Video game censorship varies in its effects and intensity and is relative in meaning and function as it may be perceived differently by different people.
One of the first game consoles to become involved in video game censorship was the Nintendo (1985), which was aimed primarily at children ages 5 and up. Censorship was done by the Nintendo Corporation in games originally released in Japan, then “modified” for the American release.
Games like “Punch-Out!!” featured a fictional boxer named Vodka Drunkenski, who was later replaced by Soda Popinski. Another example for the original Nintendo is in “Contra”. However, it is the European version that has been modified. He was named “Probotector” in Europe. And some of the enemies in this game have been changed to robots to make it less violent.
It was 1992 when people really got their foot on game content. Mortal Kombat was a fun arcade game that had two martial arts fighters against each other. It was very popular. There was blood spat during the fight, and at the end of a match, the winner had to do a “fatality” and grotesquely finish off the enemy with a heart tear, a spine tear, a takedown of the head by an uppercut, removal of the head by electrocution, etc.
It wasn’t the kids who played it who said it was too much, it was their parents. This game made people wonder what their son or daughter was playing. For more information on this topic, The Insider reached out to Jessica Ghilani, Ph.D., associate professor of communications with Pitt Greensburg.
“As a parent of young children,” Ghilani said, “I am involved in the process of determining what media content is acceptable for my children. This includes, but is not limited to, video games. should be involved in understanding the media interests and habits of their children.
Shortly after Mortal Kombat hit arcades, the issue of video game censorship began to be addressed. The Entertainment Software Rating (ESRB) was founded in 1994 by the Interactive Digital Software Association (renamed the Entertainment Software Association in 2004). There are 5 ratings assigned to a video game product: “Early Childhood”, “Child to Adult”, “Teen”, “Mature”, and “Adult Only”.
In addition, there is now a description that offers game content on each product. For example, Call of Duty Modern Warfare (2019) for Xbox One has a rating of “Mature 17+” and a description of “Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Drugs”.
What does it mean? Games are always made with the grotesque, sex, language, alcohol consumption and all kinds of violence. However, you can at least be warned before reading them, but not necessarily that the content is restricted or censored.
“Parents are the gatekeepers of their kids’ media consumption, so they should know what’s in a game before they spend money on it. But mature or problematic content in some games doesn’t mean ‘A whole medium is bad or harmful,” Ghilani said. “It just means people need to know when and if content isn’t appropriate for every age group of video game users.”