How are new and upcoming video games potentially offending us now? In mostly the same old ways: with excessive violence and gore, earfuls of foul language, smoking, drinking and "suggestive themes", sometimes known as sex.
Thankfully, the people of the Entertainment Software Ratings Board often provide us with clear, concise and colourful descriptions of the things that we may take offence to, from jiggling body parts to drug references to the words "shit", "bitch" and "ass".
Let's take a look at some of the objectionable content in some of 2011's biggest games and those that won't make it until 2012, but have been rated M for Mature already.
First up, The Elders Scrolls V: Skyrim, which has the expected stuff -- murdering of non-player characters, graphic violence and references to sex and (ulp!) rape -- but also has booze. Says the ESRB: "Alcohol such as wine, mead, and ale can be purchased and consumed by players' character throughout the game; and in one sequence, players can engage in a drinking contest with another character, which eventually results in slurred speech (e.g. 'One more. No problemsh... Thash grape!')."
As expected, Blizzard's demonic action role-playing game Diablo III scored an M-rating from the ESRB for its violence, blood and gore. Specifically: "Battles are accompanied by slashing and flesh-impact sounds, screams of pain, and frequent blood-splatter effects; creatures often explode into bloody fragments as multiple enemies are dispatched at once. Some levels depict burning corpses and dead villagers amid large pools of blood."
The rating description mentions "succubi" which might imply "suggestive themes", but it doesn't seem to warrant mention. Actually, none of the Diablo games have ratings that mention nudity or sexual content. Weren't there some barely dressed demons and corpses in Diablo II?
The ESRB's description of King of Fighters XIII does get hit with a "suggestive themes" descriptor, which along with the description of that content -- "Some female characters are dressed in revealing outfits (e.g., thong bikinis) that reveal large amounts of cleavage and portions of their buttocks; their breasts sometimes jiggle during combat." -- really undersells the character of Mai. KOFXIII also has some booze references.
Finally, even Nintendo's recent DS release Kirby Mass Attack has content that might offend the most delicate of sensibilities. Cartoony though it may be, Mass Attack has the following: "One enemy comically wiggles his buttocks at Kirby if players miss a target; another boss attack is accompanied by belching sounds." Well I never!
If you've not succumbed to the vapors of this potentially dangerous video game content, stay tuned. We'll have more details on lightly offensive to moderately offensive video game content next week.