Refused classification 2: Double standards

Feature

– Charlie Braithwaite

The sequel to the critically acclaimed retro style shooter, Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been out for some time now. Most of the gaming world has mastered its levels while listening to the banging soundtrack, yet Australians are still left twiddling their thumbs and wondering what could have been.

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Some of you may be aware of the controversy regarding the classification of video games in Australia. In short, it is terrible. For a long time there was no R rating for games, so games that should be rated R were refused classification, leaving Australian consumers with a censored version of the game, or no game at all. There was hope in January 2013 however, as games were now able to be rated R. Adult gamers rejoiced that they would no longer be left behind when it comes to content.

Yet, despite all the changes to video game classification, we are still left with a broken system. But what was it about Hotline Miami 2 that had the classification board up in arms?

A report from the classification board states “the protagonist character… strikes a female character wearing red underwear. She is knocked to the floor and is viewed lying face down in a pool of copious blood. The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him.”

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Due to this the game was refused classification as it contains a depiction of implied sexual violence that exceeds what can be accommodated within the R 18+ classification category.

Except the report fails to mention that as this is happening a director yells “cut”. Yes, it is all simulated. In fact the report added things to the game which make it sound worse. Your character does not thrust whilst on top of the actress and the addition of specifying “rear entry or anally” adds a level of violence the extremely pixelated top down perspective of Hotline Miami could never capture.

Sexual violence is, of course, horrible and has the potential to offend players regardless of context. Which is why the developers put in an option before you start the game to skip that particular scene.

But why is it that we can have popular TV shows and movies show sexual violence, but having it in video games is a step too far? Is it double standards that one medium can have depicted rape, yet another can’t?

A spokesperson from the Attorney-General’s Department told LoadScreen “The classification guidelines for films and computer games were previously combined.  In agreeing to introduce an R 18+ classification for computer games, Ministers believed that separate guidelines for computer games would be better able to address those aspects of computer games that make them different to films, especially interactivity.  At the upper level of content the guidelines for computer games are more restrictive than the previously combined film and computer game guidelines, particularly in relation to the elements of drugs, sex, violence and language.”

So to sum it all up, gamers are getting short changed on content due to the interactivity of the medium. Huh… seems kind of pointless. Interacting with a game hasn’t really caused anyone at LoadScreen to do anything out of character.

When Charlie isn’t out jumping on turtles or killing prostitutes to get his money back he can be found manically tweeting about his rabbit or a dog he saw once @clbraith

 

Editor/Co-owner

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