South Park Creator Says Video Games Face "Double Standard"

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South Park Creator Says Video Games Face "Double Standard"

South Park: The Stick of Truth censorship

South Park co-creator Matt Stone says the interactive nature of video games still makes some "uncomfortable."

South Park: The Stick of Truth released earlier this month and, as expected, the game was filled to the brim with crude humor and irreverence. That said, not every gamer has been privy to all of the game's hilarious content. While the it hit stores uncensored in the United States, versions released in Europe and Australia had some of the game's more controversial bits cut out and replaced by text descriptors. Commenting on the game recently, South Park creators Matt Stone and Tray Parker called this a "double standard" compared to what they can put on television.

"It does feel like a double standard," commented Stone, who said that TV, especially in recent years, has become "crazily more permissive." Comparatively, Stone says that he was told flat-out that foreign markets would give them a harder time about The Stick of Truth. "I was told that Australia has different standards [for video games]," he said. "They have their own ratings system, as does Europe, so I was told that we had to submit it for ratings and they come back and tell you this will pass, this won't."

These different standards, of course, led to the censored versions of the game, something that Stone has made peace with to an extent. "As long as we could make a joke out of the fact that they made us cut [content], that was fine." Such compromises are no stranger to Stone and Parker who, in the past, have been forced into similar situations by Comedy Central. That said, Stone expressed that he can perhaps understand why controversial content in video games sometimes makes people uncomfortable. "There is an interactiveness that makes it different. In movies and television you can do stuff that's morally grey very easily... in a video game there's a reason why everything is a Nazi, zombie, or alien - these are pretty clear moral choices," he said. "There are things that make people more uncomfortable in an interactive world, definitely. But that said, what we had in the game, we could have shown that on TV pretty easily, especially now."

Source: The Guardian

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I still think those text descriptions are not only really clever, but also genuinely funnier than the uncensored stuff, but I'd say Stone's correct nonetheless.

That's probably correct but seeing I'm here in 'Merica, I can only ask this and assume I know the answer.

From the descriptor, the anal probe scene in "Stick of Truth" is what got censored (maybe more stuff was too but let's stick with this example). In the very first South Park episode, Cartman gets anally probed (it's happened multiple times in the show but that's the one I remember). Was that censored in Europe/Australia?

I'm guessing it was not with what Stone said in that last quote but it'd be a good baseline test to see if he's right.

Either way, I do agree with his overall point; people tend to shy away from the especially violent and sexual content in games that you could have in something like "Game of Thrones" due to the interactivity. It's easier for some to stomach a man slicing another man in half with one hand while groping a maiden wench in the other when it's on "Game of Thrones". Take that same exact scene except as a video game where I press X to kill and press B to grope and all of a sudden we're crossing the line.

I kind of get why...but not really.

Strange... You see, the anal probe thing is Episode One stuff, very old and very well known. It should have lost its impact in the South Park context regardless of format. Ah well, I know the correct response to this...

Stone? Parker? Release a DLC that mocks the interference of other countries by having an extra mission where the guys have to deal with agents of other countries trying to hold up the game in a fourth-wall-breaking sort of way.

StewShearer:
These different standards, of course, led to the censored versions of the game, something that Stone has made peace with to an extent. "As long as we could make a joke out of the fact that they made us cut [content], that was fine."

LOL, wut?
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/132690-South-Park-The-Stick-of-Truth-Wasnt-Censored-By-PEGI

That article was posted on March 5th so I am curious as to why you didn't call shenanigans in your article.

The censored message is pretty clever, but I'll also say that the original scene, however brief, was pretty hilarious, especially since the probe was working with such vigor and sense of purpose.

I don't even LIKE South Park the show, but the game is pretty awesome so far.

I never placed the South park creators with high esteem when it comes to their IQ. Regardless what they say, it makes no sense that the censors would allow some formats to be uncensored.

Can't they now release an "optional" patch that by-passes Australia's censorship laws?

