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Pedopriest on Kongregate

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Hey everyone,

Let’s have a discussion. Molleindustria uploaded a game a while ago on Kongregate called “Operation: Pedopriest.” While the game itself spoke out against pedophilia and cover-ups done by the Catholic church, some users on Kongregate felt that the game was inappropriate both for its content and for its depictions of the acts in question.

The game was also uploaded onto Newgrounds. It was featured on the front page and received pretty good reviews. Here on Kongregate, it was downvoted and trashed to the point where the developer decided to remove the game without any coercion on my part. You can still play it on Newgrounds and view the removed file on Kongregate.

I realize that the tone of Newgrounds and Kongregate are very different. While I have respect for the Newgrounds community, I don’t aspire to follow in their footsteps in terms of acceptable content and user behavior. However, I felt that not featuring Pedopriest and allowing our users to essentially hide the game by downvoting it was enough. I personally decided not to remove the game entirely, and I instructed moderators on Kongregate to leave molleindustria’s account untouched.

I was met with a fair amount of disagreement over my decision. Some users and moderators demanded that the game be removed. In fact, I’m still getting requests to remove the file saying that the game has been removed. I’d rather not, as I think that the message that molleindustria left is important — that they game was removed by the developer’s decision and not mine.

But I’m interested in hearing what the community has to say, as I feel that I’m only hearing one side of the story — the side that wanted the game removed. I haven’t heard from the side that would’ve been upset at the censorship, as obviously this side had no reason to speak out.

So voice your opinions here. Was the game appropriate or not? Should I have removed it? Should molleindustria have had its account banned entirely? And should I remove the current file on the site? How do you feel about the balance between freedom of expression and keeping the site “clean”? The balance between developers’ rights and users’ rights?

 
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I hate censorship so much. If you don’t like this, then stay the heck out. You shouldn’t ruin everyones fun cause someone got their “FeelINSS hurt 1 lol cry”. I loved this game, made it a 5/5, but no, people had to get anal about it. – .-"""""""

 
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So voice your opinions here. Was the game appropriate or not? No, it wasn’t appropriate. Not because of the content, but because of the issues it caused. It’s better off of the site, for the welfare of the community.

Should I have removed it? Yes, like I said, for the community. The game itself wasn’t the problem, it was the way it irked the community. It’s better to have a happy community, and removing one game (a very controversial, trouble-causing game) is nothing to write home about.

Should molleindustria have had its account banned entirely? No, definitely not. It was a game, and as controversial and irritating as it may have been, it was media just as movies, TV shows and books are.

And should I remove the current file on the site? No, alot of people don’t even know about the file, and though the game may be removed there’s no reason to burn out any existence of the game. If people want to play it, THEY will be the people going to that file. There’s no reason to complain about it, it’s not causing any harm.

How do you feel about the balance between freedom of expression and keeping the site “clean”? To me, freedom of expression is encouraged to a point. If the freedom of expression causes havoc all around the site, it should be stopped. The site is like a little community, and mods and staff are really like the government. Just as the government has laws on disturbing the peace, so should we.

The balance between developers’ rights and users’ rights? Now THIS is a topic to get into. You need to look at it at another perspective, really. What if the game wasn’t made, but someone with the username “pedopriests” came into chat and started a full-fledged discussion of the topic of the game? Basically, what if the game PedoPriests was a user in chat? We would probably tell them to stop, right? Well, we can’t exactly do that with a game. When answering this question about dev rights and user rights, you need to understand games are much harder to change than your attitude. I think devs need a bit more slack than users, personally.

 
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Was the game appropriate or not?

I’m leaning toward “no.” It’s important that we allow that games approach serious issues; however, it’s also important that when we do approach serious issues, we do it properly. The very title, Operation: Pedopriest, seems to take the Catholic church’s attempts to cover up the abuse of a child and make light of them. In addition (and as I said on the comments section of the game), I think the animation of the priest sexually abusing the child does cross the line. On the other hand, it may be for shock value rather than humor, in which case it may be appropriate since Molleindustria does want to bring attention to the issue.

