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Saints Row 4 refused classification for “alien anal probe” weapon

Wednesday, 26th June 2013 01:14 GMT By Brenna Hillier

Put your speculation to bed; the “interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context” in Saints Row 4 have been fully detailed in a new Classification Board statement.

In a statement published on Kotaku, the Australian Classification Board described a weapon which caused it to refuse classification to the Volition Inc open world title:

“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.”

There you have it. The report also detailed the drug references which were another factor in the Board’s decision:

“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.”

Deep Silver and Volition have elected to modify Saints Row 4 for resubmission – presumably removing or reworking the weapon and drug references. As Australian Classification aficionados may recall, drug references got Fallout 3 into hot water a few years back, and Bethesda responded by changing the names and descriptions of certain in-game substances – not a whopping alteration.

Saints Row 4 is due in August on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360; the Australian release may be delayed if new code can’t be cobbled together in time.

Australia introduced an R18+ ratings category for video games on January 1, 2013, but its standards and strictures were not greatly relaxed beyond those of the existing MA15+ category; instead, the new category is designed to draw a distinct line between material suitable for minors and content restricted to adults only. As such, the Board is upholding policy in refusing classification to material which falls outside acceptable content guidelines – and a weapon which enables the gratuitous depiction of sexual assault seems to come under that heading.

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27 Comments

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  1. The Tempest

    This is the funniest thing I’ve read all day.

    Brilliant!

    #1 1 year ago
  2. xxJPRACERxx

    “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.”

    Man! I can’t stop laughing thinking someone really wrote this and was serious! Come’on!

    #2 1 year ago
  3. ps3fanboy

    HAHAHA!…. sr4 is a must buy :D

    #3 1 year ago
  4. sithsylar

    Lets be honest tho people its pretty pointless banning a game when you have the internet…..

    #4 1 year ago
  5. Bam007

    Oh wow, surprised #3 didn’t have anything negative to say here.

    Importing the game from the UK. I’ll risk a letter from Australian Customs to play the game as it was meant to be played.

    #5 1 year ago
  6. Sciva

    Is their rating board made up of those annoying, PC mothers who do nothing but sit and complain about how everything is evil or somthing?

    #6 1 year ago
  7. DSB

    Crossover potential.

    #7 1 year ago
  8. MCTJim

    I really don’t think the video game characters really mind..I mean come on really? This guy was serious as hell….That’s what the rating system is for..so slap a MA rating on it and move on…geez

    #8 1 year ago
  9. SplatteredHouse

    I agree with one of the posters in that jovial Kotaku comment thread. They should probably just change the name of the device to The Applicant, and then everything would be grand.

    #9 1 year ago
  10. Christopher Jack

    I recall the very first episode of South Park featuring Cartman getting probed… What’s the problem?

    #10 1 year ago
  11. taylorlauder

    Let’s see if they’ll do pornstar voice-overs again!

    #11 1 year ago
  12. NeoSquall

    Hahahahahahahah! Oh wow!

    It’s just a Penetrator made even sillier!

    Even more a must buy.

    #12 1 year ago
  13. DeyDoDoughDontDeyDough

    “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.”

    By this rationale, Pac-Man should be banned.

    This reminds me of that South Park episode where everyone got the joke except Kanye West. I mean, come on, no context? Humour IS the context.

    #13 1 year ago
  14. fihar

    I can’t help but think that the world is so messed up right now that I actually think this is funny.
    And I abhor vulgarity.

    #14 1 year ago
  15. Lengendaryboss

    @5
    Nah he loves Saints Row.

    #15 1 year ago
  16. sh4dow

    Maybe I’m just getting too old for this shit but I think they do have a point. I’m not sure banning a game is the way to resolve it but I do find it very questionable that somebody would put the ability to mass rape into a game and that people find it hilarious in the first place.

    #16 1 year ago
  17. Fin

    @17

    +a million

    #17 1 year ago
  18. silkvg247

    @17 & 18 – Have you even played a SR game? It doesn’t try to be realistic. It’s not dark and gritty like GTA. You don’t take an unwilling woman into a back alley and violently rape her.

    You shoot a fucking made up gun in a made up world that is so beyond ridiculous that the people refusing classification on it themselves probably, and likely, have extreme mental health issues whereby they cannot ascertain reality from fabrication.

    They should all be sacked immediately.

    #18 1 year ago
  19. Fin

    @19

    Ya I finished SR2.
    Some of the violence (in the cutscenes), I found to be actually darker than GTA’s.

