If the creator of a pervy game turns out to be a perv, is that art imitating life?
If you’ve followed anything I’ve written for CheatCC in the past, you know that I bang the drum against gaming violence. Not that I think games are too violent mind you, but rather the insentient need for the media to blame games for said violence. It’s always easier to point at a game as the scape goat, hoping to show how those involved were just acting out what they saw in a game. The argument will always be that (whether with games, movies or music) people behave in a certain way due to the influences of their environment. The content they're exposed to supposedly guides their thinking. While I don’t subscribe to that reasoning, a recent sex scandal that comes directly from the world of gaming makes for interesting fodder for this debate.
Now, allow us to explore the seedy world of Leisure Suit Larry and the latest controversy.
OK, now I’m going to tell you right from the jump that this story gets a little convoluted once the he said/she said gets started, but I’ll do my best to give you the big picture. If you’re not familar with Leisure Suit Larry, he got his start in the late 80s in an adult themed gamed where he attempts to pick up women. Pretty tame by today’s standards, but it retained a certain level of novelty and nostalgia for some. This led to a recent Kickstarter campaign raising over half a million bucks to get the original game retooled and released as “” this past year by Replay Games.
Enter the CEO of Replay Games, Paul Trowe, which is where the scandal springs from.
Cutting to the chase, Trowe recently stepped down from his position after taking a plea deal that saw him receiving two years’ probation and sex offender counseling due to an incident in 2012. The story goes that Trowe was involved in a sexual relationship with a young man. The younger gentleman, at this point not yet identified as a minor, also had a girlfriend (who was a minor). The charges stem from Trowe apparently showing the young girl a video of her boyfriend performing oral sex on an unknown (albeit older) man. Now, the rest of the story shakes out a little differently depending on who you ask. The girl claims the video was unsolicited while Trowe claims the girl started harassing him after she learned of the affair, to which he merely wanted to prove to her that her boyfriend was being unfaithful. He claims she asked for the video, she claims not, yada yada.
Regardless of the specifics and how the details play out, one thing is fact: Trowe took a plea deal to avoid a messy court drama and his company’s name (as well as the Leisure Suit Larry license) being drug through the mud. However, he still maintains his innocence in not knowing she was underage (so take that for what it’s worth).
So we’re left wondering, with most video game controversies involving real world violence, do sex scandals reflect on us in the same way?
Actually, I think a better question would be: why do people in the media love to generalize a whole population? This is the height of hypocrisy if you ask me. I’ve seen stories about this scandal on both the ultra-liberal MSNBC and the right-wing Fox News Channel. As much as they hate each other, both presented the same hook: “perverted games are made by perverts.” These are supposedly people with journalist integrity. They would never generalize on their news programs about other cultural groups. If a reporter came out and blamed a five car pileup on the fact that Asians are bad drivers, how long would it be till he or she was fired? Yet somehow, when it comes to the realm of gaming, it’s OK to generalize. I guess it’s impossible for a perfectly sane and healthy person to enjoy a violent game without hacking his neighbor up into tiny pieces. Surely, if someone enjoys some form of adult entertainment, they must be a sick and depraved individual! No self-respecting member of society could possibly lower themselves to such seedy indulgences.
Most people remember the iconic Nicholson line from A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth," but I think Kevin Bacon’s line is more apropos in this case. In response to Tom Cruise's character, Bacon says, “Don't you dare lump me in with Jessup and Kendrick just because we wear the same uniform.” I think that goes double here. Don’t lump us in.
One sick shit-head shooting up his school after a Call of Duty session doesn’t make ME a danger, nor does it make YOU a pervert for wanting to play an adult-themed game (just because the CEO may be one).