Ever since the R18+ rating for video games was introduced at the start of the year, you’d think this’d all be over. We’d never have to worry about any video game ever being refused classification by the Australian Classification Board because we have the maximum rating – no video game could ever be so messed up that it’d be get refused classification now that we have the R18+ right? Well…it happened. Mark it down – Tuesday June 25th 2013 as the day the first video game post R18+ gets refused classification – Saints Row IV.
The reasoning, according to the Australian Classification Board, is as follows: “In the Board’s opinion, Saints Row IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context”. What makes this interesting is a number of reasons – it’s the first title in the series to actually be refused classification, and even then, they usually pushed the envelope pretty far. Hell, I thought the dildo bats was enough to get Saints Row The Third RC-ed. So you just have to wonder what exactly is in the game that’s pushed it over the limit. At this stage, no-one is commentating, but we’re bound to know soon enough once the official report is out there, or once someone from Volition/Deep Silver happens to explain just what the hell is in this game.
Again, this comes as a complete shock – having played it at E3, the worst thing that could probably tip it off is that one of the activities is called “Blazin”. However, it doesn’t involve drugs, it involves you running through a series of checkpoints. That’s it. Otherwise, it’s entirely possible that an appeal can take place, but for the moment – we have the first RC-ed game of 2013.
Update – 10:00am: Deep Silver has confirmed that Saints Row IV was denied an age classification in Australia. Volition are reworking some of the code to create a version of the game for this territory by removing the content which could cause offence without reducing the outlandish gameplay that Saints Row fans know and love. Saints Row IV has been awarded PEGI 18 and ESRB M ratings where fans can enjoy their time in Steelport as originally intended.
The report from the ACB describes the following as the instance of sexual violence:
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.