Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble In Trouble

By Kieron Gillen on February 18th, 2009 at 9:45 am.

Well, EXACTLY

Well, this isn’t a micro-controversy I was expecting to wake up to. A previous-RPS fave and Gametunnel’s 2008 Innovation award winner has been pulled from Big Fish Games’ portal after climbing its charts due to – gasp! – salacious content. Cue casual fans getting distinctly less casual. The fairly-hefty eight-page comments thread has the full story, but the (minorly spoilery) details can be found beneath the cut…

The initial responses bounces back and forth between those who can’t believe the game’s been “censored” and those are glad that it was, because it promotes bullying. Which others note, it really didn’t. Eventually, bfgAegean, a Big Fish representative elaborates on the reason for withdrawal…

“However, after extensive testing of the game, there was content in the game that we deemed unacceptable for our family oriented standards here at Big Fish Games. We are very sorry that some of you who wanted to play it will not be able to, and we apologize for the inconvenience.”

It was removed due to some strong sexual content towards the end of the game. We would ask that if you have not played the game to its end, that you trust our judgment and reasoning in our decision to pull it from the site.

Which of course just leaves everyone wondering what the content could be. Ewonka muses…

The story does turn quite dark near the end, but the only bloodiness happens when you prevent an assault on one of your girls by shooting the assailant. The event is described in two short paragraphs. It is not illustrated. It is a striking event that reminds one that women (and men) are not safe, unless they are prepared to defend themselves and others. It’s a message I would want to teach my older children, to respect the real troubles in the world, to prepare for but not fear them. That’s how I felt when my queen “kissed her smoking gun”.

Or maybe they didn’t like the scene with two women who claimed they were playing ‘Parcheesi’.

Or maybe they didn’t like the bondage scene which is utterly ridiculous, like something from a Mork and Mindy show. It’s not even Seinfeld offensive.

Did I miss something? There are quite a lot of endings to the game. Anyone find something more potentially offending than those?

And then it goes back and forth for a bit. Here’s Rose247 with an anti-DHSGIT position…

Wow, did this just happen today? If the game got darker towards the end I understand, I could see little bits through my trial version of it that sort of just made me think “Why?” Games, movies, and tv always get ruined with gutter type stuff in my opinion. I did not notice any women in the credits of who worked on this game, so maybe that’s why the game went dark. If another version of this came out without some of the issues this game seemed to have. I would certainly play it, give me a game set in the 1920s please without the sleaze!

(Then other people make it clear that women were actually involved)

And here’s a pro-DHSGIT one from DonnyDJ…

I am a teacher and I have never played this game before. Regardless of what content is in the game, the decision to remove the game on the basis of offensive content is ridiculous. If I looked really hard, I am sure I could find things that offend me in several casual games, but I won’t; I have more constructive things to do. I also don’t like the fact that Bigfish refers itself as a ‘family site’. What are they trying to say? Are they trying to impose ‘family values’ on us? Bigfish…please do not go right wing, ignorant, and close minded on me…

Please do not become the Anita Bryant or Ann Coulter of casual games.

Thankfully, the debate clarifies when Picman (aka Paul Thelan, Big Fish big fish)…

To clarify, we are not censoring content, it was a judgment call on what is appropriate or not for the BFG brand and it was a scene that was not spotted by our testers prior to release and not even in the gray area of acceptable.

To be transparent with you all, the scene that was brought to our executives’ attention was a branch in the story that resulted in the implied violent rape of a woman in graphic detail. So this is not about “family friendly” or “rated G” this is a simple judgment call on what we want the BFG brand to represent and that type of content definitely was not it.

Blimey.

At which point, MousechiefCo – aka Keith Nemitz, the game’s designer – enters, noting that this really isn’t explicit at all…

“(person’s name) overlooks her unconscious form, trousers dropped to his ankles. Nail marks and bites on his arms seep red.”

