The Stick of Truth's Censorship Disabled by PC Mod - Update

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The Stick of Truth's Censorship Disabled by PC Mod - Update

South Park: The Stick of Truth - Screen 10

A user-made mod for the game allows players in affected territories to experience the full, uncensored South Park: The Stick of Truth experience.

Update 2: The mod's creator has gotten in contact with us, and assures us that there is absolutely no way for Ubisoft or Valve to punish players for using the mod. "The binary for the exe isn't touched," he said. "It was lazy approach on their side to have the censor and uncensored version of the game be activated by a config flag. There is no current way that ubisoft can activate a vac ban, because of their side, nothing is changed, the exe is running as it should with no alterations."

Update: An Ubisoft representative has responded to our email, stating that a team is "looking into" the matter, and offered a very vague "With regards to any penalty for players that are doing this, we do not have any information about what may happen to those players." We're still waiting on a response from Valve about VAC bans.

Original Story: South Park fans living in Australia, Europe, Africa and The Middle East were somewhat dismayed to learn that their version of South Park: The Stick of Truth. would be censored. I was able to upload the scenes so affected users could see what they were missing out on, but now, those clever PC modders have done one better, creating a patch for the Steam version of the game that allows everyone to enjoy it fully uncensored. Hooray for anal probes!

You can find the patch on the Steam community forums here, and to install it, you simply need to download this file and extract it into the game's directory. Fans are reporting that the patch works perfectly, allowing them to see the removed anal probe and abortion scenes, as well as the Nazi zombies for those users in Germany.

Ordinarily, modding a PC game is a perfectly accepted practice, and something that is often encouraged by the developers, but since this mod bypasses censorship, it is a bit of a gray area. We have reached out to Valve to ask whether players would be punished for using this patch, so until we get a response, please note that you apply this patch at your own risk.

Earlier, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker lamented that video games face a double standard when it comes to censorship, as the interactive nature of video games still makes some "uncomfortable."

Source: Steam Community via Games.on.net

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Good on them. This is just another one of the many reasons why censorship of adult content is bollocks. If people are determined enough, they'll bypass the censorship one way or another.

I imagine the censors were deliberately made to be easily bypassed; it was probably just a matter of exchanging texture files or something that simple.

As for why anyone would want to uncensor a South Park game...well, I hope it's a freedom of expression thing and not, you know, a fetish >_>

And the censorship ban worked for all of half a week! HURRAY THE SYSTEM...works?

And this right here, kids, is why PC gaming exists.

With the existence of the internet and other forms of globalization, does country-specific or region-specific censoring even work anymore?

I guess this mod proves that it doesn't.

Who'd have thought.

I am decidely a console gamer and this is one of the main reasons I'm thinking of getting a PC over a PS4. In many cases, the community of a game will straight up fix the game for other players. It's amazing.

Hooray for the PC gaming master race!

haha god bless modders, making games better since the begining of PC gaming

also i doubt people will get punished by this, australians and germans have been patching blood into L4D2 for ages and valve has done nothing about it

those ridiculous censorship laws cant affect user made content, id be ridiculous

It is pretty bizarre. Take the Nazi symbols, for instance: Movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark feature them and nobody cares because it's a movie, it's considered art. But a video game like Wolfenstein 3D gets put on the index in Germany and the game Raiders of the Lost Ark had all its swastikas replaced by black circles.
That said, that was the old way. More recently, our rating agencies more and more just hand out 18 ratings without putting games on the index, so it shouldn't even matter. From what I know, though, a bunch of developers and publishers are basically self-censoring in advance now, even if their game has a good chance of not ending up on the index anyway.
I know that's how it goes with a lot of the more violent games, but I dunno about issues related to Nazi symbols or whatever; that might be different still.

I installed this the other day and it was great. There was an update for South Park earlier, so I'll have to see if it still works.[1]
Interesting note, the German from Hitler's speeches are cut from the Australian version as well. The patch naturally edits them back in.

[1] It does.

I remember this happening to "Giants: Citizen Kabuto".

By deleting like one or two files, you'd get the red blood (instead of green) and the topless Delphi (instead of her covered with a bra/bikini).

Any PC developer/publisher that think their game is 'safe' from modders, is nuts.

