Hotline Miami 2: Rating Board “Incorrectly Portrays” Game

The publishers and developer of Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number have responded to the game being refused classification in Australia saying they are “concerned and disappointed” by the Classification Board’s treatment of the game.

In a blog post the publisher Devolver and developer Dennaton contest several of the elements of the board’s report. First up is Midnight Animal – the movie set scene which the board described as a visual depiction of implied violence”. The company isn’t disputing the violence or that the scene exists but is pointing out that it’s not a compulsory part of the game.

As per the blog entry:

First, to clear up any possible misconceptions, the opening cinematic that was first shown in June of 2013 has not changed in any way. We also want to make clear that players are given an choice at the start of the game as to whether they wish to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence. The sequence in question is presented below in context, both after choosing the uncut version of the game and after choosing to avoid content that alludes to sexual violence.

This is the video to which they’re referring:

The response also calls into question the accuracy of the report as it goes on to say:

“We are concerned and disappointed that a board of professionals tasked with evaluating and judging games fairly and honestly would stretch the facts to such a degree and issue a report that describes specific thrusting actions that are not simply present in the sequence in question and incorrectly portrays what was presented to them for review.”

In terms of where this leaves the game, Devolver says that while there are no plans to officially challenge the decision “we stand by our developers, their creative vision for the storyline, its characters and the game”.

As per our previous post on the subject, these rulings tend to affect retail copies of games, with the digital distribution of titles at the discretion of the companies involved. Steam has a history of abiding by regional board classification rulings but other companies may be more willing to offer Hotline Miami 2 up for sale. A DRM-free version could work anywhere.

93 Comments

  1. Chalky says:

    Good that you guys got an article up about the other side of the story so quickly, really nice to see.

    Does anyone know if there’s much precedent for the reviewing body reversing decisions like this? It’s sad to see this sort of half baked decision affecting gamers in Australia. Good thing there’s almost always some way to get hold of games regardless of this classification scheme.

    • Farsi Myrtle says:

      There’s a review process, which of course costs $10,000 to initiate.

  2. Mr Ak says:

    So, that’s a little ridiculous. Two points:

    a)Whether there’s an option to not see the content is entirely irrelevant. It’s the fact that exists that determines the decision, not how hard it is to access/avoid. You can fast forward through a movie, tear out the page of a book, etc.

    b) While they are right in that the report mentions “thrusting”, which doesn’t occur, the remainder of the characterisation is pretty much accurate. Nor is there anything to suggest that the thrusting was at the heart of the OFLC’s rejection.

    Whether it *should* be banned or not isn’t something I really have an opinion on. I liked the first one, but dislike this sequence a lot.

    But if you want to argue it shouldn’t, those aren’t the arguments to raise.

    • Guvornator says:

      That’s how Hot Coffee turned into a shitstorm for Rockstar. Shagging was in the game, even if it was behind lock and key. I don’t think it would have changed the rating, but the BBFC weren’t happy (which probably says more about the BBFC than anything else, but there you go…)

    • Smashbox says:

      The idea of “mandatory” content is utter horseshit in a medium that cedes control to the user.

      • pepperfez says:

        It really depends on what you think the ratings are for. If they really are for Protecting The Children, then you’re totally right. If they’re for squeamish adults who want to know what horrors to expect (Me!), then knowing you can skip the ugly parts is very useful.

    • Faxanadu says:

      b) It’s absolutely CRUCIAL that they point out flaws like these, because they shed light on the quality of this screening.

      “lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him”

      – Does NOT lie on top of her

      – Is NOT implicitly raping her

      – Sure as hell can NOT see if he’s doing it anally or vaginally or hotdogging since the above

      – legs are NOT kicking

      How do you take anything they say seriously after that? You don’t. THIS is ridiculous.

      • yogibbear says:

        Bravo! Well said!

        Now my only problem is, what can us aussies legitimately do about this? We already crusaded for 15+ years to get an R18+ rating and we’re still stuck with a bunch of incompetent idiots in a position of power over our hobby. This scene is a joke in terms of receiving a ban. Even if he was thrusting I still would personally disagree with the ban. Anyway more free advertising to Hotline Miami 2! I will just have to use a VPN or something to purchase this illegally. Wooo… don’t call the cops on me!

        • Philopoemen says:

          Its not an offence to possess RC material, except in WA and NT. And as a cop in WA, I didn’t even know that until today…

        • asmodemus says:

          Okay, here goes.

