Respawn: Censorship and MMOs
Censorship is one of the most fun topics we have in the MMO industry because it affects us all and how we enjoy games. I’m going to get a little bit armchair philosophical here but morality is a fun thing. Morality has no true ruleset where good and bad is clearly defined. Philosphers throughout the ages have all tried to explain their own version of morality as the one true correct one, but then fallacy shows up and shows the error in their ways.
So what we, as a community, think is acceptable, others may not. To this extent, censorship shows up. Steam has recently censored a game called Rust which is yet another survival game where your character can be nude. A lot of screenshots showed up of the nude characters, which in turn had Steam request that they default censorship on and remove any and all nude photos from the stream.
This has two interesting parts: the first, Steam is cool enough to let them do whatever they want with their game and even feature it on the front page. Second, Steam’s censorship was very very mild. Is it censorship? To ask that people aren't assaulted with naked bits without opting in? I'm not sure!
Warning: We're showing a view of the censored game a lil bit down.
MMOs as they come are extremely tame. There are only two MMOs that I can think of that get anywhere in the realm of “naughty” with either nudity or gore and that is Age of Conan with its bare breasted ladies and tons of gore and The Secret World which has bloody monsters I guess? Anyway, MMOs are hyper tame.
The reason being of course it that sweet aim at mass appeal. The nicer / friendlier a game is, the broader the spectrum. However, part of me asks - why not an adult game? Brick & Mortar sales mean nothing so the ESRB declaring something Adults Only wouldn’t really stop it from being sold. I’m not talking porn levels here, I’m talking hyper realistic gratifying nudity and gore.
Not everyone is into that and I get it and honestly, to a degree, I prefer the fantasy setting, but I really wonder just how big of a market exists for something that pushes the envelope a little bit and caters to adults with adult tastes. Think like Dead Space online or something to that affect, where blood comes oozing out of everything.
The problem would be censorship, of course, as a lot of online markets would shy away from it. The one to carry the game the easiest would be Amazon who, I mean, sells pretty much any item that exists on this planet and then some. The rest might have a tough time selling something that pushes the envelope a little bit.
Of course, going F2P makes things a little bit different. There would be no need to sale an actual CD-key to join and play and would pretty much get past any censorship that Internet had to offer. Allowing all the gore and sex that they would want.
I think it’s an interesting though experiment. Obviously, no big name is going to take a risk and not market to the mass market and indie developers at this point and time have to deal with the Steam saturation to get attention to their products that getting anywhere these days is tough.
What do you think? Should we see more sex and violence in video games or should we continue with the status quo?
In the meantime, enjoy this reuse of Duke Nukem (p.s. I still don't have a PS4).