Well, the key to anything like this is always enforcement. The big question is of course whether or not the authorities in any of these countries now want to pursue this as a crime, either arresting people for using the patch, or more likely going after those that created and/or distributed it. When it comes to STEAM and whether it's going to do anything about this, the big question is going to be whether or not any of these governments threaten them with legal action if they do not take it down, or start moving to take action against STEAM straight out for hosting it.

Potentially this could get awkward if it was ever pushed. If parts of Europe or Australia demanded the extradition of Gabe Newell, it could turn into the next "Kim Dotcom", and would invite certain comparisons to that case. After all it could be argued that as the head of Valve/Steam, he's responsible for what he knows is on his site, and depending on the prosecution and the exact laws they could go after him as a pornographer. To put it into perspective, we do have a scene of a 9 year old getting anally raped by a sex machine, which could be considered child porn (above and beyond it just being you know... adult material/porn), especially in countries that do not make a distinction between an actual child and the image of a child.

I of course don't think it's likely to go there of course, but really I imagine whether STEAM officially supports the use of this patch or not, depends on how serious these countries are about making sure their censorship policies are followed, what requests they make, and perhaps if push comes to shove how far they are willing to take it.

On some levels I'd like to see Gabe throw down with some of the more backward countries out there and win over something like this, but I doubt that will happen, at the end of the day he's a businessman and will likely do whatever is going to benefit his business the most, which would mean selling out free speech for the sake of cooperation from international markets. Sad... but well... I doubt this will end well.

One also has to wonder if Ubisoft could be in trouble here also, I'm not sure on how this patch works. Are the scenes still in the game and just locked out, or does this patch include all of the missing content and puts them into the game? If it's a situation where all of this stuff was there and just waiting for a quick code re-route, this might go into some of the territory we've seen with games like "San Andreas" (ie Hot Coffee) and "Manhunt" since they didn't actually remove the content and left it in the game knowing it could be accessed. If someone puts it all in from another copy that's one thing, but if the content was always there... well, that could get touchy if an issue was made of it.

Either way I doubt much will come of it, all the potential to see this get exciting aside, this doesn't seem to be the game the battle lines will finally be drawn over.

If something is screwed up about a game... you can always count on a modder to fix the problem(well most of the time). God bless PC gaming.

The first thing that came to mind when reading this was "HAHA! Suck it, Censors".

I wonder if this is going to blow up like that Hot Coffee thing did for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas?

I mean, the content is still in the game, technically... and if you have to hack it to bring it out it's still the game company's fault for saying their game was censored when it really wasn't. Or something.

Either way, yay for modders!

Therumancer:
Well, the key to anything like this is always enforcement. The big question is of course whether or not the authorities in any of these countries now want to pursue this as a crime, either arresting people for using the patch, or more likely going after those that created and/or distributed it. When it comes to STEAM and whether it's going to do anything about this, the big question is going to be whether or not any of these governments threaten them with legal action if they do not take it down, or start moving to take action against STEAM straight out for hosting it.

Potentially this could get awkward if it was ever pushed. If parts of Europe or Australia demanded the extradition of Gabe Newell, it could turn into the next "Kim Dotcom", and would invite certain comparisons to that case. After all it could be argued that as the head of Valve/Steam, he's responsible for what he knows is on his site, and depending on the prosecution and the exact laws they could go after him as a pornographer. To put it into perspective, we do have a scene of a 9 year old getting anally raped by a sex machine, which could be considered child porn (above and beyond it just being you know... adult material/porn), especially in countries that do not make a distinction between an actual child and the image of a child.

I of course don't think it's likely to go there of course, but really I imagine whether STEAM officially supports the use of this patch or not, depends on how serious these countries are about making sure their censorship policies are followed, what requests they make, and perhaps if push comes to shove how far they are willing to take it.

On some levels I'd like to see Gabe throw down with some of the more backward countries out there and win over something like this, but I doubt that will happen, at the end of the day he's a businessman and will likely do whatever is going to benefit his business the most, which would mean selling out free speech for the sake of cooperation from international markets. Sad... but well... I doubt this will end well.