I live in Germany and South Park's cuts are a really strange case of "mass appeal":
The console versions have been cut to achieve a 16 years rating (at least in Germany, PEGI rates differently). The PC version was not cut and is rated for 18 year old players. All versions have been modified so they don't show the Nazi symbol - there is a law in Germany which prohibits the distribution of those symbols in something else than educational material or art (and nobody has proven in front of a court that video games are art yet). But nonetheless the scenes discussed here were not removed due to a law (at least in Germany). They have just been removed to be sold to a bigger audience. So Matt Stone is not very well informed why those cuts were made in this case.

I for one am not too miffed by all this, the New Zealand Steam version escaped being censored.

Suck it Aussies!

Sarge034:

StewShearer:
These different standards, of course, led to the censored versions of the game, something that Stone has made peace with to an extent. "As long as we could make a joke out of the fact that they made us cut [content], that was fine."

LOL, wut?
http://www.escapistmagazine.com/news/view/132690-South-Park-The-Stick-of-Truth-Wasnt-Censored-By-PEGI

That article was posted on March 5th so I am curious as to why you didn't call shenanigans in your article.

You're confusing Ubisoft's decision to enact content cutting with Matt & Tray's desire to keep the content in while working with Obsidian. M&T were essentially extra hands with Obsidian, helping shape and create Stick of Truth, but Ubisoft's fear of backlash and outrage forced them to cut the content. They, as Matt uses the term, is more towards Ubisoft instead of the rating boards, but Ubisoft's reaction can be a symptom of the rating boards'/governmental bodies' desires to keep interactive media "child friendly".

Ed130 The Vanguard:
I for one am not too miffed by all this, the New Zealand Steam version escaped being censored.

Suck it Aussies!

You just added insult to injury, kiwi. How dare you?! Go back to your sheep!

....

I is kidding. Still though, really salty over the fact that despite us getting an 18 rating, I believe last year just in time for The Last of Us, this can't be seen. Not only does my copy of GTA 5 on the couch have scenes where in I hire hookers for lovely car sex, but an entirely naked cult and lapdances for only 40 dollars!

And yet South Park, a show which has been shown for many years and uncensored - gets censored!? REALLY?! Fucking oldies running the Australian Game whateverthefuck.

I also love the fact that I actually once saw an actual IRL sex change on South Par, the show, which was shown by Mr Garrison getting his sex change and it flicking in and out of IRL view. As in, full view of the doctor cutting the testicles out. Not the nicest thing. But I'm fine with it, because I CHOSE to watch it. And then the South Park game who's abortion scene involves seeing nothing except for the player jabbing things with needles and a probe scene from the side gets banned? REALLY?!

King Whurdler:
I still think those text descriptions are not only really clever, but also genuinely funnier than the uncensored stuff, but I'd say Stone's correct nonetheless.

I actually disagree, so I think this is a matter of opinion. I originally bought the Steam version of the game and got the crying Koala. The image itself was funny to a degree, but just served to remind me how conservative the Australian government is. After the second time i saw the koala, I quit the game and downloaded a patch for the uncensored version and started again.

What I found was that the uncensored version was far more enjoyable to me. If you enjoyed the censorship, that's fine, Matt and Trey tried their best to make a compromise that wouldn't screw over the consumer completely, but the anal probe and abortion mini games were utterly hilarious by comparison.

Thank god for PC and the ability to workaround shit like this.

FalloutJack:
Strange... You see, the anal probe thing is Episode One stuff, very old and very well known. It should have lost its impact in the South Park context regardless of format. Ah well, I know the correct response to this...

Stone? Parker? Release a DLC that mocks the interference of other countries by having an extra mission where the guys have to deal with agents of other countries trying to hold up the game in a fourth-wall-breaking sort of way.

Better yet: Make an episode. It will have a more wide-reaching audience.

FalloutJack:
Stone? Parker? Release a DLC that mocks the interference of other countries by having an extra mission where the guys have to deal with agents of other countries trying to hold up the game in a fourth-wall-breaking sort of way.