Should I have removed it?…And should I remove the current file on the site?

I don’t think so. I’m not one of those people who screams “free speech” and conveniently ignores that fact that a privately run site can dictate its own content; you have every right to remove it. It can be argued that Pedopriest is tasteless in its approach and excessively controversial in its material, but removing it would establish a precedent that Kongregate removes games that it either disagrees with or finds to be in bad taste. Personally, I have more respect for the site because it allowed the game to run its course and didn’t remove it just because people were offended.

Should molleindustria have had its account banned entirely?

Absolutely not. Again, you have a right to do so—and I would have completely understood the reasons behind removing the game, but I would lose a lot of respect for Kongregate if Molleindustria were banned over it.

How do you feel about the balance between freedom of expression and keeping the site “clean”? The balance between developers’ rights and users’ rights?

That’s really up to the Kongregate staff to decide. Personally, I’d prefer a system where non-pornographic games are censored only through the “free market” of the ratings system and perhaps some sytem for rating the game’s content based on age (but not limiting the players’ ages in any way based on this rating).

 
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Letting Kongregate’s users “hide” it with their votes was a good call. (So was lettin the developer remove it.)

I don’t aspire to follow in their footsteps in terms of acceptable content and user behavior.


Agreed. One of the primary reasons I like Kongregate is because of the higher standards in content and behaivor guidelines. Personally, I’d rather not even bother even figuring out if a game is “clean” or “dirty.”


Keep Kongregate clean according to reasonable standards: Reasonable would be, well, reasonable.

 
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I played it, and thought it very bad taste. The programming and gameplay were fine, but it seemed to me a blatant attack on a religion as a whole. Some people may feel such practises are commonplace, but those who are of that faith will disagree vehemently, and would be very insulted. Even a neutral would be able to see that portraying people that others generally look up to as despicable monsters, and the callousness of the coverups is an appalling attack on Catholicism.

To answer your questions, the game was indeed inappropriate, not least by the ’Don’t harass others’ section of the code of conduct.

Someone should have removed it if the developer hadn’t, again, not least because of the violation of the code of conduct we all agreed to.

I don’t see why the developer should be banned entirely though, it was intended as a game. The material of it was very offensive, I for one as a non Catholic was dismayed at the material. Helping people to molest children is not a good objective at the best of times, and trivialising it in the form of a game is an awful idea. As long as the developer no longer uploads games of that nature, I don’t see why they cannot come back after a while.

The current file is fine, though perhaps a waste of space. I for one do not mind it staying as a reminder.

As for freedom of expression, the developer was entirely within their rights to make such a game. Since a lot of people complained about it, it would be in the interests of the site to get rid of it. As a whole, the community would be better off without a proportion being sickened by a game. It’s not even just Catholics who are disgusted, I’m sure many people would not wish to have anything to do with child molesting.

Developers clearly have the right to program whatever game they like, but this site can reject them on the grounds of rules set out in the code of conduct or in the interests of the site as a whole. If the latter was added to the code of conduct, that would prevent such occurrences from happening in future. Perhaps something along the lines of stating games will be removed if it is demanded, with reason, by a significant proportion of members.

Freedom of speech/expression is fine with me, but it irritates me immensely when people go out of their way to attack someone, just to prove that they can. Priests are paedophiles, help them get away with raping children by threatening the parents and distracting the police seems to be a clear and completely unwarranted attack on Catholicism, as well as a very distasteful gameplan.

 
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Helping people to molest children is not a good objective at the best of times, and trivialising it in the form of a game is an awful idea.

Well, clearly the fact that you were helping them was supposed to be a commentary on the Catholic church’s attempts to cover up the cases some priests who had sexually abused children to prevent negative press. I do agree that Pedopriest may be trivializing the incidents in its light-hearted presentation, but I don’t think the mere fact that it is “in the form of a game” should have any bearing on its content. If we want to be taken seriously as a medium, we do need to prove that you can approach a controversial topic like this tastefully through a game.

