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The Sony censorship policy and what caused it

Discussion in 'Gaming' started by Bryan^H, Apr 18, 2019.

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  1. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    Mortal Kombat is not a game whose sole focus is designed around a presumably-male audience hurting exclusively female characters while dehumanizing them and treating them as objects.

    The games facing issues with Sony are solely designed around a presumably-male audience sexually assaulting exclusively female characters, often time underage characters, and treating them as sexual objects who exist solely for the gratification of the male gaze.

    We aren't talking about things that happen in a game, we're talking about core concepts. Your analogy between the two games is heavily flawed. It's like saying James Bond movies are essentially hardcore pornography because they both have women who wear sexy dresses for 2 minutes.

    If you have trouble understanding the difference between the two, then that's on you. Sony's policy deals with sexual content, not violent content. You can criticize the fact that they haven't run into issues with violence, you can criticize our culture's views on violence versus sexuality, but the reality is that there's no actual argument for why Sony's policy should be applying to something like Mortal Kombat.

    EDIT:

    Jeff - the characters in the games that Sony's policy has affected are designed to be young or young-looking. Schoolgirl outfits, profiles saying their age, etc. back this up. http://www.pushsquare.com/news/2019/04/sonys_censorship_guidelines_tackle_sexually_explicit_depictions_of_underage_characters
     
  2. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    Let me ask a general question here:

    Are you guys (since its basically just guys here) okay with playing games that feature the sexual molestation of young children as the core gameplay conceit?
     
  3. LeoA

    LeoA Cinematographer

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    I personally wouldn't play such a game if one exists (Closest I've played was firing up Custer's Revenge for the Atari 2600 on my Atari 7800's Cuttle Cart II multicart one day). But I'm also not tying up women and leaving them on the track tracks near my house.

    Yet my 3rd achievement the other day as I finally started playing Red Dead Redemption on the 360 was for doing just that. It was all in fun, rather than being an indicator that I'm a threat to those that are around me. It's a fantasy world in a videogame. It's not real-life and you're not evil just because you sometimes play a game in a manner that in real-life would make you a mass murderer.

    I also don't play games with lots of gore, but I'm not out to censor them. It's just not my style so I find other games to play.
     
  4. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    My point was that the games that Sony has been upset with are not games that feature "sexuality" as a loose term, they're games that focus on the objectification of underage girls as sexual objects.

    Red Dead Redemption isn't a game designed around the core concept of murdering women. Yes, you can put a woman on train tracks and it's kind of messed up that there's an achievement for doing that (I believe it's unlocked for doing that to a woman specifically and you don't get the achievement if you do it to a man) but the entirety of the game doesn't revolve around the idea of murdering women. The games Sony has issues with are literally designed around the idea of "how can we exploit underage girls for adult men to gawk at them?"
     
  5. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Cinematographer

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    Again, please provide specific examples and evidence that the games Sony is censoring have underage women in them.

    Also, are you upset that Nintendo is not altering any of these games in any way?
     
  6. Message #86 of 106 May 23, 2019
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    I provided a link that gave a specific example and game series. It's at the top of this page.

    Your question about Nintendo is misstated. Sony isn't altering anything. They have standards and they're requiring that games adhere to those standards in order to be released on PlayStation. They're either saying "yes" or "no" to the game content. Your question makes it sound like they're saying "remove this." Functionally, the end result may be similar, but it's still different.

    I'm fine with Nintendo not caring about what's in these games, which are extremely popular in Japan. The Switch recently passed the PS4's lifetime sales in Japan. This suggests to me that the bread and butter of the PlayStation business is probably coming from markets that generally aren't very receptive to the idea of underage girls as sexual objects, whereas Nintendo's is in Japan.

    EDIT: Let me throw the question back another way: is there any content that you've seen be rejected or changed because of Sony's policy in a game that seems to alter the content enough that it renders the game completely different? For me, I don't think covering up skimpy outfits or omitting 2 items out of dozens (one made to blow girls' skirts up so you can see their panties and the other a gel you rub on the girls to make their boobs bounce more) elevates the issue to being significant.
     