"Hey, new kid! You may not know this... But, the world you're living in is a world that we created! And, it seems that some secret government organization in our world is trying to censor out your world from the inside-out... We hope that you will be able to help us take care of them before we have to censor another part of this world to fit their backwards agendas... We know you can do it because, based on how the player has created you, you have what it takes to shut them down for good! You can do it, new kid!"

Add in some Matrix/Inception references throughout this whole DLC quest and you got yourself another 5+ hours of gameplay...

OT: Damn video games and their censorship! It's just like the rise of films or the rise of books... When will we learn that we don't have to keep doing these censorship-like traditions on every new medium that's breaking big these days? I'm starting to think this "think of the children" stick is even less powerful[1] than the Stick of Truth, through the eyes of the adults...

[1] as a legit excuse

I don't see it as that big of deal to cut those specific scenes. They weren't the greatest jokes anyways. However, I got stuck on the anal probe scene because I can't repeatedly mash a button to save my life, making the scene about ten times funnier than it should of been.

I do find it kind of silly to censor the scenes because it is a South Park game and people know what to expect from it. The show has been hugely popular for almost 20 years, and it's not rare for them to explore anal rape subject matter.

Ed130 The Vanguard:
I for one am not too miffed by all this, the New Zealand Steam version escaped being censored.

Suck it Aussies!

The irony is that not a single game that has been 'censored' has actually been so on my PC/consoles, it's so easy to get around it because the law doesn't ban owning the uncensored version, thus you can just import/buy from gamersgate etc etc.

The problem with the ratings board is that they don't actually sit down and play the games/watch the shows/movies etc, it actually comes down to what the publishers write in the form and a few clips showing things they consider potentially controversial which they submit to the classification board that they go off. So the way something is described in the form and presented in the footage can make all the difference as context in most of these cases is everything. That's why GTAV got through where as SR4 got changed.

StHubi:
All versions have been modified so they don't show the Nazi symbol - there is a law in Germany which prohibits the distribution of those symbols in something else than educational material or art (and nobody has proven in front of a court that video games are art yet). But nonetheless the scenes discussed here were not removed due to a law (at least in Germany).

As an outsider and not from Germany I can understand the laws about Nazi symbology, the courts want a water tight way of banning the use of it with as few loopholes as possible. Is it right? Not sure but I can understand the reasons for it, as for the whole anal probe and abortion thing. Its pretty far from my sense of humour so I do not find it funny it all, neither puke, pee or faeces. I don't think it should have been censored though but again I can see the reasons, a gritty RPG like the Witcher would probably have gotten away with it but in the eyes of the censors they would have seen a cartoony game and thought it would attract a young audience instead of thinking "well its South Park".

SourMilk:
I never placed the South park creators with high esteem when it comes to their IQ. Regardless what they say, it makes no sense that the censors would allow some formats to be uncensored.

IQ levels aren't taken all that seriously, to be honest. In the words of Stephen Hawkins, "I have no idea. People who boast about their IQ are losers".

Besides, they've made a career out of recognising social issues and dumbing it down so people who aren't in touch with said issues can laugh at how ridiculous they are. Its also the most consistently intelligent show out there. That's got to say something for their intelligence, especially if people drop that assumption that being immature doesn't mean you're a dumbarse.

Matt Stone you are talking out of your arse. The game wasn't censored like you guys would have us believe, you cut the cunting content out for Europe! There was an statement from the ESRB literally 2 days ago saying that they approved the uncensored version. Stop trying to pretend you were forced to cut content out for Europe, you weren't. I don't get it, are they trying to engineer an issue about this or something?

I think the problem is actually the people doing the ratings seem to have certain thoughts hardwired into their heads

Thoughts such as things like comics, animation and video games are all exclusively for children and as such things are banned, blocked or otherwise censored on that basis.