As for the suggestion that the game breaks the “Don’t harass others” rule, criticism isn’t the same as harassment. When an institution as large as the Catholic church attempts to cover up child abuse cases just so it doesn’t look bad, attention certainly needs to be drawn to it.

 
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What’s Kongregate, one site amidst an internet of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of web sites who host flash games? Oh, sure, Kongregate’s got quite a few ways that it differentiates itself from other sites, and those reasons are why I’m sure that one day this site is going to be huge and successful.

But Greg, you can’t ban someone for talking about a game that’s on the site. I would want to ban someone for describing anything in that game in a chat that I was in.

You’ve also created a much smaller, much more content controlled site, so the users are going to expect you to filter through the offensive stuff, as really anything on this site is now going to be up for discussion by the users.

And censorship? This is the internet, anyone can censor anything, because it’s easily found anywhere else. You’re going to have to ask yourself why the audience hasen’t looked somewhere else first.

Now, just burying it within the site, all that says is that if someone decides to upload something that cannot in any way add to ‘kongregate’ (achievements, badges, being discussed in a positive way ever), and really angers users, it will remain on the site until the author removes it.

And if you look through the comments on Newgrounds, about half of the viewers are hating on the game, and this is Newgrounds, the site that was built on ‘Club a Seal.’

Nothing wrong with a bit of controversy (and I’m going to refrain from ranting about how stupid generalizing priests as pedophiles is), but not on Kongregate, through a game that uses priests sexually molesting young children. That’s not Kongregate, and it’s not something that I want on a site that I recommend people go to for flash games.

SoraRikuVGM, why are you on Kongregate and not Newgrounds?

 
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Well put DrNeroCF, and I whole-heartedly agree with you. These were my thoughts as well, but amidst my post I lost that train of thought. Kongregate is ONE flash site, a small and growing one. There are loads of other places people can go for the game if they like it that much. I refer this site to alot of people, and they enjoy it. I enjoy it to the fullest extent as well. But that game was a very un-enjoyable game for me and many others, and as said, a game that causes that much crap is better off gone.

 
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Was the game appropriate or not?

I’ve leaned towards no. Satire and exposés are never an excuse for making a game out of and depicting the rape of children, particularly with the animations it used. This is a real problem, and depicting it in such manner deserves a mature rating and shows insensitivity towards the victims of these atrocities. Mind you, I’m opposed to the churchs actions, and love to see them exposed; I have even worked in volunteer community service to increase public awareness of such things; but even though I enjoy seeing them exposed I dont think doing it in this way is the least appropriate or an excuse.

Much of the appropriateness is determined by how the situation is depicted and played out and I think this game depicted it in a questionable way.

Should I have removed it?…And should I remove the current file on the site?

I would say probably not, unless the community majority rejects it. If they dont want to play it, they dont have to. I know I wouldnt play it. As far as still removing it, the developer has removed it, and its probably fine as is since the discussions are left there for anyone to read. Whatever the majority prefers.

Should molleindustria have had its account banned entirely?

Absolutely not. He wasnt breaking any rules, and doesnt deserve a ban just for sharing controversial work.

How do you feel about the balance between freedom of expression and keeping the site “clean”? The balance between developers’ rights and users’ rights?

Thats a tough balance. The site is nothing without either, so I’d say you have to go with the majority. We have to remember though, that if we build this site upon unethical or immoral content that it will tend to degrade the community.


Here is the solution I propose: In addition to having a quality 5 star rating system, we should have an additional rating system that rates the games content according to maturity, like we already do with movies and professional video games (ESRB or TIGRS etc). ie you could rate the game as mature, teen, etc etc and it would average out all the users votes.

Additionally (or alternately) you could do what other sites do and have a ‘flag game as mature/offensive/inappropriate’ (or w/e) button; different from what we have now (I think youtube might have this). What that would do is warn users that the community has flagged this game and they have to accept a disclaimer to view the possibly offensive content.

