Opinion: It’s time to speak up against Sony’s draconic censorship policies

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In light of the censorship policies Sony has announced and spoken up about, Dustin gives us a reason to why we should speak up against Sony’s censorship policies and why they are detrimental to the gaming industry.

Censorship. I’ve been asked this time and time again when it comes to interactive multimedia (video games). Each time, I’d shrugged it off as I’d never really contemplated what it would mean to me as a gamer and a fully grown man. You see, I’ve been playing games since the mid to late ’80s starting out on my father’s lap with an NES playing The Legend of Zelda and Duck Hunt only to continue my adventures for the next three decades and still going strong.

But recently, I’ve been asked this question again after Sony’s Interactive Entertainment Japan/Asia President Atsushi Morita made his public statement regarding censorship in their games during a Sony-focused fan event. I’ll share the direct quote from NicheGamer’s article; the outlet who reported first on this event that has unfolded:

During a fan-focused event in Japan, fans could ask key staff various questions. A fan asked SIE Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita what’s going on with their new policy on sexual themes in games, and how they could balance freedom of expression and non-kid friendly games.

“About the censorship, we tried to meet global standards,” Morita said. “Regarding the balance of the freedom of expression and safety for children, it’s a tough problem to deal with.”

It’s worth noting the reports of Morita’s comments are being published in various popular Japanese fan websites like Ebitsu and 5ch. An official reporter wasn’t there, but we’ve reached out to Sony for a comment or clarification on the matter.

Now, I have to explain something. I am all for protecting children. I always have been, I’ve been adamant in our Children’s Corner articles (returning January 2, 2019) about how to protect our youth in the current world of gaming as it evolves. But before I continue, you need to know where I stand on adult-focused games in our current day and age.

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It’s time for the veil of censorship to come to an end

For nearly a three decades, I know that the gaming industry has continued to protect our youth and ourselves from content that they deem unworthy of our attention. For those same three decades, we’ve seen various amounts of censorship come to life. They changed crosses on churches to hearts to protect those who may be sensitive about their religious beliefs. We’ve seen sprites in Final Fantasy titles get minor changes to their attire to seem not as risque as they are; again, to protect our children.

As I grew up, my taste in games had changed. I’d soon start playing adult-themed games such as DOOMWolfenstein, Fear Effect and Parasite Eve; all of which continued on with their adult-focused themes. Some blood, some gore, one focusing on semi-sexual themes of scantily clad spies and the other the horrors that could happen if mitochondrial manipulation went out of control.

As I came into my teenage years, I’d even follow up with Metal Gear Solid and taking note of the sexual themes behind antagonist Sniper Wolf. But I wouldn’t stop there, I’d continue taking note of sexual and adult-themes in games like Mortal KombatLeisure Suit Larry, and a handful of other characters.

My expanded knowledge of adult-themes in games would begin to grow as my interest in writing about games would begin. I’d start picking games apart, learning just how these games pulled in gamers both young and old, the small hidden design decisions that differentiated from one to another in order to help lure players in.

On the PlayStation 2 I would be drawn into games like Sakura Wars: So Long My LoveShin Megami Tensei’s Digital Devil Saga, and even AOI that would teach me the values of friendship, companionship, love, the idea of what it is to be human and even how every little decision you make carries an impact in the world around you.

It’s these very experiences that drew me into the PlayStation brand for over 20 years. Now, here we are, on the verge of Sony’s next generation of consoles as this one prepares to wrap up with a bang. Adult themes will remain heavy within their games as we head into the zombie-like world of Days Gone, the final moments of the Kingdom Hearts franchise with Kingdom Hearts III and the ultra-realistic classic world Feudal Japan in Ghost of Tsushima when they all launch in 2019.

However, now, I must reflect on the changes to my games. I’d never realized just how much censorship had been hitting my games. I was only recently introduced to franchises like Senran Kagura, which has fallen victim to more censorship than any game on the market. I’d not taken note of the changes made to the Hyperdimension Neptunia titles for North America.

