The Steam Players Who Fight Against 'Censorship'

The Steam Players Who Fight Against 'Censorship'

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 Steam Players Who Fight Against 'Censorship'

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.

The Steam Players Who Fight Against 'Censorship'

"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.

You can follow the Cut Content Police here, or alert them to games that should be added to the list here.


Comments

    Just skimming over some of the examples, it seems like in these games it's more than just covering up a little nudity - it seems that entire story paths are locked off as presumably the entirety of the content therein is too lewd.

    In such cases, I guess a consumer interest group is warranted. You're really not getting the product you're paying for. Of course it could all be nonsense.

      Rant incoming...

      I think devs/publishers should feel free to self-censor however they want. However, I find it distasteful in the extreme when the censorship is because the Japanese product is 'not appropriate' for a Western market. It's so patronising. It's mind-boggling how a publisher thinks that if a hand-wringing pearl-clutching wowser (who never would have bought the game, censored or not) got up in arms about 'immoral' games, the publisher would somehow lose sales. Now in Australia you might run into trouble with the anti-child porn legislation because there is some precedent for animated, fictitious characters constituting 'persons' for the purposes of the criminal charge (See McEwan's case of 2008) but a foreign corporation should not have much to worry about. I simply can't understand the hypocrisy of companies like Nintendo, who willingly publish uncensored material in Japan but who turn around and tell Western markets that somehow the material is inappropriate! If anything, publishers should emulate Four Leaf Studios, which put an option in Katawa Shoujo to turn off the explicit scenes altogether. Then each person can make his or her own choice and we don't have some publisher acting as our moral gatekeeper.

        "hand-wringing pearl-clutching wowser"
        Kotaku?

          There are some Kotaku writers/contributors that would qualify, although their hand wringing and pearl clutching might stem from a somewhat hypocritical militant feminist point of view, which seems to be all the rage these days as a kind of 'virtue signalling'.

          Another rant...

          The number of things I see these days that would have feminists screaming in the streets if the genders were reversed is staggering. I saw a poster on the back of a bus featuring a smugly grinning lady in a bikini gesturing towards the thong-clad arses of two men with a caption saying "un-guilty pleasures". Talk about objectification! No, wait, it's not fashionable to cry foul because men are part of the patriarchy and deserve no sympathy. Women have been objectified for ages and now men get a taste of their own medicine. Now discredited feminist Steph Guthrie said on record that "men's rights is kind of a crock". One in three victims of domestic violence is a man, yet it is not fashionable to champion this cause.

          What's this got to do with censorship? Only that the relentless, virtue-signalling attacks on anything that can be accused of objectifying women has extended into the video game industry (including panty shots, skimpy outfits and other stuff that has been censored by the likes of Steam and Nintendo). Whatever happened to the concept that if some piece of media offends you, don't consume it? I think that as a society we are scared of people who think differently from us. Some people cannot understand that liking a piece of media does not make you a bad person.

          End of rant.

            Independent of anything else you've said, my stance on video game content is that developers must be free to produce any game they like. Art should never be censored. People are likewise free to criticise the work, not consume the work, hate the work if they so choose, but they should never pressure the creator to change the work. Unless the work is causing direct harm to someone, its creator has the right for it to exist. Trying to change it is censorship, and censorship is in almost all cases wrong.

            We're not children, we're capable of exercising our own judgement on whether to partake in something or not. Nor are we wrapped in cotton wool, as much as that seems to be the direction people want us to head. If I'm offended that's my problem, nobody else's. It's not anyone else's responsibility to change so as to not offend me, it's my responsibility to choose not to interact with things that offend me. Or put another way, someone else may cause me to be offended, but they're never responsible for me being offended.

              I'd be happy for nothing to be censored 'per se' but to have appropriate warnings and age ratings. Add to the generic Drugs, Sex, Violence, Language warnings others that could include Homophobia, Racial Abuse, etc.

              I agree with you that the only things that should be illegal are works that cause direct harm such as recordings of real child abuse, rape, snuff movies, animal cruelty etc. As long as all involved in the making of media are consenting adults then we should not try to police people's tastes. Otherwise, how long before this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paraphilic_infantilism becomes illegal because you are portraying erotic conduct with children?

    Edit: Never mind, I clicked on the link and my question was answered.

    The article makes it sound like it's mostly covering Japanese games that have censored content. Is this true or is it just that those games tend to be the most commonly censored? Would we see stuff like Saints Row IV and South Park on there?

    Last edited 27/01/16 4:33 pm

      Saints Row IV is first on the list when I looked at the group.

      Yeah Saints Row IV is on there. I think there are more Japanese games because Japan simply has more of a market for explicit games.

      Edit: Beaten like R. Mika's butt.

      Last edited 27/01/16 4:38 pm

      I did see South Park on there the other day, but I can't see it now, so it was either removed or there's another anti-censorship group around.

    I think it's fair for the group to exist, there are certainly some dodgy examples out there (L4D2 in Australia, for instance).

    However, I still find it kind of amusing most of the games in the screenshot provided are anime games with cut nudity, though. #noticemesenpai

    Last edited 27/01/16 4:44 pm

      Paying the Australian censored copy of a game after paying the USD converted price or the AUD price that includes the Australua tax... paying more for less SUXS

      Southpark is also in there. I guess Japanese publishers don't trust the western market to find their content enjoyable to toleratable. Which is funny because the people buying these games are the people who know or would find what they're missing from the JAP version.

        Oh I know, on the actual page there are far, far many more games from around the world and different genres. Just commenting on the image/s used in the article.

    Why keep putting the word censorship in quotes? The examples do seem to qualify in the sense that pressure was put on the developers to alter the original content to suit someone else's requirements. It's not to say the censorship is or isn't warranted, but it's still censorship either way.

