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I’ve been playing Indigo Prophesy. The game is actually called Fahrenheit everywhere else in the world. A lot of fuss has been made over the fact that this game was “censored” for the American release. Censored in this case means that the developer willingly removed nudity from the American Release of a game so that they could get the game onto the shelves at Wal-Mart. No government coercion was involved, which means the word censorship is probably a bit overly dramatic here. I’d prefer to keep that word for use in referring to the forceful (under pain of law) suppression of speech (or other forms of expression) by a government. The government isn’t involved here, so we can’t blame them. Developer Quantic Dream removed the content willingly, so we can blame them.
But they wouldn’t have removed that content if it wasn’t for pressure from Atari, the publisher. Atari insisted they sacrifice artistic freedom to increase sales. So we can blame Atari.
But Atari wouldn’t be in this position if it wasn’t for the nonsense policy of big retailers like Wal-Mart. PC Games sell poorly enough already, and unless you’re a big name title you just can’t afford to be left off the shelves if you want to recoup what you spent on development. You can’t expect a publisher to have so much respect for artistic expression that they allow a game to tank and end up laying people off. They were forced into this position by the retailers, so we can blame them.
But a retailer doesn’t really care about the content of the game. After all, they’ll sell you the Widescreen Special Edition of Eyes Wide Shut, so they don’t actually have a problem with selling stuff with sexual content. They’ll sell whatever. The only reason they care about sex in videogames is because they’re afraid some group of ignorant busybodies will jump out and start screeching about how they’re selling pornography to children. So we blame the busybodies.
But the busybodies wouldn’t have any power if it wasn’t for the circus-like media coverage they attract. Cooper Lawrence and Kevin McCullough both proved that you can make outrageous and easily disproved accusations about the sexual content of a videogame and get major media attention without worrying about anyone fact-checking you. So we can blame the media.
But the media is driven by viewership and readership. They run stories they think people will read. If people want to read stories about how children are being raped by videogames and every console is a gateway to a hardcore pornographic assault on their families, well… the media is just telling people what they they’re most likely to listen to. So we can blame ignorant and idiotic people for seeking out sensationalist news about things they don’t understand.
Ah, the idiots. They always get blamed for everything.
(Ah yes. Another post that promises to open up the floodgates of angry debate and controversy. No, I didn’t set out to start a series of bloody flamewars recently. I don’t know how I keep ending up writing about so many hot-button topics. Tune in tomorrow when I propose my idea for a new Sims 2 expansion pack: Barefoot and Pregnant!)
If you want to play the uncut version of Fahrenheit / Indigo Prophesy, it is being offered in North America via Direct 2 Drive. Only $20. There are some NSFW screenshots that should give you an idea of what was cut.
I have the edited American version, which is what I’ll be reviewing.
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