Hotline Miami 2 Refused Classification In Australia

Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number has been refused classification in Australia, joining the likes of Left 4 Dead 2 and Saints Row IV. The report by the Australian Classification Board cites a visual depiction of implied sexual violence as part of their decision to refuse the game classification.

Kotaku Australia obtained a copy of the report which contained this segment about the scene (warning: description of violence and sexual violence):

“In the sequence of game play footage titled Midnight Animal, the protagonist character bursts into what appears to be a movie set and explicitly kills 4 people, who collapse to the floor in a pool of copious blood, often accompanied by blood splatter. After stomping on the head of a fifth male character, he strikes a female character wearing red underwear. She is knocked to the floor and is viewed lying face down in a pool of copious blood. The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and 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. This visual depiction of implied sexual violence is emphasised by it being mid-screen, with a red backdrop pulsating and the remainder of the screen being surrounded by black.”

Again, as per Kotaku Australia, the report goes on to point out that it isn’t an exhaustive list of the content which caused Hotline Miami 2 to be refused classification.

That particular scene sounds like the one which was initially in the demo version of the game but which ended up being removed from the demo following complaints about how it worked and came across in that context.

In terms of what that means for PC, well, classification generally affects retail releases but in a 2013 interview Ron Curry, CEO of the Interactive Games and Entertainment Association (which represents game publishers in Australia), notes that Valve tend to abide by those rulings.

“They don’t have to. They choose to do that,” said Curry. “Steam is like iTunes. They’re an offshore digital distributor so they have no obligation to abide by Australian classifications, but they do it. If a game is RC [Refused Classification] in Australia, Steam won’t distribute that product here. It’s just part of their good corporate citizenship.”

He added that, “Arguably a lot of the work on the consoles is voluntary as well, because there’s an argument that because they’re selling things digitally, they don’t need classification.”

I’ve emailed to ask publishers Devolver what this means for Hotline Miami 2 – whether that’s resubmission, amendments or something else entirely. SR4 and L4D2 both removed their offending bits to gain classification.

64 Comments

  1. MajorTomG says:

    Blimey! That does sound rather strong.

  2. iaguz says:

    Guess we’re pirating it. Yay.

  3. Pich says:

    meh. if i remember right tje humble store is region-free, so they can just get it from there. or a non-australian friend can gift it to them.

    • demicanadian says:

      Humble Bundle is region free. Humble store unfortunately (for my wallet) is not.

  4. Gwilym says:

    ‘Implicit?’

  5. postmanmanman says:

    Huh, I have to say that description makes me not want to play the game, even as an avid fan of the first Hotline Miami. I’m not saying devs can’t include sexual violence in their games, but it better be done for a damn good reason.

    Granted I don’t know the context of the scene, so I’ll withhold judgment until I do, but frankly it just sounds like shock for the sake of shock which is just gross and repugnant on many levels.

    • rabbit says:

      Agree. Horrible.

    • dskzero says:

      It’s a fake rape scene for a slasher movie being filmed in the game.

      • Canazza says:

        It’s a different scene. AFAIK it’s the in-game ‘inspiration’ for the fake scene on the film set.

    • Shazbut says:

      Unlike the extraordinarily graphic non-sexual violence?

      • postmanmanman says:

        See, but the violence is there for a reason. The first Hotline Miami was a very interesting analysis of violence in videogames, a point I thought was made clear by the level where you don’t have to kill a single person, but the game lets you kill as many people as you want anyways.

        Sexual violence isn’t a common part of videogames so clearly this scene isn’t making some point about sexual violence in videogames, and if it is (as other people are pointing out) actually just a fake-out scene that turns out to be part of a slasher movie then it really does feel like it’s there for no other reason than to shock and offend.

        • Laurentius says:

          “See, but the violence is there for a reason. The first Hotline Miami was a very interesting analysis of violence in videogames, a point I thought was made clear by the level where you don’t have to kill a single person, but the game lets you kill as many people as you want anyways.”

          I can’t belive this, I’m sorry I simply can’t, Hotline Miami being “very interesting analysis of violence in video games” is aburd beyond level of my even most far reaching understanding.

      • rabbit says:

        you can see no difference between a video game where you click people once to make blood explode out of them and a video game where you (apparently) see someone being pinned down and raped?

        right ok just checking

        • Emeraude says:

          You mean that moment when you’re made to beat a surrendering man to an inch of his life, then put him on fire and watch him burn was intrinsically different ?

          May I ask how ?

          Because, personally that’s the moment when I realized without a doubt I was playing a monster getting unhinged – and frankly it made me feel horribly uncomfortable with the original game.

