Congratulations, Australian Classifications Board. You have once again managed to infuriate millions of gamers and retailers through your misinformed and misguided ideals and morals. I know you think you ‘mean well’, but it’s time you realised that video games have evolved passed a little blue hedgehog on speed or a red Italian plumber who has a mushroom and turtle fetish.
For those who are wondering as to why I am so cranky, it’s because the ACB has refused classification of two high profile games due for release later this year, those being Saints Row IV and State of Decay. It would seem that video games are still getting the raw end of the deal. Adult themes and other disturbing material that will be given an R18+ for a film will often lead to a banning order for a video game for addressing the same content. While I’m not denying there are some fucked up games out there, every medium should be assessed on equal grounds. In this instance, I think the board got it wrong.
Now, as for the games in question.
Saints Row IV – Implied sexual violence unjustified by context and promoting illicit drug use for in-game reward.
Now this may sound really bad and first impressions will cause most to agree with the Board’s decisions, but the Saints Row franchise has never been one to be taken seriously. Case and point being the plot for the newest installment;
“GANSTER PRESIDENT TAKEN HOSTAGE BY ALIENS AND PUT INTO SIMULATION!”
Now if you still think this game should be taken seriously, then you clearly need to chill the fuck out. The actual reason the game was banned was because of the inclusion of an alien anal probe weapon that, once forcibly inserted into the backside of an enemy, will cause their head to explode. Taken into the game’s context, I’m sure most would agree that this is just one of the many wacky weapons that the Saints Row franchise has produced over the years. Need I remind everybody of “The Penetrator” from Saints Row III?
This also isn’t the first case of such a weapon being used. During the days of the original Xbox, a game called “Destroy All Humans” used a weapon that does the exact same thing, and you know what this game was rated? M, a mere M rating. Now I don’t know about you, but if something that was made available to children 10 years ago can’t be made available to adults now, then there are some consistency issues that need to be addressed.
Oh, and the drug thing. There are also drug power ups that cause your player to trip out and gain some really weird alien powers. Again, this is coming from a game that let you play as a walking toilet, fly a hover bike, and jump off a building fifty stories high and NOT die, in its previous installment. Yeah…better take it seriously…
State of Decay – Promoting legal/illicit drug use for in-game reward.
On this decision the Board has no leg to stand on, as all that the drugs do is recover player health and provide small stat boots. The game is your standard zombie survival game, zombies come at you, you shoot zombies, and zombies hurt you, and had this remained the case, this would’ve flown under the radar of plenty of gamers, but I digress. To heal your character, you have to either scavenge the drugs or manufacture them, some of them being substances such as morphine and amphetamines.
If a studio wishes to use the real world terms for drugs that are found in the post-apocalyptic game world, then I see no reason as to why they can’t. I’m pretty sure you’d be hard pressed to find a medical professional to tell you the exact dosage or which drugs you can and can’t take in such an environment. It’s about providing the user with an immersive experience, and in this case, anything that can and will help you survive is a good thing. I know I wouldn’t turn down drugs if I was in that kind of situation.
On January 1st of this year, the gaming community won a very long battle to have the R18+ rating introduced in Australia, and since then over 10+ games have been released under the rating. This was a huge victory, not only for gaming to finally be acknowledged as an entertainment form that is undertaken by a majority of adults; it also gave retailers a chance to fight back against piracy and imports from overseas, which were previously costing them millions in sales.
Banning games such as these reverses all the good work that we have achieved on both fronts. As a (somewhat) mature adult, it shits me to no end that I have a bunch of random people telling me that I can’t have access to such content, just because they fear that somebody will use this content as an excuse to commit some horribly violent act. Now that this has happened again, most people are going to resort to grey imports and pirating, which aside from giving a big “fuck you ” to the ACB, is going to cost millions to a market that is already struggling to compete with online downloads.
Sean is a final year Computer Science student at UOW and is really just pissed that he has to find his brother some other present for his 21st birthday. He also finds the idea of blowing someone’s head up via their arse quite entertaining, but he wouldn’t ACTUALLY do it. Catch him yelling and ranting at the world on his Twitter page.