The news is that some supreme court, perhaps even the Supreme Court wrote an opinion that generally stays regulating and censorious hands from videogame production. In general, and in keeping with my political orientation, that's the sort of opinion I like and live comfortably with. If you don't like the sex and violence in videogames, learn how to fish, you moron. Which is rather like me saying if you don't like Alabama, move to Kentucky - understanding that the argument augers poorly for the government role (or the elite's role) in keeping pornographers in their place, and tough beans if you can't afford a bus ticket to Louisville.
Here's the thing. Have you ever seen real people shooting at each other? How about a compound fracture? Have you ever videotaped ugly people having sex? These are all distasteful matters that serve no narrative purpose. They would be like War TV. The portrayal of sexual or violent acts for the purposes of entertainment are very different from the real thing. We could probably air several seasons worth of Mythbusters on porno alone. While the research is still out for establishing some Clockwork Orange standard of human revulsion, there is something that I know to be true. There are things that we might watch that will give us the creeps and by them we will know immediately what is off limits.
Let us call that moment disgust.
In fact there is research on the human emotion of disgust, and if I've read that small bit I've encountered correctly, we associate disgust with either anger or fear. Both of these emotions, according to that research are correlated with harsher moral judgment. When we are angry or afraid, we tend to be more harsh judges - like the intimidated poor woman in the nice shop who more harshly hushes her child.
So does the offensive portrayal of sex make you angry or fearful? Do you want to go in and slap that person or do you shudder and screw up your face? Eww! That's disgusting. Does looking at it make you want to vomit? Interesting how morality is informed by your physical reaction.
Every true gamer will remember the first time playing the legendary Call of Duty recreation of the Normandie invasion. You get killed so many times over such a short period that it breaks your expectation of the powers you are expected to have in a videogame entertainment. The same is true of Silent Hill, a horror title that was perfectly uneventful for a good 15 minutes of gameplay, lulling you into a false sense of security but keeping you tingly all the while. In San Andreas, I resented that the game kept rewarding me for being evil - the only way to win is to do bad, in a purely unsentimental badass fashion. These are variations of extremes that push the envelope. But how often was the experience disgusting?
Well, that depends. Comedian Louis CK cracks wise on 'white people complaining'. The man who whines that the Starbucks barista has got his coffee order wrong. The situation in which people can gain sympathy for having their airplane flights delayed. I too am very much aggravated by the whining of the dainty. In fact they disgust me more often than not.
I say we are obligated to criminalize that which is immoral to the extent that it is reasonable to police society. In our history of common law, I think we have a fair handle on what kind of sexual or violent behavior requires us to call the cops. Beyond that, I'm afraid that other social institutions and individuals have fallen down on their jobs. And it is a right and a good thing to bemoan that failure, but that doesn't make it appropriate to add a greater burden on policing.