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Author Topic: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?  (Read 34349 times)
Clay
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« Reply #15 on: July 23, 2001, 11:15:00 AM »

Quote

On 2001-07-23 14:41, Dav wrote:
Echoing the opinions of others, I am asking if this thread is about a) what art sells best (and under what circumstances) or b) what art is the "ethical high-ground"?  We all know what the high-ground is, even if we don't like to admit it.  


Dav,

I'd like to suggest that we're looking for the moral high ground here, and it's a bit uncertain.  I think that you addressed the issue of what art sells best very well.

There's certainly a moral position that some people would like us to take: depicting women in sexually suggestive art is bad and we shouldn't do it.  But it is also fascinating to lots of people--people who may be influenced to buy a product because of those depictions.

The issue at hands seems to be "How should game publishers incorporate this view?"  Because publishing is a business, the answer must take into account the market forces that you mention.  So we seem to be looking for the various aspects of the anti-cheesecake position that are compelling to various publishers.
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Clay Dowling
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hardcoremoose
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« Reply #16 on: July 23, 2001, 11:37:00 AM »

I may be deviating a bit from the thread here, but I want to bring up a couple points that I have personal experience with:

And why would, for example, the fantasy of experiencing a world in which you are NOT judged primarily by sexual grounds not be a legitimate fantasy for a female gamer?

I don't know why it wouldn't be, but it's not.  At least not with the women I've gamed with.  Now I'm sure this speaks to some sort of deeply-rooted psychological behavior permeating our civilization as a whole, but the women I've played games with always want their characters to be as overtly sexual as possible.  With the possible exception of the one female player in my current Sorceror game - and even her story is about the exploitation of women - most female gamers I know are always drawn to that Charisma score (or Appearance, if it's WW).  Where we male gamers know that Charisma is (traditionally) the Attribute to dump your lowest die roll, the females always place more significance on it.  A much more pervasive fantasy for the women I've been around is for them to make a character as sexually appealing as the rules will allow, and then play that character as unattainable.

Is this indicative of the female POV in general, or does it say something specifically about women who play RPGs?  Maybe it's just the women I've played games with.  I don't know the answers to these questions, but I think the observations are relevant.

BTW, has anyone ever read The Maxx.  There's a lot of interesting stuff in there about male and female relationships, in a format interesting to us geek types.

Take care,
Moose
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Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #17 on: July 23, 2001, 11:40:00 AM »

A quick two cents here. I work in the computer gaming industry on a first-person shooter project (Tribes 2, for what it's worth), and there's definitely pressure to put cheesecake in computer games. Mostly this comes from marketing, but a substantial number of our consumers (at least of our particular niche) want what they commonly term "sluttiness" in female models and voice talent, which I find pathetic. This issue seems parallel to that of portraying realistic violence in computer games. Is there a limit? Do certain depictions cause a quantum of harm to the public, whether political, psychological, etc.? If so, do we as producers have a civic duty to edit product so as to minimize the potential harm?

I agree with Ron that policy differs from personal ethics on this issue. The marketing arguments attempt to justify cheesecake as a pragmatic policy, but I have to question the assumptions being made in those arguments. Personally, I don't think cheesecake sells an RPG any more than it sells computer games. In short, if Tomb Raider's gameplay sucked, it wouldn't matter how many hours one could watch Lara Croft's well rounded digital posterior sway through the jungle. The game wouldn't have sold. Best-sellers like The Sims, Black & White, Diablo II, and Civilization have solid or creative gameplay, but zero cheesecake (in light of the kind of depictions we've discussed heretofore, even the female characters in Diablo don't qualify). Likewise, DnD 3e, though it may sell better than sliced bread -- and may have some cheesecake tucked away amid the beholder and displacer beast glossies -- it is not using cheesecake as a sales driver.

Best,

Blake

P.S. I accept that a few consumers may be attracted to check out a game by cheesecake cover art, and that some of those folks may purchase the game. I maintain that (1) these folks do not represent a substantial number of sales, and (2) they are equally likely to be attracted by any compelling cover art.