  7. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Cinematographer

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    I did read the link and I didn't see anything there either other than vague references to "underaged" girls. Look I'm not for child molestation in any sense, nor am I ok with it being included in games, but as an avid gamer myself, I've yet to encounter a game that encourages the sexualization of children. The games I see that Sony is censoring are cartoon women that I don't see an age for anywhere, and their dimensions suggest otherwise that they are minors. Can you point me to a specific instance where you are encouraged to rub, jiggle or otherwise inappropriately touch a girl that is explicitly stated to be a minor?

    I'm confused on where your stance is on the issue. Nintendo is in Japan and Sony is also a Japanese company. If you're ok with Nintendo allowing it, then it seems your basis for support of Sony allowing the alteration is purely from a business standpoint rather that a moral one. If it were a moral one, then you would have issues with Nintendo allowing it. But if your stance is not a moral one, then why are you asking general questions like 'Are you ok with child molestation in games?"

    Further, your stance that other things are ok because "they are not the core focus" of the game doesn't make sense either. So you're a-ok with a game that has child molestation in it as long as that's not "the core focus?"

    I haven't seen any alterations that alter the game in a fundamental way. They are purely cosmetic changes from what I can see. However, I don't think that justifies them and that it is completely besides the point.
     
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  8. Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    That is click bait, opinion piece with an agenda.
    Come back when you have facts to back up the claim you make about anime characters being young children. I'll wait.
     
  9. Message #89 of 106 May 23, 2019
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    Bryan^H

    Bryan^H Producer

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    The argument about anime characters as underage girls is ridiculous, insane really.

    For the most part anime characters have never been age centric-they are cartoons first, and foremost.
    It is like trying to determine the age of Bugs, Bunny, or Daffy Duck. It doesn't work.
    Even when ages are given to anime characters in rare instances, it does not always equal out to how they are drawn--
    Here is an article explaining that no matter how young or old an anime character may look, it doesn't mean a thing.
    https://www.ranker.com/list/anime-characters-who-dont-look-their-age/anna-lindwasser

    [​IMG]
    Photo: Masamune-kun's Revenge/Silver Link

    Kinue Hayase presents one of the most extreme examples of an anime character who doesn't look their age. She's a 42-year-old mother of two, but you'd probably guess that she was in elementary school.

    Her cute, flirtatious nature is a source of major embarrassment for her kids.
    [​IMG]
    Photo: Lucky Star/Kyoto Animation

    Kanata Izumi isn't the only character in Lucky Star who doesn't look her age, but she's definitely the most extreme example. Her actual age is never specified, but before her death she was a married adult with an infant daughter.


     
  10. Message #90 of 106 May 23, 2019
    Last edited: May 23, 2019
    Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    The article I linked to was not quite what I'd call clickbait with an agenda (I'd say it actually argued against Sony's censorship...did you read it) but ok. It specifically called out the Senran Kagura franchise, which features a lot of anime girls that are explicitly described by the games as being underage.

    I'm having a hard time trying to say I agree with your point that "these games don't feature underage girls in sexually explicit situations" (my summary) because your proof is an unrelated article about how anime films/shows have characters with unspecified ages and who look young. We're not talking about those things, we're talking about a specific list of videogames. We should stick to the very specific list of a handful of videogames that have been affected by this.

    Granted that we don't have Sony's policy in written form to look at, but if it boiled down to "no sexually suggestive/explicit material involving characters that are underage" would you be upset with that?

    EDIT: Upon a tiny bit of research, I found that there were some interesting bits of "censorship" that have gone on in the last few years. Did you know Witcher 3 was censored in Japan? Or that Fire Emblem Fates was censored in the US? Until Dawn was censored in Japan too! It seems people only get upset when the censorship involves boobs in the US release, not when it involves boobs or gore in the Japanese one.
     
  11. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Cinematographer

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    This is my biggest issue with the policy. Sony wants to control whats on their platform? Fine. But it should be something definable and consistent. From what I understand, it's literally not defined, just a board room of execs who decide willy nilly on a case by case basis. That's why this is just affecting random obscure anime titles and not any major AAA releases.

    Regarding censorship in Japan, I didn't know that. I'm in America and am not up to date on what's going on there. I'd be curious to know if it's Sony itself responsible for those censorings vs. the countries laws itself. We've seen similar situations like in Austraila cutting scenes out of South Park and the Stick of Truth, and Sony having nothing to do with it.

