censorship occurs and there
are many different ways in which it
can be implemented.
WHAT IS
CENSORSHIP?
We should also note that censorship can
still occur even if not everyone is being
restricted from viewing/playing something.
For example, we can say that banning
something from kids but still allowing
adults to experience the thing in question
is still a form of censorship.
Even if it doesn’t exclude everyone, it does
exclude some depending on age.
WHAT IS
CENSORSHIP?
We can therefore look at Ratings as a
form of censorship, as a rating can end
up impacting certain age groups by
restricting them from consuming
whatever it is they wish to consume.
For example, making a movie rated R
prevents certain age groups from
viewing it. Making a movie NC17 makes
it even more restrictive.
MOVIE RATINGS
AND THE MPAA
Today, we will focus our discussion on
the Motion Picture Association of America
(MPAA) and how they rate movies.
As we went over in previous weeks, it
might not be a bad idea to rate movies,
since there are certain films with graphic
content (such as Pulp Fiction or A
Clockwork Orange) that have good reason
to be restricted from younger viewers.
THIS FILM IS NOT YET RATED SYNOPSIS
This Film is Not Yet Rated is a documentary from 2006 directed by
Kirby Dick.
The goal of the film is to expose problems with the MPAA ratings
system, given how ratings are decided.
We can look at this as an important moral issue as film ratings
determine who can view what film, thus making it an issue of
censorship.
MAIN IDEAS IN THE FILM
The ideas/criticisms against film
ratings that we will be looking at and
evaluating today are as follows…
(1) Language difference between a
PG13 and R rating.
(2) Sexual Content Difference
between an R and NC17.
(3) Darren Aronofsky’s Reverse
Rating Idea.
(4) Artistic Visions Being
Compromised.
For each of these ideas, we will be
looking at how they are described in
the film, and then we will evaluate
whether or not the criticism in
question is truly valid.
FIRST CRITICISM
LANGUAGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PG13 AND R RATING
One of the ideas brought up early in the film is how language
is evaluated by raters when deciding on what rating a film
should have.
As we know, one usage of the word “fuck” is fine for a PG13
rated film, but more than one typically results in an R rating,
even if beyond that, the film contains no violence, sexual
situations, etc.
There are some films that use this word more times than
others. For example, The Wolf of Wall Street uses it 506
times.
Meanwhile, there are R-Rated movies that only use it a few
times (but still more than one).
Furthermore the rating for a movie can change dramatically
based on very few instances of adult language, such as a PG
changing to a PG13.
FIRST CRITICISM
LANGUAGE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A PG13 AND R RATING
Discussion Question:
Do you agree with raters when
they make these types of
decisions? If not, what would
you do to change this if you had
the ability to rate movies?
SECOND CRITICISM
SEXUAL CONTENT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN R AND NC17
One of the most frequent criticisms in the film relates
to sexual content.
The film brings up many examples to highlight the
absurdity of decisions to give a film an NC17 rating
rather than an R, simply because of too much sexual
content.
The reason why this is problematic is because an
NC17 is less likely to be shown to a wider audience, as
many studios won’t release a film with a rating higher
than an R.
Therefore, we can look at this as being the highest
form of censorship the MPAA can pursue through
rating a film.
SECOND CRITICISM
SEXUAL CONTENT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN R AND NC17
Examples of NC17 Movies…
(1)Boys Don’t Cry
Orgasms that go on for too long
(2)But I’m a Cheerleader
Gay Sex as opposed to Straight Sex
SECOND CRITICISM
SEXUAL CONTENT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN R AND NC17
Discussion Question:
As we know, the MPAA seems
a lot more sensitive when it
comes to sexual content than
violence in movies. Why do
you think this is?
THIRD CRITICISM
DARREN ARONOFSKY’S REVERSE RATING IDEA
Throughout the documentary, many interviewees
offer suggestions for how to improve the current
rating system.
For example, the film director, Darren Aronofsky
provides criticism against the rating system as well
as an attempt to fix it.
He mentions that he thinks PG13 rated movies that
depict violence unrealistically can actually be more
harmful to younger, more impressionable viewers,
since they make violence seem inconsequential.
Meanwhile R-rated movies typically show violence
realistically, thus giving the viewer a greater sense
of impact.
THIRD CRITICISM
DARREN ARONOFSKY’S REVERSE RATING IDEA
Therefore, his idea (if he were to decide film
ratings) would be to reverse this and make it
so that older audiences are the only ones able
to view a film where there is no blood or
almost no blood when people are murdered
violently (Marvel movies for example).
Meanwhile something that shows brutal
violence like Saving Private Ryan could be
PG13 so that younger viewers can experience
the more authentic impact that violence has
on people.
