The Australian Classification Board announced that it has refused to give an R18+ rating to the fourth installment in the popular Saints Row video game series, meaning that Australian retailers would be unable to sell the game here. Almost predictably, the Australian gaming community responded with its ritual of entitled whining.
“It’s so unfair,” they wail. “What about our rights to play games with interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context? My grandfather died in a war so that I could play video games which include elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards.”
I am an avid gamer and a big fan of freedom, but the argument that my rights are being infringed just because I can’t play a game which simulates sexual violence is indefensible.
The problem is not whether or not video games influence behaviour (although the jury is still out on that one). The problem is not whether or not gamers could find some other way of obtaining the game. The problem is not even – as Slavoj Zizek suspects – whether or not the brutal rapist identity portrayed in the video game reflects the truth about the gamer who is unable to express these urges due to social constraints.
The problem is whether or not we think that women in our society should tolerate having violence against them depicted as entertainment.