That was the ‘graphical detail’ of an attempted rape. No rape actually occurs in the game. This incident is clearly described later in the game as an attempt that was foiled by the protagonist girls. In this scene they save one of their friends by shooting the attacker.

And later…

We fully support our game as a fine entertainment for TEEN audiences and older. Our website labels each game with a rating icon. We also abide by Big Fish’s decision to withdraw the game from their site.

However, picman, who appears to be a representative of BFG, made a false statement, and we felt obligated to clear it up. Again, no rape occurs in the game, and there is no explicit sex of any kind. The event picman mentioned is not on a branch in the story. Everyone who plays will eventually encounter it, as it is a plot element critical for the ending of the game. Yes, it is emotionally intense, but no more so than a similar event in the movie ‘The Journey of Natty Gann’ from Walt Disney pictures.

So there you go. It’s the micro-hot-coffee. While no longer on Big Fish, for those intrigued by the events, you can still get the demo – and unlock the full version – from Mousechief’s site.

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70 Comments »

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  1. MacBeth says:

    “implied […] in graphic detail”

    That’s just nonsense, regardless of what they are talking about.

  2. Hunty says:

    Wow. My girlfriend and I played the demo for this when it was first linked and enjoyed it a lot. That’s a bit of a left-field tonal shift from what we saw in the demo, to say the least – which is probably lends the moment even greater emotional heft, really. It does sound like the BFG guy is overegging it somewhat, but it is ultimately completely up to them as to what content they put on their site. As long as the game remains available directly, that’s fine. I’m sure a bit of semi-scandalous publicity won’t end up doing that much harm in the end.

  3. bansama says:

    It should also be noted that BigFish still carry other games with questionable content, such as Redrum. Which manages to remain on the site with the disclaimer: Warning: Redrum ™ is an intense psychological murder mystery intended for mature audiences..

    It’s content is certainly far more graphical in nature than that of DHSGIT. Ultimately, though this is the result of kneejerk reactions and bandwagon jumping by people who hadn’t even played the demo when it turned up on BigFish.

    Well, I guess this is a sign that casual gaming is now all grown up and ready for it’s own e-drama. Now if only people could complain about the quality of some of the titles that are passed off as games with $20 price tag when they are in essence unplayable junk. Like The Broken Clues, for example. If anything should have been withdrawn from sale on BigFish, then TBC is certainly it.

  4. Radiant says:

    Well not to carry the lengthy discussion over to here but it /is/ Big Fish’s site; they can do what they want with it.

  5. Wurzel says:

    Yup, they can do what they want with it such as put on a disclaimer such s the one on Redrum and continue selling it.

    Just sayin’

  6. qrter says:

    Maybe I missed something, but this game always seemed for mature audiences to me.

    You can also get it through Manifesto Games, btw – that’s where I got it, as they accept Paypal. :)

  7. Hajimete no Paso Kon says:

    Rules is rules. Gushing out the internet tears is pointless.

  8. qrter says:

    So what are those rules exactly..?

  9. Heliocentric says:

    This just in pacman has drug use. Eh? You can buy it direct. This doesn’t matter, bloody hell, family friendly eh?

  10. gulag says:

    Remember kids, your cultural gatekeepers will tolerate all the blood, death and murder in the world in ‘family friendly’ guises, but one whiff of a wobbly bit or a hairy ankle and it’s maximum lock-down time. That is the sickness enshrined at the heart of a Western media modeled on Victorian standards. (There are other culprits, but buttoned-down bed-wetters will do for now.)

    On the bright side, there is no such thing as bad press. I hope this bruw-ha-ha will help DHSGIT raise it’s profile and earn a few more sales.

  11. Radiant says:

    Er…. what?!?

  12. Kast says:

    Cool, so the controversy drums up more advertising for a fine game and people buy it direct from the creators. More power to Manifesto Games.

    Now where can I get a spare $20 from… ?