          The problem is not the people making the assessment. They’re just following the legislation in the same way that a cop can’t really just ignore you doing a line of coke in front of him on the street. The problem is that the new legislation that allows R 18+ games is incredibly restrictive and in no way fixes the old problems that were present when we only had MA 15+.

          What everyone assumes is that we simply had the R18+ from movies applied to games. This is not the case. The new legislation for R 18+ for games was deliberately sabotaged by vested (read conservative and religious) interests in the Senate and the regulations everyone signed off on ban a great number of things. They are much more restrictive than film regulations and in many ways are not what gamers or the community were expecting.

          Drug use related to any kind of reward or incentive is still an immediate BAN. So using the drug speed in a roguelike and getting +3 to your dex stat = technically an auto ban for the game.

          Sexual violence of any kind = auto ban. Hotline Miami 2 here has obviously fallen afoul of what we can all agree would hardly raise an eyebrow in a film. In fact this exact scene if stuck into, say, an episode of Southpark or even something like Community would probably just be M rated as long as it was part of a film rather than a game.

          If you care about any of these things you have only one serious option. Write to your local member or a politician in Canberra. They are the only people who can do anything about the legislation and if enough complaints come through then there will be rumblings that the whole thing was botched the last time and the process of changing the system will begin again.

      • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

        I just watched the sequence in the video for the first time, without reading a description or even having any prior knowledge of what it showed, and my immediate reaction was “Holy fuck – he’s raping her. You rape a person in this game.” He pretty clearly lies down on her, after having dropped trou, and then she starts flailing.

        If you can’t see how that’s an obvious interpretation – or how the developers almost certainly want that to be an interpretation – then it’s because you don’t want to see it.

        • Faxanadu says:

          That must be the case, because no other way than wanting to see it, do you see things that are not there.

          • GunnerMcCaffrey says:

            I guess this applies to the developers themselves, then, since they put in a warning about sexual violence?

            If the only way to defend something is delude yourself, maybe it’s not worth defending.

        • yogibbear says:

          Context matters. She is not a child. He is not glorifying the act. The entire setup is not ‘real’ as it’s a movie. So there’s no actual sexual violence being depicted. Because it’s fake sexual violence in a very unrealistic looking game. That’s about all that needs to be said to say it can legitimately be in a game. The fact that the game even ‘cuts’ away from the scene before any actual fake-‘rape’ happens makes it even more likely in my mind that this is a mistake to receive the ACB ban hammer.

        • LionsPhil says:

          Yeah, I don’t know how people aren’t seeing:
          – he climbs on top of her
          – he drops his trousers
          – she starts squirming.

          Yes, if we’re being ridiculous pedants, maybe he’s just tickling her. And maybe all the previous people were just drinking tomato juice when he knocked them over and made them spill their drinks. Jesus.

          • sovvie77 says:

            Yeah, it takes it a bit too far, I think. I love me some Gears of War and am not really squeamish, but if there is any kind of sexual violence to be had by the player character I can’t condone that. The envelope is already somewhat pushed by the gratuitous violence, but it’s supposed to be over-the-top ’80s movie kind of stuff. Rape is not silly or able to be shrugged off as a teenage “badass” fantasy. Not a fantasy of a normal human being, anyway.

          • xao says:

            Fortunately, there isn’t “any kind of sexual violence to be had by the player character”, so feel free to enjoy the standard issue violence being had by the player character.

          • pepperfez says:

            The worst part is that I really appreciate what they’re trying to do: Satirize the callous use of sexual violence in Serious (jk, not actually serious) Storytelling.On an intellectual level, yeah, it’s clever that even Hotline Miami, the literal murder simulator, is distancing itself from this tacky depiction of rape and associating it with even trashier media. That doesn’t really come through in the scene, though.

          • Joshua Northey says:

            I really don’t understand people who find that particular element worth noting in a game that is about indiscriminate murder. Say what you want about sexual violence, in the vast majority of cases it is a significantly less bad thing to happen to you than murder.

            The acts depicted are deplorable yes, but so are the acts in a huge swath of video games, movies, books.

        • Baffle Mint says:

          First time I watched it I thought the dude was just showing off his plumber’s crack because he was bending over while wearing pants which were too loose, which made the whole report very confusing to me.

          Rewatching, he’s definitely pulling his pants down.

          I guess this is a movie version of the part in the first game where you rescue the woman from the weird, presumably non-consensual bondage porno?

          Wonder if that level was a problem for the ratings board in the first game. Is the implied sexual violence in the original game less disturbing because the player character isn’t complicit?