[ This Message was edited by: Blake Hutchins on 2001-07-23 20:30 ]
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contracycle
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« Reply #18 on: July 23, 2001, 01:13:00 PM »

> Could you explain how this is unhealthy or opressive, and > who is being harmed? It's also a feature of the very same > escapist literature that good men are handsome, always
> consider the desires and needs of their

It is interesting that the "good man", who carries out such virtuous acts, is an element of fantasy, i.e. is by implication non-existant in the real, non-fantastic world.

The problem is NOT that women ARE portrayed in a sexual or sexually provocative manner - it is that they are so CONSISTENTLY portrayed in this manner.  If RPG's were full of women doing normal things, looking like normal people, in other words, Normal Women, there would be no problem.  But if an RPG chooses that the ONLY images of women it will have (barring the dramatic necessity of the Hideous Crone) are the beautiful, tits-out-for-the-boys variety, then it appears that the consistency in this publication is precisely that of a normative, primarily sexual role for women.

"While men tend to gain social prestige as they age, the opposite is true for women who are given little real power at any age, and are frequently viewed as one dimensional sexual objects - thus losing our usefulness as we age." Manifesto of Riot Girl (Taken from Zines)

> wife/girlfriend/female colleague over their own needs,
> tender yet passionate lovers, and good providers. Should > we get rid of this concept as well? As someone whose
> economic situation is currently precarious, I feel
> opressed by this expectation.

Haven't you heard?  A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

The point behind this witticism is to critique the role of "provider"; considering that even today, women do two thirds of the worlds manual labour (UN figures), and that female skeletons are frequently found by archeologists to exhibit symptoms of heavy physical labour (bone deformation through water carrying a prime example), the idea of male-as-provider should be taken with a grain of salt; more like universal consumer.
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contracycle
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« Reply #19 on: July 23, 2001, 01:25:00 PM »

Dav said:

> Ethically (and basing business ethic on the maxim of "it > is the ethical position of any business to increase
> profits"),

Indeed.  And some of us might consider such a principle itself to be unethical.  Therefore we are unlikely to be impressed that oppression of women is rendered ethical merely because it increases profits, any more than we are impressed by the argument that slavery in the third world is "ethical" because it increases the profits of the first (as Nike would have it).
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contracycle
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« Reply #20 on: July 23, 2001, 01:28:00 PM »

> You'd rule out the validity of a game based on the bra
> size of the cover model? Would you purchase it instead if

Again, misrepresentation.  

> I put a scrawny and unattractive male on the cover? How
> about an attractive man in evening wear? Or an
> unattractive woman?

Irrelevant, unless you have such little faith in your product that you hope to sell it based on the trouser-swellings of the browsing public.
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Logan
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« Reply #21 on: July 23, 2001, 01:34:00 PM »

.

[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-07-23 20:53 ]
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Damocles
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« Reply #22 on: July 23, 2001, 03:29:00 PM »

Um. Okay. Let's take this one thing at a time.

Cut'n Paste and much quoting ahead, people. Brace yourselves.
--------------
Quote

On 2001-07-22 18:24, greyorm wrote:
Honestly, if the above is the way you feel, why say anything at all?  It's a jab; it's essentially, "I disagree, but you might be a fanatic, so I won't waste my time besides saying I disagree.  (Ha-ha, neener!  Deal with that!)"


Not so. I meant what I said, not what you say. It was not a rhetorical question, but a genuine one. I didn't bother to be very diplomatic about it, but given the tone of the original post I didn't feel a particular need to. If you can't take it, don't dish it out....

Quote

And conversely, if you want others to be open to changing their minds based on your presentation, you had best be willing to have your mind changed as well.

I am. I don't have a very rigid position on the whole issue, actually. On some aspects I have a very definite opinion, on others I am undecided. On all, I am open to reasonable arguments. Honestly.

Quote

So, in my case, what would convince me would be hard, solid, scientific evidence based on a variety of reputable studies that explains why and how your position is accurate, and also equally and accurately explains my own experiences with the issue (as detailed in the other thread) without belittlement or legedermain of those experiences.

