The Cut Content Police is a Steam Group with one goal: to warn people about games that have been "in some way censored due to cut, edited, changed, [or] modified content". As we covered last year, there are a number of Japanese pornographic games that have tweaked how much nudity they actually feature, all so that Valve would allow the games on the Steam distribution service. In response to that, players are using Steam's own tools to tell other people about what they're calling censored games on the platform.
Steam has a function where user can form a group, called curators. Curators can recommend games to subscribers, and occasionally curators will even display prominently on a game's store page on Steam:
The Cut Content Police is one such group, except they're not here to endorse games to you.
"I felt that knowing whether a game has been altered for censorship or is lacking features and or content should be transparent and it often isn't," Marusame, the creator of the group, told me over email. And, sure enough, it's often hard to tell whether or not a game on Steam has been altered in some way, as that's not typically something a developer will list under, say, 'features'. Helpfully, the Cut Content Police not only tells people when a game has been changed somehow, but it also lists where players can get the 'full' version of the game, or points players toward patches that restore the original vision of the game in question.
"Cut-Content to me is defined as content that was snipped out to appease something or someone AND is still being actively sold in its original form, that's KEY," Marusame said. In practice, what this means is that the list includes more than just nudity alterations (though that's still a big chunk of what is currently featured).
Deciding what games are included in the list has proven tricky of late. Take, for example, the recent controversy around Street Fighter V. SFV has held large-scale beta tests where players took the game for a whirl before it officially release. Because the game was still technically in development during these tests, players saw changes occur from build to build of the beta. One of these changes involved a character called R. Mika, who has a special move where she enthusiastically slaps her own butt. Capcom didn't take this out of the game, however -- they just changed the camera on the move slightly, as you can see here. Some people considered this censorship, but to Marusame, it's not that clear-cut.
"Street Fighter V's Mika' buttslap is a tough[ie], because since its not released yet it could be every single version will not feature it," Marusame said. "So its hard to say it was censored, if it wasn't meant to be in it anyway.
"It would be a hard sell to put it on my curator list once it hits PC. I try to be unbiased so the buttslap removal although I think its stupid, probably wouldn't make it on the list cause I have a hard time justifying it outside personal reasons."
One thing the controversy around R. Mika highlights, however, is how much the idea of 'censorship' has become a hot-button issue within gaming. According to Marusame, the tensions some of the gaming community are feeling right now have been bubbling for a while, and you can see it surface on places beyond Steam. This, in turn, has left some players feeling helpless about the games they know and love.
"We dont have much say in the matter...unless you learn Japanese and import [censored games]," Marusame said.
"Even if you are an adult, you cant enjoy adult content on many platforms, which needs to change somehow," Marusame said.