We All Know

In my quest to find a way to view my Call of Duty: Black Ops II emblems online and download them in all their wasted as much time making them as I did skinning cars in Forza glory, I came upon this blog post by Dan Amrich, community manager over at Activision…

I’ve Had Enough of Your Black Ops II Emblem Nonsense

Here’s the long and short of it. An emblem is an image you create within the game using the shapes and characters provided. It’s tied to your profile and displayed in a few places.

It should (sadly) come as no surprise that players have been making emblems that aren’t so kosher in spite of it being against the terms of service, and emblems aren’t moderated before going live, so other players can see them straight away.

Players creating the offending emblems don’t like that they can be banned from access to the feature as a result, players offended by the emblems are upset that they continue to see them, and this all gets directed at the folks who made the game or the folks expected to listen to the player community.

Like Dan.

I know two things about myself: I don’t belong on message boards and I should avoid reading comments posted on blogs and articles whenever possible. Why?

Because shit gets on my nerves and when shit gets on my nerves, odds are good that I might write about it. Unfortunately, I read the comments anyway.

Shit That Got On My Nerves No. 1

I’m all for playing the devil’s advocate, but not one person arguing that this is a matter of opinion is oblivious to whether or not something is generally considered offensive. The same goes for the people creating the type of emblems in question.

Call someone a fugly bitch and we’ll all more or less interpret it the same way. We may not agree on how severe an insult it is and we may not agree on whether it’s funny or not, but none of us would mistake it for a compliment.

That’s the important part.

So let’s dispense with pretending we’re clueless when it comes to which words and images are no-nos and acting like the terms stated are so impossibly vague:

Any user who creates an emblem with sexually gratuitous images, racially offensive material or foul language is subject to penalty. Minor offense: User will be temporarily banned from using the Emblem Editor, and all emblems will be reset to default. Extreme or repeat offenses: User will be permanently banned from using the Emblem Editor, and all emblems will be reset to default.

Huh?
Is that Latin?

Players who complain about being banned for these emblems and rage about why already know why. They’re just mad they didn’t get away with it.

And I feel for Dan for having to field these obnoxious outcries, especially from those pretending to be blissfully ignorant of what they’ve done.

If the emblems were cryptic glyphs that kinda resembled bare tits being jizzed on but also kinda looked like a duck with a briefcase or included phrases and symbols with several common meanings so we can’t say for sure which was intended, that’d be one thing.

But the kind of emblems we’re talking about – the ones we’re actually seeing, not these hypothetical ambiguous ones – are obviously inappropriate and obviously violate the terms we all agreed to follow.

Can we stop claiming otherwise just to make a point?

Regardless of what’s offensive or not to you personally, we all know a penis shooting sperm isn’t gonna cut the emblem mustard. We all know words like fuck and cunt and phrases like suck my dick are considered foul language.

And we all know i h8 niggerz over a figure in a white hood isn’t some guy professing his distaste for a dish that just happens to be called niggerz and is traditionally served on a white napkin with a triangular fold that resembles a Klansman’s hood.

We all know.

So let’s be real with each other for a minute because now that we’ve covered what we all know, we can talk about what it seems some of us don’t.

Shit That Got On My Nerves No. 2

There’s a difference between maturity and mature, and it’s not just conjugation. Something labeled “mature” is deemed appropriate for an older group. That doesn’t mean it’s appropriate in every setting.

Maturity is the quality needed to make that distinction.

When players argue that the type of emblems we’re on about are acceptable because the game is rated M, I wonder if they’re mature enough to recognize why that reasoning is flawed.

So you’re old enough to be exposed to mature speech and subject matter. Does that give me a free pass to say, “I hope your cum-guzzling whore of a mother is raped, faggot”? Does the rating of the game we’re in when I say it make addressing you that way appropriate?

Of course not.

In the same token, the fact that many players are old enough to see a graphic of a dolphin being sodomized or the phrase fuck black kids next to a brown figure being lynched doesn’t mean that content is okay.

The fact that the game has a rating of mature subject matter and speech within the game itself doesn’t change that.

Shit That Got On My Nerves No. 3

Some argue that complaining about emblems is stupid because you have to go out of your way to see them. I wouldn’t consider pressing right on the d-pad or pressing back then y to be all that “out of the way”, and there’s the small matter of emblems showing in the killcam regardless.

But I’ll bite.

