I’ve wanted to stay away from this topic, to be honest. I’ve fought it for so long that it’s kind of become a boring topic to talk about. But this particular round has not gone away, fans are still bashing the hell out of Sony for this current round of censoring of sexual content in video games, something that is continuous, has never stopped and switches between companies on a regular basis.
There’s a lot to unpack with this topic, but let’s start with why I had to finally put my two cents in on this very topic:
Will Someone Please Think Of The Children?!
“Regarding the regulation of the depiction of content, it’s simply a matter of matching global standards.”
“As for the freedom of expression… we have to think about what might be unpleasant for children and shield them from those things while also thinking and assessing ways to find a balance [for that expression].”
Atsushi Morita – President, Sony Japan
We all know the immediate counter for this comment, a comment that is such bullshit, a pure dodge of the question, featuring an answer that anyone with an iota of a brain cell in their head could figure out was an outright lie.
Unless Japan literally has zero restrictions on who can buy games with sexual content in them, especially games that here in the West would be given an ‘M’ rating, the “we must protect the children” line is an absolutely ridiculous reason as to why Sony is suddenly making a heavy push to censor sexual content in the games released on their platform. For the umpteenth time, we have all the possible restrictions we can place on these games without outright banning the production of them. Games have warning labels on them that say the required age for the game, with descriptions of what is contained within the game. Stores are “supposed” to check the ID of customers who buy these games as well. There shouldn’t be any reason a child owns a game as explicit as say a Senran Kagura game.
Point The Finger Elsewhere
I don’t know how many times this has to be said. Apparently we’ll never stop saying it.
STOP LAYING THE BLAME SOLELY AT THE FEET OF GAMERS!!!
When it comes to both violence and sex in video games, there is a consistent push from parents, journalists, politicians, as well as the developers and publishers themselves to blame the player base for the scrutiny, the problems the industry is facing. Instead, we should put a mirror in front of all the groups I just listed, as they should be taking as much of the blame, if not more.
Parents for starters are the worst offenders. These lazy, irresponsible people are the ones who walk into a store, hear their son or daughter cry for more than half a second about something and then buy whatever it is they want to shut them up. I’ve watched countless times as parents walk into a store, ask for a copy of Grand Theft Auto, are told that this game is for 17 and up and will brush the employee off. Then they have the audacity to turn around and say their child is out of control.
You are supposed to be the one responsible for your child, not the black gaming box underneath the TV. It is your job to know exactly what you’re buying your children. If you’re buying your 10 year-old a game that is supposed to be for people about to graduate high school, use your fucking brain for a moment. And don’t give me the excuse that you didn’t know what you were buying, it’s your responsibility to do the fucking research. It takes one Google search to learn everything you need to know about a single game. And once again, if you’re too lazy to even notice the ESRB label in the corner of the box that tells you exactly what the game is for, you don’t get to complain. You failed not only as a parent, but a supposed “intelligent” lifeform.
Next are journalists. This is pretty straight-forward. The vast majority of the major outlets need to get off their anti-free speech platforms and stop complaining about every game that features a woman with any amount of skin showing. It has been because of Gamergate and the constant outrage culture behind sexually themed content in games that has put censorship on the table more often that it has been since the PS2/Xbox era.
There is nothing wrong with this sort of content. We’ve shown through so many different sets of research and testing that there is no correlation between what gamers see and engage with while playing video games, and what they do in real life. Just like how shooters aren’t making kids shoot up schools, games with blonde elves in bikinis are making men suddenly leave their house to go rape women randomly. There is no reason to believe that and research supports that. Just because you don’t like the content, doesn’t mean it doesn’t get to exist. Get a fucking grip.
Politicians. Good lord. As if it’s bad enough watching a bunch of rich, crooked assholes yelling at each other over anything and everything, these bourgeois members think it’s up to them to dictate we, the not 1% should be doing with our lives. It’s not good enough for them that they tax us to near-death, constantly pass laws that benefit anyone besides us, and engage in pissing contests with other countries around the world (I’m not speaking about anyone in particular either), they now feel they need to control the few things we have left that we enjoy.
I’m sorry that you miserable curmudgeons are bored of grandstanding, campaigning and fundraising, but do us all a favour and mind your own goddamn business. It’s bad enough we have to deal with you letting the FCC fuck us over, letting big pharma fuck us over, screwing over everyone via health care, taxes, hydro, rent and whatever else you’re taxing us for, we don’t need you to tell us what we should be playing too. Also, get your shit together in Chicago. What the hell is with that gaming tax I’m hearing about?!
