The Saints Row Furore


By: Hadyn Green
Published: Thursday 27 Jun 2013 9:33 AM
 
 
The why of it is interesting for a number of reasons... Hadyn Green
 

For those of you that missed the news, Saints Row IV has been banned in Australia. This is despite that country, as of January 1st this year, having an R18+ rating available - rather than the previous MA15+ top-tier option that itself was so contentious, for so long.

Publisher Deep Silver quickly went on the record to explain their plans for the game across the Tasman, which - given there's lots of people over there that want to play the game - aren't that surprising. They're going to strip out the most offensive elements of the title (well, the bits that caused it to be refused classification, anyway...) and release a version of the game in Australia that's legally allowed to be sold in the country.

What's still unknown, at the time of writing anyway, is which version we'll get; a tiny market, New Zealand is oftentimes supplied out of Australian warehouses. Despite the fact that the game has been rated (in its original form) R18 in New Zealand, allowing Deep Silver to sell the game unmodified here, that doesn't mean that they will; we're expecting to hear either way soon.

What has come to light recently, however, is why it was banned in Australia. And the why of it is interesting for a number of reasons...

According to Kotaku Australia, it all boiled down to one "key" element - and where that key is intended to be inserted:

The game includes a weapon referred to by the Applicant as an “Alien Anal Probe”. The Applicant states that this weapon can be “shoved into enemy’s backsides”. The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon.

When using this weapon the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air. After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians.

In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.

That doesn't leave a lot of room for interpretation; the Alien Anal Probe is clearly the central issue and, as such, it should be fairly easy to remove (depending on how the game leverages it, of course, but removing a weapon doesn't sound like something that should result in delays.)

In the full New Zealand Office of Film & Literature Classification summary of reasons for rating the game R18 (under the Films, Videos, and Publications Classification Act 1993 (FVPC Act)), it was noted that:

According to the distributor's logs, there is also [an] alien weapon that acts like an anal probe. This was not seen during the Office's examination.

This is because the office received a copy of the game that was “incomplete and still in a 'build' stage” along with “additional footage and detailed script logs”. This is not uncommon for when large games are being classified. Although the decision has been made, the NZ Censor’s classification can still be altered if it receives an appeal within the given timeframe.

The NZ Censor’s decision also notes many sexualised elements, but deem that these are part of the context of the game and fall within the remit of the R18 classification.

For violence, the decision notes:

In terms of s3(2)(f) [of the Act], while the game includes elements of extreme violence, it does so in a completely ludicrous and overblown manner that significantly limits the degree of impact. Therefore the game does not promote or support acts of the infliction of extreme violence.

The violence is balanced by a number of factors, such as the far-fetched and satirical nature of the game, and the lack of realism generally.

However, crime in the game is simply a means to an end, and the impact is lessened by the context of the game and the far-fetched, over-the-top manner in which it is presented. The consequences of crime are rarely dealt with by law enforcement, and despite the surface familiarity of a city setting, this is a city in which entire buildings can be destroyed, aliens roam the streets, and the player (a former leader of a gang) is now President of the United States. Civilians, too, behave in unintelligent ways and are limited in character type (for instance, the same 'old lady' or 'crazy man' are seen frequently, and often in the same time and place). The ludicrous and overblown nature of the game limits the degree of impact from the criminal activity.

So while it’s not yet known what version we'll see on store shelves come August 22nd, it is clear that this will be a ludicrous game at the very least.




 

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Comments (19)

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nemasis2004
On Thursday 27 Jun 2013 10:06 AM Posted by nemasis2004
Well, here's hoping that we get the unedited version. Come on Oz classification board, what's an alien anal probe between friends?
 
 
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cleggy
On Thursday 27 Jun 2013 10:12 AM Posted by cleggy
I received an email from Mighty Ape claiming that they 100% guarantee that they will be getting the full version of Saints Row IV on the official release date.
 