THIRD CRITICISM
DARREN ARONOFSKY’S REVERSE RATING IDEA
Discussion Question:
Do you think you could
accept Aronofsky’s idea to
reverse the current rating
system? Is this a good idea?
FOURTH CRITICISM
ARTISTIC VISIONS BEING COMPROMISED
One of the biggest issues with ratings and
censorship is that it forces directors to
change their art.
For example, if a film gets an NC17 rating,
the director will be tempted to make
certain changes so as to get an R instead.
However, since directors are essentially
artists, it seems unfair that they should
have to change their work just to get a
different rating.
FOURTH CRITICISM
ARTISTIC VISIONS BEING COMPROMISED
Discussion Question:
Based on this information, do you
believe that the MPAA system is
problematic, or is it not as bad as
our film makes it out to be?
In other words, should it matter
that directors have to make
changes to their films in order to
get a lower rating?
NEXT:
RATINGS/CENSORSHIP FOR
VIDEO GAMES
VIDEO GAMES AND CENSORSHIP/RATINGS
During today’s discussion of video
game censorship, we will be going
over game ratings, and in doing so,
we will discuss various criticisms
against the ESRB as well as some
upsides to this rating organization.
As we discuss these ideas, we will be
referring to the three articles, as well
as the documentary we looked at for
today, which will provide different
arguments for why the current game
rating system is good as well as why
it could be seen as bad.
Afterwards, we will determine as a
class whether or not the current
game rating system is problematic.
VIDEO GAME RATINGS
As we know, games are given ratings (E for Everyone, T for
Teen, M for Mature).
When focusing on what’s best for their kids, some parents
pay very close attention to these ratings and then look into
why the game received that rating in the first place.
Therefore, we can look at game ratings as a good way to deal
with the problem of young, impressionable gamers having
access to potentially problematic games.
However, even with that said, there could still be issues with
the ratings system as we know it today.
UPSIDES TO GAME RATINGS
Based on the article from Iowa State
University (the second article in our PDF),
we should have a good understanding of
why many view the current game ratings
system as not being problematic.
As we know, the ESRB (Entertainment
Software Rating Board) rates games to
help parents make informed decisions
about which games they should let their
children play.
UPSIDES TO GAME RATINGS
Some games are reasonably accessible to lots of
kids (E or T), while others might be more extreme
(M), and some games, like Hatred, get an AO
rating.
Furthermore, based on the information referenced
in the article, we can say that parents should be
willing to focus on the game ratings decided by the
ESRB when deciding on which games their kids
can and cannot play.
If parents are willing to do this, then their children
will likely play age-appropriate games instead of
games that are too graphic for them to handle.
UPSIDES TO GAME RATINGS
Moreover, we can say that while some may
criticize the current game ratings system
for various flaws, it might be more
reasonable to suggest that the game
ratings system does still work, but only if
parents are willing to use it properly.
This may require them to focus carefully on
what game ratings imply, rather than
putting very little thought or no thought at
all into their decision-making.
DOWNSIDES TO GAME RATINGS
According to the articles by Ellen Rosner
Fieg (First Article) and Peter Suciu (Third
Article), we might suggest that game ratings
are at least somewhat problematic, because
while they seem like a good idea in theory,
they are also perhaps not being used in a
way that can be practically beneficial to
parents.
In other words, the ways in which game
ratings are currently decided may be
confusing.
DOWNSIDES TO GAME RATINGS
There are TWO main reasons for why
decisions made by the ESRB seem
confusing…
Reason #1: Very different games with very
different contexts, characters, settings, etc.
can still receive the exact same rating
(Referenced in Article 3).
Reason #2: There can sometimes be mods
that game raters are unable to focus on
when they make ratings decisions
(Referenced in Articles 1 and 3).
THE FIRST REASON WHY GAME RATINGS
ARE CONFUSING
According to Peter Suciu, the most
problematic aspect of the ESRB
relates very heavily to M-rated games.
According to Suciu, often times, the M
rating is the equivalent to a PG or
PG13 rated film, in terms of violence.
For example, he compares the Halo
franchise (M-Rated) to Star Wars (PG
to PG13) in terms of violent content.
THE FIRST REASON WHY GAME RATINGS
ARE CONFUSING
As we know, typically people think of an M rating
as comparable to an R, and while that can be the
case some of the time, there are also instances
in which certain M-rated games are more on par
with a PG or PG13 rated film.
Furthermore, Suciu notes other M-rated games
such as the GTA series and Manhunt, which
depict brutal violence in the context of murdering
innocent people for fun, stealing cars, killing
prostitutes, etc., and yet games like these will
typically receive the same exact rating (M) as
something like a Halo game.