          • MrFinnishDude says:

            I think that is the greatest part of the game. Realizing that your character is getting insane, but that character is you. You aren’t going to stop the violence, it would stop the all the fun and the adrenaline rush. Of course nothing in the game is “real”, those people you slaughtered weren’t “real” people.
            Or that’s what you, and your character keep telling yourselves.

        • Creeping Death says:

          You could argue the latter isn’t as bad as it sounds like it doesn’t involve any player interaction. Where as the non-sexual violence to others is purely player driven.

          • Emeraude says:

            it doesn’t involve any player interaction

            Neither did the hypothetic example which I am questioning (“a video game where you (apparently) see someone being pinned down and raped”; emphasis mine).

        • beekay says:

          Well, two can play at that game.

          You can see no difference between a video game where two sprites overlaps and jiggle for a bit and a video game where you (definitely) murder literally hundreds of people and animals in insanely gruesome, bloody ways?

          The only way this is worse is that some people might not be expecting to see rape, and will be triggered (or ‘will be reminded of previous experiences and suffer some emotional trauma as a result,’ if the reader is one of those people who thinks “triggers” are bullshit).

      • Premium User Badge

        Harlander says:

        The answer to your implied question is not a simple one.

        • Emeraude says:

          The case is indeed more complex than some people make it out to be.

          Still, the people that stomached without so much of an apparent blink the violence of the first game*, but suddenly have an issue with that one particular form of violence kinda leave me with my head scratching.

          *: before people try to call strawman, I’m not saying in any way there are only two possible reactions. I have very specific people in mind.

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            Harlander says:

            No, I’m hard pressed to explain it myself, and I’m one of the “sex violence is worse than normal violence” sorts.

            I’ve got some ideas but I don’t think this is the best forum for the discussion for various reasons

          • Geebs says:

            Those people wouldn’t be Mr Cole Taco and Mr Paul Egon, by any chance?

          • Emeraude says:

            Well there’s one Paul. Surely we now need to compile statistical non-evidences, for SCIENCE!

    • Amun says:

      It’s not even in the game anymore. Go be offended somewhere else.

      • postmanmanman says:

        Why would Australia ban a game for a scene that… wasn’t even in the game??

        • Frosty840 says:

          I assume Amun is referring to the fact that the scene in question was removed from the end of the game’s demo (where it had no context within the narrative of the game and was arguably entirely gratuitous), and is confusing that with the scene having been removed from the game itself. Which is hasn’t been, obviously, as you point out.

    • Groove says:

      I still don’t agree with it being banned, but I won’t buy the game if that report is an accurate representation. Sexual violence is too much for me, and that’s as simple as it gets.

      • Drake Sigar says:

        Indeed, we can all have whatever scruples we want in regards to the content we consume, though I have a problem with anyone who thinks depicted rape is acceptable in movies or books but not in videogames, or that depicting rape in any context is condoning the act itself, and thus this product should be banned. The Australian people can make up their own mind.

    • demicanadian says:

      Dunno, their review of Left 4 Dead said it promotes hate against disabled people, iirc.

  6. Turkey says:

    Is this the fake-out scene where it turns out you’re just on a movie set?

  7. P.Funk says:

    Rape worse than sadistic murder.

    • rabbit says:

      point missed : check

      • Emeraude says:

        Well, would anyone care to actually express the point (if indeed there exists such a thing in that context, and not, as I personally believe, a mess of several issues that needs disentangling) in a way that makes it perfectly explicit and disputable, then ?

    • joa says:

      The human brain doesn’t react to things in a rational way – we react with our instincts. We’re wired to find rape of women really bad – worse than ‘objectively’ worse things like murder. I wonder what the RPS reaction would be if it were the rape of a man? Probably that it’s vaguely amusing and gross. That’s just how things are.

      • Faxanadu says:

        But that sucks! We KNOW that one thing is worse than the other and we can RATIONALIZE that one thing is worse than the other but we CAN’T THINK IT?

        Are some people just dumb, and decide to get offended by all the wrong things, or is there this weird collective hivemind that changes the topic of being offended every time we get bored with the previous one? Even if the previous one is still horrible?

        Either way. It sucks.

        • joa says:

          Well there is a political component too. As usual left-wing people are against any depiction or discussion of sensitive subjects unless it’s done completely on their terms. Rape is especially tricky I think for them because it refutes or at least calls into question a lot of liberal dogma about gender and sex (as is discussed to death on this site) because it’s such a primal biological thing

          Murder in comparison is dead simple and doesn’t carry such complications.