To be honest – I’d not realized how bad censorship in gaming had gotten until the release of Agony – a non-Japanese title from Madmind Studio – had gotten. Now, we’re on the precipice of our own extreme censorship through massive censorship due to the latest statement from Morita-san. If we want games to continue to evolve, to allow for adult-focused games mature in their own artistic right, we need to stop letting censorship happen.

Even Valve has acknowledged this as of recent with the changes to their policies on Steam regarding Adult Only games, which has allowed games such as Agony Unrated to find a much-needed market for the fullest vision of Madmind Studios’ imagination to flow and deliver the experiences they had promised their fans in their original Kickstarter campaign all those years ago.

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Nintendo has already allowed nudity on their platform

With the changes in our technology and the protections put in place for young gamers, companies like Nintendo and Steam are already evaluating adult-themed games. Agony and Hollow – both featuring female nudity both above and below the waist. Just because of these parts of the human body is being shown, publishers like Sony Interactive Entertainment see this is sexual content. Let me say this again in case you didn’t hear those at the back of the crowd: This not an indicator of sexuality, but rather the artistic nature behind their character designs.

Nintendo – one of the strictest companies in the world regarding adult content – has already acknowledged this and lifted the veil on their censorship policies. They are opening up the doors little by little to allow creative freedom from game developers and publishers alike.

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But things aren’t seemingly getting any better over at Sony, not after the most recent post from XSeed GAMES, a company we often review for after they recently revealed that they’ve had to delay SENRAN KAGURA Burst Re:Newal is having to be remastered as they remove the “Intimacy Mode” for the North American and presumably European versions of the game.

If people want to play slightly controversial games – let them. They’re going to find a way to do it anyways and censorship is just one lame way to make them absolutely do so outside of importing the game itself. Sorry Sony, you’re already doing more damage than you are good and plenty of fans are fed up with the excuses. Personally, I don’t play the games for their sexualized themes, but for the action that they offer.

But what about other games like Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart to the point that I’ve already considered a Nintendo or Steam version of the game. The censorship policies Sony has in place is draconian and it’s time for Sony to man up and show the fans they are for the fans, by the fans and that they want their fans to get the games they want and deserve. Not these half-assed censored pieces that they are forcing out the door because they are concerned about “the safety of children”.

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Yup… That’s the censorship on the PS4 version. Even boob jiggles were removed.

Sony isn’t protecting anyone, not even themselves and we can see right through the lie itself

Sony, as much as I’ve begun to love them as an Xbox fan, has shot themselves in the foot. Their argument about protecting children holds as much weight as Microsoft’s excuses for their lack of exclusive titles. There’s no argument to be had. Children will see what they want to see. The only thing between them and doing so are parental controls and responsible adults that enable them.

It’s not about Sony protecting kids. It’s about Sony not wanting to allow for adult-focused experiences without their oversight. They are stuck in the past and they’ve put this out on display for the world to see and it’s already being met with a hefty amount of criticism. Don’t believe me? Here are just a few Sony fans actually speaking out against Sony’s abysmal changes to their already-in-place censorship policies:

While these are only small examples of our thoughts regarding these changes, fans are not happy and they are already starting to boil over just a tad in regards to how they feel about these mild examples of just how pissed fans are. They aren’t just censoring JRPGs or Graphic Novel titles. They’re censoring everything – even games about drinking and being in a bar fight only to drink a tidbit more and gaining even more strength from the beverage used.

Not like that hasn’t happened in games before. We’ve seen it time and time again. Hell, I can get my Grand Theft Auto: Online character high as a kite, drunk as a skunk and then go drive my car or fly my jet right into the side of another player if my heart so desires. Hell, I can even watch this on basic cable if I wished. Not like a child or anyone else, myself included, couldn’t see this elsewhere. It happens more often than not on television shows and in movies.