Now this doesnt mean Kongregate should turn into Newgrounds or other sites with an adult only section, and that we should start allowing terrible content on here, but it would allow us to display questionable games without causing ‘censorship!’ or ‘innapropriate!’ outcries. This would let the community as a whole determine the appropriateness and put it in the hand of the individual whether they want to browse that content; more than it is now.

If we added the rating system I mentioned, you could set an option in your profile to view only teen content and below, mature content and below, etc so that you wouldnt even see this stuff – similar to what you do with your television viewing.

 
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Bah…already had a long discussion on this, I’ll just give my one post of main thoughts on this and keep it simple -

I don’t think it should be removed.

This is just focusing on a controversial topic like many other things. Theres always something that will offend someone else, this one just has a much larger group – Christians.

This game is getting a message out that the church covered up some things. Of course this will stir trouble. The game has to be so blatantly “inappropriate” to really get its message across, and I guess it’s working since all the christians are fired up.

I don’t see why anyone has the right to censor things, if you’re going to be completely biased ,Don’t play it, don’t vote. Move along and then….you’re fine. No problems.

We can have people complaining about games staying or going, with half the people arguing with the other.

Or we can just let people choose to play what they want. I’m sure they can censor there own eyes to what they don’t like it.

 
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Heh, nice idea. Problem is, those outside of Kongregate (Mainly from digg storms). They will think this is very NG-ish (Note: NG has this too) and will leave Kongregate and bad-mouth it as a NG rip-off.

Was the game appropriate or not?

Anything that has rape or other stuff should be in an adult site, not Kongregate.

Should I have removed it?…And should I remove the current file on the site?

Yes. We still have those die-hard guys who wants points. If they see this game and angered them, they will leave the site.

How do you feel about the balance between freedom of expression and keeping the site “clean”?

It feels pretty good. Kongregate censored two words: F word and N word. So it’s really great to have lots of freedom. Of course, being a mod, if someone harassed or sweared at another person, I may have to get up my lazy butt and press ban.

The balance between developers’ rights and users’ rights?

All of us have flaws. Developer’s flaws are probably not caring about others (Yeah, Luminara. Bad boy, jmtb02. You gave us seizures :( ) and without knowing the stakes (Like Pedopriests). We’re all gonna make mistakes anyway. Give Molleindustria a chance. He’s probably new to Kongregate and its community’s tone.

NOTE: I’m not Christian. We already have Da Vinci Code :p

 
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(The balance between developers’ rights and users’ rights?)

Developers don’t have a “right” to have their game appear on Kongregate, and users don’t have the right to never see anything that might offend them while visiting a website. So basically it’s up to you. Like others have said, Molleindustria didn’t do anything wrong by making the game, and you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong by refusing to host it. It’s just a matter of what image you want to show to the public as a private business.

Part of what’s so great about Kong is that there are so many different games, and that comes from allowing any developer to join in by submitting their games. But that’s just a nice feature, not a rule that needs to be written in stone. It doesn’t mean you need to accept every game submitted, or let a controversial game die a natural death via the user rating system.

So it really comes down to questions like:
What is greater, the number of people who will be offended if you censor certain games, or the number of people who will be offended by the game itself?
If some of those offended people are users, will they stop playing here?
If some of those offended people are potentially valuable developers, will they boycott the site because of it?
And perhaps most importantly, how do you (greg and other top Kong people) feel about these issues, and how much do you want it to affect how the site is run?

Me personally, I wasn’t all that offended, and I gave the game a crappy rating because I didn’t think it was much fun. But I’m just one guy. Some people, like me, don’t mind being exposed to almost anything in exchange for the unmatched quantity and variety of good games that Kong provides all in one place. Some people would rather know in advance what they’re getting, and would be willing to sacrifice a little of that convenience in order to avoid nasty surprises like Operation Pedopriest. What percentage of Kong’s users do these groups represent? I have no idea. The opinions of a small number of forum posters and angry commenters is less than you need to resolve this issue.

