From Pong to GTA V, it is undeniable that games have undergone a massive evolution in the past fifty years. While books and movies have offered a passive entertainment, games are the first really interactive media in history. And since we are the first generation which is experiencing it, it’s only natural that we question its power. This post offers a loose perspective on the effects of censorship in art and entertainment; on how it is affecting games and, even more importantly, on what it says about us as a society.
The Censor’s Dilemma
In 1997 the British Board of Film Censors de-facto banned Carmageddon, refusing to certify the game unless all blood and gore was removed (source). As a response, Stainless Games replaces human pedestrians with zombies and robots, changing the blood to green and black. This changed virtually nothing about its violent gameplay, but suddenly made it “acceptable”, highlighting a very faulty process. Other gory games were in fact allowed at that time, raising questions about which aspect of Carmageddon deserved to be banned.
This goes deeper than the very naïve “violent games makes you violent”. Games requires you to make decisions and take actions, and by doing so they make you an involuntary accomplice. What’s already bad is made worst by the fact that you are asked to do it yourself. A game that explores this very deeply is RAPTUS (play it here), which forces unwilling players to take part in what is revealed to be a (spoiler ahead)
The game was rejected from FGL with this message:
«I’m afraid that the game is just not appropriate for us due to the focus on
rape and murder.
The fact that it is so well crafted is what makes it feel in appropriate.»
FGL about RAPTUS
RAPTUS only contains five pixels of blood, but its message is powerful enough to be make them count.