  13. Cooper says:

    @gulag
    Whilst you are right, that seems to be more of a tendency in the US, rather than the UK or anything which can be referred to under the nebulous ‘Western’ term. Sure, we censor, to a fairly high degree, but it never seems quite as knee-jerk as that wot I hear from the US.

    The US censor nudity and anything sexualised with much more vigour than the legislation in the UK (at least on popular media such as television and games). Whilst, at the same time, Hollywood and other US media outlets are regular producers of violent media (in part due to the prominence and quantity of US cultural products) – making the disparity even more obvious.

    I’m not sure why, but, as well as a Victorian hangover, I would personally put this down to the greater sway of puritinical, religious views than anything else.

    Anyway, veering OT. I liked the DHSGIT demo, but never gt round to getting the game. I liked its tongue in cheek attitude. This seems to suggest a level of taking itself serious which would put me off.

  14. PHeMoX says:

    ““implied […] in graphic detail”

    That’s just nonsense, regardless of what they are talking about.”

    Yeah, so now they’ve started judging games on what they imply? How about fishing games where dozens of fish get killed, implying it’s fun to do so? Okey, lame example, but you’ll catch my drift….

  15. Tei says:

    As a artist, almost 40% of your work is to enrage people. If people can look at your art ( game, pictore, music,architecture, etc.. ) and can’t feel something, maybe rage, your art is dead.

    And dead art is something some people may appreciate. Good art, so dead can’t move emotions. Desatinized stuff like Disney willl be one day banned. Sesamo Street has been banned.

    To quote Albert Eistein… “Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity, and I’m not sure about the former.”

  16. gulag says:

    @Cooper – Cheers.

    I agree that there is a deep seam of puratinism running through the rules by which US media/society polices it’s cultural products. I’d argue that it is more in evidence there because they produce so much more cultural product than we do over here, thereby affording a deeper exploration of the fringes on either end of the puritan/radical spectrum. But ultimately most of the underlying values of that most foggy landscape, ‘Western Culture’ stem from a pool of social rules contributed to by both sides of the pond.

  17. Muzman says:

    That’s kind of weird. You get much worse stuff in Betsy Byars books, or hell, the whole teen thriller genre (start with Christopher Pike). Hell again; the first series of Heroes features a plot line where a highschool girl (with super powers admittedly) suffers an attempted rape, during which she is killed. Then after a ‘miraculous’ recovery attempts to murder the assailant.
    Prime time teen viewing.
    Suddenly everything is big deal when it’s a game.

  18. gulag says:

    @Muzman

    Bewildering indeed until you consider that the games industry is still very firmly on the outside looking in where legislation and politics is concerned. While the traditional forms of mass media are very much entrenched in (not always) agreeable relationships with government, possibly for reasons as simple as these are the forms of entertainment our politicians grew up with, computer games are still the bad boy newcomers, and have not quite left behind the ‘scapegoat’ tag.

    All of which goes some way to explaining why a company like Big Fish would make this move. They have a very profitable business to protect, and a pole position to boot. Why risk angry parents and knee-jerk reactions?

    There are plenty of trendy, edgy kultur-nauts out there willing to pick that fight. Big Fish Games will do their part by continuing to present a respectable face to a new audience.

  19. Pags says:

    You have to wonder how they didn’t think a game called Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble might be a little risque.

    I am of the consensus that Big Fish are justified in not wanting to sell the game (even if the comments regarding in-game rape are a little salacious when nothing of the sort occurs), but again, maybe they should’ve played the game before deciding to sell it?

  20. cliffski says:

    “Cool, so the controversy drums up more advertising for a fine game and people buy it direct from the creators. More power to Manifesto Games.”

    manifesto games are not the developer. they are just another portal acting as middleman. The developer is mousechief.

    http://www.mousechief.com/dhsg/index.html

  21. qrter says:

    Big Fish can do what they want, they could refuse to sell the game because they dislike Keith Nemitz’ hair if they wanted.

