EL (kesnit) wrote,

Censorship in Video Games

Or: How I decided I'm an adult and can view what I want

Another cRPG (computer RPG) came out at the end of October, about the same time as Hellgate: London. (It's called "The Withcher" and is based on a series of Polish graphic novels.) I knew I wanted it, but put it off because I was dying for HGL. I went to Amazon.com to check out the reviews of the game and found out that there are 2 English versions - censored and uncensored. The publisher, fearing an AO (Adults Only) rating in the US, chose to "clear up" some of the language and sexual innuendos in the version sold here. (From what I read, it's nothing that could be called porn. Just crude language.)

A few people thought of ordering the uncensored UK version from amazon.uk, but found out amazon.uk won't ship the uncensored version to a US address. However, one commentor said he had found a site that would ship it. So last night, I went in and made my bid for free speech in America. I ordered the uncensored version.

There has been a debate in gaming circles lately about censorship after another game (Manhunt 2, in case anyone is curious) was threatened with an AO rating. (The developers cleaned up Manhunt 2 and it got a M, for Mature.) Sony (maker of PlayStation) and Microsoft (maker of Xbox) have said they will not allow AO games to be run on their systems and various chains (Wal-Mart, for one) have said they will not stock AO games.

On one hand, I can understand the arguments. AO is often compared to the movie rating NC-17, though the grading criteria are different. Also, a video game is more likely to be slapped with an AO for graphic violence than sexual content. (Manhunt 2 is VERY bloody, but there is no sex.) But I think it should be a market decision. If developers/publishers think people will buy an AO game, they should be allowed to make and sell the game. Arbitrarily saying "no, you cannot sell this" should not work.

People scream "but kids could get ahold of this..." Yes, but that is why parents exist. If a parent doesn't want their kid playing Manhunt 2/Grand Theft Auto/etc, they shouldn't let the kid buy it. And if a parent wants the game for themselves, they should ensure the kid cannot get to it.

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