Gather:
Can't they now release an "optional" patch that by-passes Australia's censorship laws?

'

I think that would be a bit illegal don't you think? Sure seems like it.

DarkhoIlow:

Gather:
Can't they now release an "optional" patch that by-passes Australia's censorship laws?

'
I think that would be a bit illegal don't you think? Sure seems like it.

Nope, not at all. A very recent (and very similar) example would be the anal probe weapon from Saints Row 4. It had to be removed from the games default weapons you can find due Australia. Their solution? Make it an optional DLC (right away with the Season Pass or very recently on it's own), also available in Australia.

JimmyPage666:
Matt Stone you are talking out of your arse. The game wasn't censored like you guys would have us believe, you cut the cunting content out for Europe! There was an statement from the ESRB literally 2 days ago saying that they approved the uncensored version. Stop trying to pretend you were forced to cut content out for Europe, you weren't. I don't get it, are they trying to engineer an issue about this or something?

This is what is known in PR and Marketing circles as a non-news article. In short it's an article that is spun out for the purpose of being picked up by the news sites to post. These ads serve as nothing else than advertising the devs don't have to pay for. getting an ad banner on your site costs money... making a newsy sounding article that talks about your game... free.

I do think the standards should be different for interactive things. Not that it should be the only thing that matters in what rating it gets, but making the player do something is different than making the player a passive observer in it.

Video-games do face harsher regulation, though, because they are still considered a 'children's thing'.

Well, Not fond of censorship but is it really fair to look at it as a double standard and basing it essentially on cultural differences related to international countries?

I mean think about it. If it were in episode format, what difference would it make? While the base content would be broadcast here in the states, once repackaged, invariably those same international restrictions would come into play and when broadcast to those communities it would be done so with their intended levels of censorship.

So I think they might just be trying to look at it too hard by simply not looking hard enough. Its really not all that different and really I think that such a response comes more from a perspective of simply being in an unfamiliar and uncomfortable medium more than there being an actual double standard.

Captcha : Go Berzerk.

LOL Amen.. Thats what I say. Give em all the room in the world to express any and all unfiltered vulgar thoughts that might breeze through their minds. Sure some will be offended, I certainly wont. I say bring it on, cause I still to this day have found very very little that truly offends and upsets me.

Lil_Rimmy:

Ed130 The Vanguard:
I for one am not too miffed by all this, the New Zealand Steam version escaped being censored.

Suck it Aussies!

You just added insult to injury, kiwi. How dare you?! Go back to your sheep!

....

I is kidding. Still though, really salty over the fact that despite us getting an 18 rating, I believe last year just in time for The Last of Us, this can't be seen. Not only does my copy of GTA 5 on the couch have scenes where in I hire hookers for lovely car sex, but an entirely naked cult and lapdances for only 40 dollars!

And yet South Park, a show which has been shown for many years and uncensored - gets censored!? REALLY?! Fucking oldies running the Australian Game whateverthefuck.

I also love the fact that I actually once saw an actual IRL sex change on South Par, the show, which was shown by Mr Garrison getting his sex change and it flicking in and out of IRL view. As in, full view of the doctor cutting the testicles out. Not the nicest thing. But I'm fine with it, because I CHOSE to watch it. And then the South Park game who's abortion scene involves seeing nothing except for the player jabbing things with needles and a probe scene from the side gets banned? REALLY?!

You should see what happens in the scenes following that little mini-game.

Lets just say if Ubisoft wanted the game to have a lower rating then it would have been a better idea to remove the entire abortion clinic mission where you end up fighting

I have to admit I didn't know whether to laugh at the entire thing, feel ashamed for laughing, or stop playing.

The probes look like penises and having them sticking in a kids arse etc was deemed ban worthy. But in a game rated 18 and with graphics simplistic and cartoony i just dont see the point in censoring it. If it was photo realistic then fair enough, you could understand even if you dont agree. But with South Park, those things like probes etc are expected. :-)

J Tyran:
As an outsider and not from Germany I can understand the laws about Nazi symbology, the courts want a water tight way of banning the use of it with as few loopholes as possible. Is it right?