Finally, the developers and publishers themselves. You’re not necessarily a huge part of the problem, but your endless caving to pressure from people who don’t often buy your products anyway is a sign that you don’t care about your player base, your audience. I don’t care that a bunch of moms in Australia are yelling at you about violence in Grand Theft Auto, I don’t care that Kotaku, Polygon and other major “games journalism” websites are writing a ridiculous amount of smear articles, because they think breasts and butts are offensive. Stop caving to the vocal minority, especially the ones who never planned on purchasing the games they complain about in the first place.
We all know that the people who are holding the torches and pitchforks outside your building never planned to buy Dead or Alive Xtreme 3, Senran Kagura, or any game with similar content. You caving to them does nothing to help your bottom line. You know what does help your bottom line for these games? Doubling down, supporting the people who actually put money into what you produce. You know, the sensible thing to do as a publisher.
But I’m not going to sit here and act like the conversations about this current wave of censorship from Sony has bad points and bad apples on only one side of the debate. Oh no no no, there’s plenty of stuff on my side that’s being said that I cannot stand either.
The Console Wars Doesn’t Belong Here
The most irritating thing I’ve seen during this entire wave of outrage, debates, arguments, screaming matches, and everything in between, has been this overwhelming hatred coming from people clearly anti-Playstation, or at the very least sitting on the fence, looking for the next bandwagon to jump onto.
Anyone who’s acting like this is a Sony problem is clearly looking through the biggest pair of rose-coloured glasses that has ever been produced. These same people are acting like Nintendo is the white knight of games because they’re currently not actively censoring games with sexual content. The reality is that EVERY SINGLE CONSOLE goes through a round of censoring this kind of content. Nintendo, Microsoft and Valve have their own history of censoring games featuring explicit sexual content on their platforms. Don’t act like Sony is the only one doing this, it’s just their turn.
I’m not defending what Sony’s doing right now, they are 100% in the wrong. But for anyone to defend the other consoles is insane, they have all done their fair share of censorship as well. You are more than in your right to call out Sony for their bullshit, but don’t talk to me about how great your favourite company this week is doing. This isn’t a fanbase battle, this is a gamer-wide battle that we all need to be fighting together. The console war needs to fought on a different battlefield, this ain’t the one.
This Isn’t The Hill To Die On
Lastly, this is the point that might get me in trouble the most, especially with people on my side of the debate.
Let’s get one thing straight guys. Yes, it is important that we fight back against censorship, but let’s be honest here, how many of us were going to buy these games to begin with? I will admit, when the heavy bashing of Dead or Alive Xtreme 3 was abundant, I nearly purchased a copy from Play-Asia just to spite people. But in reality, would have I ever bought any of these games? In about 90% of these cases, the answer is no. The only game released this year I would’ve bought that falls into the same jurisdiction as all these games was Punch Line. I still plan on buying it, just not at the price it’s set at currently.
But in reality, how many of us are buying these sexual visual novel sort of games? These are the bulk of games being censored and I imagine the majority of people shouting about it have not and will not purchase the games being censored. I’ve always said that you need to vote with your wallet and this works both ways. If you want something to keep being made, you have to buy it. If you want certain practices to stop, you don’t buy the thing in question. So to truly have a horse in this race, you gotta have put some money into it. It’s fine to put your two cents in, but the amount of screaming, rage and even threats I’ve seen people post, it’s pretty ridiculous considering these people likely don’t even own any of these games they’re sending death threats to Sony about. Come the fuck on.
This Is A Real Issue, But We Need To Fight Smart
The vast majority of us that are on the side of anti-censorship, we know what the outrage culture looks like on the other side of the debate. It’s full of lies, deceit, twisting of words, crying over nothing, fakeness, an inability to listen to truth and facts. We all know what the other side does. So let’s take what we’ve learned from being on the other side and apply that to how we respond.
Don’t fight with fake outrage. Don’t fight with death threats. Don’t fight with deplatforming. Don’t fight with lies, deceit, twisting of words and all that bullshit. If you truly want to fight this issue, do it the right way. Say your piece without bias. This isn’t a console war, this isn’t a culture war, this is just a phase. Like Valve, Nintendo and Microsoft, Sony will eventually concede and be a little more lax on the censorship front. It will go away eventually. But it will last longer if we turn it into a war, an unnecessary battle.
We’re better than that.