          • Brossacks says:

            The first game wasn’t rated for sexual content, at all. Especially problematic is it was rated 4/5 for violence, where Left 4 Dead 2 got RC for it’s violence, which is comparatively tame.

        • Raemon says:

          Yeah, I’m pretty confused about how people are not reading this as rape. What exactly do they think he’s doing?

          • wu wei says:

            Acting in a movie. There’s a context to that scene that’s important.

        • Faxanadu says:

          Please read my last reply to this chain below, and apologies.

      • Mr Coot says:

        @Faxanadu :Twilight Zone music plays: Did we just watch the same video in alternate realities? He most definitely lies on top of her and her legs are kicking. What I want to know is how do you personally *not* interpret that as an implied rape scene? The only thing open to interpretation is the thrusting, which on repeated plays thru he doesn’t do once on top, however the motion of him dropping drop trou and climbing on top might be suggestive of a thrust to someone watching it through once.

        It’s not just non-consensual sex that is implied here, he first clubs her and she drops into a pool of *her own blood* before the implied rape.

        • Mr Coot says:

          Faxanadu> – Is NOT implicitly raping her
          Faxanadu> It’s absolutely CRUCIAL that they point out flaws like these, because they shed light on the quality of this screening.

          I’m waiting… please reply! What is the character doing? I am agog with expectation to hear your reading of what is going on in this scene.

          Don’t keep us in suspense. Your response will shed much light on the quality of your bulldust.

          • Christian Dannie Storgaard says:

            First of all, it’s on a film set, so everything in the scene is acted, as in not real in the context of the game, therefore there is no rape taking place in much the same way that Monica Bellucci wasn’t raped on the set of Irreversible.

            Secondly, there’s no thrusting action and the woman’s kicking/squirming actually stops as soon as the main character lowers his pants and head, making it look more like they are both getting into a sort of fade-to-black pose for the scene (or suddenly decide to just hug it out for a while).

        • Faxanadu says:

          Yes, my mistake.

      • AngoraFish says:

        Umm… all of which might be at least somewhat arguable if the video itself didn’t illustrate the option to not show sexual violence, then exclude this scene when the option to exclude sexual violence was selected.

        It’s also worth pointing out that, as the option to exclude sexual violence exists, one presumes that there are multiple additional instances of sexual violence in the game as well. These are not shown in this particular video, and any argument based exclusively on creatively interpreting this particular scene is therefore inherently flawed from the beginning.

      • Faxanadu says:

        To any it might concern, and sorry for the late reply, completely forgot I had commented here:

        I retract my previous statement, I skimmed the video only watching the thumbnails, and thought the LATTER was the uncensored version.

        Having watched it now, yes, he clearly does have sex with her.

        Apologies for wasting your time on my mistake.

        I’ll be more careful and less dumb in the future.

    • Baffle Mint says:

      Argument B) amounts to

      “Sure, the ratings board rated a game they made up in their heads rather than the actual game, but the game they made up in their heads probably isn’t too different from the existing game.”

      That’s certainly, um, an argument.

      Think for a moment what a huge pain in the ass that would be for people trying to get things certified:

      Board: “Your game was rejected for reasons X, Y and Z”

      Developer: “Actually, you’re mistaken about Z, that never happens in the game.”

      Board: “Yeah, but it’s the kind of thing that would happen in the game, rejected!”

      Or, alternatively

      Board: “In a matter of complete coincidence, the parts of the game we were wrong about had the least bearing on our decision, so our decision stands.”

      How, in your view, would one even go about arguing with the board in cases like that?

      • Mr Ak says:

        Well, obviously, I wouldn’t. As you’ll note, Devolver aren’t either.

        If they took this to the review board with the argument that the description was wrong as it mentioned “thrusting” the review board’s most likely response would be that it was still, to all intents and purposes, a violent rape scene with little artistic merit that is committed by the player, and reject it.

        I don’t know whether I’d agree with them on the artistic merit question, but I have no doubt that’s what they’d find. In fact, I can’t imagine a situation in the next twenty years were a rape scene committed by a player will get through classification. Certainly not one that occurs on screen, and with visual elements that provide such strident emphasis.

        You could argue that the disavowal of it as a “real” thing makes a difference, but I don’t exactly see that flying either.

        • Baffle Mint says:

          I think it’s kind of, well, insane to have a review process which is so subjective that appeal is effectively impossible even in the case of objective factual errors on the part of the review board.

        • asmodemus says:

          Artistic merit is no longer a part of the Classification process in Australia and would not change the outcome of a decision. It hasn’t been for many years. It might hedge things a little in your favour with a film because they do take into account the idea of “gratuitousness” but generally it won’t get you anywhere.

