Breaking: Saints Row IV Has Been Refused Classification

Count this as a headline I never thought I'd have to write again, but Saints Row IV has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board.

"The Acting Director of the Classification Board, Mr Donald McDonald announced today that Saints Row IV was the first computer game in Australia to be Refused Classification under the Guidelines for the Classification of Computer Games that commenced on 1 January 2013," read a statement posted on the Classification Board's website.

According to the board, the rating was a result of sexual violence.

"In the Board’s opinion, Saints Row IV, includes interactive, visual depictions of implied sexual violence which are not justified by context," a press release explained. "In addition, the game includes elements of illicit or proscribed drug use related to incentives or rewards. Such depictions are prohibited by the computer games guidelines."

To be perfectly honest, I didn't think we would ever be in this position again. Despite Australia being in possession of a full R18+ rating a game that will be available in other territories will not be available in Australia.

We've gotten in contact with the local Australian representatives for Saints Row IV and will update when we learn more.

UPDATE: Head here for the iGEA's response.

UPDATE 2: Deep Silver is planning to resubmit a modified version of Saints Row IV.

Via AusVGClassifications


Comments

    Visual depictions of implied sexual violence.

    So - the sexual violence is implied. Not shown. The visual depiction is of the implication. Not the sexual violence. Isn't that what R18 covers?

      It's also interactive and not justified by context. I guess we won't know how bad it is until we see the gameplay they are referring to, however I'm certainly not upset that they've banned such a game.

        Implied sexual violence is pretty rampant in other media - like Goffrey taking a likeing to mutilating prostitutes in GoT. It's not shown on screen (just the aftermath), and it's not interactive. Arguably it's justified by context, but that's something that is pretty subjective. E.g. I already thought Goffrey was just as terrible before he did anything like that.

          Have you read this morning's article? It's pretty clear that the sexual violence in Saint's Row IV is entirely unjustifiable.

    @veeks

    It really is more how we have a so called R18+ rating now for games and they managed to not be able to rate it on trivial things like "interactive sexual violence", in plenty of other GTA games plenty much of the same thing is in it and they got a MA15+ rating, if it got a R18+ rating, I am sure you would know not to allow your kids to play it as if you saw a rating like that you would have that common sense as a parent.

      If you payed any attention during the push for, and introduction of the R18+ rating, you would also know that this kind of material was always going to be classed as RC (Refused Classification). The R18+ rating is more of a deterrent and informant than an open door policy. My point is that as a mature Australian gamer I feel no need to change the law regarding classification in a way that would allow interactive depictions of implied sexual violence to enter our mainstream media.

        Mature? really? just because you are pro-nanny state and government censorship does not mean you are mature.

          He is referring to physical maturity (his age) not emotional maturity (which you happen to lack).

            If you're going to resort to baseless personal attacks, you would appear to be the one lacking maturity.

              Please. You downvoted me for this:

              Please show me where I stated that "video games should not have sexual content".

              I have never once stated that "video games should not have sexual content". You've essentially downvoted a comment in which I was defending myself WITHOUT ANY PRIOR READING.

              And yet apparently I'm the one "lacking maturity".

                Don't make assumptions, Lastelle, particularly about what other people have or haven't read. It makes you look even more foolish. Would you like to know why I downvoted the comment you quoted? Perhaps you'd like to ask why, before you jump to wildly incorrect conclusions?

                  @Lastelle I downvoted you in that thread because you weren't contributing anything to the discussion. You were arguing about whether or not you were trolling on a reply to someone else's comment where you said nothing more than 'I disagree'. You'd already made your position clear in other posts, you didn't need to reply to his post in the first place, and you shouldn't have gotten caught up in tit-for-tat over it. The downvotes in that thread were to say 'leave it alone', nothing good was going to come from it.

        I feel no need to change the law regarding classification in a way that would allow interactive depictions of implied sexual violence to enter our mainstream media.

        Good thing there's never any implied sexual violence in films or TV shows then! If video games could contain it, why, it'd probably invade my beloved Game of Thrones next!

        Last edited 25/06/13 8:18 pm

          Films and TV shows are not interactive, unless you use Fango or Zeebox.

          It's not the sexual violence that is the problem. It's the INTERACTIVITY.

            And that's my problem with it. Why does interactivity dial up the impact so much? If the same content was made a cut-scene in the game, does that suddenly make it okay? Interactivity is inherent to the fact it's a video game.

              The problem with interactivity is that the developer is giving the player control. When one is in control of a character, they tend to see that character as the protagonist. It's much easier to justify sexual violence (or any violence) if one is seeing it from one's own POV.

              A cut-scene or film is different, because the player/viewer is not in control. They don't make the decisions; that's the responsibility of the writers and directors. A good director can make us feel disgust and horror at violence that we would be fine with if we were committing it in a game. The use of different camera angles that portray the fear in the victim's eyes, or a close-up of the moment of impact can really change the way violence is interpreted by the player/viewer, as can lines of pleading dialogue or horrible screams that die in the throat of the victim as the protagonist ruthlessly murders them. Think about video games where you've killed or hurt large numbers of people. They very rarely depict violence in the way I've just described, yet that is the reality of violence.

