11 February 2010

Reactions to Moral Kombat - Trailer and Players

This post follows my previous one introducing Moral Kombat.

Since the movie has been screened only a few times (once at VGXPO in Philadelphia, once at USC and once in few other movie festivals), the only material most people have had until now to appreciate Spencer Halpin's movie was its trailer.

I found the trailer, put on youtube in December 2006, was a mirror of the first 25 minutes of the movie: it focuses on the anti-violent video games side of the debate. Kotaku also found this difference between the overall movie and the trailer: The documentary seeks to provide unbiased views from both sides of the battle against violent video games, despite its own trailer which projects a definite anti-video game vibe. Even Henry Jenkins explained in November 2007, just before the movie premiere: I will admit to having had a crisis of faith when I first saw the trailer. It felt sensationalistic and one-sided. Jenkins also suggests: don't judge a book by its cover and don't judge this film by its preview That is why I understand it was badly received by the gamer community: 1.5/5 stars rating on youtube, more than 2400 comments for more than 240,000 views. Even Spencer Haltin admitted in November 2009 how a negative reaction (that) the trailer got on YouTube [...] from gamers who were concerned that the film would be biased. Most of the time, the Youtube comments came from players who wanted to write how much they disliked the trailer. Some examples (taken from the first page of the video comments as of February 2010):

  • god danm it!! old people are taking away our gamez!! (lol :D )
  • tl;dr- Sensationalist rubbish at it's very best.
  • yeah death to america
  • So when I play Borderlands I really am a Brick? What? Are you saying I'm dumb?

Some gamers even slightly misinterpreted the meaning of sentences pronounced in the movie. For instance, sk-gaming.net explained: Spencer Halpin's upcoming hullabaioo documentary film Moral Kombat takes on videogames violency and blames that videogames caused the 9/11 incident and lpcepxress.org reports According to a documentary titled, "Moral Kombat" by Spencer Halpin, violent video games caused Sept. 11. But the only mention of the 9/11 accident (at 1:20 of the trailer) is: they learned enough from a flight simulator to fly jets they had never touched before into the World Trade Center.

The comic above from pennyarcade was another reaction from players about the movie trailer (it was published in May 2007, far before the premiere of the movie in November 2007). As of 2009, this video of Q&A between Halpin, Lannings and game journalists shows that things seem to have calmed down a little.

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