Perhaps comparing the ESRB to the Communist hunter Joseph McCarthy is a little extreme, since there's not really a Red Scare in videogaming, but Factor 5 President Julian Eggebrecht made the allusion when stating the ESRB was essentially choking the creative life out of games during a speech at GCDC. What we mean by that is the ESRB fails to approach games as art. Eggebrecht voices his wishes: "I would be happy if in games we could talk about homosexuality, but we're not even at the point where we can admit that humans have heterosexual relationships, and that is a real problem - and it tends to show that games are not being seen, even by our own ratings boards, as an artform."
He mentioned a cheat code in Lair
that unlocked a "Hot Coffee" pot -- an actual coffee pot, which others at the GCDC got a kick out of, but he digressed from the humor behind the GTA: San Andreas
fiasco. "If you cannot have satire about these things, that is approaching the realm of McCarthyism." Pressing further, he mentioned the movie Eyes Wide Shut, which dealt with relationship issues in marriage, among other things. Eggebrecht wants to see games with that much ... ambition hitting shelves, which require games to be placed on the same art pedestal as film.
Eggebrecht finally got to the meat of his argument -- censorship in Lair
. Sony sought a "T" for Teen rating, since the game appeals to teenage gamers, but the ESRB continually knocked it to an "M" for Mature rating due to blood and visible "chunks" of other dragons getting slapped away in fights. In the end, Eggebrecht said, "they let us through with a Teen even though you can use fire - you can set up to five, six thousand people on fire. They burn, they run around and they scream, but of course that wasn't a problem [due to the absence of blood]."