Gaming’s Double Standard Censorship
A short overview of the issue of violence and nudity in games, and the sad state of current censorship policies.
Saints Row 2 is a game that doesn’t just hide in audacity; it’s constructed a nuclear fallout shelter out of the thing. Even by standards of sandbox crime games (I.E. Grand Theft Auto) the game is pretty solidly ridiculous in the sheer number of things you can do. Which is why it seems so bizarre and twisted that the same game that lets you hijack cars (illegal), buy, sell, and partake in explicitly-named drugs (illegal for the pot, anyway), commit insurance fraud (illegal), murder hundreds of people with little consequence in a truly astounding number of creative ways (illegal), bomb buildings (illegal), spray sewage and worse over the city (hilarious), and dozens of other activities will go to great lengths to prevent you from seeing a nude human body (not illegal, particularly since there are no minors in the game).
This is an issue that many have brought up before, but it bears more mentioning because something is seriously wrong here. It’s not the first game to censor its own nudity while making violence and illicit activities so explicit, and one would be hard-pressed to defend Saints Row 2 as a “mature” game (in content, not rating) considering how absolutely over-the-top it is, it’s a very visible indicator of this sort of double standard. It gets particularly bizarre in that it even – probably unintentionally – supports the argument that, as R.E.M. put it, “a nipple is a nipple,” since both the male and female characters in the game seem to sport the exact same texture. It literally is the same nipple, with the only difference being the shape of the body around it.
The body is subjected to this double standard in terms of censorship; where the most aggressive, direct, and in-your-face violence up to and including scenes of torture are left uncensored, while you’d think a female areola was the eye of a basilisk for all the censorship. (And, amusingly enough, my word processor doesn’t recognize “areola” as a word. Fitting.) It feels trite and campy to say this, but let’s face it; games do glorify violence a lot of the time. It’s the prime selling point for most action games, particularly with the recent trend towards hyper realism in shooters. Most of the top-selling major games that have come out in the last five years that aren’t sports games have been rated the local equivalent of 17+. It’s not hard to see where the concerns for video games causing real-world violence comes from, baseless though they may be. So why the double standard?