In what's becoming an all too familiar tale, Outlast 2, set to release on April 25th for Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC, has been refused classification by the Australian Classification Board. It joins titles such as Saints Row IV, State Of Decay, South Park: The Stick Of Truth and Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number that have been banned or censored despite Australia introducing R18+ ratings for its games at the start of 2013.
In an article posted to Kotaku Australia earlier today, the rating board explained that the decision by censors to refuse classification is based on multiple scenes of implied sexual violence throughout the game. An excerpt from the report reads: (SPOILER WARNING!)
In one cut-scene in the game ... a female creature prepares Blake for a ritual. She says, "I want to see your true face. Your seed will burn this world." Shortly afterwards, he objects to having psycho-active dust blown into his face, yelling, "Nope! Nope!" before he stumbles into a forest clearing.
His vision blurring, he witnesses what appears to a ritualistic orgy. His wife, Lynn, calls out for his help, saying, "It hurts! Oh god!," as she hangs from chains on a raised platform at the front of the clearing. Humanoid creatures, their skin grey, spattered with blood and scarred, implicity have sex as others pray, or chant, or gesticulate.
One creature has another bent over a rock, thrusting as they implicitly have rear-entry sex, another sits astride the pelvic region of a creature prone on the ground, moving their hips rhythmically as they too implicitly have sex. Two other pairs of creatures in the clearing are also implicitly having sex.
As Blake yells for the creatures to "Get away from her!" a female creature, her greyish breasts bared, pushes him onto his back, holds his arms to the ground and repeatedly thrusts her crotch against him. As Blake protests, saying "No! Stop that!" the creature thrusts again, before placing its face over his midsection and then sitting up and wiping its mouth.
Although much of the contact between the creature and Blake is obscurred, by it taking place below screen, the sexualised surroundings and aggressive behaviour of the creature suggest that it is an assault which is sexual in nature. The Board is of the opinion that this, combined with Blake's objections and distress, constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence.
In the Board's opinion, the above example constitutes a depiction of implied sexual violence and therefore cannot be accommodated within the R18+ classification category and the game is therefore Refused Classification.
As expected, the public reaction has been split down the middle. As opposed to most cases where a game has been banned or censored in Australia, the reasons listed this time around can be considered pretty valid. On the other hand, the entire reason R18+ game classifications were introduced in Australia was to stop things like this from happening, and with piracy such a hot-button issue in the country right now, a move such as this certainly isn't going to help.
As for my own opinion on the subject: Do I want to see implied sexual violence in the video games I play? Absolutely not. So, as a conscious adult, I can make the decision to not play the game with implied sexual violence in it. I don't see how there is a problem with putting it in a store with the same warning to the effect of "Here are some things you may not like, do not play this if you do not like these things" that every other piece of media has, and letting consumers make a choice in what they want to consume, not have that choice made for them.
There's still a process of appeal that Red Barrels Games, developers of Outlast 2, can go through to get the game reclassified, and we will update this story as it develops.