A guy is in the cereal aisle of your grocery store, balls out, whacking it like every stroke is another dollar in his pocket. You report it to the manager because you don’t want to see that, you figure other people don’t want to see that, and God forbid someone shopping with their kids in tow stumbles upon it, their Ken dolls are gonna learn a new trick.

The manager shrugs and says, “Whatever. You have to go out of your way to see him. Don’t go down the cereal aisle if you’re so upset about it.”

Would you consider that an appropriate response?

What if you want to buy cereal? Is it fair that you either have to deprive yourself of your Frosted Flakes or risk seeing that guy’s shenanigans when he shouldn’t even be there?

Is it right that those visiting the store for the first time will probably bump into him because they don’t know where things are or what to expect?

Let’s say the manager is actually good at his job and promptly has the jerk(er) removed from the premises. Wouldn’t you still be annoyed it even happened in the first place? Wouldn’t you reflect on the world we live in, funny in a sad way, if it happened over and over again?

Even if you weren’t all that disturbed or outraged by it, wouldn’t you still wish you could go one day without seeing it? Just one lousy trip to the store without Whacker Jack making an appearance?

Would you feel that’s too much to ask, even if it’s too much to expect?

Players shouldn’t have to deny themselves the right to freely explore all of the features and content the game has to offer or stifle interaction with other players just to avoid content that shouldn’t exist. They should be free to enjoy what they paid for like everyone else.

And as difficult as it is for some to imagine, there are plenty of players who enjoy the game that much more when they’re not seeing emblems like these in every fucking match:

emblems

The sexual ones are juvenile and tired and the racist ones are irritating and shameful. Sure, players can stop “going out of their way” to look at emblems but unrelated actions would be affected by that, like sending messages, a friend request, or submitting rep, since emblems are displayed on the player card where you access those options in-game.

At least while in the lobby.

Point is, one way or another, players are going to see these emblems, and while it seems as if those who want to create whatever they like and those who don’t want to see them are on equal footing, the bottom line is, only one of those groups is in the right. And it’s not the group that’s violating the developer’s policies.

Since not creating inappropriate emblems is much easier than avoiding inappropriate emblems, the ball is in your court. This only continues to be an issue because you keep dropping it.

Shit That Got On My Nerves No. 4

It never ceases to amaze me just how self-entitled we’ve become. If those who fought and continue to fight for freedom of speech and expression got wind of the crappy reasons people try to exercise it these days, they’d shit themselves.

I don’t belong to the camp that believes freedom should have no limitations and that everyone should have equal rights. I believe that limitations allow for a civilized society and that the rights we’re given can be forfeit by our actions.

I also believe that any freedom or right we see fit to establish, even if ill-conceived and poorly-phrased, is meant for the benefit of society. To advance, progress, and flourish in our humanity and our means. Not to destroy what we sought to build, each other or ourselves.

Whether or not we’re always on that path, I do believe it’s the one we intend when we talk about freedom and rights, so when I see people demand those freedoms and rights for the sake of wanton disruption and division, it’s infuriating and frankly, an embarrassment.

When I see people invoke those freedoms and rights for the sake of their amusement at the prospect of dragging down what we struggle to create – namely, a better world for everyone in it – my contempt for it shows.

The selfishness and arrogance of it just kills me. Self-importance and prosperity has poisoned us with the luxury of hatefulness and vulgarity just because it’s something to do. It’s the satisfaction and humor we’ve taught ourselves to derive from causing upset. It’s the badge of honor that offending others has become.

This is no right we have the right to demand.
Not on our forefathers’ backs.

Adults have lost sight of the fact that freedoms and rights weren’t conceived of so that we could be dicks without repercussion, yet we’re shocked each time we discover that this upcoming generation thinks less of right and wrong than rights and want.

The notion of consequences escapes us now. Instead of not breaking the rules, we continue to break them and cry when we’re punished for it, learning nothing from being punished for it because in our minds, the rules are the problem.

I’m not the one causing trouble by posting offensive content!
You’re the one causing trouble by not allowing it! 

Right.

And rape is only wrong because it’s a crime.

I don’t expect players who’d even bother to defend their non-existent right to knowingly create inappropriate content they only want to create because it’s inappropriate to give a rat’s ass about any of the above.

I don’t expect players who want to create inappropriate content because these negative/destructive feelings consume them enough to be what they want to identify themselves by among strangers to give a rat’s ass about any of the above.

