Genital Jousting may just be the strangest and funniest game you’re likely to play. However, if you’re in Australia you may not even get that opportunity.
The game, which is a cooperative puzzle/arena/party game in which players must, erm, joust with penises, won’t be sold Down Under, but not because it’s been banned.
Rather, it won’t be sold in Australia because its publisher, Devolver Digital, can’t be bothered going through the processes to get it classified when it would likely be banned anyway.
Essentially, a publisher has chosen not to sell a game in a region due to that country’s censorship and classification laws. Actually, that’s exactly what’s happened here.
Devolver reached out to fans on Twitter about the game, confirming it was prohibited on Twitch, was “extremely erotic”, that players should “play at [their] own risk”, and that it won’t be available for sale in Australia or New Zealand.
The publisher told Kotaku that it was “saving itself time” by not even bothering having the game classified in countries where “previous games [were] banned for similar content”.
This sets a nasty precedent in the industry. While Devolver is understandably doing this to save time, money and resources to have the game classified — according to Kotaku, it costs roughly $1600 and many, many hours to have a game classified — it promotes an approach to the country and its gamers that regardless of how much interest there is in a game, it may not even be worth trying to get it on store shelves.
That’s disappointing, because a game being refused classification generally brings about loud, constructive debate about the nature of classification and censorship in Australia, a country which professes to be “progressive” and socially liberal (or at least wants to be). If we have nothing to talk about, we can’t initiate change.
The problem, however, is that ten years ago, games like Genital Jousting and, say, Hotline Miami 2, would have felt the wrath from the Christian hard-right. These days, games that amplify even the most subtle of sexually provocative themes tend to be the target of social media zealouts, who on any other day claim to be progressive, but somehow attribute virtual interpretations of sexuality and gender to what they perceive to be social inadequacies and inequalities. This is despite there being no research that shows that be the case, but when it comes to furthering the modern progressive cause, emotive applications of morality are valued more than rational discourse and facts.
This may seem like a little bit of a political rant, and you might question what it has to do with Genital Jousting being banned. But it’s something I raised three years ago following the banning of Saints Row IV (because it allowed players to bash NPCs with a large dildo). Even the most juvenile, ridiculous and light-hearted content — albeit created for adults — is being judged along what I would deem to be non-subjective lines of morality, in which the government, supported by so-called progressives, has the capacity to determine what content we do and don’t see.
I completely understand, appreciate and tolerate critical analysis of violent and sexualised games. However, we’ve reached a point where international artists and publishers are avoiding the processes all together, which I feel is a reflection of global attitudes towards our government’s classification system. And what hope do we have when those who once championed creative freedom now condemn it as a contributing factor to society’s issues?
Attitudes may have changed for certain individuals, but I feel that certain attitudes over the past decade, particularly those towards Saints Row IV‘s banning, has led to an ugly situation, one where games as stupidly light-hearted as Genital Jousting are considered too provocative for Australian adults.