    #19 1 year ago
  20. silkvg247

    @20 SR2 was much darker.. however, they have gone completely nuts in SR3 and beyond. SR4 removes basically any shred of realism that was left from SR3′s mayhem.

    They are not real. They do not try to be real. They do not feel real.

    #20 1 year ago
  21. The_Red

    Censorship at its finest. Fuck the rating board in AU.

    #21 1 year ago
  22. TheWulf

    Now this is trolling. Wow… omigosh. I’m amused, I’m so amused. Talking of Second Life trolls earlier, I’d say that SL trolls could learn a thing or two about trolling from Volition. Because this is how you do it properly. When you get government boards to write things like that.

    Holy crap.

    I love you, Volition.

    #22 1 year ago
  23. TheWulf

    @21

    That’s the glory of it, though, isn’t it? We need more games that feel like hazy feverdreams. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect to come from the mind of a man who’d spent too much time stranded on a little island, “enjoying” the bounty of the local plantlife as only he’s able.

    I’m really fatigued and exhausted by games that make a fetish of reality, because reality isn’t that interesting. I find that intellectuals are foward-looking for good reason, because the future — along with ideologies like transhumanism — presents a far more exotic period for our race. But reality itself right now really isn’t that interesting.

    The most interesting reality-dwellers you’ll find are often that way not because of reality, but because of drugs. I’ve not done the whole drug thing myself, but I’ve known plenty of people who do, and some of them are worldly. Drugs are often used in place of technology to augment reality because reality isn’t interesting, we do need to augment it. This is why we look to technology — to be super, to be incredible, and to enjoy things we otherwise couldn’t. And this isn’t necessarily power fantasies, either, but rather pure novelty. We can find as much awe in being a bumblebee as being a superhero.

    We’re so familiar with earth at the moment that novelty is revealed in very rare excesses.

    So I’d love for more games to not have a cult based around making a fetish of reality. That would be neat.

    Not picking on you, here, by the way. I’m just using what you said as something of a diving board to fling myself off of so that I can actually talk about these things. (To be clearer, I’m not even disagreeing with you, I’m just expanding on what you said. I’m having a ‘how do I eloquent’ moment.)

    #23 1 year ago
  24. TheWulf

    @17

    I don’t think it’s that you’re old, you’re just not Stephen Fry-old.

    You can go two ways when you age, I suppose. You’ve gone one, I’ve gone the other. One of them is that you settle down into an oversimplified version of yourself, with binary views, and a basic outlook on life. The other tends to involving becoming tired of the cloyingly familiar. I’ve hit that point where I bemoan the weary construct of normality.

    I’ve taken a good look around and I’ve realised how much more fantastic everything could be, would be, if people didn’t have such a hardwired hard-on for the aforementioned familiarity.

    How does that saying go?

    Anything that existed before you were born is the natural order of things; Anything shown to you in the days of your youth is new and exciting; Anything shown to you in your early twenties is something to be viewed with caution; Anything shown to you around middle-age is so confusing that you dismiss it as a frivolous pursuit for children or a fad; And after that point, any novelties shown to you then which have the potential for changing the world become abominations.

    I realise I likely bastardised that a bit (more than a bit), for which I apologise, but I felt that it needed to expanded upon.

    Some people have the capacity to hold onto that ethereal quality of youth which allows novelty to continue to be a well loved thing. I use Stephen Fry as an example because the man’s an eccentric old fart, he drives around in a London taxi cab… and yet he does voice overs for video games, and he owns all of the latest technology.

    Fry would probably be as amused by this as I am. Have I mentioned I really love Stephen Fry? Hell, he was Reaver in Fable III, and he made that game all the more enjoyable for me because of it. But I digress.

    I’ve kind of lost my train of thought, now.

    Oh, yes! Right, I tend to herald Fry an example of “That’s the kind of cool that kids should aspire to be when they’re older.” because it’s completely true. Novelty is a worthwhile pursuit, and it leads people upon quests of creativity and intrigue, rather than spending the rest of their days bitching about politicians tilting at windmills or what have you.

    Of course, what’s worse is when the “This is an abomination!” mindset is pushed back to even younger ages, which is something I fear. Luddism is trending within far too many minds of an age where it really shouldn’t at this point in time, and I’m more afraid of that than I am of most things. I worry we’re going backwards. Of course, I don’t think we are, but we’re screwed if our young people start being paranoid of their own innovations.