And would you like fries with that, sir? :smile:
Seriously, that's practically asking for a serious scientific article on the subject. I'm afraid that, by those standards, I can't convince you of anything. My own demands, for conversations like this at least, are not quite as exacting, so maybe you can change my mind on some aspect or other of the question.

But try to chill out, eh? I'll try, too.

-------------------

Quote

On 2001-07-22 19:14, Clay wrote:
It isn't entirely untrue to say that I'm a fanatic, since I intend to marry one of the women that I described.

Just for the record: I never thought you were a fanatic. I merely suspected you were not actually out for a discussion, but just for a fight. Admittedly, not a flattering suspicion, but a far cry from fanatism, I think.
Quote


That said, I am really interested in hearing an argument that can successfully refute the first four of my points.  

'kay.
Quote

It's also worth pointing out that I'm not necessarily supporting cheesecake for the sake of cheesecake.  But I do appreciate the art of Raphael Vargas, Boris Valejo, Julie Bell and other fantasy artists who seem to have captured what it is about the human form that intrigues us.  To put it more plainly, I like the photography in Playboy, and don't care for Penthouse.


Surprisingly enough, I don't have a problem with that at all. I do disagree with some of your initial points, though. Now, I may be repeating some stuff others have said about this, and I'm sorry for any redundancy, but I think at this point I should at least try to make my own position as clear as possible.

---------------------
Quote

On 2001-07-22 16:36, Clay wrote:
I'm interested in taking up this thread about how women are depicted in gaming.  In particular, I want to assert that it may at times be appropriate to show some cheesecake.

1. Some women (and men) are quite capable of exercising power through their sexuality.  Think of Madame Mertuile from Dangerous Liasons as a fictional example, or Mata Harri for a historical example.

That's pretty undeniable, I guess, but I don't really see how this applies to cheesecake art in rpgs. You could just as easily say there are a lot of potatos in the world, therefore it is reasoable for a rpg to show lots of pictures of potatoes.
I guess I just don't see the argument to refute here. Might be me, of course.
(As an aside, I don't really picture either of those characters as swing an oversized sword and wearing a chain mail bikini.)

Quote

2. Appealing to the fantasies of gamers is not only acceptable, but essential to the concept of gaming--we don't game to portray Bob (or Julie) the Janitor, after all.


This is, to my mind, not a good argument. For one thing, the term 'fantasies of gamers' is way, way to broad. Additionally, you seem to be arguing: We need fantasies. This a fantasy, therefore we need it. That's nonsense. Obviously, you don't want to include every kind of fantasy any gamer might have.

Quote

3. Stocking books with pictures of ugly people isn't going to do anything for sales.

Astoundingly enough, I distinctly remember seeing art that was not ugly _and_ did not show scantily clad warrior babes at several times in my life. Sometimes even in rpg books. You're just building up a convenient straw man and then tear it down. Nobody ever suggested doing books with 'pictures of ugly poeple'.
Also, I don't think this matters as much for sales as you think. Call of Cthulhu is, as I recall, mostly illustrated with pictures of ugly beings, if not strictly people, and I doubt a new edition with copious amounts of cheesecake would go over all that well with the fans.

Quote

4. I personally take offense to the idea that it's unrealistic or unflattering to portray large breasted, well-armed women as sensual.

I don't remember anybody saying that, but if they did I will agree they were wrong to do so.

Quote

The world is full of bossomy women and women who are well armed.  I can not only produce examples of both varieties, but the confluence of the two attributes.  I can also produce the men (all gamers) who can speak to the sensuality and sexual approachability of these women.

Well, maybe so. So what? What has this to do with the price of tea in china? Or with rpgs who chose, for some reason, to _only_ show this kind of women? (I exaggerate for dramatic effect.)
A rpg book in which every woman, or just every second woman is of this type, is in my opinion badly illustrated. It is also sexist because it offers only a very limited role for women (assuming the men depicted are not similar depicted in which case it get's more complicated.) Some female players may not mind this all too much for a number of reasons: They may be used to shrug away this kind of stuff. They may look beyond that to what else the actual game offers. They may just happen to like that role anyhow. In any case, it's not really a counter-example because nobody every argued that cheesecake art is completely and utterly off-putting to each and every woman.

