Videogames are not for everyone: Don’t censor them
A few weeks ago I was dishearten to find out that South Park: The Stick of Truth was heading to Europe censored. South Park: The Stick of Truth is a videogame developed by Obsidian Entertainment and published by Ubisoft. It is based on the well-known TV series (South Park) and its scenario is written by the series’ creators and screenwriters, Matt Stone and Trey Parker. It was released on March 7, 2014 on Xbox 360, PS3 and PC.
Anyone who has watched even a single episode of South Park will be used to the series’ sharp, spicy and sometimes phlegmatic humour, that I personally love. The videogame’s designers wanted to create a title that would reproduce the same special philosophy as the series. It is a game that aims towards the franchise’s fans and even broader audiences that might not be aware of the series but would happily watch it if it was introduced to them.
However South Park: The Stick of Truth came to Europe censored; the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions have scenes cut out. The missing parts contained either strong sexual references or had Nazi-related content. Ubisoft EMEA decided to censor this content from the game thinking that it would be extra offensive for the European audience. Well, that’s a foul.
First of all, South Park: The Stick of Truth is a game with an 18 PEGI rating, making it suitable for adults only. I’m not the one to judge whether an 18-year-old person is or is not mature enough to be exposed to such content, however I find it rather unfair to censor a videogame and not a film – with the same content – just because the first has cartoonish graphics and looks more childish. The game is censored in Australia too. The cuts were made by the Australian Classification Board, but the people “down under” are known for their conservatism.
Apart from this, there’s something else in Ubisoft’s stance I strongly disagree with: South Park is not for everyone. The series aims towards a smart, liberal, open-minded audience, with a strong sense of humour and sarcasm. Since Obsidian wanted to recreate the series’ atmosphere, South Park: The Stick of Truth could not have been a generic series tie-in videogame and I am sure that Ubisoft knew how special, odd and peculiar the title was from the very first moment they began thinking about publishing it. Why would they want to spoil something like this? What were they thinking?
Of course I’m in no position to answer the above. I want however to point out that not all videogames are suitable for everyone. There are games for adults and games for minors, epic titles and casual ones, family games and role playing adventures, sports simulations and party games. There are so many one can choose from, so why would someone want to kill that diversity by censoring them…?