    Fact remains that it’s weird that another game with possible ‘disturbing content’ keeps being sold because it has a warning attached.

  22. The_B says:

    It’s the micro-hot-coffee.

    Hot Espresso then, surely?

  23. dhex says:

    “maybe they should’ve played the game before deciding to sell it?”

    obviously. maybe they don’t fully test drive everything, but you’d think they’d put forth a questionnaire of potential partners when they’re considering age-appropriateness and all that.

    it doesn’t seem particularly salacious, to be sure. in the wake of that japanese rape simulator it seems positively educational.

    that said…one site drops one game and suddenly we’re awash in victorian mores? puh-leeze.

  24. EGTF says:

    The teacher chap asks for them to not go “right wing, ignorant, and close minded”.

    Isn’t it left wing this response?

    No way is it like hot-coffee. I doubt there’s many parents who buy their kids DHSGIT despite how fun and cool that would make them and outside pc gaming circles it is unknown in ze age of mainstream gaming.

  25. Kast says:

    @cliffski – Ah, thanks for the correction. Seems I got my wires crossed. I definately meant to indicate the developers in my previous post.

  26. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble”

    Especially considering the nature of the “film” its name comes from.

  27. Ginger Yellow says:

    Oops. I meant to quote the whole sentence: “You have to wonder how they didn’t think a game called Dangerous High School Girls In Trouble might be a little risque.”

  28. Pags says:

    I actually watched that film after you pointed in a previous comments thread out the name was based on a teensploitation flick that had somehow slipped under my radar. It was awesome.

    At least I think it was you who pointed it out anyway.

  29. Matthew says:

    @ PHeMoX: I suspect MacBeth was saying that would be hard for something to be ‘in graphic detail’ if it is in fact actually ‘implied’.

  30. phil says:

    On the bright side, this has given the game, the vendor and game writer, a metric ton of publicity.

    This will no doubt cause a spike in the game sales, increased site traffic to the vendor, if only to yell at them online, and a massive increase in the game writer’s profile amongst game literate consumers (we all know Mr. Nemitz’s name now after all.) Yah for unintended consequences, or skillful media baiting, delete as applicable.

  31. FordDent says:

    I do believe this hurly-burly will only result in people loving the game more. Mind you, I’ve managed to have my entire gang destroyed and am currently attempting to pick up the pieces (I strayed from the golden rule of RPG-elements and didn’t level all my girls up equally).

    At any rate, this probably means more people will buy the game “just to see what the fuss is about” and that’s fine by me.

  32. Jeremy says:

    Either way, it is up to a 3rd party distributor to determine what is distributed by their platform. If they want to be a more family friendly oriented distributor, that’s their call, if they don’t think a game represents them or that they want it to represent them, more power to them.

    The funniest part of this story to me was that psycho teacher, claiming that they are imposing family values, that they are close-minded, ignorant and right-wing… Some people are so melodramatic. The teacher never played the game and “regardless of the content” removing something is ridiculous? Hope my children won’t have a teacher like that.

  33. Zell says:

    I have no strong opinion either way, but: Please don’t confuse sexuality and rape. There are excellent non-prudish reasons for opting out of a game with a scene described as above. The “trousers dropped to his ankles” image should inspire unease in everyone.

  34. Turin Turambar says:

    I don’t understand. This is supposed to be played by adults, doesn’t it?

    I mean, an example: Do you know some kids who are going to understand the joke of unions, pictured above?

  35. James G says:

    @EGTF
    Might just be a regional thing, in the UK, the ‘OMG think of the children, sex is icky and shouldn’t be discussed’ response is one more usually associated with certain sections on the right of the political spectrum. If the argument is that the game trivialises rape, then that may be thought of as a more left wing approach. (I haven’t played the game, and thus skimmed the discussion above for fear of spoilers.)