Point 5 is not an argument, so I'll skip it.
--------------------
Quote

even her story is about the exploitation of women - most female gamers I know are always drawn to that Charisma score (or Appearance, if it's WW).  Where we male gamers know that Charisma is (traditionally) the Attribute to dump your lowest die roll, the females always place more significance on it.

I never noticed anything like that, but assuming you're right, that doesn't necessarily mean they are doing it so that their characters are sexually attractive. Another explanation, which I would actually find more plausible, could be that women are _generally_ more drawn to the social aspects of roleplaying. Talking instead of fighting. Charisma is (again traditionally) the one attribute that is any good for that.

Quote

A much more pervasive fantasy for the women I've been around is for them to make a character as sexually appealing as the rules will allow, and then play that character as unattainable.


I think you're assuming a lot there. For one thing, wanting to look as good as possible does not necessarily mean wanting to be sexually appealing as such. There are all kinds of possible other reasons.

Quote

know the answers to these questions, but I think the observations are relevant.

I agree, though I'm not convinced you can really generalize from them.
------

So this were the replies, but I'm not quite done blathering yet. Let me just state my own position on the subject again.

I don't object to cheesecake art or, in fact, to pornographic art as such.
I do however believe that it is used in rpgs way more often than appropriate for the games, and that, taken in context, it often contributes to a sometimes subtle sexist atmosphere that is off-putting to many potential female gamers. (I also believe that this, in the long run, weighs more heavily than the sales boost you get from having T&A art.)
I do not advocate that this should be solved by coercive measures or censorship of any kind. I feel I have to say this, because this is a frequent misunderstanding in these discussions. When I am saying "I think you shouldn't do this" I do not mean at all "I think you should not be allowed to do this."
Anyhow. I hope this cleared up something for someone. I promise any further posts from me on the subject will be concise to the point of reticience. In fact, at the moment I feel only up to answering yes/no questions at best, and that only barely.

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GreatWolf
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« Reply #23 on: July 23, 2001, 03:47:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-07-23 13:25, Ron Edwards wrote:
Hello,

Warning: the following point is guaranteed to annoy.


Hate to disappoint you.  :smile:

Seriously, while I intend to disagree with you below, please understand that I am not annoyed.

Quote

Ethics are not policies. Ethics are about what *I* am going to do, or do habitually. Policies (and politics, the making of policy) are about what *others,* that is , *groups* are enforced to do.




Quote

On the first thread about these matters, I asked where the big "should" was coming from. "Should" women be drawn like this in games. "Should" we buy such a game. And so on.

My claim is that, in this case, the "should" remains an expression of a personal ethic. As there is neither body politic, economic control, nor any means of enforcement, it cannot be considered a transitive, policy-level "should."


(I don't think that the snip takes this out of context.  If
so, I will adjust.)

Okay, now this is guaranteed to annoy.

I believe that the "should" comes from the ethical standards that God requires us to uphold.  One of those is that we ought not present a temptation to sin to another.  I do think that cheesecake art is a temptation to lust (at least for most).  The Seventh Commandment says, "Do not commit adultery."  In His commentary on this commandment in Matthew 5, Jesus states that if a man lusts after a woman in his heart, he has already committed adultery with her.  Thus, the state of the mind is what is at issue, not merely who you sleep with.  Cheesecake art is intended to encourage the viewer to lust, and therefore it is wrong.

(Aside:  Yes, I think that sex is good in the proper context, i.e. marriage.  I am married with three children, so you know that I don't abstain.  :wink:  I know that there are many who treat sex as a distasteful thing.  I most certainly do not.)

