Each week, we take a look at the new and creative ways that video games are offending us. Well, not us. We've developed a thick skin to alcohol references, partial nudity and comic mischief. Other people, however, may be disgusted by what video games are doing.
Without further ado, let's look at the most dangerous video games of the week — some new, some still unreleased, some quite old — as rated and matter-of-factly described by the Entertainment Software Ratings Board.
First up, Dead Rising 2: Off the Record. Given that this is the third Dead Rising 2 product rated by the ESRB — after the original release and Dead Rising 2: Case West — we're covering familiar, sensibility offending ground. There's the usual: " Zombies often get impaled, dismembered, and decapitated during gameplay; for example, players can run down zombies with a clown cart or slice them in half with a katana blade"; "In one sequence, players can enter a peep show to receive a "Peeping Tom" bonus"; "if players drink too much, their movements become erratic and they vomit." They even mention the "massager" again!
But one contentious piece of content not highlighted by the ESRB until now is Off the Record's swimwear options: "During the course of the game, players' character can wear different costumes; one bikini-like outfit (i.e., Banana Hammock) exposes large portions of his buttocks." Strange that they never mentioned it before...
Also strange? That I never realised that the movie-musical Grease had such saucy language! The ESRB's rating for Grease Dance notes: "Song lyrics contain the words 'sh*t' and 'p*ssy', in addition to some sexual innuendo (e.g., 'We'll be gettin' lotsa t*t', 'The chicks'll cream for Greased Lightning', 'Lousy with virginity' and 'But no customer would go to you/Unless she was a hooker')." Gasp!
Fortunately, one game seemingly devoid of innuendo is the forthcoming Sonic Generations. Pay close attention to its description: "This is an action-adventure game in which players assume the role of Sonic the Hedgehog as he attempts to stop a mysterious force from altering his universe's timeline. As players zoom across fantastical landscapes, they collect gold rings and power-ups while using spin attacks to knock over enemies (e.g. insect and animal-like robots); enemies disappear amid smoke puffs, and Sonic blinks and loses rings when hit. A handful of boss battles depict close-up spin attacks and brief explosions (e.g. defeating a giant robot by crashing into its torso)."
Did you (not) see it? No mention of hedgehogs and humans becoming intimate. Whew!
The people at the ESRB are also in the business of carefully pointing out "bathroom humour." Says the rating description of Ubisoft's Rayman Origins, "The dialogue occasionally contains comical remarks and/or references to bathroom humour: '[N] obody ever wanted to share my Boogers on a Stick!' 'Stop ogling me,' and 'They force-fed you farting beans..."
It was actually kind of a bad week to be offended by video games. Even Need for Speed The Run sounds disappointingly tame. The most salacious bit? "In one cutscene, the camera pans slowly across a female character's posterior as a male character looks on." Pfft.
At least the ESRB offered us some classic, potentially offensive video game content courtesy of its rating of Oregon Trail (for the Wii and Nintendo 3DS). Brace yourself for grisly "unfortunate events" and major game ending spoilers: "During the course of the game, players may experience unfortunate events (e.g., 'Coyotes attack!' and 'You have died of dysentery.')"
Hopefully we'll see you next week — if the dysentery doesn't get you.