          The developer is obviously upset with the decision and is arguing that the Board Report is sloppy in it’s description of what actually happens. That’s fair. The report is not super accurate in describing the scene.

          Sadly that will make absolutely no difference in the final decision because the Review Board would take one look and see that whatever the specifics there is a depiction of sexual violence in a video game and ban it. The legislation is very clear and leaves absolutely no room for quibbling. Needless to say the new R 18+ rating is not what gamers wanted and does not fix the problems of a system that still assumes there’s no such thing as games with merit made for adults.

    • dskzero says:

      Any arguments the board should choose to use to justify the refusal of classification are just as silly, since movies have been showing more graphic rape scenes for years and getting 15 and over ratings.

      • Muzman says:

        The only argument the board has to use it that it applied the law correctly.

    • Chrysomore says:

      Bugger the petty details, it lasts THREE SECONDS, and if rape and fat, tiny pixelated man-ass really is your thing, well, may some god or other help you. This should be fun to watch, at least, gaming as a mass medium has never really handled “difficult” material well, and now they’ve made a star out of a guy who really does not mind making people uncomfortable for the sake of his cough-syrup tainted visions. I say Godspeed you, Sir Cactus!

  3. RARARA says:

    All this talk of state censorship wants me to post this 1982 interview of David Cronenberg, John Carpenter and John Landis. Interesting talks on how censorship reflects the morays of the time and how violence is offensive and gratuitous even to Carpenter(!) when it’s without context.

    Here’s part 2 and part 3 if you want to watch further.

    • P.Funk says:

      The interesting question then would be is this decision based on this being violence out of meaningful context to justify it or is it merely ruled on the simple fact that there is sexual violence at all?

      • RARARA says:

        I believe the decision on whether something is with or without context should be left up to the critics and the audience, not some ratings board.

    • elwood_p says:

      Great interview, thanks for the link.

  4. joa says:

    Surely it should not be banned, because this goes against freedom of expression? That is the only argument that need be raised.

    • BlackAlpha says:

      That argument doesn’t work in a country that embraces censorship.

      • Gap Gen says:

        I mean, every country embraces censorship to some extent. The US and UK both have similar ratings boards, and particularly in the US a high rating will mean Walmart won’t stock it, which is apparently a big problem for games looking to sell physical copies. Hell, even France, for all the cry of #JeSuisCharlie, arrested a comedian (previously in trouble for anti-semitic humour) yesterday for a Facebook post.

        • BlackAlpha says:

          Yes, well, that’s not what I meant. I wouldn’t say those countries embrace it. At best, they dip into it every now and then. And the way their rating boards work is quite different to the Australian counterpart.

        • joa says:

          Yes but those ratings boards are just for classification and to govern what children are allowed to buy. You can still put whatever content you like in a game or film, you’re just going to get the highest-age rating.

          • Smashbox says:

            Actually, it’s retail policy and not government mandates which prohibit sales of “mature” media in the US.

          • BlackAlpha says:

            @Smashbox Meaning that if you don’t get an official classification, you may have trouble convincing others to sell your work, but you may still find someone who is willing to do it or you can sell it yourself if you have the means to do so. And that’s the biggest difference from a country like Australia which would effectively censor your game out of existence if you don’t get an official classification.

            You can actually see for yourself that quite a few games on Steam don’t seem to have a classification in North America, yet Steam can sell them there.

        • arccos says:

          Additionally, the US has the concept of “Obscenity”, which has no real guidelines, cannot be checked before releasing art/content, and can result in jail time once the art/content is put on sale.

        • There says:

          To clarify, in France, it’s forbidden to publicly mention you support terrorism and approve of terrorist acts. This is what this comedian was accused of and has been arrested for. This came on top of a similar statement he made about the execution of James Foley.
          Also he hasn’t been previously been ‘in trouble for anti-semitic humor’. He has been sentenced multiple times for publicly insulting various individuals or groups of people, notably Jewish people or Jews as a group, for slander or libel against various people/groups, again notably Jews, for encouraging discrimination and hatred against Jews, for denying proven crimes against humanity. All of this was done via public statements, tweets, FB posts, YT videos, etc. All of these things are forbidden in my country. He is also accused of tax evasion, money laundering and embezzlement.
          So I think we could say this goes a little further than harmless ‘humor’ or exercising free speech as we define it. Ironically, this is what he’d like people to believe he does. Sad to see it works beyond our borders.

    • drinniol says:

      There’s no constitutional right to free speech in Australia, only an implied right to political freedom of speech.