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sick_wierdo
On Thursday 27 Jun 2013 10:55 AM Posted by sick_wierdo
Even if for some reason the company that distributes Saints Row in NZ decides to go with the edited Aussie version, there's nothing stopping us from importing the uncut version, it's already been rated R18 here, so it would be completely legal to do this. Everyone just stop panicking! :-)
 
 
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dark_hadou1 NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 27 Jun 2013 10:59 AM Posted by dark_hadou1
27 June 2013, 10:55 AM Reply to sick_wierdo
Even if for some reason the company that distributes Saints Row in NZ decides to go with the edited Aussie version, there's nothing stopping us from importing the uncut version, it's already been rated R18 here, so it would be completely legal to do this. Everyone just stop panicking! :-)
Cleggy just stated that this will not happen. See: above :)
 
 
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LegacyEtheRBOLO
On Thursday 27 Jun 2013 11:11 AM Posted by LegacyEtheRBOLO
is saints row IV based on a true story? no, its one of the most fictitious games available. Games are made for enjoyment and the classification is there for a reason. Yet silly aussies put in a R18+ and still wont classify it? Useless. Gotta love the land of the long white cloud :)
 
 
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sick_wierdo
On Thursday 27 Jun 2013 12:18 PM Posted by sick_wierdo
27 June 2013, 11:11 AM Reply to LegacyEtheRBOLO
is saints row IV based on a true story? no, its one of the most fictitious games available. Games are made for enjoyment and the classification is there for a reason. Yet silly aussies put in a R18+ and still wont classify it? Useless. Gotta love the land of the long white cloud :)
The story revolves around an alien invasion, among other completely ridiculous things. Obviously, the Australian ratings bored have an issue with people possibly wanting to go out and kill aliens with a dildo after playing it, hence the ban.
 
 
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kiwibadboy NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Thursday 27 Jun 2013 7:41 PM Posted by kiwibadboy
The game is too unrealistic and over-the-top to be taken seriously, therefore making itunlikely that it's promoting sexual violence. I mean, have you seen someone having a dildo forced up her backside and picked up by it and propelled into air? lol
 
 
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haydensomething NZGamer.com VIP VIP
On Friday 28 Jun 2013 9:25 AM Posted by haydensomething
Our classification board have their heads screwed on
 
 
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haydensomething NZGamer.com VIP VIP
On Friday 28 Jun 2013 9:27 AM Posted by haydensomething
28 June 2013, 09:25 AM Reply to haydensomething
Our classification board have their heads screwed on
That being said.. If we see a rise in pronged anal probe attacks in relation to gang violence, perhaps we can blame the game then?
 
 
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joshdrought NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Friday 28 Jun 2013 6:33 PM Posted by joshdrought
this whole banning debarkle caused me to pre order me this game lol UK version of this game in the letterbox upon release
 
 
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grieving NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Saturday 29 Jun 2013 4:04 PM Posted by grieving
Thank god we have reasonable censors unlike our Aussie brothers.
 
 
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emetic NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
On Sunday 30 Jun 2013 4:32 PM Posted by emetic
I do actually have to wonder why the devs put that in the game in the first place.
 
 
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Seraphim NZGamer.com VIP VIP Bronze
On Monday 1 Jul 2013 12:30 AM Posted by Seraphim
30 June 2013, 04:32 PM Reply to emetic
I do actually have to wonder why the devs put that in the game in the first place.
Most likely because aliens have a strong presence in-game, and are highly associated with anal probing.
 
 
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Deanology NZGamer.com VIP VIP Gold
On Monday 1 Jul 2013 1:08 PM Posted by Deanology
I understand why they banned it - sexual violence, fair enough.
It is really an unnecessary thing to have in a game, an anal-probe/propulsion weapon.
Sounds like something out of South Park.
 
 
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emetic NZGamer.com VIP VIP Silver
On Monday 1 Jul 2013 10:30 PM Posted by emetic
1 July 2013, 12:30 AM Reply to Seraphim
Most likely because aliens have a strong presence in-game, and are highly associated with anal probing.
Ah, I see... totally relevant to the sandbox gangland scene. :D Lol
 
 
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BrionyRH
On Friday 5 Jul 2013 2:38 PM Posted by BrionyRH
My letter to the ACB.