    I’ve gotten off track again, though.

    Saints Row is awesome. You not liking it has nothing to do with you being old, it has everything to do with you being you.

    #24 1 year ago
  25. TheWulf

    @17

    On a different topic (YES I WISH TO TALK MORE)…

    You think it’s not okay for a ridiculous, impossible act like anal-probing induced rocketflight to be a thing, yet you’d be okay with realistic depictions of men shooting other men with modern day weapons, which comes closer to horrors which actually occur in reality?

    This is just food for thought, really. In Saints Row, it’s over-the-top and insulting to everyone, and according to reality it’s also completely impossible. It’s tongue-in-cheek, and it’s no different than a superhero tale. (You need to read more Atomic Robo.) Anyway, the point is is that it’s just so out there and so inoffensive (by being impartial) that I cannot understand how you’d think that way.

    It’s okay for a skinhead shouting obscenities to gun a man down in a dark alley, leaving him in his own pool of blood, yet it’s not okay for someone to be sucked into a car and shot out of a cannon in the most ludicrous ways possible?

    Basically, what I’m getting at is this…

    You think that real life violence is more appealing than cartoon violence which borders on Itchy and Scratchy?

    Maybe my sense of ethics is wonky, but I disagree.

    #25 1 year ago
  26. TheWulf

    @8

    Yeah.

    I tend to be able to accept that it’s a video game up to a certain point. Saints Row? I have no problem, it’s all very silly, even the reactions are silly. I can see this as a game and accept it as one, because no one even acts like a human in Saints Row, they’re all one-dimensional arseholes.

    Yet I’ve played some games where the violence is just so real, so vivid, and the sound effects so correct that I’ve wanted to go and throw up. Like the one time I fought a wolf in Skyrim. I have a dog, and I’ve heard him yelp in pain. Skyrim was far, far, far too close to reality… I had to stop playing it and go and watch cartoons for a bit.

    I still recognise that it’s a game, but if something comes too close to reality, then I get queasy.

    This is why I preferred older games which didn’t dive so deep into the Uncanny Valley by trying to be real. Hell, even the face technology veers on the side of cartoony and caricature in Saints Row and that helps, because it detaches it from reality. I can have fun in a video game if it feels like a video game.

    I feel detached from #17, here. I’m sure that #17 loves Grand Theft Auto, yet GTA comes a bit too close for me in some regards. I don’t feel like I’m playing a video game, I feel like I’ve taken on some alternate reality persona where I’m a psychopath and a sociopath, and it doesn’t feel fun.

    There’s just this barrier of silly that makes video games more enjoyable to me. And Saints Row is one of the most “gamey” games you could play.

    When there are games out there with very realistic, very graphic depictions of the most horrible kinds (the most subtle kinds) of real world violence, why pick on Saints Row? This is what past games like the others which got banned didn’t understand — in order to create real horror, it has to be subtle, the violence has to feel real. And GTA IV came damned close to that for me, sometimes.

    Saints Row never has.

    #26 1 year ago
  27. TheWulf

    On a final note — and it will be because I’m getting tired of talking about this — this is why I value non-lethal approaches.

    I will play a game like Deus Ex: Human Revolution through and kill no one unless the game forces me to, because I don’t like it. Yeah, I’m a total pussy, I always have been. That’s my nature. My mind goes to particularly bad places with some games, and I feel more than a little guilty about it. No matter how much games have tried to desensitise me, they haven’t. I’m very much immune to desensitisation. Very much.

    So I opt for non-lethal approaches. They matter to me. I actually helped someone develop a mod for New Vegas so that I could do non-lethal takedowns, and thankfully not long after New Vegas was released there was another mod that allowed me to loot the unconscious.

    This reminds me of a certain part in New Vegas where I had to supposedly kill two people in order to get the help of this one guy for something. A side-quest, I think. And I was really perturbed by this. So I went and knocked the guys out and then I went back to him, I was expecting to have the quest sitting around in my journal forever, since I wouldn’t complete it. They weren’t mass murderers, after all, they were just punk kids.

    And it actually let me complete the quest by just knocking them out. I remember how pleased and impressed I felt by that at the time.

    So there’s no better of a gauge for genuinely offensive things than me. If Itchy & Scratchy cartoon violence offends you and very realistic, subtle, almost real world violence doesn’t, then I think there’s something very wrong with you.

    And that’s all I have to say on the matter.

    #27 1 year ago