 
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Developers don’t have a “right” to have their game appear on Kongregate, and users don’t have the right to never see anything that might offend them while visiting a website. So basically it’s up to you. Like others have said, Molleindustria didn’t do anything wrong by making the game, and you wouldn’t be doing anything wrong by refusing to host it. It’s just a matter of what image you want to show to the public as a private business.

At the risk of being thought less of for using silly Internet acronyms, QFT. That’s exactly how I feel.

 
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“Rights” may have been the wrong word, but you get my point. You can substitute “rights” with “happiness.”

 
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Was the game appropriate or not?

Maybe not, but who cares? It’s just a game, and plus it’s not like it doesn’t happen in real life, we DO know and DO realize that pedopriest DO exist, there’s no denying it. The game is not there to discuss about religion or anything like that. It was supposed to delight people. And I found it very nice. Why cause all this polemic? It’s overreacting, leave the game alone. If people doesn’t like it, then good! They can put their opinion on that, but censoring the game and blocking the account is just an extreme measure. Of course there must be censorship, however a controlled one. Just go and censorship every game alike that one is a totally narrow-minded attitude, and narrow-mindness is just so over nowadays.

 
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Let start of by saying at first glance the people offended by this are the ‘younger’ crowd (ie people still in school – younger than 18). The older people actually see the satire in this game and can appreciate it even if they personally dislike the game.

I think (this is a major guess, I have never really visited NG) that NG would have an older audience which appreciated the game more.

I do not see why people want this game deleted besides their personal views. It does not (from my quick look) violate any terms or conditions.

I think the major problem is people not getting the ‘joke’ that the whole game is. And I can’t see how people are coming out and complaining that it’s not appropriate but you shouldn’t delete it; surely if it’s inappropriate it should be gone? But I do like the idea of a ratings thing. Maybe a PG13 (or whatever the American classification system is) rating can be put on the game by the developer when it’s uploaded.

 
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Let start of by saying at first glance the people offended by this are the ‘younger’ crowd (ie people still in school – younger than 18). The older people actually see the satire in this game and can appreciate it even if they personally dislike the game.

That’s not entirely true. A lot of people who aren’t offended are younger. A lot of people who are offended are older. A lot of people who aren’t offended don’t understand the topic. A lot of people who are offended do understand the topic. It’s not a matter of not getting it. As I have said, satire is good and well if it’s handled appropriately. I think this game comes pretty close to crossing the line, if it doesn’t.

And I can’t see how people are coming out and complaining that it’s not appropriate but you shouldn’t delete it; surely if it’s inappropriate it should be gone?

The question is not whether it should be gone but whether it should be forced to be gone. I can object to something without thinking it should be forcibly removed.

But I do like the idea of a ratings thing. Maybe a PG13 (or whatever the American classification system is) rating can be put on the game by the developer when it’s uploaded.

The American classification system is privately run and the film and video game industries are separate, but we couldn’t use their ratings anyway—they’re copyrighted. As for the developer assigning it a rating, I think the players should have some say in the rating, if Kong were to implement a system. I was originally thinking the people on Kongregate could assign the rating and it could be averaged out, but I think a better system would be to let the developer do it and allow people to mark the rating as inaccurate if they believe it does not match the contents of the game and the Kong staff could review any game that gets tagged a lot.

 
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If a rating system were to occur, i’d say it would be heavily biased towards the American way of rating. Obviously theres a huge difference between America and other countries (such as Britain) in what things are deemed appropriate and what things aren’t, with America thinking that violence isn’t too big of a deal, and Britain thinking that nudity and stuff isn’t that big of a deal. Of course, when i say “big of a deal”, i simply mean that it allows “more” of that topic than the other country. On that note, games like the last stand and stuff aren’t being prosecuted, while games like pedopriest are. Although i wouldn’t allow pedopriest on this website, I can’t help but think that maybe America’s ways have influenced me, since i find zombie games acceptable.

