The ‘family’ lobby is at it again, with calls for Australia to follow the lead of the Europe in forcing the removal of the game “Rule of Rose“, which puts the player in the shoes of a girl whose world is shaped by a bunch of other girls, the ‘bullies’. It’s a twist on the survival horror genre, but otherwise appears to be entirely devoid of truly original content or technological advance. In summary, were it to have been released without any fuss, it is likely it would have quietly flopped without a trace.
What angers me each time there’s a call for games like this to be removed is the catch-cry of those baying for the blood: won’t somebody please think of the kids? The assumption is obviously: it’s a game, it’s played by kids. The truth is, however, the average age of PS2 (the platform the game is published on) gamers is around 21, last I heard – some years ago at that. And we already have a hugely restrictive censorship regime which judges games far more harshly than movies. The interactivity makes the case for this to occur in some instances, but if the existing system were to be applied to movies, many of the current ‘MA’ rated movies would effectively be banned. It’s a double standard which will increasingly get even more glaring over time as games approach movies for style, graphics and general flair. If the classification system isn’t working because parents are getting kids the games anyway, then it’s not really the games or the classification we should be blaming, but perhaps the parents.
Rule of Rose was pulled by the publisher following bad publicity in the UK and Europe, where the mayor of Rome called for the game to be banned. The media’s comments suggested the game was full of torture, brutality, s&m, and among other things generally encouraging of bullying. The family lobby here has seized on this, and the pulling of the game, and twisted it pleasantly in their own direction. However, you play as the victim, so your goal can only be to free yourself – something I can only consider a good thing. Clearly, without investigating it one iota, they jumped a passing bandwagon and hope for the best. This frustrates me very, very much.
Rule of Rose would probably have gone unheard of in my neighbourhood, but since it’s been highlighted as something controversial, now I want to try it – giving this game far more credit than it deserves. The “family” lobby needs to grow up with its views on gaming and understand that those kids who were showing off their Ataris have grown into mature adults, but still want to play games occasionally.