Community Soapbox: In defence of sanity – why the Classification Board made the right call with Saints Row 4

Saints Row 4

By on July 25, 2013 at 4:25 pm

Welcome back to another Community Soapbox article! If you’ve got something you’d like to say to our community, check here for more information about how to get your thoughts up in lights.

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This is a response to the Community Soap Box: ‘In defence of Saints Row 4′s Alien Anal Probe’, written by PalZer0. Read that here.

PalZer0′s argument has ignored what I think are several key points.

Firstly, it’s important to note that the Board are not allowed to rate a game based on previous games in the series — which, to be quite honest, is a good thing. A game should always be judged on its own merits, including its context, content, plot and so on.

(This should apply to the reviewing of games as well, but it will never happen there. Thank God the Classification Board have to do it!)

Secondly (and I think ultimately) the most incorrect argument in favour of the Alien Anal Probe being allowed is “Destroy All Humans had it, and it’s an old game!”

Have any of you seen that weapon?

Well, let’s have a quick look at a video that shows what this “anal probe” weapon actually does.

So… all it did was make a little light appear on the NPC’s backside. That’s compared to, and I quote:

When using this weapon, the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air.

And somehow people are comparing the two weapons? Really? It sounds like something that should not be allowed in at all. It is, categorically, a rape weapon. Please, please stop trying to say that “Destroy All Humans had anal probes too!”. They’re completely different.

If you thought that getting an R18+ rating meant any old thing could be let in, well — let me clear that up for you.

The National Code, set in 2005, states:

RC GAMES:

(a) depict, express or otherwise deal with matters of sex, drug misuse or addiction, crime, cruelty, violence or revolting or abhorrent phenomena in such a way that they offend against the standards of morality, decency and propriety generally accepted by reasonable adults to the extent that they should not be classified; or

(b) describe or depict in a way that is likely to cause offence to a reasonable adult, a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 (whether the person is engaged in sexual activity or not); or

(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence

R18+:

Computer games (except RC computer games) that are unsuitable for viewing or playing by a minor

So, as it stands, the Classification Board is well within their rights to Refuse Classification to Saints Row 4 on the grounds that the weapon is causing sexual violence. Even if the game’s context somehow explained why this weapon was necessary, I highly doubt that the Board would allow it in anyway.

I submit that this is not a matter of opinion but one of fact. So here are the facts as I see them.

  • The anal probe weapon in Destroy All Humans is literally nothing at all like the weapon in Saints Row 4.
  • The alien anal probe weapon in Saints Row 4 is a rape weapon and cannot be “justified by context”.

Games will always have problems like this when they are designing games for their own ratings system, but not taking into account other ratings systems around the world.

78 comments (Leave your own)

Well put. I agree completely, though I do not think the game should be banned because of this, we clearly need an X-rating that allows for this kind of content. I believe adults are mature enough to make up their own minds about the type of content they wish to consume, hence why the R18+ rating was brought in in the first place.

I did not know that there were still restrictions in the guidelines (I haven’t read up on it at all actually – I just naturally assumed that the R18+ rating was for *everything* that was now allowed in the MA15+ rating or below, which I believe is a reasonable assumption).

That being said, I’ll be importing an uncensored version for myself. Not because I want the anal probe gun (couldn’t care less either way really), but simply because I don’t want my experiences modified by some silly restrictions. I doubt I really would have thought of it as a sexual violation anyway, given the ludicrousness of the entire franchise.

I mean, really, they have a shark gun that shoots fish-guts at people and then a shark comes out of the ground (as in, *not* water) and eats the fish-guts-covered target brutally). Not exactly realistic now, is it?

– My two cents.

 

Thank heavens someone actually see’s that a rape weapon should not be allowed in a game.

 

The problem isn’t that they didn’t follow the guidelines when rating SR4, the problem is that the guidelines are fucking stupid.

If you’re an adult, I think it should be up to you as to whether or not you want to play a game with anal probe weapons, not the government. Down with censorship.

 

An X rating is the last thing we need. There a simply things individuals and the community should not have access or be exposed to.

And besides, it’s not the R18+ rating that stopped the game being classified.
“The National Code, set in 2005, states…”
An X rating WILL NEVER exist because of that.

At this point I think it’d be easier for them to remove the anal-probe from all versions rather than having to deal with the localization issues of resubmitting a version without it to Australia only. It’s not like it’s a major feature or selling point.