One also has to wonder if Ubisoft could be in trouble here also, I'm not sure on how this patch works. Are the scenes still in the game and just locked out, or does this patch include all of the missing content and puts them into the game? If it's a situation where all of this stuff was there and just waiting for a quick code re-route, this might go into some of the territory we've seen with games like "San Andreas" (ie Hot Coffee) and "Manhunt" since they didn't actually remove the content and left it in the game knowing it could be accessed. If someone puts it all in from another copy that's one thing, but if the content was always there... well, that could get touchy if an issue was made of it.

Either way I doubt much will come of it, all the potential to see this get exciting aside, this doesn't seem to be the game the battle lines will finally be drawn over.

dont be ridiculous

what kidn of backwards ass country would censor user made content? (except maybe mine all things considered)

is it really that different from playing some free flash game with nazis in it?

IceForce:
With the existence of the internet and other forms of globalization, does country-specific or region-specific censoring even work anymore?

I guess this mod proves that it doesn't.

It largely depends on how the game was released. Sure, this worked on a PC game. But what if the game were console exclusive and region locked? Bypassing it would not be nearly so simple.

NuclearKangaroo:

dont be ridiculous

what kidn of backwards ass country would censor user made content? (except maybe mine all things considered)

is it really that different from playing some free flash game with nazis in it?

The issue was (as it was with Hot Coffee and Oblivion getting rerated M) was that the content was still on the game disc. Apparently, the fact that user-made content was required to unlock it was irrelevant.

Abomination:
I wonder if this is going to blow up like that Hot Coffee thing did for Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas?

I mean, the content is still in the game, technically... and if you have to hack it to bring it out it's still the game company's fault for saying their game was censored when it really wasn't. Or something.

Either way, yay for modders!

The Hot Coffee mod blew up because it was argued that it could no longer meet the M rating and required an AO one instead. In the case of South Park, even censoring the content did not prevent an AO equivalent rating in Europe (I'm not certain regarding Australia), which means that putting it back in couldn't actually result in an increased rating, seeing as how it's already at the maximum level.

Kilo24:

NuclearKangaroo:

dont be ridiculous

what kidn of backwards ass country would censor user made content? (except maybe mine all things considered)

is it really that different from playing some free flash game with nazis in it?

The issue was (as it was with Hot Coffee and Oblivion getting rerated M) was that the content was still on the game disc. Apparently, the fact that user-made content was required to unlock it was irrelevant.

you MIGHT have a point there

then again they did nothing about L4D2 and the blood patch

NuclearKangaroo:
[

dont be ridiculous

what kidn of backwards ass country would censor user made content? (except maybe mine all things considered)

is it really that different from playing some free flash game with nazis in it?

Once content has been declared illegal it's different. Most "user made content" has not been made illegal, and typically every piece of material to be "banned" must be reviewed individually. Thus, since your typical flash game is not likely to show up on the radar, as it will never get enough attention/complaints to get the government involved it's not a big deal. On the other hand "South Park" already got government attention, and this content was considered to be obscene, and banned in this areas. The user made patch allows access to this content, and is thus by definition illegal in a very real way because it's being used to spread obscene/banned material.

That's the big issue in this case, the ruling has already been made, like it or not.

To give some perspective on this, as a Criminal Justice major I can explain the process in the US. The specifics might not apply to Australia for example, but it's really semantics because they already made the ruling in their own way. In the US by definition "pornography" is illegal, what we call "porn" in common use is not "porn" in a legal sense, technically it's labeled as "adult art films" or something similar. In the US to be declared "pornography" a work must be declared obscene and without redeeming value in a social, political, or artistic sense. Each particular work must also be reviewed individually, you cannot engage in a blanket ban of material based on type or a specific behavior. Typically to come under review the government needs to have a work brought to their attention, at which point it's reviewed by a panel of legal experts (one of my instructors was a former head of the Connecticut State police and sat in on several of these) and if it's found to be obscene and without redeeming value, it can be banned. However the creator of the work, or a representative, also gets an attempt to defend it's merits. This is by the way why so many porno movies, at least in the US, have some kind of banal plot attached, because then it can be defended as "art" (maybe bad art, but still art). The US porn industry also relies on sheer volume, they can't review and ban everything, so in the end it takes something very special that gets a ton of complaints to come up for review. As a result banning something like "South Park: Stick Of Truth" isn't likely to ever happen in the USA because taken as a whole the work can be argued to have redeeming value, as crude as it is. All of that political and social satire actually works in it's defense (believe it or not). In Australia however they can obviously force the censorship of specific scenes, and say declare things like the Anal probing scene inherently offensive, and make it illegal by not approving it for viewing in Australia (which seems to be the case). This means giving it to people within Australia is arguably the same as dealing drugs, or passing around illegal guns, or any other banned and unlawful substance. A patch is a method of doing this. This is going simply by observation and the fact that Australia has been able to "line item" censor a lot of things over the years.

