I decided to write this opinion piece after the reactions I was reading concerning the Refusal of Classification in Australia for Saints Row IV. Naturally the original posts I had seen from the majority of people on my Twitter/Facebook feed was anger. I can understand people who have been waiting for a game to be naturally angry if they cannot obtain it. However the majority of messages targeted the recently introduce R18+ Classification put in Australia to the point of “what is the point of that then?”
The point of R18+ in Australia?
I can tell you the point very easily: 17.
17 is the number of games given the R18+ classification in Australia currently. Without our years of fighting and defending mature content for mature audiences in this country, we would have had 18 games refused classification. Sure, some might try to argue or counter point that these may have slipped through or gotten in on an MA15+ Rating like many beforehand did. But that doesn’t stop a parent seeing their child play something that REALLY should be rated for an adult audience and making a bigger fuss that may lead to bringing in more restrictions.
This is all completely theoretical and really should not to be brought into this discussion on the topic of why Saints Row IV was banned.
But why was it banned?
In the Board’s opinion, Saints Row IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence
which are not justified by context. In addition, the game includes elements of illicit or proscribed drug
use related to incentives or rewards. Such depictions are prohibited by the computer games guidelines.
Now having sexual violence can unload a bigger can of worms than ever before. This is such a touchy topic and one that I don’t think the majority of people would want to see in a game without warning of what they are getting into. This doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be allowed in a mature adult world.
This was pointed out by David Wildgoose in a tweet when replying to the idea of all of it has no place.
A topic on this scale should have no place in a Saints Row game, based on their previous titles and scandals.
The board’s decision has come in, following the guidelines thet have introduced recently. This is a fantastic thing. This proves that the updates to our system are working. It has proved that there is still the other end of the spectrum. We have all been so focused on looking towards what can make it into the R18+ bracket, that we keep forgetting it is a bracket. Some things can go on the other side of this.
Does this make you a bad person for still wanting to play it?
Well, no, you might get funny looks from a few people – but curiosity is a powerful thing to have. I once heard about a movie, when I read the wikipedia article that described some… not nice events, beyond any level my mind had on classification. My curiosity peaked and I decided to obtain a copy of this movie and watch it. I was shocked, but expected it coming… but still shocked. Eventually due to “showing” people this movie I became desensitised to it and that is not a good place to be.
Now this movie got refused classification in Australia and so it well should! The difference with movies and games with our current rating board is that movies have a level higher than R18+ that can fit in another smaller bracket, the X18+, while illegal to sell almost anywhere in Australia (looking at you NT and ACT) it is still another bracket here.
When I worked at the video store in Queensland, where X18+ adult pornography can’t be sold or rented, we did have the option of R18+ for the customers. Some enjoyed the service, others complained it was “Shit”. Why? Simply put, the minute you see penetration in an adult porno, *BAM* X18+rating. That was a simple level needed by the classification board. Now if this showed say, child rape, *BAM* refused classification.
What does this have to do with Saints Row IV?
In truth? Everything. Obviously the developers have pushed some boundaries, as they have done in the past, and obviously somethings seen by the sensors have moved it up out of the R18+ bracket and into the next level, which for games is refused classification.
The point to having an R18+ Games in Australia is to allow adult content into games but without being completely open to everything. We need to have boundaries.
While the full report to the scenes in question has not been released, it is no reason to jump to conclusions to go against what the classification board has seen in regards to their criteria for each classification bracket.
What does this mean for Saints Row IV?
The publishers have decisions to make with the developers, they can appeal the rating, edit the content of the game or accept the decision. Right now, there is no reason as a fan of the series to be angry. Annoyed? Yeah okay. But this is not a bad decision on our government of laws. The fate of the game is still unknown at this early stage and it may still be released for those who want it to enjoy. Edited or not.
This is a good thing, we know where the other end of the spectrum is now in terms of game productions. We now have the next level. We can see in terms of real world product what has happened and not just “guidelines” from the classification board.
What do we do from here?
Yes, public opinion will cry out this is bad. Yes, some people will want to see WHY it was banned to give justification for the reason. But those who have fought for the introduction to R18+ games should support this move, regardless of the outcome in the future for Saints Row IV. We don’t know all the details or the plan in action. But what we do know is this shows that the R18+ is working.
We wanted a system that allowed mature content for mature ages, we have it. The R18+ is in place and 17 games have been successfully fitted into this category. Sure, some more government lobbying to inform the masses about this could be helpful. BUT it is there, it is in stores, the logo is up and it is working.
Just because this is the first that goes outside of that range does not make this a bad or wrong decision. It doesn’t mean we should hate the system the first chance it stops something popular. We need to accept and support the decision we fought for. For games with exceeding content to be banned and mature content to be accepted and available for those who wish to play them.
The R18+ is a good thing and doing its job correctly.
This is an opinion piece by Timmy from his own blog at fivecentsshort