Never have I read an official government report that includes the words “alien anal probe”. That’s one of the reasons that Saints Row IV copped a ban from the Classification Board. Read on, if you dare.
So Saints Row IV was Refused Classification for “interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context”, and “elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards”.
Our friends over at Kotaku tipped us off about the Classification Board has described those two issues in detail now, and it makes for…interesting reading.
On the “alien anal probe” weapon:
The game includes a weapon referred to by the Applicant as an “Alien Anal Probe”. The Applicant states that this weapon can be “shoved into enemy’s backsides”. The lower half of the weapon resembles a sword hilt and the upper part contains prong-like appendages which circle around what appears to be a large dildo which runs down the centre of the weapon. When using this weapon the player approaches a (clothed) victim from behind and thrusts the weapon between the victim’s legs and then lifts them off the ground before pulling a trigger which launches the victim into the air. After the probe has been implicitly inserted into the victim’s anus the area around their buttocks becomes pixelated highlighting that the aim of the weapon is to penetrate the victim’s anus. The weapon can be used during gameplay on enemy characters or civilians. In the Board’s opinion, a weapon designed to penetrate the anus of enemy characters and civilians constitutes a visual depiction of implied sexual violence that is interactive and not justified by context and as such the game should be Refused Classification.
On weird “alien narcotics”:
The game contains an optional mission which involves the player obtaining and smoking drugs referred to as “alien narcotics”. Smoking the “alien narcotics” equips the player with “superpowers” which increase their in-game abilities allowing them to progress through the mission more easily. The mission requires players to locate and kill a drug “dealer” to “score something to boost (them) up for killing”. During the mission onscreen prompts guide the player to “Go to deal location” and “Get drugs”. One character describes that the drug, referred to during the mission as an “alien narcotic”, will “enhance abilities on top of giving you a really wicked buzz”. After killing the dealer the player is depicted implicitly smoking from what appears to be a small glass pipe. The drugs they obtain from the first dealer do not achieve the desired effects and the player locates and kills a second dealer. After killing this dealer the player is again depicted implicitly smoking from a small glass pipe. Within moments the player begins to feel the effects of the drug, commenting “(my) powers feel limitless”, “(I) feel like every muscle inside me is going to burst” and “holy crap we have superpowers”. The player then embarks on a mission to locate and kill an enemy character and is depicted using superpowers which include increased speed and jumping abilities.
In the Board’s opinion, there is insufficient delineation between the “alien narcotic” available in the game and real-world proscribed drugs. The Board notes that the label “narcotics” is commonly assigned to describe a class of real-world drugs that include such proscribed substances as cocaine and heroin. In addition, the means by which the drugs are obtained (from a street dealer) and the method of administration (smoked using a small glass pipe) parallel realworld scenarios and, when used, the drug provides quantifiable benefits to a player’s character. This game therefore contains drug use related to incentives and rewards and should be Refused Classification.
One of the issues relates to an item and the other to a side-mission. It’s feasible to think that by removing them both, the game could slide through the Classification Board with an R18+ rating. In the meantime, we can laugh hysterically. [Kotaku]