Now where things get unusually touchy here is whether those scenes were actually on the game discs/in the code as far as the version presented goes. If those scenes were part of a rather large patch, then the people making the patch, or assisting with it's distribution, could be in a lot of trouble if Australia chooses to pursue it. If the patch just unlocks content that was already there, those people are still criminally liable, but probably to a lesser degree, however Ubisoft is likely to take the brunt for still having the material in the game where it could be accessed by modifying the code (much the same way how Rock Star has gotten in trouble over things like "Hot Coffee" sure the content wasn't generally accessible, but it was still there, and thus that's the same as distributing that content).

How likely these countries are to pursue it though, that's another question entirely. Your right that it seems "rather ridiculous" because right now nobody has done it so far, but it technically could happen, and really if Australia *did* demand that the US hand over Gabe Newell, or France hand over the head of Ubisoft, that could be awkward because technically we're obligated to send them there to stand trial, there is actually a crime here, even if it's not one that's usually enforced. Sort of like the situation with "Kim Dotcom" a few years before it happened going after someone like him for what he was doing was unthinkable, sure it was illegal, but nobody seemed to care.

That said, I very much doubt Aussie's equivalent of SWAT (not sure what they call them down under) will be kicking down doors over this. If something is done it's going to be an attempt to make an example out of people who are generally a big deal.

Therumancer:

NuclearKangaroo:
[

dont be ridiculous

what kidn of backwards ass country would censor user made content? (except maybe mine all things considered)

is it really that different from playing some free flash game with nazis in it?

Once content has been declared illegal it's different. Most "user made content" has not been made illegal, and typically every piece of material to be "banned" must be reviewed individually. Thus, since your typical flash game is not likely to show up on the radar, as it will never get enough attention/complaints to get the government involved it's not a big deal. On the other hand "South Park" already got government attention, and this content was considered to be obscene, and banned in this areas. The user made patch allows access to this content, and is thus by definition illegal in a very real way because it's being used to spread obscene/banned material.

That's the big issue in this case, the ruling has already been made, like it or not.

To give some perspective on this, as a Criminal Justice major I can explain the process in the US. The specifics might not apply to Australia for example, but it's really semantics because they already made the ruling in their own way. In the US by definition "pornography" is illegal, what we call "porn" in common use is not "porn" in a legal sense, technically it's labeled as "adult art films" or something similar. In the US to be declared "pornography" a work must be declared obscene and without redeeming value in a social, political, or artistic sense. Each particular work must also be reviewed individually, you cannot engage in a blanket ban of material based on type or a specific behavior. Typically to come under review the government needs to have a work brought to their attention, at which point it's reviewed by a panel of legal experts (one of my instructors was a former head of the Connecticut State police and sat in on several of these) and if it's found to be obscene and without redeeming value, it can be banned. However the creator of the work, or a representative, also gets an attempt to defend it's merits. This is by the way why so many porno movies, at least in the US, have some kind of banal plot attached, because then it can be defended as "art" (maybe bad art, but still art). The US porn industry also relies on sheer volume, they can't review and ban everything, so in the end it takes something very special that gets a ton of complaints to come up for review. As a result banning something like "South Park: Stick Of Truth" isn't likely to ever happen in the USA because taken as a whole the work can be argued to have redeeming value, as crude as it is. All of that political and social satire actually works in it's defense (believe it or not). In Australia however they can obviously force the censorship of specific scenes, and say declare things like the Anal probing scene inherently offensive, and make it illegal by not approving it for viewing in Australia (which seems to be the case). This means giving it to people within Australia is arguably the same as dealing drugs, or passing around illegal guns, or any other banned and unlawful substance. A patch is a method of doing this. This is going simply by observation and the fact that Australia has been able to "line item" censor a lot of things over the years.