  5. wu wei says:

    As a point of comparison, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo featured two anal rape scenes – one with the protagonist as the instigator – and it received an MA15+ rating.

    • RuySan says:

      Good point.

      Also, while many people couldn’t stomach “Irreversible”, i don’t think anyone claiming that it shouldn’t exist.

      It’s this kind of collective outrage that shows how immature this medium still is.

      • pepperfez says:

        I imagine the same people who think HM2 shouldn’t exist think those movies shouldn’t exist. It’s just the film people know they won’t get their way, while the gamers are still paranoid.

    • supermini says:

      Yeah, *very* disturbing ones. A movie can get away with something like that, but not a video game.

      • Distec says:

        There’s no legitimate rationale as to why “Movies can do X, but video games can’t”.

        Unless we’re just talking about the execution? As in video games (in their current state) can’t address rape as well as films can? I feel inclined to agree. But I also know it’s a sensitive subject and you’re never going to get a concrete consensus on what’s an acceptable or responsible depiction of the act. I’ve seen I Spit On Your Grave regarded as either empowering or completely disgusting, depending on whose opinion.

      • sovvie77 says:

        Games are inherently different because they place the player in a position of responsibility for their characters’ actions. Saying “oh, it’s just me messing around” or “I’m not doing it; Character X” is” works perhaps for normal violence by distancing with a pretense of humor and a lack of seriousness, but by that logic, the rape here is a “joke.” There isn’t any real reason for it, either. This isn’t a game about a deep storyline or multifaceted people who could be anitheroes and somehow excused from it. As someone who enjoyed HM1, I am disappointed by this.

        Oh, and freedom of speech only works when it doesn’t offend you. Read this. link to huffingtonpost.co.uk

        In particular, this excerpt.
        Has your publication, for example, run cartoons mocking the Holocaust? No? How about caricatures of the 9/11 victims falling from the twin towers? I didn’t think so (and I am glad it hasn’t). Consider also the “thought experiment” offered by the Oxford philosopher Brian Klug. Imagine, he writes, if a man had joined the “unity rally” in Paris on 11 January “wearing a badge that said ‘Je suis Chérif'” – the first name of one of the Charlie Hebdo gunmen. Suppose, Klug adds, he carried a placard with a cartoon mocking the murdered journalists. “How would the crowd have reacted?… Would they have seen this lone individual as a hero, standing up for liberty and freedom of speech? Or would they have been profoundly offended?” Do you disagree with Klug’s conclusion that the man “would have been lucky to get away with his life”?

        I hope someone, even if it is not you, will learn from this.

        • xao says:

          A game places the player in the position of responsibility for some acts in the game. It’s rather ludicrous to blame the player for the actions of NPCs in a game.

          It is possible to embrace freedom of speech even when one finds its content offensive. I would go so far as to say that those are the times it is most important to embrace freedom of speech, and I say this as someone who’s been picketed, protested against, and reviled in four nations across three continents.

          • Baffle Mint says:

            Actually, in my opinion one of the big weaknesses of the original Hotline Miami was that the player isn’t really put in a position of responsibility.

            Most, and quite possibly all (It’s been a while since I played, so there may be one or two choices I’m forgetting) of the violence in the game is necessary to proceed through the game. The only choices the player is given are to commit acts of violence or to stop playing the game.

            When there’s no choice, there’s no complicity. In effect, the complicity you have for the violence in Hotline Miami is the same as the complicity you have when you press play on a horror movie.

        • Emeraude says:

          Games are inherently different because they place the player in a position of responsibility for their characters’ actions.

          That’s only as true as the possibilities of actions offered by the game tailors – i.e generally far less than people employing this argument like to believe, certainly not a clear cut black and white case.
          Games as a medium can mix first and third person in ways other media can’t for sure, but others can do that kind of muddling too actually, though in different ways.

          As for the tangential free speech issue, first this and this I guess (there would be a lot more to say on the Charlie Siné events, as a lot of it was more inner editorial/political turmoil than antisemitism issue actually, but I’ll leave that to others). Also, that writer certainly didn’t read enough Charlie if he thinks Jews and Christians weren’t mocked there too (the paper has been going to court has least twice a year on average since its creation, and won most, but not all of the times – see their infamous “Intouchables 2” cover). Hell, I would argue that overall, Muslims had it nice when compared to the Christian stuff, which was overall brutal.