Now, I can guarantee that many of you will not like this idea.  However, a question was asked and I offer an answer.  I should note that Ron is quite correct in asking for a source of authority.  None of you are my superiors.  You aren't my boss or my governor or anything.  Neither am I your superior.  We are all equals here and unless I can appeal to appropriate authority, I have no right to tell you what to do.  As far as I know, God does not proscribe metaplot in RPGs.  Most of you know my thoughts on the matter, but if you intend to metaplot one of your games, then I have no authority to tell you that you "should" do it without a metaplot.  However, God does indeed proscribe lust, and therefore I can tell you that you "should" avoid using art that encourages lust, not because I say so, but because God says so.

I am fully willing to discuss this with anyone who is interested.  However, I do not wish to clog this forum with what will most likely become an off-topic conversation.  Therefore, feel free to private message me or drop me a line.  I am busy but I will do my best to converse with you in a calm and intelligent way.

Quote

P.S. My above argument cannot be analogized to issues that ARE at the "body politic" level. For instance, a person who claims that policies regarding prosecuting crimes of rape is "an individual ethic" is a moron. I'd appreciate it if no one were to ascribe such a view to me.


Quite understood and I did not see that in your post at all.


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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
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Supplanter
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« Reply #24 on: July 23, 2001, 05:32:00 PM »

Quote
Okay, now this is guaranteed to annoy.


Annoy? I'm too astonished that a guy with the first name "Seth" and the last name "Ben-Ezra" is quoting the New Testament to be annoyed! :wink:

Quote
I do however believe that it is used in rpgs way more often than appropriate for the games, and that, taken in context, it often contributes to a sometimes subtle sexist atmosphere that is off-putting to many potential female gamers. (I also believe that this, in the long run, weighs more heavily than the sales boost you get from having T&A art.)


I tend to think it's the appalling treatment that many female gamers have experienced during play that bulks larger. Now you may have an argument that cheesecake art in games tends to draw revenge-minded sexists.

Over on GO, we've been kicking around the idea that gamers are disproportionately alienated from the body, physical sensation and the fleshy world generally. I think there's something to it. Thus too many gamers find that real chicks make them uncomfortable. Thus they become assholes. I suspect they would be assholes regardless of whether there was cheesecake art in their game books.

Best,


Jim
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #25 on: July 23, 2001, 08:35:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-07-23 21:32, Supplanter wrote:
Quote
Okay, now this is guaranteed to annoy.


Annoy? I'm too astonished that a guy with the first name "Seth" and the last name "Ben-Ezra" is quoting the New Testament to be annoyed! :wink:



:grin:

Well, my father's father is Jewish, but my father's mother was Puerto Rican and both of my mother's parents were Swedish.

Hmm.  I guess that technically makes me a freak.  :razz:  That might also explain why I've never really understood racism.  Ah well.


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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #26 on: July 24, 2001, 10:50:00 AM »

Seth,

I do understand your point about the role of God in ethics and policy. However, many folks take the viewpoint that relying on such an authority is not an acceptable policy-making standard. As you know, this is the basis for separation of church and state, and it applies to my above points about RPGs as well as to anything else. It is not against the law to sin.

Debate over whether that is a good thing is clearly a personal e-mail sort of issue.

I remain convinced that any "should" regarding breasts or any other putative indicator of sexiness or sexism in RPGs resides at the level of personal ethic, without compelling power over any other person. As I said before, this is based on the fact that role-playing design doesn't exist in an enforceable, policy-making context.

Of course, person-to-person convincing is always a fine thing, and I have no problem with (for instance) Contracycle or Damocles taking this approach, or (for instance) Clay taking this approach. But such discussion remains one person convincing another, not establishing a community-level policy.

Best,
Ron

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Clay
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« Reply #27 on: July 24, 2001, 11:17:00 AM »

So far, we've established that some people are concerned that T&A art might put some people off.  I haven't noticed any female voices speaking on this point (my apologies if I have mis-identified any genders--my normal visual identification method is non-functional in a text-only forum), so this concern may be more male angst than the actual voice of the female gamer.

Are there any female gamers out there who would like to chime in here?  Do you find the cheesecake puts you off games?  Do you actually run into much of it?

