David Cage has implored developers at GDC Europe to push for fairer censorship standards during his keynote speech.
Cage, the writer and director of forthcoming PS3 exclusive Heavy Rain, spoke about creating mature experiences for the aging gaming demographic – but pointed out that ridiculous standards surrounding sex undermined the creative rights of game developers.
"We had a shower scene in Fahrenheit that was very tasteful," Cage said. "There was only a flash of breast for just a second – and yet, despite the fact that this was a 17+ rated game aimed specifically at adults, in some territories we had to put her in a swimsuit. A swimsuit, in the shower. I mean, how ridiculous is that?"
"I write games about people who are in love, and people who are in love kiss, and they make love. And yet I can’t put this into a game because of I get threatened that the game will only be sold in sex shops, or it won’t find a distributor."
Pointing to a screenshot of Hot Coffee, the infamous ‘hacked’ modification to Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, he continued: "We need to be proud of who we are; we need to stop making stupid games. We’re giving the opportunity for people outside our industry to look down upon us.
"What we work on is still, to this day, affected by [Hot Coffee], even though it was years ago. Let’s say I have a game with a naked woman, but you never see anything bad. If the ratings board discovers that there’s an uncensored texture in the game – even if it’s never shown – I’d get thrown in prison, because there’s a chance someone could reverse engineer it. If we do things tastefully, how can that not be OK? This is my creative work – how can you tell me what not to do?"
Cage was quick to mention, however, that he didn’t disagree with the concept of game ratings. "Game ratings are absolutely necessary, and I’m glad they exist. But we need to make sure that gmes are judged by the same standards as film. What can be shown in an M-rated film should also be allowed in an M-rated game. We need to get censorship back to normal standards. Their excuse is that games are interactive – but I’ve checked, and there is no study to ever show that interactivity has any effect."
He also took time to praise EA for how it handled the Mass Effect sex-scene fiasco last year.
"We make the problem worse by caving immediately, by recalling games. I loved EA’s reaction to the Mass Effect stuff – they simply stood their ground and said ‘We have done nothing wrong, there’s nothing to be shocked about." I pray more publishers have similar reactions."