          Then there are only two kinds of speech that can and should be regulated as far as I can see:
          a) Libel. For, I hope, obvious reasons that needs no debating.
          b) “Hate speech”. That is to say, speech whose sole or main purpose is to provoke the use of violence. Now I agree that far too often authorities are going to be too heavy handed with that. I quite often don’t agree with my own government (while I think someone like Dieudonné deserves overall what he got from the judicial systems, I do think some of his condemnations were unwarranted), but I can’t always blame them for erring on the side of caution.

          We’re actually seeing several legal attacks right now on French soil of people who supported the terrorists in public comments. The logic being that apology of the crime is a form of complicity – i.e hate speech. Which I think is a receivable argument. Note that it’s not the idea that is being censored, but the (perceived, knot of the problem right here) intent.

          Then there’s the issue of regulating age. Which I think is a fair point, we don’t want a three year old to be submitted to content – say rape scenes -when absolutely not ready to parse it.

          So, back to the game. Is it libel ? Not as far as I can tell. Is it hate speech ? Same answer, I don’t think the game is in any way trying to promote or glamorize the criminal endeavor. Should it be regulated in one way or another so as to not reach minds not mature enough to deal with the content. I think so. Should it be forbidden outright ? I don’t see a case for it.

          • There says:

            Re: Charlie. Can we nuance a bit and say they mostly targeted fanatics using any kind of religion or belief to commit or say what they thought were unacceptable things? I know it wasn’t always as explicit as it could have been, hence the complaints, but I think it’s important to make the distinction.

        • Nouser says:

          You are using exactly the same argument that has been used like a billion times against any kind of violence in videogames. Videogames are fighting now the same fight that literature, music, film and television has fought before them. Immoral books, full of violence, sex and blasphemy, didn’t drive society into anarchy and corruption, neither did the radio nor the cinema, and television wasn’t the end of occidental culture. And internet didn’t bring the chaos and doomsday. The only reason because videogames are seen now with true terror and aren’t allowed to portray the darkest side of human beings, is because they are the newer media and people are using the “precautionary principle”, fearing they could drive the youth into madness and depravity.

          Honestly, I can’ assure anybody will be driven into murder and rape because they played Hotline Miami 2, the same way I can’t assure these same people wouldn’t have committed neither murder or rape if they hadn’t played it. But what I can assure is that education and awareness is always better than denial. Pretending violence doesn’t exist and hiding it won’t make it fade away. Accepting its existence and thinking actively about why it’s wrong to employ violence against other human beings is the way to go.

          In the case of Hotline Miami, it is actively reflecting about violence, not justifying it. I fail to see any reason why any kind of violence should be omitted from the game, or why sexual violence must be treated differently from any other manifestation of violence against other human being.

      • ThornEel says:

        It may come from the fact that in a videogame, you are taking an active part. So you don’t watch someone doing something truly despicable, you are instigating something truly despicable. (Let’s forget one moment that in this particular case, it was in a cutscene) So a bigger reaction is understandable.
        IMHO, it doesn’t end up necessarily making such a big difference in most cases, and guidelines working for films should be pretty good for games as well. A detailed study on the subject would probably be what we need here, however. Unfortunately, looking at other media, I doubt this would happen anytime soon.

        Also, I would ideally add another item to the classification list (even though it’s probably near-impossible for a board to classify it correctly), in player decisions.
        For example, in RPGs, you often have the choice between “nice” and “jerk” paths, sometimes being allowed to do utterly despicable things for fun or profit. Personally, having the choice makes it having less impact, particularly with the possibility to do multiple runs, so it becomes more of a hypothetical “what-if”.

        For a more personal example, there is Supreme Commander. An otherwise great game despite its flaws, with a campaign and a story that unfortunately couldn’t deliver much of its potential.
        In the end of the original UEF campaign, you are tasked to defend the Black Sun, a superweapon (that everyone fought for during the campaign) with the ability to blow every. single. enemy. planet. For context, the UEF are basically your Western Democracy with a more militaristic (and besieged [and slaver]) ring.
        At the end of the mission, once the Black Sun is ready to fire, you are supposed to activate it yourself to end the mission.
        The three campaigns are showed as each side being morally gray, and you are simply fighting for survival, and to protect what you hold dear against enemy that would destroy them.
        And then you are asked to murder hundreds of billions of innocent people and annihilate two civilisations – one that just wanted to not be slaves.
        This is not meant to be a commentary on what war, even for such cause, will drive you to do. That could have been brilliant. Nope, here it’s just sloppy writing.

        I’ve never experienced another piece of violence making me that sick – worse than any form of violence, sexual or otherwise, in a film or a book ever did. In fact, it’s the only one I’ve never completely recovered from.

