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I Give This App Two Fists Up!

Let's talk about Freedom Of Expession.

M$ is readying their new Windows 7 Phone Marketplace.  And they have some guidelines they'd like you to follow.

Mobile Burn helps clear things up.  "Content that's not allowed includes anything with sex/nudity, anything that generally falls under the category of pornography, or apps that depict or suggest prostitution. Illegal activities, such as games and apps that promote illegal gambling or drugs, are also not allowed."  Also, "realistic or gratuitous violence."  So, no chance of GTA, Dope Wars, or other such things.  And, of course, objectionable content is in the eye of the beholder.  What constitutes illegal gambling?  Playing penny-ante poker with your friends is illegal, but no one's going on the chain gang for it.  People abusing OTC drugs?  And gratuitous violence?  Coming from the company that brags about the sales figures for Halo and Gears Of War, that's a fuckin' laugh.

I don't like Howard Stern, Rush Limbaugh, or Imus.  I think they are immature morons.  So I don't listen to them.  And that's really where it ends for me.  Other people clearly like them, and they can listen to them all they want as long as I'm not forced to.  My opinion is not an absolute truth.

There's a flash game called Orgasm Girl.  You take the role of an angel trying to give a sleeping girl an orgasm without waking her up.  Now, I don't care about the angel thing, something like that isn't going to offend me.  What did offend me is that the game hinges on what is basically rape.  I was offended.  I quit playing.  Many others didn't, and there is at least one sequel to it as well as various clones.

Now, it's easy to look at something like this and say, "Oh, that should be banned because it is so exploitative."  The problem is, as I said, what constitutes offensive is in the eye of the beholder.  I know people who are offended by the political backstory for the Metal Gear Solid game series.  There are some who think any act of violence, even Mario bopping a tortoise into its shell, is offensive.  Here's a true story:  I heard tell of a woman who wouldn't let her kids have anything to do with Harry Potter because it was "satanic" because of witchcraft and magic.  No movies, no books, no games, nothing.  But this same woman had no problem letting her kids play GTA:  Vice City for hours at a crack (murder, drug running, hookers...yeah, that's MUCH better).  People talk about how safe the Archie line-up is, when two of their titles, Sabrina and Young Salem, are all about witchcraft.

Where's the line?  At what point, are you trying to keep things from falling into the wrong hands (like keeping porn away from kids) and at what point are you actually telling people what they should and should not like?  Isn't that insulting to the people who can tell right from wrong and act accordingly, but recognize the limits of our perceptions and simply let others do as they like as long as we aren't forced to participate?

It's a slippery slope.  It's censorship, but through market forces instead of government intervention.  No, I don't think some people should have access to inappropriate content.  But in doing so, you also punish the responsible ones who have earned the privileges freedom grants.  And coming from a company that has long used its market position to build a monopoly because people do not realize what rights they are surrendering.

I don't care if Phone 7 is being geared up as the Next Big Thing (yeah, good luck catching up to Android).  I will not dev for it.  Even though I have no interest in designing any games that would be banned, I don't want to support some company's Big Brother agenda.  And besides, when it's that vague, you never know when it might be used against you....

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