      Because it isn't that cut and dried. Most of it is the devs choosing what they put into the game. In many cases there has been no authority that has said, no you can't have that in the game.
      The R. Mika is a perfect example. The devs went no, that's a bit over the top and took it out after play testing. There wasn't any rule saying they had to, they just did it.
      In some cases they are doing it because it might get censored, the loli aspect of some of the VN games comes to mind, but as they haven't be released in an unedited state, they haven't been censored. The dev has just chosen to release a different version of the game.

        I think you'd find that self-censorship is still censorship. But even that aside, it seems clear that several (if not most) of the games mentioned have a particular released state which has subsequently been altered to meet Steam's requirements, with the implication that if they didn't modify them they wouldn't be permitted to list on Steam.

        Even if the devs are choosing to do this themselves, it's still an alteration or compromise of the original work to conform to external requirements. That reads as censorship to me, I don't see any reason to imply the term is illegitimate or doesn't objectively apply here by putting it in quotes.

        Last edited 27/01/16 10:20 pm

          I agree that self-censorship is still censorship. It's also fair to say that there are legal censorship requirements, moral censorship requirements and mixtures of both.

            While I'm generally opposed to censorship, I think there are select cases where it's warranted. I mentioned in my first post, these cases may or may not be justified, but putting quotes around the word 'censorship' (when not referencing it as a word directly) seems intended to make out like this group isn't dealing with real censorship, or that their use of the word somehow differs from the norm. I don't think either of those are fair characterisations.

              It's meant to demean and delegitimize their argument or position without addressing it directly - acknowledging the known "truth" amongst readers that those who are of this "type" should not be considered reasonable. It becomes a crutch as writers use it to guide readers into a desired perspective that dismisses and hides challenging information or viewpoints. If anyone has ever taken a media, journalism, creative writing, english lit or communication (etc.) class; you should probably be able to point it out with a sideways glance. We used to look in one very specific direction to observe this phenomenon, now; everyone does it but we still only look to the same culprits.

          But in some of these cases it is not so much a legal reason as a cultural one. If a company feels that they will sell more copies of something by having different version for different markets isn't that their right.
          Also modifying you product to get it onto a particular platform (in this case steam) isn't censorship, it is abiding bu the terms of service of a company. They are welcome to release the game on their own website in an unaltered version, just not on steam.
          To me that isn't censorship, that is Valve setting the rules for there service and people being able to abide by them or use/create another service to deliver their product.

            Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one's own blog, book, film, or other forms of media. This is done out of fear of, or deference to, the sensibilities or preferences (actual or perceived) of others and without overt pressure from any specific party or institution of authority. [Wikipedia]

            The games have had their content modified in deference to the sensibilities and preferences of another service, on the basis of the interests of people other than the creator and contrary to their original artistic intent. Valve has the right to set those rules and I'm not disputing that. It may not be as dramatic as a government bureau rewriting unfavourable news publications before they go to print, but it's still censorship.

            Last edited 28/01/16 3:38 pm

              I guess that is where we have a difference in opinion. In the case of self-censorship I wouldn't call it censorship but would be more comfortable with 'censorship'.

    Is Left 4 Dead 2 still censored in Australia?

      Not anymore. If you still have the censored version of L4D2, a free DLC patch can be added to fix that.

      http://www.kotaku.com.au/2014/09/five-years-later-left-4-dead-2-is-finally-uncensored-in-australia/

      http://store.steampowered.com/app/322070/

      Last edited 27/01/16 6:16 pm

    Quite a few of the games that are censored would be either RC or actually criminal in Australia.

    The first set is those that combine sex+violence; so for a start, anything with rape.

    The second is those titles involving sex with characters that are either stated, or appear to be, under 18. While a lot of translated titles will have all characters over 18, many of these "adult" characters are still in high school or junior high school. Others have pretty obviously child characters with no age stated.

    In the US this is legal because no actual minors are involved, but the McEwan case that Zambayoshi mentions established a pretty clear precedent in Australia that such material is classified as child porn even if the minors involved are entirely fictional. I can understand why that line was drawn where it was, although the penalties are pretty harsh for what may be essentially a thought crime.

    I can entirely understand why Steam take the line that they do, annoying as it may occasionally be. Nobody wants to have their platform blocked, or even wind up in gaol/jail, for redistributing a game that they may not actually care very much about.

    Self censorship is still censorship - it has a definition and its quite clear. Furthermore, self censorship is more dangerous than government mandated censorship, for many reasons. As per usual, Kotaku takes the SJW soapbox because they're linking to games with rape. Sorry but this article has no credibility what so ever.

    If anyone thinks censorship outside of child porn is OK then I pity them. Fiction harms no one and if it offends you, use your head and don't play it. Sticking around just to whine about something you won't even play serves no purpose.

    Censorship is abundant in this country and people don't even realise because they're too busy watching Neighbours and complaining

    You tell them and Australians still have the "she'll be right" attitude towards anything that involves getting off the deck chair. Government still has free rule over who you can marry and what substances you can put in your body. Even the US has legalised pot for recreational use and gay marriage - yet here even terminal cancer patients can't smoke a joint but they can use as much Hydromorphone as they like. Yeah makes alot of sense. Not to mention that X rated content is still illegal to sell, despite it being absolutely harmless and extremely violent films being released weekly. They're OK with capitalising on tobacco and alcohol sales though - two substances far more dangerous than a video of people having sex. Oh the idiotic hypocrisy. If only Aussies weren't so ignorant.

    Good thing that censorship and what not is so easy to bypass. The government likes to think it controls the populous, but the joke is ultimately on them as they can't regulate what they don't legalise.

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