        And there is no fraking warning for that! What’s wrong with you, authority figures?

  6. Wowbagger says:

    Is Irreversible not available in Australia? That has the most disturbing sexual violence I can think of.

    Find it strange that sexual violence is being considered some how morally distinct from violence in general, in this particular case it isn’t press q to rape woman in any interactive sense, but is part of a film being made. I wonder if that is partly their point in including it? Something that is allowed in cinema is for some reason not kosher when it comes to computer games?

    • Philopoemen says:

      the OFLC has always been a bit undecided how to handle games, we only just got an R classification 2-3 years ago.

      here’s the official reasons for refusing classification:

      “With the R18+ rating in place, it is expected fewer video games will be refused classification. Games may still be refused classification if deemed to contain material unsuitable for R18+ classification, such as depictions of sexual violence or the promotion of illegal drug use. More specifically, games which may be refused classification include:

      Detailed instruction or promotion in matters of crime or violence.
      The promotion or provision of instruction in paedophile activity.
      Descriptions or depictions of child sexual abuse or any other exploitative or offensive descriptions or depictions involving a person who is, or appears to be, a child under 18 years.
      Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
      (i) violence with a very high degree of impact or which are excessively frequent, prolonged or detailed;
      (ii) cruelty or real violence which are very detailed or which have an extremely high impact;
      (iii) sexual violence
      Depictions of practices such as bestiality
      Gratuitous, exploitative or offensive depictions of:
      (i) activity accompanied by fetishes or practices that are offensive or abhorrent;
      (ii) incest fantasies or other fantasies that are offensive or abhorrent”

      Most of which is fair enough. However, the majority of games banned are due to “high impact violence”, but admittedly they’re pre-R18+ classification.

      • Tukuturi says:

        I wonder what fetishes Australians find offensive or abhorrent. Foot fetishes? Looning? Cakefarting?

    • mvar says:

      It’s all just a matter of pushing enough money to the right direction. The movie studios do that all the time, that’s why the media and poltiicians go nuts with “violent” video games “ooo think of the children” when that kind of violence is a drop in the ocean compared to what we’re watching on TV on a daily basis during the last 3 decades.

  7. Philopoemen says:

    Straya!

  8. DanMan says:

    The game never appealed to me either. You’re not missing much, Australia.

    • SominiTheCommenter says:

      I also don’t give a shit about Hotline Miami, but between that and banning it from sale goes a long way.

  9. Brossacks says:

    The “Midnight Animal” scene is based on the events of the first game, that character is supposed to represent Jacket, who kidnapped a drugged sex slave in the first game, yes?
    The Australian Classification Board rated Hotline Miami an MA15+, for “Strong Violence”, only the second highest violence rating, and did not rate any sexually explicit content.

    Apparently, implied rape is fine, but implied rape is disgusting.

    Good job, ACMA.

    • jonahcutter says:

      In the first game the woman could be a drugged sex slave that Jacket rescues. Or a drug addicted sex worker that he kidnaps. It’s portrayed more as a rescue, but considering he’s such an unreliable narrator and the altering perspectives within the game overall, it’s impossible to say for sure which is closer to her actual situation.

      • Brossacks says:

        Yes, that’s my point. A drugged, crying sex slave asking to be murdered gets a 0/5 rating for sexual content, but two consenting actors playing a sexual assault gets the game RC.
        Edit: I don’t mean to imply Jacket sexually assaulted her at any point, but it’s fairly explicitly shown that The Producer had.

  10. Renevent says:

    Smash dozens of men’s faces in with baseball bats splattering their brains/blood in graphic detail across the room? Just fine. Implied rape that is barely graphic at all? You shall not pass!!!!

    I guess as long as it’s only men who are the recipients of violent acts its fine and dandy. Rape is no worse than murder…I’d say murder is worse in fact.

    • Jamesworkshop says:

      rape would still be rape even if it happened to a man

      • joa says:

        Do you really think rape of a woman and rape of a man are the same?

        • yogibbear says:

          Do you not?

        • LennyLeonardo says:

          Obviously they’re not the same, but they’re both rape. Quail eggs and ostrich eggs are not the same, but they’re still eggs.

        • Emeraude says:

          Do you think Tarentino could have made the rape scene in Pulp Fiction a comic scene if the victim had been a woman ?

          Edit: my bad was not addressed to you specifically. Hit the wrong Reply button.

          • pepperfez says:

            The comedy relies on people incorrectly treating the rape of males as a joke, thereby making themselves obnoxious dickheads.

