in Discussion, Games

Censorship in Games: Violence, Sex and Fig Leaves

Are You Afraid of the Dark Sex?

Our stand on what’s acceptable in games (and what isn’t) automatically reflects the scale of our moral values as a society. This is especially true with regards to sex, which is still one of the biggest taboo modern society is facing. We are allowing young people to play games that are incredibly violent; at the same time, shielding them from accessing sex-related contents. Exposure to consensual sexual scenery is perceived by most parents as more dangerous to children than violence.

Our stand on what’s acceptable (and what isn’t) in games automatically reflects the scale of our moral values as a society.

In the past years Robert Yang has been bringing to light a series of experimental games which explore different aspects of being gay, often from an over-sexualised perspective. By exaggerating certain aspects of our society, Yang makes some very clever statements. Nudity is never gratuitous in his games, and plays a vital role for the delivery of his message. Despite this, two of his games (Cobra Club and Rinse and Repeat) have been banned from Twitch (source) because their gameplay is heavily centred on nudity.

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What is truly worrying is that this might send a negative message for the LGBT community. Yang’s works are placed in the same list along with RapeLay and Rape Battles, two games which feature gratuitous scenes of sexual assaults. When LGBT sex and rape appear in the same list, it’s the sign we should be start worrying.

Both his games are available on itch.io, but no payment option is available. This is because of the “intentionally vague policies against certain sexual content” that PayPal is enforcing, “where they arbitrarily decide which ‘certain’ sexualities deserve money” (source). Once again, this act of censorship which is supposed to protected customers, perpetuates and enforces a moral judgement onto all those professions that orbit around sex.

Between Two Evils

What is exactly that makes something as right as sex becoming more dangerous than something as wrong as violence? The real question is how do you define wrong. In the Western culture, sex is still a social taboo. Besides the religious and cultural background that our society has inherited from the its very violent yet prude past, perhaps there is a more immediate answer. Games who are depicting extreme violence are doing it in a grotesque, exasperated way. The conditions that allow you to kill hundreds of people with an assault rifle (or a 2-meter long sword) are hardly replicable in real life. Extreme violence is, most of the time, fictitious; which is exactly what makes it somehow ridiculous and not worth emulating. Sex and sexual assaults, on the other hand, are much easier to emulate. From this point of view, what makes sex worse than violence is that the type of violence you see in games is much harder to emulate. Hence, it might not be that much of a concern. There are lot of videos on YouTube explaining how to build a nuclear bomb, but their content is not even remotely as dangerous as the ones who are teaching how to 3D print a working gun.

«Allowing images of violence while disallowing images of consensual sex […] adds to the mystique of sex as something that men must fight women to have possession of.»

Samhit, Femsting

All of this, however, must not be an excuse to blindly censor sex. Paradoxically, it’s the lack of a proper sexual education that involuntary promotes dangerous behaviours. Censoring sex only fuels a morbid curiosity and can be even more damaging than a honest and gradual education.

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