New PS4 game under fire for featuring "salacious" child abuse imagery
"Any video game that trivialises or normalises child abuse, neglect or domestic violence for entertainment is unacceptable."
That was the statement made by Andy Burrows of the NSPCC in reaction to the footage shown of new PS4 game, Detroit: Become Human.
The footage, which was actually first screened at Paris Games Week back in October, has only picked up steam again this week when different abuse agencies noticed that it featured scenes of domestic and child abuse.
Detroit: Become Human is a new neo-noir thriller from David Cage, the man behind decision-based games such as Fahrenheit, Heavy Rain and Beyond: Two Souls.
In the new game, you control three different androids: Kara, who escapes the factory she was made in to explore her newfound sentience; Connor, whose job it is to hunt down deviant androids like Kara; and Markus, who devotes himself to releasing the androids from servitude. The characters may live or die depending on the choices that are made, which serve to shape the story as customised by the player.
In the gameplay trailer, we see Kara in the midst of a domestic abuse situation, with the different decisions she makes resulting in vastly different outcomes.
Clip via Game Clips And Tips
The reaction in recent days to the footage by campaigners against abuse was incredibly strong.
Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood, via The New Zealand Herald: "Abusers will get off on this stuff and the other thing we know beyond question is that videos [sic] games end up being played by children and, scarily, the proliferation of salacious and abusive images is actually encouraging violence and abuse."
Additionally, Childline founder Dame Esther Rantzen asked for Sony to remove the scene or pull the game entirely:
"Violence against children is not entertainment. It's not a game," she said. "It's a real nightmare for thousands of children who have to live through these kinds of scenarios. The makers of this game should be thoroughly ashamed. I think it's perverse. Who thinks beating a child is entertainment?"
Back when the footage was first screened in Paris, the game's developers Quantic Dreams had this to say:
"The scene we are presenting is a very important moment in Kara's story: we discover that Kara is owned by a human, Todd Williams, the single father of a little girl called Alice. Confronted with Todd's violence toward his little girl, Kara feels compelled to disobey and risk her life to save Alice."
Meanwhile, David Cage himself did not find that the material in the footage should be considered off-limits, telling Eurogamer the following:
"There are things I'd never do," he said. "I'd never do a racist game, or a misogynist game. These are the limits. When you feel okay with the content and the meaning when you know you have nothing to be ashamed of because it's fair and it tells the right story and because it's moving. There are no limits."
Detroit: Become Human is due for release on the PS4 in mid-2018.