Now where things get unusually touchy here is whether those scenes were actually on the game discs/in the code as far as the version presented goes. If those scenes were part of a rather large patch, then the people making the patch, or assisting with it's distribution, could be in a lot of trouble if Australia chooses to pursue it. If the patch just unlocks content that was already there, those people are still criminally liable, but probably to a lesser degree, however Ubisoft is likely to take the brunt for still having the material in the game where it could be accessed by modifying the code (much the same way how Rock Star has gotten in trouble over things like "Hot Coffee" sure the content wasn't generally accessible, but it was still there, and thus that's the same as distributing that content).

How likely these countries are to pursue it though, that's another question entirely. Your right that it seems "rather ridiculous" because right now nobody has done it so far, but it technically could happen, and really if Australia *did* demand that the US hand over Gabe Newell, or France hand over the head of Ubisoft, that could be awkward because technically we're obligated to send them there to stand trial, there is actually a crime here, even if it's not one that's usually enforced. Sort of like the situation with "Kim Dotcom" a few years before it happened going after someone like him for what he was doing was unthinkable, sure it was illegal, but nobody seemed to care.

That said, I very much doubt Aussie's equivalent of SWAT (not sure what they call them down under) will be kicking down doors over this. If something is done it's going to be an attempt to make an example out of people who are generally a big deal.

then this shouldve been banned

http://www.nexusmods.com/newvegas/mods/45875/?

the thing is, is your damn product whatever you do with it its your business, admitedly im not german, but i find ridiculous and kind of authoritarian (ironic isnt it?) that the government has the power to tell you what to do with the stuff you buy, i mean if you cut swastikas in your sandwiches would the government come after you?

i believe the german government cant do anything about it

NuclearKangaroo:
[

then this shouldve been banned

http://www.nexusmods.com/newvegas/mods/45875/?

the thing is, is your damn product whatever you do with it its your business, admitedly im not german, but i find ridiculous and kind of authoritarian (ironic isnt it?) that the government has the power to tell you what to do with the stuff you buy, i mean if you cut swastikas in your sandwiches would the government come after you?

i believe the german government cant do anything about it

Well, it's not that they can't, it's more likely that it will never come to their attention, or have enough pressure behind it to be reviewed. It's sort of like how porn in part survives due to volume in the US, the government can't police it all.

What makes the situation different is that "South Park" came to the attention of the governments as an outside product and was put before them for review and they said "okay these bits are not allowed". Due to awareness the control over incoming products from other countries being more extreme than what's going on with things released inside the country.

That said if someone was to take that fan made patch for "New Vegas" and bring it before the German government with a petition and they reviewed it, yes it would likely be banned, and those hosting the mod and making it available in Germany could get in trouble. The creator too perhaps, if they could find them.

Ideally I agree, it's none of the government's business, but I'm not talking about ideals here. Australia, Germany, etc... have been out of control with censorship, especially of incoming products, for quite a while, with complaints going back years now.

Scorpid:
And the censorship ban worked for all of half a week! HURRAY THE SYSTEM...works?

Damn, I had my hopes on one day! So it was quite slow :P

Doesn't surprise me even a bit!

IceForce:
With the existence of the internet and other forms of globalization, does country-specific or region-specific censoring even work anymore?

I guess this mod proves that it doesn't.

My brother told me a fun little thing about Australia, about how Australians were getting around ahh...I think it was Newscorp he said...regional restrictions and such so that they could watch media through Netflix. They wanted Netflix to refuse their business. You know, of course, what Netflix said to that...

Globalization is kind of a double-edged sword at times, but right now its heart is in the right place.

FalloutJack:
-snip-

That's nothing, in New Zealand there is an ISP that is providing a free way to bypass geolocking.

http://www.slingshot.co.nz/products/global-mode/about-global-mode/

It's been going on since June 2013.

Wasn't the PC version supposed to be uncensored anyway? I know the German one will have had the Nazi's cut out of it, nothing like an old wound. If the UK version had the abortion/probe scenes taken out I might have to have a look at this.

