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GP Exclusive - Interview with Modder behind Oblivion Controversy

It wasn't nearly Hot Coffee-level, but the ESRB's decision to re-rate The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion rocked the video game world when it was announced on May 3rd of this year.

As the ESRB would have it, the Oblivion decision was based upon "more detailed depictions of blood and gore than were considered in the original rating... as well as the presence in the PC version of the game of a locked-out art file that, if accessed by using an apparently unauthorized third party tool, allows the user to play the game with topless versions of female characters."

At the time there was much debate in the gaming community over the ESRB's action. The Elder Scrolls series enjoys an almost reverential status among fans of role-playing games. For its part, developer Bethesda went along with the decision, although a company press release expressed frustration with the ESRB, saying, "Bethesda Softworks made what it believes was a full, accurate, and comprehensive submission on Oblivion to the ESRB months before the game's release... Nothing was hidden from the ratings agency."

So what really happened?

GamePolitics has tracked down Maeyanie, the mysterious modder who created the topless Oblivion mod. Maeyanie is a bit photo-shy, but has allowed us to publish a 3-D self-portrait (seen at left). GP Correspondent Colin "Jabrwock" McInnes reconstructs the Oblivion controversy with Maeyanie in this revealing interview:

CM: First off, I just wanted to thank you for letting GamePolitics talk to you about the controversy surrounding The Elder Scrolls IV Oblivion.

Maeyanie: You're welcome.

CM: I guess we could start with some questions about you and your background. Where are you from?

Maeyanie: This is one I'm going to have to not answer. Let's leave it at "not USA."

CM: What kinds of games are you into? What are your favorite recent titles?
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Tags: bethesda, elder scrolls iv, esrb, interviews, maeyanie, modders, mods, oblivion, sex in games
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I am a bit blindsided by the lack of knowledge some posters and people in general have here. Those who are saying that the they agree with the rerating because the content was technically there are totally wrong. A developer should never have to spend extra time and money trying to circumvent modders and thinking of ways a modder could use their game.

What most people do not realize, is that this same type of mod could be applied to hundreds of different games, INCLUDING the sims (which is has, numerous times). Every character model is created in a mesh frame, then pasted a texture over. Most companies use a texture that include bra/panties pasted right on. Oblivion decided to use just underwear and not a bra, because the same underlying texture would be applied to the male character model too (which dosn't need a bra). Some modder just had to remove the second layer of "bra" on the female model and ta-da.. you have deformed looking tits.

Sure, this technically cannot be applied to movies as someone pointed out, but it dosn't make games evil because other people can modify the base software. With the hot coffee mod, it is partially understandable. It was infact a minigame that was "locked" away. This however was not an intentional pornographic game, but a regular object used in all games.

Plus I got to agree with the modder too. The US (and canada to an extent) is far too uptight about this stuff now. Way too hypocritical over these matters. When I can see britany pregnant and naked in a magazine, yet cant see a modified, partially deformed model of a naked argonian, its just bizarre.
What most people do not realize, is that this same type of mod could be applied to hundreds of different games, INCLUDING the sims (which is has, numerous times). Every character model is created in a mesh frame, then pasted a texture over. Most companies use a texture that include bra/panties pasted right on. Oblivion decided to use just underwear and not a bra, because the same underlying texture would be applied to the male character model too (which dosn't need a bra). Some modder just had to remove the second layer of "bra" on the female model and ta-da.. you have deformed looking tits.

If you read some of the posts here, you would realize that many people believed the game should have been M anyway for its violent content. The mod was most likely used as a cover story to rerate the game without making Bethsda look like it conned the ESRB into giving its violent game a T rating.


Plus I got to agree with the modder too. The US (and canada to an extent) is far too uptight about this stuff now. Way too hypocritical over these matters. When I can see britany pregnant and naked in a magazine, yet cant see a modified, partially deformed model of a naked argonian, its just bizarre.

Hear, hear. I just don't understand the logic that it's okay to shoot someone in the face in a video game (unless they're a cop), yet it's not okay to see boobies in that same game. I mean, come on, who wouldn't want to see some Argonian porn. ;)

Re: Yep..

scazza

12 years ago

Re: Yep..

terminator44

12 years ago

Re: Yep..

maeyanie

12 years ago

Re: Yep..

scazza

12 years ago

Screened comment

Ya know, I was unable to post your comment due to the last line.

Please see our comments policy: http://gamepolitics.livejournal.com/304849.html

Thx,

GP
I can see both sides of the arguement...

When originally rated, the game was rated appropriately. However, when you buy this game for yourself, or anyone else with any degree of computer litteracy, you expose them to all custom content created. This makes the game potentially deserving of a higher rating.

Though this isn't a solution as it creates more anger among the older users. Now what would be appropriate is leglislation on the mod-publishing sites to conform mods to their respective ratings. But then where do you draw the line wiht personal freedom and the deformation of intellectual property (this rerating has modified the audience that the developer would previously have gained).