    I've played one Senran Kagura title (estival versus) long before this policy was a thing, and I don't recall anything secifically stating the girls were underaged. There also wasn't any explicit nudity in it, even pre policy.
     
  12. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    What I've read is that the policy actually is defined, but not made public. It's their old policy that existed for many years and just simply wasn't enforced. It would basically be the equivalent of Nintendo today going back to their policy from the early 90s regarding blood/gore, nudity, religious symbols, etc.

    And while I agree that not having the policy be public is concerning, I'm not sure that really matters. If Sony came out and said, "Here's our policy, this is the content we don't want being associated with our brand," would anyone change their mind? Would anyone in this discussion suddenly be totally okay with the end result of this policy if it was made public? Or would we just have a more specific set of rules that we would be talking about?

    The Fire Emblem game I mentioned was actually censored in America. It had a scene that reference gay conversion therapy and it was removed from the US release. Nobody seemed to mind and I don't remember huge waves across social media or HTF over it.
     
  13. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I'm catching up on this and I have some thoughts.

    To answer your question, no. That would not be an acceptable game on any platform.

    Yes, misogyny in video game culture is real, and toxic.

    Sony's response is wrong headed. Censoring content like they are doing never has a real effect.

    the problem is there is a false causation. It's the whole "Watching pornography leads men to rape" ideology. It simply doesn't. If you look at the porn viewing numbers, our civilization would have ended if it was actually dangerous. Porn is largely banned in countries that have horrible human right records in regards to women.

    It's no different that saying "Music causes suicide" or "Natural Born Killers causes murders." The numbers don't match up, have never been proven in court and isn't considered real by the majority of psychologists. Media is not a causation of behavior, it's a reflection.

    Censoring boobs and butts isn't going to make gaming better for women. It's not going to make it worse. What it will do is continue to hamper video games from being considered a legitimate art form, only due to not respecting the creators original intent, regardless of how juvenile or stupid it may seem.
     
  14. Message #94 of 106 Jun 5, 2019
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    LeoA

    LeoA Cinematographer

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    It's specific to murdering a woman specifically because it's more messed up in the context of the game.

    Most of the male NPC's in Red Dead Redemption are armed and able to defend themselves. The woman characters as makes sense for the period, typically are housewives, teachers, etc. They're not strolling around town with a sidearm ready to blow away the player that decides to attempt to hogtie them and use them to earn an achievement at the nearest train tracks.

    So it only makes sense for an achievement named "Dastardly". It's not some hidden anti-woman agenda from Rockstar or evidence the designers of the game don't believe in gender equality by allowing the player to earn it with a man.
     
  15. Message #95 of 106 Jun 5, 2019
    Last edited: Jun 5, 2019
    Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    Russell - I agree that watching pornography does not lead men to rape, but exposure to certain content does normalize it to the point where some people believe it to be the standard reference. If that were not the case then we wouldn't be seeing measles outbreaks because of YouTube videos or Flat Earthers having conventions. The premier of "13 Reasons Why" on Netflix, for both seasons, coincided with a sudden large spike in teenage suicides. So if young people are exposed to sexual content that shows women solely as sexual objects, they will start to believe that...well...they are. Will this make them rape women or assault people? No, but it will normalize the viewpoint that women are to be viewed as sexual objects serving men, which does have a variety of psychological cascading effects.

    The problem with this line of thought though is that Sony has not once expressed concern about that particular issue. Nowhere have they said that they fear teens or kids will play sex-based games and suddenly turn into terrible people. Their concern is more of a PR thing. And for what it's worth, they're also enforcing their own rules that were written a long time ago. The bigger issue is that they are all-of-a-sudden enforcing these rules after a decade or two of not enforcing them and not giving the developers a heads up.

    And again, I think you're viewing the entire thing through the same lens as everyone else: there is nothing guaranteeing that a developer can put whatever content they want on Sony's PRIVATELY OWNED AND OPERATED platform. That's what self-distribution on PC is for.

    As for the answer to my question, where you said that games featuring the molestation of children would not be acceptable, well...that's basically the kind of content that Sony is trying to keep off their platform. Look at the specific examples of content that they've rejected, look at the content from those games that was kept, and tell me how big of an issue there really is there. (I'll also highlight that the changes to content were made by the DEVELOPERS, not SONY, and there's no information suggesting that Sony gave specific recommendations on how to censor the content.)

