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FEATURED VOXPOP oblivion437 Update: I was unfortunately not aware of Shamus Young's severe criticism of Fallout 3 available here to link in the original piece and I regret that.  It dovetails rather nicely with what I've written and it's much better executed than my piece.  I strongly recommend anyone...

GAMING NEWS

Watch Dogs Rating Updated to Adults-Only in Australia, Sexual Violence Content Detailed

Posted on Monday, March 17 @ 18:24:26 PST by


Watch Dogs has received an updated rating from the Australian classification board, bumping the title from an MA15+ rating to an R18+ rating, restricting sales to only those individuals over the age of 18.

Australia's ratings board has always been tough on depictions of violence and sex, but it sounds like Watch Dogs genuninely earns the extreme grade for this depiction of sex trafficking and abuse. According to Kotaku Australia:

The report makes specific reference to one scene dealing with human trafficking. One character inspects the women[sic], feeling her breasts and "spreading her legs" before pulling a nearby character into a room, where the presumption is—as shown by a later scene—that she is then sexually abused.

The report from the Australian classification board states that "The room is set up with video cameras and filming equipment and as the male moves away from the bed several blood spots are visible on the bed sheets. On-screen text identifies the woman as a nineteen year old, Romanian immigrant."

This element was added after the game's delay, furthering the kind of moral gray areas that Ubisoft is hoping to explore with Watch Dogs players. I wrote about this at length after seeing an open-world demo at Ubisoft's offices in San Francisco.

In that demo, the player as protagonist Aiden Pearce could intervene in a crime of passion. After monitoring an NPC's text message conversation, Aiden could discover the location of a rapist and either watch as the NPC murdered the criminal in vengeance or intervene and prevent the murder from taking place. After watching this demo, I wrote:

Aiden can't time travel, so stopping the rape in the first place is out of the question. Aiden can't drag bodies and hide them in trash cans either, so knocking out the rapist and hiding him before the attacker can arrive won't work either. The only way to keep the attacker's hands clean is to kill the suspect before he gets there, but then Aiden is the villain in the immediate sense.

It's no-win situations like these that make Watch Dogs such a compelling concept to me ahead of release. There's also a big difference between contextualized violence or situations like the one described above and the meaningless meat-grind I unfortunately found Titanfall to be. Being faced with contextualized situations like the ones described above will invariably force gamers to react and show their true colors.

While it was disappointing to hear that Watch Dogs had been delayed, it'll be worth it if Ubisoft can address content like this in a mature and thoughtful way, especially one that even forces gamers to consider the real-world implications of the industry we support.

Can you take in-game sexual violence seriously if Ubisoft employs scantily clad booth babes at E3 2014 as they have in years past? I'd say it depends. I want games to move forward as a medium, but there needs to be a delicate balance in engaging a player with this kind of content.
Related Games:   Watch Dogs
Tags:   ubisoft, Watch Dogs
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