Dear Australian Classification Board,

My name is BrionyRH, and I am 33 years old. I hold a respectable job as a high school teacher, pay my taxes, and abide by the laws of the country I love.
In return, what I expect from my country, is fairness, to be treated with respect, and as the mature and intelligent adult that I am.

Some exposition for you.
At the age of 18 it is deemed that I am old enough to get exploded by an IED in a foreign country serving in the military (actually the minimum entry for the Armed Forces is 17!), I’m politically aware enough to vote for representation in our democratic society, or run if I so desire (and if I don’t vote, I even face a fine!), and I’m also allowed to purchase age restricted toxins such as alcohol and cigarettes, which heavily contribute to road deaths and public health spending.

Apparently, however, I’m not old enough, wise enough, nor savvy enough about satire, sarcasm or irony to handle a cartoonish depiction of an ‘alien anal probe’?

I’m sorry, did you just sit me in the kiddy-corner? As far as I know, you’re not my mother or my father, and they lost the right and ability to do that a long time ago.

It IS your business to protect children from the nastiness that can be found in games of various genres now available; we agree there. If I had children of my own, I would not be allowing them to play Saints Row IV, or 3, or 2 or 1. That is what classifications are for, to inform people what is not appropriate for CHILDREN.
In case you’re not aware though, ADULT gamers fought long and hard to overturn the restrictions on gaming imposed upon us by ‘moral crusaders’ and largely ‘Christian lobbyist groups’ with whom I share very little ideologically; I don’t need saving from myself thank you very much.

You know what else?

If I, or anyone else of legally consenting age, be they male or female, feel the desire to have a foreign object inserted into my/their rectum violently or with the greatest of care, then legally I’m allowed to? Oh yes, I went there, because it’s not anyone else’s business what I do with/to my bum. I am also free to access pornographic imagery of such acts through the Internet, so why, now that you’re picturing all that, is someone with conflicting beliefs to me, allowed to decide that it’s all just too much for me to SEE a satirical depiction of ‘implied sexual violence’ as you call it?
Obviously I’m not talking about inflicting such a thing upon people I see randomly in the street, and that’s because, as a fully grown and mature adult, I’m able to differentiate what behaviour is appropriate in THE REAL WORLD, versus a digital one.

Did you know that I frequently play violent first person shooter games, and have never, NOT ONCE, shot up a shopping mall?!

You have access to films right? Of course you do, you have to classify them! Seen Hostel? Of course you have, you would have had to classify it! I can watch that, but I can’t comically anal probe someone in a game with cartoon graphics?
You do know that we’ve been watching Wile E. Coyte get set on fire, blown up, fall off cliffs, and flattened by anvils for years because he was only doing what his nature dictated right? OH THE HORROR!

I also question the board’s understanding of satire.

You do get that this entire game and it’s predecessors are so extreme(ly popular), because they’re a piss-take of all the pedantic protestations of morally conservative mostly religiously motivated mongrels, who ACTUALLY think that it is their right and responsibility to save my soul?

How about YOU respect MY right to decide what I do with my soul and my life, when those decisions are legal, and have NO impact upon you, nor on anyone else in this or any other country?

Stop treating me like a child.

Kind Regards,

BrionyRH
 
 
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Jacko-Rabbit
On Wednesday 10 Jul 2013 11:05 PM Posted by Jacko-Rabbit
Somehow i posted nothing??? this game is so messed up, it's a disorganised version of GTA really
 
 
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Maugapaia
On Friday 12 Jul 2013 7:57 PM Posted by Maugapaia
Damn try describing that to your parents... uh yeah.. it's an anal probe.... yeah.
 
 
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luke_skip
On Saturday 27 Jul 2013 3:43 PM Posted by luke_skip
If it's anything like saint's row 3 it may not be worth playing anyhow
 
 
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