 

Who cares, the only people who would purchase this game are ADD retards and even worse parents, i say let the human gene pool sink so low we have the right to remove them from society, similar to something back in the 40′s

 

stryker3216,

As inappropriate as that comment is, I just can’t bring myself to disagree with you…
XD

 

stryker3216,

Yeah, but only people with ADD would say something like that…

 

How exactly is the “Anal Probe Weapon” in Destroy all Humans NOT a rape weapon?
Why is it okay in one game but not the other, simply because of what we see? Are you suggesting that rape is okay as long as we don’t get to see it?

 

bloodreaver:That being said, I’ll be importing an uncensored version for myself. Not because I want the anal probe gun (couldn’t care less either way really), but simply because I don’t want my experiences modified by some silly restrictions. I doubt I really would have thought of it as a sexual violation anyway, given the ludicrousness of the entire franchise.

Yup, same here. for me It’s the principal that some middle aged women down there in some other state is dictating to me – an Adult who hasn’t been “under 18 years old” in quite some time – what I am allowed to play. I’m sorry what..?

It also sounds from what I’ve heard about it as a piece of crude, vulgar comic violence moreso than rape IMO, unless I’ve been living in ignorance all this time and the very real life terrible act of sexual abuse ends in the victims being thrown 40 feet in the air…?

 

It’s been clear from the get-go that games in conflict with the Board’s standards would still get an RC. The recent debate stems more from the integrity of their criteria.

Would most “reasonable” Australians be offended by the probe’s comic use, or even perceive it as sexual to begin with? Would “alien narcotics” giving a comic boost to a character encourage a “reasonable adult” to take real-world narcotics?

I think that’s where the debate truly lies.

 

stryker3216:
Who cares, the only people who would purchase this game are ADD retards and even worse parents, i say let the human gene pool sink so low we have the right to remove them from society, similar to something back in the 40′s

What an intelligent and articulate thing to say.

I had a chance to play SR4 at PAX, and although I probably won’t buy it, I can see why people would. It was a great combination of GTA and Crackdown (suit abilities) that I had fun playing with for 5 minutes.

 

sar84,

Context. Context. Context.
In Destroy all Humans you ARE an alien, and the impact of the weapon is very minimal. The games context supports the inclusion of the weapon.

In Saints the weapon is a gag. It’s reason for existence has no context and most of all, the impact of the weapon is quite large.

“The US President must save the Earth from alien overlord Zinyak using an arsenal of superpowers and strange weapons in the wildest open world game ever. ”

Where does ‘sexually violating random civilians by shoving a giant dildo up their arse’ fit in that context.

EDIT: Also as the article clearly states; All games are classified individually, on their own merits. NOT IN COMPARISON WITH OTHERS. Comparing Saints to DaH is pointless because that’s not how the classification system works. Saying things like “Saints Row isn’t a serious series” doesn’t get you anywhere because the Board doesn’t take the previous games into account when classifying a new one. Nor should they.

 

sar84,

Agreed. There’s a serious lack of consistency when it comes to rating games.

Also, the Rectifier (as it’s now known) was never meant to be a rape gun. It’s blatantly obvious (given the game’s plot) that it’s a mockery of the odd fixation that alien civilisations have with wanting to probe our butts. The series in general has had a long history of mocking or making jokes out of various things

Also, does rape cause people to be shot into the air? I didn’t think so.

This game is meant to be R18+ anyway. The people who this game is intended for are generally fully aware that rape is wrong and most wouldn’t even see the Rectifier as a rape gun (they’d see it as I saw it).

You also have to remember that the people in charge of making the decisions have to interpret the content and how it relates to the guidelines. IMO they misinterpreted the Rectifier.

 

jambo,

the problem with censorship is the halfwits that sometimes review certain items set before them… like L4D2.

But this is one of those instances where the verdict is accurate like above mentioned, even for an adult audience. Manhunt was also a brilliant example of an inappropriate artistic statement that was well deserving of its ban.

Manhunt was a good example of content that, realistically, could be appreciated as true art by only a small portion of intelligent adults. Those intelligent adults could also accept the very obvious way in which it could also be consumed by unhinged individuals as outright torture porn. Before ‘edgy’ became a marketing word, Manhunt lived up to that adjective to the extreme.

And that’s just looking at other adults being exposed to it. SR4 is far from being as extreme, or anywhere near to having an anal probe as an ‘artistic statement’ either.