    EDIT:

    Leo - talking further about the Red Dead Redemption example, I basically have 2 points. First off, whether we like it or not, it apparently did not violate Sony's rules for content in games published on their platform (and I do not believe it would violate their new rules, either). Second, I see a big difference between the fact that the Dastardly achievement is referencing a pop culture trope and a tentacle porn game where you rape an underage female character because it's titillating for some people. If RDR let you watch the woman's face express terror while she was run over and then rummage through her splattered guts and the entire basis of the game was on committing acts like this against solely female characters, then I might be in more agreement that this is offensive, but I honestly feel like you're playing devil's advocate for a position you don't truly agree with simply to try and cast the other content in a less terrible light. You're trying to make the point that all of the content should be available but you're also kind of arguing that none of it should be.
     
  16. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Morgan, I'll disagree with you on youtube videos being the cause of measles and flat earthers. I wont get to far into it since it potentially invokes the "No Politics" rule of the forum, but you mustn't have missed all the legit news outlets lending ample time to vaccination causes autism fear mongering and the proliferation of crypto-science being presented on science channels the past 20 years. I would think that had more of a sweeping change in culture that proliferated these things that tits in a video game. And yes, that is part of normalization. But that's beside the point. If a teenager is contemplating suicide, something that has happened has already triggered them. the youtube video or netflix series may be the "final straw", or mom being late from picking them up from the mall, or any other thing that hit them emotionally that day. I don't know how many views those vids have, can you honestly say the majority of those viewers are now anti-vax/committing suicide? It's a larger problem, and more at play then simply saying "art/media is the problem." People get drawn to accepting/seeking this stuff from outside the media itself. What's going to more influential, a bikini in a video game, or a streamer telling his audience that he "talks to" everyday that date rape is a myth? "If youth are only exposed to women as sexual objects", that would be a problem, but it's not Sony's responsibility to parent. The failure of sexual health studies is a societal one, not a media one.

    I missed seeing actual child molestation in the previous games mentioned here. I'm speaking more of issues where games are seen fine on the main system geared at gamers and families, from Xbox and Nintendo, that Sony is wringing their hands over. Maybe someone can do a rape study to get statistics on how many Switch player commit assault compared to PS4 users?

    I do agree with you that Sony can do whatever they want with their platform. I just think it's stupid, and I think myself and others should be able to tell the company that we supported with our dollars prior to this change that it is stupid. I had no idea prior to this thread that if I bought Devil May Cry 5 it would be censored. And yes, I can see tits on the internet, but that's not the point. Blockbuster chose to carry edited versions of NC-17 movies on VHS for a period, and now they are out of business because they interfered with artistic intent! How's that for a causation? ;)
     
  17. Morgan Jolley

    Morgan Jolley Lead Actor

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    There's a lot of academic research showing a causative effect between people spending large amounts of time on YouTube or certain websites and radicalization (talking in terms of anti-vax and Flat Earth stuff, though the resurgence of literal Nazis in America is connected to it). The problem is that the algorithm purposefully directs people towards content that has high rates of engagement, meaning you could start by watching some funny videos of people falling or a guy ranting about Star Wars and end up only 5 clicks away from being told that the Earth is flat. Exposure to that content over long periods of time actually DOES cause people to change their minds. This has become an issue for facebook because their hired fact-checkers have become radicalized by the content that they're assigned to check and they start believing these conspiracy theories. This has been widely reported on for the last couple years.

    Nowhere did I say that art/media are the problem, but they are absolutely triggers for certain things in certain people. Am I suggesting that Netflix stop producing a hit show because some teens are killing themselves after watching it? Not necessarily, but I AM suggesting that it would be Netflix's decision to air the show in the state that Netflix sees fit, regardless of the producer/writer's intention, on Netflix's privately owned and operated service.

    I also don't think that Sony is enforcing these rules because they're worried about contributing to the rise of sexual deviants or anything like that. Instead, they don't want to see a controversy pop up when a little kid's parents get mad that their child was watching a person stream a sex game on a PlayStation 4. It's literally just covering their own butts. It's the same as a movie theater refusing to even run an NC-17 movie on the off chance a little kid sneaks in and tells mom and dad.