    Or possibly its just a case of people attempting to ascribe those who they disagree with to the opposite ends of the political spectrum. I was once involved in a debate where everyone was trying to assign the BNP to the opposite end of the political spectrum to which they considered themselves. In the end we decided it didn’t matter much, as whatever they were, they were still fuckwits.

  36. Heliocentric says:

    All political opinions can be summed up on a scale of left to right.

    Isn’t that great, i thought life was more complicated when i was younger but now i know better.

  37. Oddtwang says:

    Surely EVERYONE’s been on Political Compass by now? If you actually give a toss, then being able to say “fiscally slightly left-of-centre, socially very liberal” (or whatever suits you) isn’t that much harder than “liberal” – especially when the latter has somehow become an insult for certain groups.

    Sorry, off topic again. Sounds like a stupid decision to me, but as has been pointed out, they can host whatever they like :)

  38. Erlam says:

    “That is the sickness enshrined at the heart of a Western media modeled on Victorian standards. (There are other culprits, but buttoned-down bed-wetters will do for now.)”

    Which is weird, because on Canadian TV movies/shows are MUCH less censored, often have swearing, but do this neat thing where they warn you if the show has that content.

    It’s so bizarre watching American movies that have been ripped to shreds by American ‘values.’ My favourite example being Diehard 3 where they changed McLeans sign at the start of the movie to read ‘I Hate Everone.’

    Wow.

  39. phil says:

    @Heliocentric
    That’s because as you grow old you grow more right wing and long for simple, emotive, irrational solutions.

    It’s possible to get so right wing that you loop around and start agreeing with George Monbiot, this is what I think happened to Hitler in the bunker.

  40. MacBeth says:

    Actually, I retract my earlier statement – you can indeed describe something in graphic detail, the description of which implies something else has happened, so they had a valid point. The pants-round-ankles and the blood-dripping bits being the ‘graphic detail’. So yeah, maybe they’re right. But still, it’s all a bit OMG-won’t-somebody-think-of-the-children.

  41. Heliocentric says:

    Noted.

    Where am i on the d&d gone/evil and lawful/chaotic scale if i support dogs and find cats to close to a predator to trust them.

    Screw left/right i want politicians to tell me they element they are based on.

    I’m into magnesium.

  42. Heliocentric says:

    *good/evil

    Typing on a mobile.

  43. phil says:

    @Heliocentric, I for one would vote for any party using “lvl. 20 good/chaotic” as a campaign slogan. Then again I’m a Lib Dem, so we’re half way there already, unfortunately it’s not necessarily the ‘good’ part.

    To stay on message, I’ll say our element is Zinc, though personally I’m part of a copperist faction.

  44. Heliocentric says:

    So lib dems are level 10? And chaotic neutral? I suppose the problem with being level 20 is you have no room to expand. What class?

  45. Nick says:

    Nightmare on Elm steet at 2 in the afternoon, but mass panic at the sight of a nipple. That’s backwards.

  46. Erlam says:

    I will never fully understand how America went from an atheistic liberal nation, to the bastion of ‘Christian Values’ where nudity is the most offensive thing in the world, but ‘terrorists’ being blown apart is afternoon viewing.

    Then again, check the Old Testament.

  47. Heliocentric says:

    God is omnipotent not impotent. He doesn’t need nipples on television. Quite simple.

  48. Tei says:

    @Erlam: I don’t know, but I have this theory for you: It seems the religious crackpot is a minority, but on USA only minority vote. This make so politicians really follow these ideas, to get these votes. On this theory, Bush was not a strange religious crackpot, he was just pretending to be one, to make these people happy. The gratitious use of the G word is because get votes, lots of votes. While other people are not affected. Seems these minoritys are receptive to the message of politicians, while the general population don’t really care about politics.
    Anyway, this is just a theory.

  49. Pags says:

    God is omnipotent not impotent. He doesn’t need nipples on television. Quite simple.

    Omnippletent?

  50. Premium User Badge

    dhex says:

    what if the nipples are opulent?

    omnip’dopulence?