 
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My suggestion of a rating system doesnt have to do with anything “American”. For all it matters Kongregate could create their own rating system or use TIGRS. Which rating system used is entirely beyond the point. Even a simple, self-created one would be sufficient and probably preferable. The most important thing is that we have a technical implementation of what the community as a whole feels the maturity level of the content is and that there is a disclaimer warning users they may be offended. If they proceed, its their fault.

It probably shouldnt be based on what the developer puts, but instead on the communities opinion.

 
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I see your point, it sounds like a good idea then.

 
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Youtube has something similar. “Flag this as inappropriate”
Don’t necessarily delete it, but displays a prompt saying that “By agreeing, you understand that this game contains possibly offensive material”

When I played PP I first thought it was pretty poor taste. I don’t necessarily like playing games with excessive gore either. I KNEW it was satire. But it just did not sit well inside. So my guess is those two opinions will go hand in hand.

I think the important question for Kongregate is “What is your target audience”. If you have a wide range/target, start narrowing it down into smaller categories, then ask “which group are you most willing to give up”. Then cater your site’s content accordingly. The wider the range, the more people you aren’t going to please, simple enough.

On the whole though, I think this has been handled pretty well, and should be set as a precedent for future incidents of this nature, if not improved. The important point of it all was “the community decided, and the developer decided”. There was no higher censorship, so I really don’t understand why people are complaining about censorship when there wasn’t any. (Or are they complaining about the lack of censorship?)

All this raises an interesting topic… for a long while Flash games have enjoyed quite alot of freedom, as compared to its poor mainstream cousins. Manhunt. GTA. So when is Jack Thompson going to start suing Developers and Sites for hosting games when priests claim they were influenced by PP?

 
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This is just focusing on a controversial topic like many other things. Theres always something that will offend someone else, this one just has a much larger group – Christians.

This game is getting a message out that the church covered up some things. Of course this will stir trouble. The game has to be so blatantly “inappropriate” to really get its message across, and I guess it’s working since all the christians are fired up.

I’m sure you’re part of the entire, ‘this is the internet, therefore my opinion must be the opposite of the "real world’s opinion", but Kongregate doesn’t have to be controversial, nor does Kongregate have a duty to support anything with the sole purpose of ‘riling people up.’ That would be ANYONE, not just christians. I think the fact that the game had no other redeeming value besides the ‘OMG PRIESTS HUMPING BOYS SWEET’ effect has been established.

You know, maybe I’m just biased, maybe I just want to make games that everyone can enjoy, hell, my latest game lets you turn blood off (yes I make games with blood too, I’m not completely ‘teh kiddie’), and games that are enjoyable sans controversial gimmicks. But I was under the impression that Kongregate as a website and a community supported the ‘higher quality games for all’ mentality.

And yes, the church did screw up, very , very badly. Any good christian will support the removal of these men who are thoroughly corrupt, or who just have flaws that keep them unsuitable for priesthood.

But graphic, even cartoony depictions of children being molested by priests? No, you do not have a ‘right’ to watch that movie on Kongregate. No, Kongregate does not have an ‘obligation’ to keep it up here. And no, that game is not being singled out for ‘riling up christians,’ it’s being singled out because it’s the only game on here that offends people in general (if any zombies wanna step up and complain that they’re being unfairly represented in Flash gaming, be my guest). It’s like the young bad kid screaming and breaking things for attention.

But no, the author shouldn’t be banned because of that, unless, say, the game got removed by Kongregate, and he kept uploading it over and over again…

Maybe a ratings system could be a good idea, that TIGRS looks pretty good, though I wouldn’t mind seeing Newground’s breakdown of what sort of content the Flash contains specifically, so that can be filtered out, but right now everything’s looking better than the ESRB after that damn Manhunt 2 scandal…

 
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I couldnt agree more Nero. I think you explained that quite well.

 
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Of course, teh fancy pants guy always win :)

TIGRS looks fine to me.