The Problem with Censorship in Games Nobody Wants to Talk About
The Problem with Censorship in Games Nobody Wants to Talk About

Recently, I've played some games that I had missed the first time they came out and came to a realization that they are not brutal enough.

I had a problem with censorship in games.

I do not mean that as a fan of brutality or violence, but from a perspective of immersion into some of the games.

We will look closer into some games that, in my opinion, had a problem with censorship, or were afraid to exploit some mechanics. It is a controversial topic, but if nobody wants to talk about it, then someone has to. We have to remember that all these games are mentioned for an adult recipient and are not intended for kids.

This article is only intended to criticize some of the publishers' decisions, and illogical elements of censoring pieces of art, that are games. The Problem with Censorship in Games is bigger than one would imagine, but it is often a less-talked-about topic. I am also not saying that any of these games are bad because they are brilliant titles, whatsoever! 

Examples of Censorship in Games

South Park: The Stick of Truth

south park the stick of truth Censorship in Games

Credit: Obsidian Entertainment

I recently played and completed one of the best games from 2015, the first game of the franchise in South Park: The Stick of Truth. I did not follow any news previously about that game other than that I knew it came out and was pretty good as a cartoon adaptation and an RPG.

I was pretty confused when I saw a screen telling me that I can not view some parts of the game and a brief comedic description of what was happening in the game currently. At first, I thought it was a joke because it fitted the South Park atmosphere, but when it happened again I started digging deeper into the matter on the internet.

I found out that these are indeed cut sections of the game that are censored in Europe and Australia with different screens. It was pretty funny on its own, and developers handled the problem in a clever way. However, that does not mean there should have been cuts anyway.

In a game that is created for an adult audience, it is weird to censor some of the stuff and leave everything else. With games like South Park: The Stick of Truth, I could make a case about almost anything that should be censored because it is distasteful. The reason people are watching this type of show or playing this type of game is to come across that dark humor, disturbing views, and controversial actions! It has a certain type of audience, and not having the ability to play the whole game is really annoying.

In that case, it was not the developer's fault. Obsidian Entertainment responsible for the game made a really amazing adaptation of a beloved cartoon. The decision came from the publisher of Ubisoft. They decided to censor the editions for PS3 and Xbox 360 in Europe and Australia. It also concerns versions on PS4, PS5, Xbox one X/S, and Xbox Series X/S.

The laws in Europe and U.S. are obviously different, but I see no logical explanation on why to censor a game that is all about this type of content, especially since it is created for adults with a PEGI 18 rating. What proves my theory, even more, is that you can easily watch the content on Youtube at any time and age, with clips without age restriction. The scenes that were cut out contain gameplay mechanics that you will never get to experience due to unreasonable decisions of censorship in games.

Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus

wolfenstein ii

Credit: Machine Games

Censorship of games in Germany is in itself a bigger topic than it should be. German game publishers are always trying to deny their history by changing some symbols that are harmful in their eyes. Game developers and the player base of these games never think of that as an insult or something. These are just the facts and trying to hide it or deny it only makes it more controversial.

One of these examples was obviously a problem with Wolfenstein II: The New Colossus. With the inclusion of Adolf Hitler in the game, we got two different versions of the game basically. In the German version, we had no mustache on Adolf and replacing or removing all swastika symbols entirely.

It is needless to say that it is just a game, a fictional creation that is never intended to make fun of someone, a singular individual, or an entire country. The content that is mocking something or somebody is always a joke or a means of humor and never a serious accusation. We have to learn and differentiate that.

Ghost of Tsushima

ghost of tsushima

Credit: Sucker Punch

This one is a little bit lighter, but it is my personal opinion on an otherwise excellent game.

Exploring the island of Tsushima, fighting, and becoming a samurai is an experience that no one did better than Sucker Punch. The story is interesting, and people loved the game. It has a whopping completion percentage with more than 54% of the players completing the game. It is another problem for a separate article of why so few people even complete the games.

My problem with the game, however, lies in the lack of brutality. There are some brutal scenes, of course, and the game is not meant to be played by kids. Nonetheless, it also being a PEGI 18 rated game, designed to be played by a mature audience, the lack of some fighting mechanics really threw me off. Being able to become a samurai, I always wanted to feel like I am using a really powerful katana, and not a wooden sword.

The fighting system is a very good, and beautiful dance, but I can not feel like I am missing something there. After hours of playing the game, I finally realized what that was. I wanted to feel the blade, and the blood spatters are created perfectly, but the thing I lack the most is not having the ability to dismember an opponent.

The ability to cut off limbs with perfectly timed finishers, like in Witcher 3: Wild Hunt, for example, would be a perfect fit for the game. The finishing moves there were never considered a problem with censorship in games because they fit the atmosphere of the game and character of Geralt. I think that type of mechanic would be perfect for the world of Tsushima.

It is not like other games do not make violent combat. Above mentioned Witcher 3: Wild Hunt had some amazing finisher worthy of a Witcher, and I wanted to feel similarly being the almighty samurai. Doom series was always brutal, or the latest The Last of Us Part II. It had some deep and immersive brutal sections and gameplay mechanics.

Conclusion

There are many games that are violent or disturbing, but they are meant for a player who - first of all - is an adult, and can really vent their emotions through playing this type of game.

The virtual world is a place where we can do things without consequences and can enjoy the content made by other developers or games for us. Censoring somebody’s work, or hesitating or using certain mechanics just because it might be controversial is not an excuse and a way to create art. Games are art, and developers should be able to express their vision of a world, character, or the entire game.

These days, most developers or publishers are afraid of the public’s opinion or potentially controversial mechanics in games. It should not be a problem, but I also can understand them. The amount of people that are willing to waste their time just to argue with someone because they have a different opinion without having any valid arguments is getting bigger and bigger. Out of fear of public criticism, they tend to use censorship in games as a means of calming down the loud part of the audience.

We need to show people that this is not the way to go, and the easiest way I see is by expressing ourselves in various types of art like making movies, tv-series, painting, writing books, songs, or making these games.

Let us remember that, and do not jump to conclusions when we feel like something is a little bit offending! The creator did not mean that and meant no harm to anyone. We have to stay open-minded and remind developers and publishers that they are free to express themselves like true artists.


All mentioned games are out now.

If you want to know some cheap games and short games, check out this article.

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