Monday, February 15, 2010


Censorship is a hotly contested, often misunderstood practice. One where the very use of its own related words gets people into such an emotional lather of indignation that no one seeks first to understand the meaning of the words. As words like "ban," "boycott," and "censor" seem to have different meanings to many. I know I've been guilty of proposing a "ban" on something when the word I should have said was "boycott."

Censorship is an official practice of using state powers to remove offensive material from media. The consequences of what might seem to be an act of goodwill, is that the responsibility to understand the difficult and ugly side of life is taken away from the people. Broadly applied, this has the same effect on the human mind that modern antiseptics have had on the human body. The more we are removed from any sort of hardship, the more susceptible we become to infections that get past our defenses—mentally or physically speaking. If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger.

My recent experience with censorship is not from so large an organization as the government, it is from the video game company, Nintendo. It seems that Nintendo has found it prudent to ban certain names from its online gaming network. Below is the email I sent to the company about the issue. I don't know for certain if my concerns are founded on actual company policy, or the irrational assumptions of gamers who have too much time to air complaints on forum, but I'm hoping to get to the bottom of this issue.

I am contacting you regarding the apparent banning of certain Mii names on the WFC. I was going to play Mario Kart Wii online with my son, Killien, using his Mii, but was confused to find that his Mii name was restricted. Upon further research, I could only find fairly angry comments on gamers' forums discussing the banning of the "Hitler" Mii. At least I can understand the rationale of banning Hitler, even if I don't agree with it. I'm not a racist and I'm not Jewish, but he's just a cartoon version of a historical figure—why the censorship?

I did also find several entries stating that names containing the word "kill" were banned. However, "Killien" is my three-year-old son's NAME. I'm not interested in changing his Mii name, and he is not old enough to understand why I have to. I don't mind explaining it to him, but I would like to hear the reason from the horse's mouth. Are you going to ban the name "Shelly" because it contains the word "hell"? Or what about the name "Dick"? Doesn't the need to explain these things in itself unnecessarily expose children to the uglier aspects of the world in which we live?

In any case, I found no information about bans at all on your official website, so I am inclined to give you the benefit of the doubt and to assume that I am mistaken as a result of the rash assessment of other gamers. That being said, I would like to know how my son's name can be approved for the WFC. Or where I can officially complain about the ban, if in fact, censorship is Nintendo's official policy.

PHOTO CREDITS: ©Elizabeth Klueck

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