          • P.Funk says:

            Do we really have to do the whole ‘left wing PC’ thing? Its not like the typical generalization about the right wing is going to be any more open minded about violent sexuality in video games.

          • joa says:

            No but at least right-wing people can be said to be consistent in their reactions to things, being consistently conservative. But left-wingers only seem to be liberal and sensitive in their attitudes when it suits them.

          • P.Funk says:

            Okay well thats just a bunch of generalized BS. I could just as easily say conservatives are terribly inconsistent on their views towards ‘small government’ since they also tend to like extremely effective and expensive militaries that serve jingoistic foreign policy.

            Or I could just not generalize and actually have a fucking point of view. You might try that some time.

          • pepperfez says:

            As usual left-wing people are against any depiction or discussion of sensitive subjects unless it’s done completely on their terms.
            Oh get over yourself.

          • Kala says:

            Uh. Oz (the country where these games are being refused ratings) is pretty right wing right now, politically, no?

      • beekay says:

        Apparently this hasn’t struck you yet, but Bleeding-Heart Liberal PC Police like the RPS writers actually tend to be more respectful of male rape than most people, on account of how they don’t view gender as a particularly relevant factor in anything.

        but don’t let me interrupt your lament for the plight of men

        • joa says:

          Then they are foolish – because as evidenced by the different reactions of people to male and female rape, they are intrinsically different animals. I mean no disrespect to males who have been raped, I am sure that’s not a nice experience. But I think we can all agree it’s different for a woman, no?

          • pepperfez says:

            No we can’t, because we’re not all twits.

          • Kala says:

            What?
            No, we’re the same animals.
            Different sexes of the same animal.

            (Incidentally, you put your finger on it in your post. What’s different is the reaction to it in society; that an individual was raped is the same)

    • P.Funk says:

      I mostly posted this concise but undeveloped statement to see what the response is. I wash my hands of the GGer crap that ensued.

  8. Premium User Badge

    Harlander says:

    Have any other classification agencies done stuff with this game yet?

    I seem to recall Australia’s, much like that of Germany, being rather more stringent about violence than other places.

    • Jackablade says:

      Anything that could be construed as sexual violence, and that includes silly cartoonish stuff like the anal probe from Saints Rom 4 or going back to the likes of the original release of Duke Nukem 3d with its strippers that could be shot, gets an immediate classification refusal in Australia. Our classification board can be wildly inconsistent when it comes to other controversial elements, but that’s one they’re not flexible with.

  9. Farsi Myrtle says:

    You need to keep in mind inconsistencies in the classification guidelines. The R rating guidelines for computer games say:

    Implied sexual violence that is visually depicted, interactive, not justified by context or related to incentives or rewards is not permitted.

    Whereas the R rating guidelines for film say:

    Sexual violence may be implied, if justified by context.

    Sounds like the rape is ‘visually depicted’, and maybe interactive (this term is defined quite broadly in the guidelines). So if that’s the issue, this scene would be permitted in an R rated film but not an R rated game. It’s basically a holdover from the very ad hoc nature of the computer game rating guidelines, dating back 20 years.

  10. BobbyDylan says:

    Does Australia ban all depictions of Rape in other media? Are American History X, Mad Max and What’s Love got to do with it unwatched by Australians?

  11. Laurentius says:

    I am happy, it’s about time that Hotline Miami receive some good old fashioned bashing RPS.

  12. Baines says:

    Okay, RPS running ads that redirect the page to a different site is getting out of hand. I had to try repeatedly to get to this article, because some ad kept redirecting to some spam site.

    • derbefrier says:

      ok its not just me then? I thought i might have picked up a virus or something. It happened to me or 6 times in a row earlier and i just gave up and closed my browser. Then i noticed it was only doing it on RPS.

      • Pkloop says:

        Same here. It is indeed only RPS. Hate it.

        • Shakes999 says:

          Its not just RPS, infact ever since I installed windows 8.1 yesterday a couple of my favorite sites have been doing it. And Im on firefox with about 3 different ad and pop-up blockers installed.

  13. Kala says:

    Whoa. I didn’t know that’d happen with left4dead 2, that’s crazy talk.

    “it is the use of the melee weapons such as the crowbar, axe, chainsaw and Samurai sword which inflict the most damage. These close in attacks cause copious amounts of blood spray and splatter, decapitations and limb dismemberment as well as locational damage where contact is made to the enemy which may reveal skeletal bits and gore.” – Australian Board of Games Classification

    ON ZOMBIES.
    If someone is going to copy Left4Dead it’s only going to encourage them to attack ZOMBIES.
    and frankly, in the case of a zombie apocalypse (albeit a disease outbreak that makes people zombies) that is NO BAD THING.