That's the way it is meant to be. The only exceptions are art and educational purposes. In all cases glorification of Nazi stuff will always be banned regardless if it is art or educational material. Video games do not fit into those two categories in Germany at the moment.

To make video games count as art in Germany a company would have to go into court and has to prove that their game is really art. But that did not happen yet as this company would not be allowed to sell the game (in a version with Nazi symbols) until the court has decided on the case. Lost sales would surely be the result and so far no company has tried this. Even in the best case this would probably only be a success for a single game and it would have to be repeated for every new game...

StHubi:

J Tyran:
As an outsider and not from Germany I can understand the laws about Nazi symbology, the courts want a water tight way of banning the use of it with as few loopholes as possible. Is it right?

That's the way it is meant to be. The only exceptions are art and educational purposes. In all cases glorification of Nazi stuff will always be banned regardless if it is art or educational material. Video games do not fit into those two categories in Germany at the moment.

To make video games count as art in Germany a company would have to go into court and has to prove that their game is really art. But that did not happen yet as this company would not be allowed to sell the game (in a version with Nazi symbols) until the court has decided on the case. Lost sales would surely be the result and so far no company has tried this. Even in the best case this would probably only be a success for a single game and it would have to be repeated for every new game...

Games are in a funny position, some are just pure entertainment, others are art and some are educational. Some games mix the elements and be entertaining yet contain art and another might be educational art.

Personally I am not on board with the games are art thing, not all games at least. Many games can contain art and some might be making an artistic point but in general? No they are not art, is generic shooter #54895849 art? Sorry no, is a game like Journey art? Maybe, its certainly very artistic.

Games have to be judged on a case by case basis, any game wanting to use that horrible image would have to prove it was used artistically. How many judges would actually be able to make that call I don't know.

I now have the mental picture of several 40+ year old people sitting in a room playing[1] the South Park game. And I can see the look of disgust on their faces. And it is fantastic.

I'm glad there's a joke about the censors there as-well as the lazy (but still funny) text descriptions.

[1] or watching someone play. I'm not sure how these things go down.

J Tyran:

Games are in a funny position, some are just pure entertainment, others are art and some are educational. Some games mix the elements and be entertaining yet contain art and another might be educational art.

Personally I am not on board with the games are art thing, not all games at least. Many games can contain art and some might be making an artistic point but in general? No they are not art, is generic shooter #54895849 art? Sorry no, is a game like Journey art? Maybe, its certainly very artistic.

Whether something is art or not is not based on it's quality, you can have shit art and generic shooter #54895849 is (shit) art.

I've no sympathy for him. At all.

Just because you can get away with it in America doesn't mean you can get away with it every where else, yes, shocking as it might be to some America isn't the gold standard for the rest of the world.

Just a heads-up for those that didn't get the memo and are raging against "fascist" censors: Nobody censored them. It was Ubisoft who cut the scenes from the game, and then played victim. As fine as the game is, this is pretty obvious and despicable attention-trolling, something concocted in the putrid pits of the Ubisoft Marketing dungeon. I particularly like how it paints Europeans as prudes when most of Europe wouldn't bat an eyelid at it. PEGI certainly didn't.

JimmyPage666:
Matt Stone you are talking out of your arse. The game wasn't censored like you guys would have us believe, you cut the cunting content out for Europe! There was an statement from the ESRB literally 2 days ago saying that they approved the uncensored version. Stop trying to pretend you were forced to cut content out for Europe, you weren't. I don't get it, are they trying to engineer an issue about this or something?

The ESRB is a voluntary rating system sponsored by the entertainment industry. It speaks for no government.

While America has no rating system - though a lot of people seem to think the ESRB is part of the government - other countries do and that is why the content was removed. Nobody's obligated to listen to the ESRB if they don't want to.

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