          • Emeraude says:

            @pepperfez

            Irrelevant to the argument at hand I would say. It *is* being treated differently, meaning there is a difference in cultural perception of the phenomenon. Whether you or I agree or not with why it is so.

            Male and female rape aren’t created and perceived equal in the public eye.

          • pepperfez says:

            The start of this thread was classic “Nobody cares about men!!!” whinging, followed up by, “Do you really think rape of a woman and rape of a man are the same?” So, yeah, the answer to that has nothing to do with society at large. And anyway, does anyone think substituting a man in the opening would have made the ratings board look more kindly on it? We may be more willing to accept the rape of men being played for laughs, but doing it straight-faced and violent would surely be off the table.

          • P.Funk says:

            I never found that scene in Pulp Fiction to be purely comic per se. It was also horrifying. Maynard and the Gimp both were funny but at the same time it was unsettling and made me feel very weird the first time I saw it, not in a way where I’m being prudish but in the same way watching the film 8mm made me feel, but obviously not quite as bad.

            So I think its unfair to say its comic because its about men. Perhaps he got away with making it very black and comical by not using a woman in it. Nevertheless I think its more complicated than just ‘its comic’.

          • Emeraude says:

            And anyway, does anyone think substituting a man in the opening would have made the ratings board look more kindly on it?

            Not one instant. At the same time, I do believe that the cultural understanding and appreciation is different depending on the sex of the victim. Which is to be kept in mind if we want to debate and understand the implications properly.

            @P.Funk:
            So I think its unfair to say its comic because its about men.

            I’ve watched that movie at least half a dozen time different people, and the laughter that comes out of the scene is generally a way for people to deal with the shock of what they’re seeing. The laughter is born out of embarrassment first, indeed. But I remain quite certain that had it been a woman, there would have been no laughter. Period. It’s not funny *because* it’s about men, but it couldn’t be if it was about women.

          • Tukuturi says:

            I must have really missed something in that scene, because I never found it funny nor did I realize I was supposed to.

        • Jamesworkshop says:

          yes i do

          don’t make a mistake about it happening more often but would you honestly say you’d more likely to remain friends with someone that raped a man, rather than a woman?

          As for people saying it’s “funny” remember how humor is used to avoid painful situations, I think men would rather laugh than say something unnerved, or even frightened them.
          (you see a similar effect when it’s statutory rape of a male minor, oh he must have enjoyed it)

          Another factor I think is because nobody thinks of a male victim when rape gets mentioned, people laugh because they consider the proposition to be absurd, as if such a thing weren’t really possible, either men are much to tough, or based on the stereotype than men only want sex and all day everyday, and thus would never be unwilling.

  11. derbefrier says:

    Wow i just watched the video after reading some comments here and i have to say….. I was expecting much worse that what is actually there. people are too damn sensitive. it was quite literally only a couple seconds an then it moves over to the camera crew. I have seen worse depictions of sexual assault on CSI:Miami.

    • P.Funk says:

      But video games… children… they’re just desperate to connect those things separated by an ellipsis and followed by another with ’cause’ and ‘violence’

      They can’t say it anymore, but they can still do it quietly through their actions.

  12. AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

    Man, remember when people went mad because the devs were considering changing the opening scene, because it was censorship? Well, that wasn’t censorship, to the point that after considering it the devs decided not to change it. This is.

  13. death_au says:

    I think I remember reading somewhere that this scene was not the classification board’s only issue with the game, but the only one the publicised. Either way, not matter what your feelings on the subject, I think there is a very clear course of action for this scene: Remove the option that asks you if you want to skip the sexual violence scene and just skip the sexual violence scene.
    It is a bit odd that the classification board has “made up” the whole “thrusting” bit (having watched the video, there’s clearly no thrusting), but it does not change the fact that it’s a visual depiction of implied rape and therefore falls into the Refused Classification bracket.

  14. Rindan says:

    Video games are not a special medium that operate under different rules than a book. If you are not willing to censor a book for depicting what is in a videogame, you are a hypocritical piece of shit. If you are not willing to apply censorship equally to all forms of expression, fuck off*.

    There might be some valid criticism of Hotline Miami 2, but censorship is a pretty surefire way to destroy such criticism. Personally, I would prefer to live in a country where we can see and talk about such things, rather than have them banned.

    For the record, if you want to impose any form of censorship, I think you should fuck off. Censorship has never been an effective way to fight bad ideas. There is so much wrong with the American form of government, but that 1st amendment and the halfway decent defense of it (though even that is slipping with the hilariously called “free speech zones”) is something worthy of envy.