              Interactivity doesn't "dial up" the impact. It reduces it drastically. And that is far more dangerous to society.

            A well directed scene can trump interactivity in its impact.

              Please see my above comments regarding interactivity and impact.

      trivial things like "interactive sexual violence"

      You think sexual violence is trivial? Disgusting.

        it's no different to "interactive killing" or "interactive theft". IT'S NOT REAL!! :O

          But those actions are contextualized in such a way that they pass classification.

    Terrific! Back to square one!

    Who wants to bet this isn't going to be about something meaningful like rape (where an argument could be made), but rather about some S&M which consenting adults must be shielded from, because ... oh I don't know ... it's too exclusive a club?

      I had requested this comment be removed, but since it's here and it now been stated why the game was refused classification and it IS a sexual assault. I'm quite okay with (in fact, glad that) this title is being refused classification.

    So... just to get this straight...

    These were the same people that classed the Vita release of Totori as R18+ because of "Sexual Violence" right? Because it had violence and it had sexual references! So Sexual Violence!

    Yeah... so I'm not too surprised... which is the sad part =/

    Mr Donald McDonald?

    More like Ronald McDonald. Fucking Clowns.

    drug use? WTF, technically you'll have to ban pacman, mario & pretty much every RPG out there for use of 'powerups'..

    I guess my question is, would this "objectionable content" have been RCed if it was a movie (ie. non-interactive)? If no, then we're no better off than where we were before R18+.

      I'm leaning towards "no" and that's why they bandy about words like "interactivity" and "justified by conext"

    Oh man, back to the old ways... here comes the import!

    For people complaining that R18+ is just a rebadged MA15+, let's not assume that until there's proof. We know that sexual violence not justified by context is still grounds to refuse classification. While I'm frustrated by this, there might actually be a reason for it.

      but the context IS the game. Were they not paying attention?

    Wow! Deja vu. It's like I've teleported back to 2012...

    why'm I not surprised to find out he's a long time Liberal supporter. I fear not much will change once Abbott and his cronies get into powrr in September

      Atkinson, who was holding up an R rating for years was a Labor member.

    I'm sorry.. But hasn't this issue come up in another game recently as a sex for mission reward? It's all good to have a whinge and a bitch about this but you really can't have a valid discussion without the context of why it was refused classification..

    Maybe the issue was for a specific mission/ part of the game that was scripted and you didn't have the choice of the action or mission reward or maybe it was something questionable that you had to do do you couldn't progress in the game.

    At any rate I would argue that a naked guy leap frogging an old woman then beating her to a bloody pulp with a 6 foot long purple dildo sword would be actual sexual violence..

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zs1OxsJBm8I&t=0m40s
    But then again I would have to choose to do that as it's not an essential part of the game

    Refused classification? No worries next gen consoles are region free *wink wink* shove that up your pie hole Mr Ronald McDonald

    Gamers of Australia - it's time to reunite. Reunite and fight for what we believe in - an X18+ rating for video games.

      and then in 10 years, when it has finally passed, we can push for the XXX rating.

      No thanks.

        Stop trolling.

          I'm not. Are you?

            No, but you definitely are, or you're some crazed feminist.

              I have a different opinion, therefore I am a "crazed feminist".

              lawl

                No, but commenting on everyones comments saying that video games shouldn't have sexual content is trolling.

                  Please show me where I stated that "video games should not have sexual content".

    I'm mourning the loss of my ‘Saints Glory’ flag and Uncle Sam hat that i would have gotten from the Presidential Edition of the game :(

    the basic lesson here is that Oz is culturally backward.

    The 'motherland', the UK, has a voluntary classification scheme whose primary role is to provide detailed advice to parents on what content is in a game (the same goes for film, though it is compulsory for film and TV).

    Compare that to Oz, where no real information is given to consumers on movies or games - maybe half a sentence at most.

    Check out the British classification info for Saints Row 2:

    http://www.bbfc.co.uk/releases/saints-row-2-2008

    Versus the Oz for SR2:

    http://www.classification.gov.au/Pages/View.aspx?sid=BcNWdklebXo5eZH7wD3QAA%253d%253d&ncdctx=ZLqYDL6s7BSoB65m9JTWrWEN9TQtP1CDouJpsDesWSSip8cMDWipqbaPPMVpk1FV

    A world of difference.

      We are always behind and we are always backwards, we are unfortunately a conservative country.

        Unfortunately, you're correct. This statement, historically, sums up many instances of us ignoring, neglecting and rejecting ideas, concepts and attitudes in this country until someone else takes the lead, or we drive our visionaries overseas to more fertile shores where they are more appreciated. Sad to see we still haven't learned from our mistakes. :(

      The Aus one is for SR3

        yeah, im not a Saints Row fan, so dont quote me in a court of law. :)

    I'm quite interested to know what constitutes "sexual violence" in this case... In the MA15+ SRIII under my TV you can beat people with a giant purple phallus dubbed "the penetrator"

    We're they asleep at the wheel over at the ACB last time? Is there something genuinely worse in this game? Or is this one of those cases where the reviewing member didn't like it and when it goes to appeal someone else will let it through?