Another fact not mentioned above is that there is a fairly regular glut of material the censorship board here, and in many other ‘free’ countries, receive that are, at the very least, ‘boarder line’ in how they are pro-child molestation, pro-rape, etc. I’m no fan of censorship either, but it does serve a purpose when it is intelligently aligned with the people and society it is meant to serve.

I remember when I was at uni in a writing class one guy wrote something that was exactly like that. An experimental exploration, for him, on looking at child molestation from a positive angle, like a traditional love story. Even from a purely objective perspective about the purpose of art/philosophy/whatever, there are some things that are just either irredeemably inappropriate as ‘entertainment’ or just shameless in its pandering to a ‘shock’ value.

Saint’s Row has been building with each game to cater to that specific tween-frat boy type of audience. This is clearly just another of their gimmicks for those types of gamers to go “wow, I can’t believe they put that in there.”

The same kind of audience that buys into that nonsense about CoD and Moh and BF ‘honouring the troops’ with their horribly inadequate plot points filled with impotent machismo. You know, for kids that will never take the time to watch something like Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, etc.

SR3, as a game, was pretty damn fun. But there was a LOT of content in there that was really lacking in taste, and a lot of the ‘shine’ in there (like the stellar voice acting as one example) was smeared by many low-brow elements (mainly the hipster-emo-hip-hop poser culture references/gags).

 

sar84:
How exactly is the “Anal Probe Weapon” in Destroy all Humans NOT a rape weapon?
Why is it okay in one game but not the other, simply because of what we see?Are you suggesting that rape is okay as long as we don’t get to see it?

Well yeah. Pretty much. Implying something completely brutal occured instead of blatantly depicting it isn’t exactly a new concept in any form of media. It doesn’t introduce anything new to the scene that you didn’t already know – they’re not the ones making that scene as horrific as you might imagine it to be. Censoring prior knowledge is a bit tricky…

 

bloodreaver: I believe adults are mature enough to make up their own minds about the type of content they wish to consume, hence why the R18+ rating was brought in in the first place.

I’m not sure where you (or others) got that idea.

Australia is a conservative country, most of our political leaders are Christian, and we borrow far too much of our national ideals from the US. Sex is a terrifying concept for anyone under 18, but glorifying violence and guns (with limited amounts of blood, of course) is not so bad. That kind of thing.

Censorship of any work of fiction is a bad thing, but you’re not going to get rid of it without moving country.

 

I’m generally against censorship for adults, but the board only gets to do what’s in the code even though some of it is up to their interpretation. Import games.

What I did find interesting is in the RC clarification section of the article
“(c) promote, incite or instruct in matters of crime or violence”
This one is interesting because don’t a hell of a lot of games do this? Sure the way they do it is a bit unrealistic, but so is whatever anal probe guns are in various games. If nothing else for Saints Row, a game that glorifies gang culture including stealing cars, killing police, etc, wouldn’t it also fail under this section? Is there more clarification to this section?

I’m glad that most games aren’t banned for that, but such an open interpretation rule leaves it available to ban just about any game that someone important doesn’t like.

 

Bloodbite,

The fact that there’s 2 community soapbox articles coming from either side of the fence is clear evidence that the decision isn’t wholly accurate. In fact, given the debate that has gone on in both articles, it’s clearly a divisive decision rather than a united one.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it was a split vote on the initial decision.

Also, why should the majority have to be protected from the minority? If someone was so unhinged that they’d rape someone or take drugs because of a game, they had other issues to begin with and need psychiatric help.

 

ooshp: I’m not sure where you (or others) got that idea.Australia is a conservative country, most of our political leaders are Christian, and we borrow far too much of our national ideals from the US. Sex is a terrifying concept for anyone under 18, but glorifying violence and guns (with limited amounts of blood, of course) is not so bad. That kind of thing.Censorship of any work of fiction is a bad thing, but you’re not going to get rid of it without moving country.

You sure about that though? Things like the Witcher 1 was actually perfecty fine here with it’s sex cards, as a twist it was the American version that initially got censored. Same with Farenheit, all nudity and even the ‘sex mini game’ was intact for us, whereas the American version “Indigo Prophecy” was edited.

 

As it turns out, you only get the anal probe gun if you buy the season pass. So we have an admittedly over the top game being refused classification for something that isn’t even part of the core game.

It’s entirely possible to buy the game and both DLC without the offensive weapon.

 
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