Saturday, November 17, 2007

The ban on "Mass Effect" is over and cooler heads have prevailed. We're starting to realize, perhaps, that we don't need to have our decisions made for us by some self-appointed central authority; and that we can muster enough will and advocacy to negotiate a more equitable and satisfactory outcome for ourselves.

The grounds for the original ban were interesting, to say the least. Associated Press reports, "Players can engage their avatars in a variety of sexual encounters during the game, though none between men or between men and male aliens, according to reports on several blogs. The human-alien [lesbian] duo are depicted kissing and caressing each other in a sex scene that The Straits Times English-language newspaper in Singapore reported ends with the alien saying, "By the gods, that was incredible, commander."

Considering that most video games involve creative ways in which characters slice, dice, eviscerate and detonate other characters as the main component of gameplay, it's amazing that a short cutscene like the one described above could have been construed as unwholesome enough to ban the game. How often do we have video games promoting positive character interactions with each other? If we disregard their "gender", the two are actually engaged in a cooperative, non-violent, mutually beneficial activity of a social (instead of an anti-social) nature.

Between the characters, there is mutual acceptance -- appreciation, even -- of each other, despite their differences in species(?). The scene concludes with a genuine statement of gratitude, an acknowledgement to religious values, and a marked breaking down of the walls between different social classes. Aren't these refreshing traits to promote in our society of escalating xenophobia? In real world S'pore, we already draw lines between ourselves simply by the accent we speak with.

Rating the game with an M18 is a step in the right direction. Why deny ourselves a learning opportunity simply because at first glance, things don't look like what we think they should look like? We should know by now that life is never so simple.

Not that the X-box game was ever on my Christmas list, but the ban has certainly put the game on my radar now. I'm looking at the official website, and it looks gorgeous with quite some complexity and depth of gameplay. Wonder if it'll ever be released on PC?

No comments: