Thursday, 30 October 2014


A website recently criticised a game for overt sexual references. I think this is fair and a particular concern due to the age rating of the game being 16+. Ratings institutes have a difficult task with games and I believe they do a good job (perhaps stricter enforcement of the age ratings could be administered and perhaps a 21+ age rating could be added). Many took umbrage with the criticism over the overt sexual references, particularly because there was a certain lenience when considering violence. I think this is indicative of how representations of violence, although fantasised and often wholly unrepeatable, are dismissed. "Shoot him in the face", "headshot", "kill spree". However ubiquitous, are these not horrible things to have enter your thoughts? Not really, not compared with the other stuff that goes through your head. Maybe that they have become so flippant is an issue.

A video was released to reviewers of Sunset Overdrive through an in-game-video-distribution function. Sunset Overdrive is a game that is rated M for "mature" for 17+ and PEGI 16+ due to blood and gore, drug reference, sexual themes, strong language and violence. Cool. No problemo. The video released to reviewers can be seen here:

It informs the player about how to interface. Cool. No problemo. The tone seems off though, seems like he's relating information to pre-teens, what with self-defamatory asides with the intended purpose of humour, simplistic language (bouncies) and exaggerated gesturing. Cool. No problemo. Then he puts forward criticisms that could be voiced about the game. I hated the video before this but that was the bale that irreparably ruptured spinal tissue.

The first; don't use the term "Sunset Overhype". By the nature of the video it was made by a marketing team. Voicing criticism of your own work shows fear. "Overhype" is a disgusting word, capitalistic in nature, that the marketing has created unrealistic expectations. The criticism therefore has the implication that the expectations of the game are high yet have been met. The video goes on for another 2 minutes after that in a similarly revolting fashion. "Your opinion is your opinion", being another stomach turning utterance. 

That sexual references are noted negatively. That violence has some lenience. But that such insidious marketing, patronising, even if the audience is younger teenagers, the ironic shield. A few reviewers picked up on this: Videogamer and the Guardian. Self-defamatory, self-aware irony can be incredibly powerful if the intention is satire. It can also be an incredibly powerful marketing tool, more damaging than sexual references and violence. A tool that tells us what to think and to not ask why. 

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