A tricky issue, but one that's very challenging to resolve... What can you do?
2 problems with that...

1. Xbox360 version was re-rated and had no access to those types of mods.

2. How can you police the internet? It is impossible. Plus like you said, anyone with some time on their hands could create the same mod... in Oblivion, or even The Sims. In space games, that come with ship editors, I could make giant penis shaped space ships... should those games get a hire category?

Modding in any way, shape or form should never have a bearing on the rating of a game, as even the most innocent of games can be modded to include pornographic stuff, it really isn't that hard.

What about a NEW descriptor. You know how under the M or T rating, is a bunch of "Sexual content, Mild Language" how about "Moddable" with a little "*" beside it and a lil info blurb saying "game may be user modded to include content not forseen by the developer."

Technically it have to be on EVERY PC game to an extent. But games with tools bundled in the box/online from the developer should be required to have this rating descriptor.

chaosepoch

12 years ago

scazza

12 years ago

chaosepoch

12 years ago

scazza

12 years ago

chaosepoch

12 years ago

jamesweis

12 years ago

Either modders have to stop making mods that they know are going to cause problems for game developers and the industry, or politicians and important players in the gaming industry need to stop being so god-damned strait-laced. This is really growing more and more ridiculous as time goes on.

I'd prefer if the latter occurred, because last time I checked, third-party mods are out of a developer's control, and therefore not thier fault. It's the same as if a company builds and sells a car to someone who outfits it with a rocket launcher. Who's fault would that be? The people who built the car or the guy that built the weapon for it?

Jack Thompson is the most unprofessional man I've ever spoken to, by the way. I'll leave it at that.
Jack Thompson is the most unprofessional man I've ever spoken to, by the way. I'll leave it at that.

I think we can all pretty much agree on that.

As for the mod, I agree with everything that was said in the interview. Even though I am not a modder myself I have respect for those who mod games because I mostly play games (on the PC) where modding the game is common or even encourged (like the Sims and The Sims 2). Modders like, Maeyanie and others are very talented programmers that are able to tailor and customize their game in their own way and want to share their talent with others, like and artist.

However, I haven't played the game yet (I don't have a 360 yet and my compy just barely runs the Sims 2 and it's expansions) so I don't know how violent the violence is in the game. I think it was fine that it was rerated but from what I hear, I think it was for the wrong reason.

-Auto
http://www.2theadvocate.com/news/3357261.html

The second page had some irony as GP just ran a story about this person a couple of weeks ago:

State Sen. Mike Michot said he has seen a change in his son, Mikie, 11.

He said Mikie talks about wanting to be a military engineer when he grows up.

“I think he sees the whole GameCamp! experience has brought to light how playing games can translate into a university curriculum,” Michot said.
thx, Bear!

Checking that story out now. You may see it again sometime.

;-)

GP
I don't really have much to contribute to this (especially since I haven't played this series) but it was probably the best choice to re-rate, given that I've heard so much about the amount of blood in the game that it should've been rated M initially anyway.

What to really say? Stuff like this happens, unfortunate for the modder who was used as a scapegoat, but all-in-all, let's just hope that none of the other companies start to re-rate their games on something so trivial.

Honestly, people - the human body is not evil, and while I don't think we need to flaunt it frivolously, it was just a little modder enjoying the game and goofing off; blood is the only reason I can guess at the rating change being good (again, haven't played).
I dont see what the big deal is

I mean its not sexual as stated many times before, its realistic

I mean the only difference between a shirtless guy and a shirtless girl is boobs...usually that is a big deal (well to guys anyway),but this is a freakin video game.
America seems not to be mind slaughter, but they're afraid of any nudity. Probably due to their blood-soaked past.
I find it interesting that no one has brought this point up:
It is easier to just find porn on the internet than to mod your favorite RPG to include a nude skin. So if your kid is installing nude skins it probably means he has been looking at porn, which is 999999999999 times easier to find and view than installing a topless mod.
wait... porn? ...on the Internet?
If anyone should be held accountable for the access of the nudity acquired by this mod it should be the sites that allow it to be downloaded without an adult content agreement. But I do agree that the "M" rating is justified due to the blood/gore.

Then again maybe society should lighten up and realize that the human form is nothing to be ashamed of. Sad that death and violence are more acceptable in today's society than breasts.
well I can't understand what the problem is? firstly if any teens want this game/mod rating it M isn't really going to help, because even if the parents won't buy the game for their kids, there are tons of other ways for them to get the game and mods. Secondly in order to get the mod you need internet access and if you have that the chances of kids downloading this mod just to see naked women is slim when there are tons of other material on the net. The whole thing stinks of politics to me. "lets make it look like we're doing something useful for once" is more the message alot of us are getting. As for the violence in the game.... I've seen worse on the 6pm news. no wander so many kids are messed up these days the inconsistency of morality in our society is scary to say the least. Let em change the rating I say, it will only lead to intelligent parents distrusting the ratings in the future.
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