I don’t expect players who want to create inappropriate content because they’re desperate for attention or to impress their friends to give a rat’s ass about any of the above.

And I don’t expect players who create inappropriate content because they just don’t see anything wrong with it to give a rat’s ass about any of the above.

You can’t make someone understand that racist imagery repeatedly categorized as acceptable under the guise of humor or invocation of free speech contributes to the systematic normalization of hostility and disrespect towards a particular group.

You can’t make someone understand that constant exposure to and the peer expectation of participation in demeaning or gratuitous sexual attitudes, phrasing, and imagery is a reflection of our society’s damaged perceptions of gender and sexuality that contribute to the hypersexualization of our culture, which has in turn hypersexualized our youth.

You can’t make someone understand that our words and actions don’t occur in a vacuum. That everything we do in the face of one another is a part of our culture’s sum, perpetuating its flaws or diminishing them.

You can’t make someone understand these things if they aren’t willing, don’t agree, or just don’t care. But you can make them understand that this is the fucking rule.

If you abuse the feature they’ve given us by displaying content they said is prohibited, they’re free to remove your content and ban you from using the feature again. If you can’t understand, agree with, or accept anything else I’ve said, accept that, because you agreed to those terms when you played the fucking game.

You can call players “butt hurt” for being offended by your content all you like, but you’re not acting any less butt hurt that you can’t do what you want every time you whine about being banned for the emblems you’ve made.

Those offended players didn’t agree to be fed your cascade of cum shots, vulvae, and racism, but you did agree not to create that shit, so why don’t you stop being a “pussy” and get over it?

Shit That Got On My Nerves No. 5

This one should really be called shit that will get on my nerves because it hasn’t happened yet but it’s inevitable. Someone will use the fact that I wrote this post or the tone of it as an excuse to label me one of the wounded players with no sense of humor who takes life too seriously because it’s just a game and only the players creating offensive emblems understand that.

I could waste all day on a rebuttal. I don’t give two shits about who my honesty offends, I’m not exactly allergic to profanity, and my humor is often irreverent. I’m not a princess and I wasn’t born with a glass jaw.

I was born with a Daedric fist.

It takes a lot more to offend me than a drawing of a cock or some twit getting a kick out of hating on minorities, but I’m still capable of understanding why these things are inappropriate and how they negatively impact player experience.

When I come across an offensive emblem, I report it, not because I’m scarred by it, but because the developers were dumb enough to trust a community of gamers to moderate itself. The least I can do is help them make it better for all of us by using the tools they’ve given us to do it.

I do want to point out that a few people produced what I feel is the only valid argument opposing the rule. Why is there an objection to players creating offensive content when content falling under the prohibited categories exists within the game?

Whether you think it’s hypocritical or not, the standalone game content isn’t the same as player content, so let’s just chalk it up to the old parental mantra do as I say, not as I do, since it still boils down to the fact that them’s the rules.

Better yet, think of it this way…

The day that seeing a violent film at the movies entitles you to shoot your fellow moviegoers in the face will be the same day that playing a game with offensive language or imagery entitles you to unleash the same upon fellow players.

It’ll also be the day I beg NASA to get me the fuck off this planet.

Lesson being, the creative content we choose to indulge in doesn’t change what’s expected of us in real life.

If you won’t stop creating offensive emblems for all those pesky social reasons, stop because that’s what you agreed to do. Otherwise, accept being called on it or being slapped with a ban like the mature adults you aren’t.

And if you’re sick of coming across offensive emblems every match, be that much more diligent in reporting them and move on with your life. Flipping yourself off a bridge isn’t going to fix it and neither is calling people out in-game or on the web.

Shit That Got On My Nerves No. 6

This may come as a shock, but humor and creativity don’t dictate right from wrong. Something that’s offensive can be funny, clever or artistic, but it’s still offensive. When we forget that, we’ve screwed up.

And when something offensive takes a long time to do or demonstrates a great attention to detail, it doesn’t mean the person who made it deserves an A for effort. It means they deserve an F for that being what they chose to invest their time and talent in.

Don’t glorify going out of one’s way to be an asshole.

Finally, if you want to judge those who take offense to your emblems as being pathetic losers who need to get a life, I want you to take a look at yourselves and remember that you’re the ones who can’t enjoy a video game without drawing a dick.

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