A number of my blogs have ridden on the coattails of Blacks Ops success and popularity and just when I thought I milked the source dry, finished the game or got all the achievements, along comes another blog idea inspired by Black Ops. Should be the last one...maybe. Who knows? Until then though...

Let's talk about the Black Op's Playercard Editor, and...

When good ideas go bad.

So...the Playercard Editor, summarized:

Playercards is a feature that appears in Call of Duty: Black Ops to act as a replacement for callsigns and titles. Emblems are fully customizable, as individual emblem images can be colored, moved, rotated, flipped, resized, and stacked on top of each other. There are over 480 images and over 180 backgrounds to choose from. Each playercard can have up to 12 emblem images layered at once. The emblem images and layers will still have to be unlocked, however. The player will unlock the ability to have their emblem printed onto the weapon of their liking at level 16. All the emblems, layers, and backgrounds the player buys, stays with them when they prestige.

If you're one of the three or four people who haven't played Black Ops then you might not have ever seen the Playercard editior in action...but you still might have read a story or two about it. The latest news post that has everyone up in arms...

(See the original image and read full story at Herd of Cats.)

"If You Use A Swastika In Black Ops, You Will Be Banned"

If you read that headline and think, "Duh, that's obvious," congratulations: You're not an idiot. For everyone else, Microsoft has made it expressly clear that if you use a swastika as your multiplayer symbol in Call of Duty: Black Ops, you will be banned from Xbox Live.

My daughter is the artistic one in the family...always drawing, doodling, writing poetry and creating something out of nothing. She loves the Playercard Editor and is always creating these interesting emblems. (If you're wondering - my daughter is old enough to play, so don't worry). So, the other day she is showing me one of her latest creations...a cute little monster looking thing, created with the various shapes and symbols that are available. She was quite pleased with it. I told her about the above story and asked her if she witnessed any swastikas. I was curious and wondering just how big of a problem it is. She went on to tell me it's not just swastikas either...all kinds of inappropriate user created content. Well, when I say inappropriate, obviously that may depend on personal preference, but listening to her "describe" some of the emblems, I think it's safe to say most would agree it's inappropriate.

(On a side note, while my youngest son might not be as artistic, I am impressed with his "chainsaw with a scope" emblem)

Imagine if you will, giving gamers from all walks of life a paintbrush and canvas to create practically whatever they want and trusting they'll handle it in a responsible manner...creating emblems in good taste that represent their character or something significant and worthwhile.

Some are real masterpieces. Very creative. Original. Impressive.

...others...make you question man as the "intelligent" species; some I'm too embarrassed to even mention, and certainly couldn't post photos of here. It doesn't take much looking around on Google to see some perfect examples of what I'm talking about. My feeling on the matter is there are some particularly distasteful emblems. You may or may not agree.

How do people even think this stuff up? Why do people even think this stuff up? I dunno.

Is this kind of creative expression right or wrong?

Should Microsoft and/or Activision (or any company for that matter) have the right to censor content they deem inappropriate? Or ban accounts over it?

It's an interesting topic and one where there is no easy answer or solution. I'm sure if you read the fine print the big guys, the Microsoft's and Activision's, are legally allowed to do this...but should they? It doesn't really bother me if they do.

Its unfortunate we even have to have this debate...but it certainly wouldn't be the first time included features in a game were abused or at least not used for its intended purpose.

When good ideas go bad.

I'm a huge fan of Valve and pretty much all of their games. If you've played them online, then there is a good chance you've used the "spray" feature, but if you haven't...the spray feature is a way you can leave your mark in games like Counter Strike, Half-Life Deathmatch and Team Fortress 2. You press a button, and a "spray logo" is painted on the surface - wall, floor or ceiling. Of course this feature is customizable and allows the user to upload their own logos...and logos can be pictures of anything.



And yes...you see some rather disturbing images. It's almost like a game of "who can come up with the most offensive image".

It's pretty bad when the Planet Half Life website gives this advice...

"While we're on the topic of all things saucy, avoid using pornographic sprays while in-game. Sure, it's funny to you and a few of your friends, but most gamers feel that if they wanted to see naked women on their screens, they would go to a porn website. Game servers are for gaming, so respect that."

Again...a brilliant feature...seriously marred by those who would abuse the feature.

What are we to do...

...when good ideas go bad?