    Have you looked at the specific games in question and the specific content that was changed? It's nowhere near as draconian of a move or the content as inoffensive as this discussion makes it seem. Like, it really is mostly the sexual representation of underage female characters.

    And as I pointed out earlier...nobody seemed to care when Nintendo was censoring games to remove references to gay conversion therapy a year or two ago, so why is everyone so upset about...child boobs in an anime porn game?
     
  18. Jeff Cooper

    Jeff Cooper Cinematographer

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    You keep harping on about "underage female characters" and "child boobs", yet I'm still waiting for you to produce some kind of evidence that the characters in question are "underage".
     
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  19. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I can kind of see where Morgan is coming from with this, since they DO look young, but it's also an art style that pre-dates video games. It's been an issue with Manga, is will always be an issue with Japanese/Asian things coming out west. That said, if two out of three companies think it's fine, what's the problem with Sony?

    "There's a lot of academic research showing a causative effect between people spending large amounts of time on YouTube or certain websites and radicalization (talking in terms of anti-vax and Flat Earth stuff, though the resurgence of literal Nazis in America is connected to it). The problem is that the algorithm purposefully directs people towards content that has high rates of engagement, meaning you could start by watching some funny videos of people falling or a guy ranting about Star Wars and end up only 5 clicks away from being told that the Earth is flat. Exposure to that content over long periods of time actually DOES cause people to change their minds. This has become an issue for facebook because their hired fact-checkers have become radicalized by the content that they're assigned to check and they start believing these conspiracy theories. This has been widely reported on for the last couple years."

    The algorithm thing is 100% valid. Radicalization though starts in the home. In the majority of the cases these videos amplify things people are already feeling. If you're a lonely mope who thinks girls are mean, and you find a bunch of videos telling you that you are right, is it the video triggering you, or you fulfilling your destiny? Because one person falls down a rabbit hole of miss-information on youtube, I can't see a woman's butt in a videogame? Do you see the disconnect I see? As far as fact checkers, that a whole other can of beans and not really correct to lump in with the average kid/person watching youtube vids.

    Would banning high bodycount movies like John Wick stop school shootings? If I play GTA IV, am I more likely to pay a hooker for sex and then run over her and steal her money after than someone who plays Tetris but is physically abused by a caregiver?

    Is a butt shot in Devil May Cry 5 keeping women down, or is literally millennia of women being treated as second class citizens in virtually every corner of the world regardless of faith or creed more culpable? Is it more dangerous for a kid to see boob flesh in a switch game, or for that same kid to have no access to any sexual healthcare?

    Sony is trying to do something optically right in good faith to look like a progressive company, but it's still silly and mostly meaningless. My guess is that Sony is using MeToo as an excuse. A more valid reason would be to get ahead of stricter Sestra/Fostra type legislation, but if they said that, they would explicitly saying this was sexual content. That would put a huge bullseye on them by the pseudo-religious groups that are always out to ban everything.
     
  20. Message #100 of 106 Jun 5, 2019
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    LeoA

    LeoA Cinematographer

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    I'm not sure where you got that all from, Morgan.

    I found the achievement entertaining and not offensive in the context of fictionalized videogame entertainment. I in fact got it naturally early in my playthrough, not realizing it was even an achievement until it popped.

    I originally brought this up to you to make the point that just as this doesn't make me a would be murderer since I tied an innocent videogame NPC and watched her get run over by a train, enjoying a game with anime style characters that could be interpreted as underage doesn't suddenly make one a pedophile.

    And frankly the stuff likely to be affected basically is a non-event where my tastes are concerned, so I read your post with your interpretations of my opinions with some amusement since it's just not all that important to me at the end of the day.

    On modern platforms I'm primarily playing classic arcade and console games (For instance I've yet to really do anything but play Atari Flashback Classics 3 on my PS4, despite owning it for over half a year), racing games, and other such stuff that is unlikely to offend sensitive minds or run afoul of a platform holder's content standards.

    The one game I worry might stay locked away permanently these days because of political correctness and similar agendas is Konami's Sunset Riders, and that would be voluntary rather than a Sony driven policy to hold it back from their platforms. But considering Konami hasn't released the arcade original since console hardware became powerful enough to emulate it (A good 20 years now), it probably wouldn't be happening anyways.
     
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