South Park, either the scum of the television or the work of a liberal media – it’s controversial at the best of times. So, when the South Park game was announced several years ago, you can imagine the disapproval from certain demographics.
Ubisoft has made many a game, but not one is more controversial than South Park: The Stick of Truth. Critics have praised the game, receiving generally good reviews, but pressure groups and classification boards have been less than impressed at its crude nature… But hey… It’s South Park.
Matt Stone, who also writes for the TV show, has criticised the censorship throughout the world. Seven scenes have been cut from the game, including a minigame on anal probing and abortion. Sticking close to the ‘traditional’ South Park script, the game features original voices and a storyline that sees characters take part in a medieval dress up.
Matt Stone has let his anger at the censorship be known. He’s angry. The console variants have been censored in Europe, Australia, Middle East and Africa. So, practically, the entire world.
PEGI rated the game an 18, so clearly this game isn’t meant for younger audiences. This means that it’s violent. That the violence is verging on “gross violence and/or includes elements of specific types of violence”. But we know that. That’s why there are classifications.
The American versions of the game remain untouched, so why would the European copies need doctoring? The can be said for South Park tv episodes. The matter is pretty grey.
The writers added:
We weren’t willing to change the content, but also it doesn’t ruin the game – it’s like 40 seconds’ worth of the whole game.
The explanation could lie in the differences between TV and video games. Generally, tv writers can demonstrate wrong behaviour and then the consequences that follow. Video games remove that control from the writer and sometimes, there aren’t any consequences. That makes people uneasy.
Personally, it’s a slippery slope and nanny state approach. The game is 18, so there should be no reason why children should be playing the game. Ratings are there for a reason and further bureaucracy encroaches on freedom of speech. Compared to tv, games face much harsher scrutiny. Games are the hot topic at the moment, the cool thing to ‘dis’. Understandably, everyone has different levels of tolerance towards certain material – subjects are controversial. Promoting discussion around controversial topics is the key to moving forward and the media can act as these catalysts.
Overall, the media are becoming more tightly controlled, like dogs on a smaller leash. We risk losing the creativity and flare in the market – becoming a bland mix of common sense and boringness. And that’s where South Park comes in. The antidote to that boringness.