STENDEC1:
Good on them. This is just another one of the many reasons why censorship of adult content is bollocks. If people are determined enough, they'll bypass the censorship one way or another.

This.

In Britain our government seriously does not understand how this newfangled "internet" thing works - thanks to the haranguing of idiot mothers (who also don't understand how the internet works), they're putting a block on internet porn (so people have to "opt in" to access it). The block also happens to affect plenty of non-pornographic sites (including education, advice and support sites for LGBT teenagers and other 'at-risk' groups), and ignores the fact that the average pubescent boy (and possibly girl? I don't know how girls handle puberty - aside from the ones who used to let me finger them behind the Gym in high school) will be getting his/her dirty, cum-stained paws on pictures of naked ladies regardless of the governments best efforts.

Anyway, I've drifted off topic: Yaaaay for overcoming censorship. I'm generally on the side of the government when it comes to laws, and the enforcement of those laws, but censorship is the true acid test of freedom in my opinion - when people feel things need to be censored, we lose freedom, and it shouldn't be allowed.

What I think really grips me in this instance, is that the UK censorship of this game isn't actually being enforced by any UK agency, but a European one (unless I've misunderstood this? In which case can someone correct me?), and I have a very typically British mistrust of the EU and their attempts to control how things are done in Britain.

Isalan:
Wasn't the PC version supposed to be uncensored anyway? I know the German one will have had the Nazi's cut out of it, nothing like an old wound. If the UK version had the abortion/probe scenes taken out I might have to have a look at this.

Some PC versions are.

The Austrian, German and Australian versions are definitely censored, The US and New Zealand ones are not.

Therumancer:
Potentially this could get awkward if it was ever pushed. If parts of Europe or Australia demanded the extradition of Gabe Newell, it could turn into the next "Kim Dotcom", and would invite certain comparisons to that case. After all it could be argued that as the head of Valve/Steam, he's responsible for what he knows is on his site, and depending on the prosecution and the exact laws they could go after him as a pornographer. To put it into perspective, we do have a scene of a 9 year old getting anally raped by a sex machine, which could be considered child porn (above and beyond it just being you know... adult material/porn), especially in countries that do not make a distinction between an actual child and the image of a child.

Yes that would indeed count as child pornography under Swedish law.

There was a case a couple of years ago where a manga translator got in legal trouble for that because the depictions in the manga were considered child pornography(the characters were supposedly older acording to canon, but they looked child-like).

By legal trouble I mean he was convicted in the first and second instances and didn't get his acquital until the highest court, 2 years later.

http://sv.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simon_Lundstr%C3%B6m (Swedish only, sorry, google translate or something).

Skeleon:
It is pretty bizarre. Take the Nazi symbols, for instance: Movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark feature them and nobody cares because it's a movie, it's considered art. But a video game like Wolfenstein 3D gets put on the index in Germany and the game Raiders of the Lost Ark had all its swastikas replaced by black circles.
That said, that was the old way. More recently, our rating agencies more and more just hand out 18 ratings without putting games on the index, so it shouldn't even matter. From what I know, though, a bunch of developers and publishers are basically self-censoring in advance now, even if their game has a good chance of not ending up on the index anyway.
I know that's how it goes with a lot of the more violent games, but I dunno about issues related to Nazi symbols or whatever; that might be different still.

It has always been self-censoring. Games that are on the "Index" aren't banned. They just can't be advertised where minors can see it. You can still obtain and play them perfectly legally. There have only been like 25 games that have ever been banned here and those were either games that had a cut version to avoid confusion and loopholes or games like "KZ Manager" that violated laws against Volksverhetzung and stuff.

Art. 5 GG

I bet it was Germany that made the European version censored, it is always the Germans.

I bought the game via steam - I live in europe - both the alien probing scene and the abortion clinic scene was shown fully in the game...

Is the european ban specific only to certain countries?

webkilla:
I bought the game via steam - I live in europe - both the alien probing scene and the abortion clinic scene was shown fully in the game...

Is the european ban specific only to certain countries?

Pretty sure the PC version in Europe (except Austria and Germany I think) is uncensored. Only the console versions are censored.

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