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Shawn Layden, president and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America, addresses the audience during the Sony Playstation press conference before the opening day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo, known as E3 in Los Angeles, California on June 15, 2015. AFP PHOTO / MARK RALSTON (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

Fans aren’t loyal to Sony – They’re loyal to the experiences they have

As it’s already been pointed out by more than a single person, not all of us are loyal to Sony. I’m certainly not. I was a Vita fan, not a Sony fan. I was a PlayStation 2 fan for the JRPGs until the Xbox 360 offered better games ranging from Lost Odyssey and Blue Dragon both, not the Xbox 360 itself.

I owned all three consoles in that generation and continued to do so for the JRPGs I wanted to play: I wasn’t a loyalist by any means, but I preferred Xbox due to what they had to offer at the time. I still am and will always be a Sega loyalist when it comes to hardware. I still play my Dreamcast to this very day and even have an unboxed one put up for collector’s sake.

I play PC games because there are a wide array of games I can play, a way to fix the censorship issues through the use of mods and even play the games how they were meant to be played thanks to Valve’s new policies on Steam. Something all hardware manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo should consider. But who has the worst censorship out there? Well, I’ll let you take a look at a picture from HeyPoorPlayer and determine who’s is who’s as far as the censorship of Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heart goes.

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If you guessed the middle one being the PlayStation 4 version, you’d be correct, that’s the tidbit Sony requested censored. Sure, it’s suggestive in nature, but it’s nothing compared to what players see in games like God of WarGrand Theft Auto or Dead or – oh wait, they already hit Dead or Alive Xtreme 3: Scarlet. But they aren’t even hitting games like Agony moving forward.

Come on Sony, quit being petty as Hell and grow a pair.

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It’s time you speak up against Sony’s censorship policies with your wallets and social media

Sony’s decision to censor games has me looking at other places to play my games. Whether it’s my Nintendo Switch, our PC here at Blast Away or even my Xbox One; I’m considering all options as viable ones outside of exclusive titles. I won’t buy censored titles on the PlayStation brand, it’s not what I’m about and I’m all for creative freedom and the growth of adult-focused entertainment on the PlayStation brand.

I’ll take my time to grab games like Senran Kagura, Hyperdimension Neptunia, Nora to Oujo to Noraneko Heartand various other titles on the platforms that will allow the experiences developers and publishers want to provide us with to the fullest extent. As it’s been said time and time again: My loyalty isn’t to the PlayStation brand, I passed on a PlayStation 3 until almost the very end and only received a PlayStation 2 around half-way through the lifespan of the console itself.

Before that, I was still playing my Dreamcast, my GameCube and even my Xbox Classic to my hearts content until my dad brought home a PlayStation 1 with Parasite Eve and Resident Evil games. While Sony is where some of my best experiences started – I no longer have to worry about that. Developers are branching out, major games are losing exclusivity on the PlayStation family and before long: PC, Xbox, and Nintendo could catch up if not surpass Sony as a whole.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this backlash hurts Sony just as hard as Microsoft’s lack of first-party exclusives had hit their rival.


Editors Note: All views in this article are solely that of the writers and do not reflect Blast Away the Game Review/Blast Away Gaming as a whole. If you have questions or concerns, please read our ethics policy here.


About the Writer:

dustin_batgr_prof

Dustin is our native console gamer, PlayStation and Nintendo reviewer who has an appetite for anything that crosses the borders from across the big pond. His interest in JRPG’s, Anime, Handheld Gaming, and Pizza is insatiable. His elitist attitude gives him direction, want, and a need for the hardest difficulties in games, which is fun to watch, and hilarity at its finest. You can find him over on Twitter or Facebook.

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4 thoughts on “Opinion: It’s time to speak up against Sony’s draconic censorship policies

  1. It feels like the video game haters accepted that they cannot win the fight to censor violence so they targeted other content instead. How silly that murder is deemed okay but bikinis are not. The rules seem to apply only to niche games because big Western companies get a pass on things like sex. Protect the children? Many of the titles in question are rated for older players.

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    • Exactly. I think it’s questionable as to why they have taken these new steps in our current gaming client. I really feel that it’s time for them to re-evaluate the concerns they have since parents can just set up their parental controls.

      Liked by 1 person

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