THE FIRST REASON WHY GAME RATINGS
ARE CONFUSING
We can certainly make the argument that
this makes game ratings confusing,
because many parents will think of all M
rated games as having the same
implications.
After all, why else would they be rated M,
unless they met certain qualifications to
receive that particular rating?
THE SECOND REASON WHY GAME RATINGS
ARE CONFUSING
We can also argue that game ratings are
confusing after considering the idea of
modifications (or mods).
As articles 1 mentions (and article 3 hints at),
GTA San Andreas was originally rated M.
However, many critics were concerned that
perhaps it deserved an even higher rating after
newly added mods caused the game to be even
more inappropriate than it was before.
THE SECOND REASON WHY GAME RATINGS
ARE CONFUSING
With all of this said, if a game gets an M
rating, but then new mods make it even
more graphic (and yet it still maintains
that same M rating), then perhaps we can
view the current rating system as
confusing.
OTHER NOTES ON THE ESRB
In the documentary “How Does the ESRB
Rate Video Games?”, it’s mentioned that
the ESRB’s job is especially hard after
considering the fact that video games
require tens of hours to hundreds of
hours of gameplay in order to fully
determine the game’s content.
This as opposed to just watching a 2 hour
movie means more room for potential
error, when it comes to determining a
rating.
OTHER NOTES ON THE ESRB
Although we can look at multiple
downsides to the ESRB, one other upside
that’s worth mentioning revolves around
how a game is marketed.
According to the documentary, the ESRB
is not only responsible for rating games,
but also for marketing them, so that
everyone watching game ads will have a
good understanding of what the game has
to offer and how graphic its content is.
OTHER NOTES ON THE ESRB
In other words, through marketing,
the ESRB is attempting to offer
clarity when it comes to what game
ratings imply, so as to avoid some of
the confusion that parents may
experience when deciding which
games are right for their kids to play.
GAME RATINGS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Discussion Question:
What do you think about the way the
ESRB currently operates? After
everything we’ve discussed here today,
would you say the ESRB is flawed, or
would you say it’s not as bad as its critics
make it out to be?
GAME RATINGS DISCUSSION QUESTIONS
Final Discussion Question:
Which Ratings Organization do you think is
better at accomplishing the task of accurately
rating a piece of media: The MPAA or the
ESRB? Here, we can consider the flaws of the
MPAA discussed in the first half. However, we
can also consider just how different video
games are from movies, meaning that despite
having good intentions, the ESRB could be as
bad or worse than the MPAA when it comes to
providing accurate ratings.
ETHICS – SUMMARY OF TOPICS
Meta Ethics
– Cultural Relativism
– Ethical Subjectivism
Normative Ethics
– Divine Command Theory
Applied Ethics
– Natural Law Theory
– Social Contract Theory
– Morality in Movies and
Games
– Ethical Egoism
– Utilitarianism
– Kantian Ethics
– Ethics of Care
– Virtue Ethics
– Controversial Movies and
Games
– Censorship/Ratings
THE IMPORTANCE OF ETHICS
IN VIDEO GAMES AND FILM
As we’ve been exploring throughout the quarter,
there are a number of ways in which we can use
ethics to understand the moral significance of
movies and video games.
We’ve seen this through a number of topics
including censorship/ratings, controversial media,
and how moral frameworks are represented
through film narratives and gameplay.
We should now have a good understanding of the
many ways in which we can use ethics to evaluate
movies and games, and hopefully we can
understand the significance of morality, based on
its influence on modern media.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM ETHICS IN GENERAL
Through our studies of Ethics, we are
able to learn about the essence of
morality.
From a Meta Ethical perspective, we can
understand the basics of how ethics
works and what it implies.
From a Normative Ethical perspective,
we’re able to explore various moral
frameworks that can help us achieve
goodness for ourselves and others.
WHAT WE CAN LEARN FROM ETHICS IN GENERAL
Even if we do end up disagreeing with some
of these philosophies, or we feel that there are
times when it just doesn’t make sense to be a
Utilitarian, Kantian, etc., we can still
appreciate the intentions of each of these
schools of thought as they attempt to help us
solve moral problems.
Hopefully after everything we’ve discussed
this quarter, we can understand not only how
to use ethics to think deeply about movies
and games, but also in a way that can improve
the quality of our lives, and hopefully work
towards changing the world for the better…
END OF SUMMER
SESSION 1
FINAL PAPER DUE BY
JULY 17TH AT MIDNIGHT.
ENJOY THE REST
OF YOUR SUMMER!!!

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