      Hitting someone with a dildo and using a dildo to shove up someones arse are a little different....

    "...prohibited by the computer games guidelines."
    "...the computer games guidelines."
    "...computer games..."

    Australian Classification Board.... STTHAAAPP!!!

      com -pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew pew -ter games!

    Well done on making sure money that could be spent at local stores are now going to be sent out of Australia, ACB.

    It's kind of funny, this was the first time in this series existence that I wasn't worried about it getting RC'd. Funny, in a not at all funny way.

      Yeah.. same here.
      Then again, I could have just been excited about the prospect of a cool Uncle Sam hat.

    This is complete bull shit. Saints row 3 was practically the same
    If not more fucking worse
    Saints row 3 has gimps, nudity which gets blurred, makes prostitution fun, has a fucking purple dildo baseball bat the is very detailed and the ability to rob anyone.

    Saints row 4 is pretty much the same but lacks the ability to beat people with a huge cock.
    Probably the prostitution minigame aswell

    Hell the call of duty games have more gore then saints row. Ban that while your at it.
    No? Because it's popular?
    What about dead island? Wasn't that 'promoting violence'?
    That's popular. Ban that too.
    Saints row is popular like both of those games and is really not worth the rage From people like me.

    you know what, FUCK IT! Every single retailer out there should still bring it in and Sell it because there is fucking way that Saints Row 4 could be any worse than Saints Row 2, or even the postal series and SR4 is most definately not in the same category as Rapeplay.

    What this is say is that its worse than Mortal Kombat and left for dead 2. I garuentee that Volition will fight this and that the review bord will overturn this. This is a god damn farce

    This entire discussion of whether it's morally right or wrong would be a lot clearer if we actually knew what the issue was. Half the problem, as evidenced by the comments, is the wording of the statement. We need to be careful not to endorse sexual violence, rape etc. as an industry and as a society (and I am specifically referring to non-consenting/derogatory sexual acts - each to their own when it comes to your private, consenting lives!), because unfortunately these issues are still very much CURRENT and acceptance of this content implies approval of that behaviour. There has to be a line drawn in what's OK and what's not and I think everyone can agree with that.

    The problem is that when the board offers no advice on where they've drawn the line, we of course get angry because there is no clear consensus on whether that was appropriate and there is no discussion of why or why not.

    Having said all that, I personally think it's unlikely that the game has crossed a line and is therefore unfit for classification. It would be in bad taste for a developer to release a game that endorsed (even implicitly) "contextless" sexual violence, given the representation of gamers is nearly 50/50 male/female (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women_and_video_games), and some huge volume of women will experience sexual assault in their lifetime (check this out: http://www.casa.org.au/casa_pdf.php?document=statistics). It's not a "fun" topic. The exact problem that those scenes pose needs to be discussed in the gaming and wider community so that there can be some analysis of the impacts. We might even be able to do some good by becoming more aware of the issues of depicted sexual violence in games and other media! Just my 2c...

      The discussion becomes clearer, I think, when you consider people's comments in the context of opposing censorship in any form. People are responsible for their own actions, a video game can no more encourage a person to commit a crime than can a book or a movie. In exchange for holding responsibility over our actions, we as adults should have the right to be able to choose what media we consume and what media we don't. We're capable of deciding that for ourselves, we don't need a government body doing it for us.

        It's not about whether someone goes out and starts raping people after seeing a rape in a game. That's too simplistic and that's not the way it works, and it's not what I'm saying. Sexual violence is still far too normalised in our culture, it's not a "past tense" issue like killing people or theft. We don't struggle to see the borders of what's right or wrong when it comes to killing people, but we do struggle with treatment of women. I am not going to post more stats - the last one should have been enough - but that's why it's not something we can laugh off as being so obviously unreal it doesn't relate to real life and has no transference to behaviour. People are responsible for their actions but media contributes to a tone of what is acceptable in the range of human behaviour. I do NOT support censorship, but I do support the idea of dealing with these big issues upfront. When we can all pick up on mistreatment of women, however indirectly or implicitly, then we'll be able to laugh it off and make games about it that have a clear moral context, just like we laugh about killing people in games. Right now though, it's a problem.

          It doesn't matter how closely it relates to real life. It was never a question of whether it was fantasy far removed or not, it's simply a question of whether adults can be trusted to consume media. Tone isn't a factor, fiction is free to tell any story about any environment it wishes, including those about difficult or controversial subjects.

          You don't fix a rotten foot by cutting off the whole leg, you cut out only what is necessary and no more. Attempting to fix gender perception in society by eliminating the freedom of fiction to depict what it chooses, and the freedom of adults to consume that fiction, is not only overreaction and wasted effort that will not fix the problem itself, it sets a dangerous precedent.

          The problem doesn't exist in media, the problem exists in people. Expending effort trying to control the former does nothing to solve the root that exists in the latter.

    And then the gov bitch and moan wondering why more and more Australia and buying online from other countries.

    Steam better not block this game from being played in Aus

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