To be honest, most of the games that I have don't tend to run long on cheesecake.  My hope with my own game(s) that I can at least get female pictures in there.  They aren't going to look like pictures out of Playboy (I can't afford a photographer who's that good), but they aren't going to exactly be from Faith magazine, either.

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Clay Dowling
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Dav
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« Reply #28 on: July 24, 2001, 11:29:00 AM »

WARNING: This is off topic.  I warn you now.  Stop reading if you don't want to deal with it.  I'll accept no pissiness by those who read this then complain that it is off topic.  I told you in the beginning.  Just move on to the next post.


contracycle

waaaay up a few threads you mentioned the questionable position of ethics=profits in business.

I just wanted to mention that these are in no way my own words being stated.  I am quoting from the greats here (P.T. Barnum as well as others who have used the quote quite often, historically).  However, the ultimate point of that quote is that should businesses increase profits, then it can afford more workers, who will dump more $$ into the consumer pool, which means more taxes, which means more interest groups with $$, which means public goods are on the rise.

The point, essentially, is that as long as business does what it does best, everything should balance.

In the case of Nike and slave labor (which is a misnomer, as they *are* paid), these people make .50 per day.  However, in the areas they make that money, a cop makes about $8 per week (I had to do a paper on this, so don't think I am furiously studying here folks...).  A cop is a specialized occupation, unlike a factory line worker.  The line worker makes $3 per day (six-day work week).  In the U.S, the average cop makes $45k to 95k per year.  The average factory line worker makes about $25k per year.  Thus, equality is maintained.  

In economic terms, most income is measured on the PPP scale, which stands for something... but think of it as purchasing power).  Thus, the two groups make the same amounts (roughly) in terms of purchasing power.  Thus, Nike is not doing anything wrong (ethically or otherwise).  They follow all laws of the country, pay equal to above average wages for that area, and insure that these people have the outlets to purchase goods with their money.  In some cases, Nike has built entire towns to support a commercial lifestyle around their factory.  

This is very off-topic.  I suggest we go to private message if you want to discuss this.  This is actually one of my majors in school, as well as one of my many interests, so forgive me if I went nuts on length and such in the post.

Dav
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GreatWolf
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« Reply #29 on: July 24, 2001, 03:25:00 PM »

Quote

On 2001-07-24 14:50, Ron Edwards wrote:
Seth,

I do understand your point about the role of God in ethics and policy. However, many folks take the viewpoint that relying on such an authority is not an acceptable policy-making standard. As you know, this is the basis for separation of church and state, and it applies to my above points about RPGs as well as to anything else. It is not against the law to sin.


With all due respect, Ron, I think that you are missing my point.  First, I am talking about a personal ethic.  I would simply argue that God defines what is and is not an acceptable personal ethic.

Moreover, you will note that in my post I made no mention of opinion.  In fact, my argument is fairly syllogistic.  My statements about cheesecake art and the acceptability thereof were statements of fact, not opinion.  It is true that God forbids adultery.  It is also true that lust is included under "adultery".  It s wrong to encourage another person to sin.  Cheesecake art encourages lust.  Therefore it is forbidden.  I know that you see the logical flow.  Each proposition can be supported with a factual basis.  Where is the opinion?

Rather, you restate your opinion to me.  I understand that your view is rather common and that many on this forum probably agree with you.  Nevertheless, you have not come to grips with the factual basis of the argument.  I know that someone as opposed to post-modernism (as am I) will not be satisfied to leave the issue with a mere "Believe what you will."  I am making claims of truth, not opinion, and truth is never just an opinion.

To analogize:  I say, "Gravity makes things fall.  If you drop that glass bowl, it will fall to the floor and shatter."  Someone saying "Well, that's just your opinion," does not invalidate the truth of what I have just said.  Rather, it makes that someone incorrect.

I wanted to note this on the forum so that no one will mistake the argument that I am making.  I am willing to pursue this further on this forum insofar as it remains on topic.  I do not wish to contribute to what would become a massive thread drift.  Generalities can be taken up with me in email or private messages.

Thanks for listening and hope to hear from ya'll.

Seth

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Seth Ben-Ezra
Dark Omen Games
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