Censorship: This Time, It Is the Government

With the social justice set, it's never censorship.

With the social justice set, it’s never censorship.

“It’s only censorship if the government does it.”

Every time there’s news that a developer is removing content from a game, the social justice crowd rushes in to remind us all that “censorship” can only be done by governments. Pretending that their public shaming campaigns don’t exist, they say that developers are just “free to make changes,” or “localizing,” or “recognizing a changing world” or some other nonsense. No one believes them, of course, but they never stop saying it.

This time, however, the French government intends to take action against allegedly sexist games — and the major gaming press hasn’t uttered a peep. [UPDATE 6/10/2016: Britain is considering similar measures as well.]

The French government is considering a law that would make it illegal to advertise so-called “sexist” games on primetime television, as well as financially reward games that show women in a light the French government deems acceptable. While this isn’t an outright ban of such games, the government still seeks to suppress such games.

Make no mistake: this is meant to block the creation of such games worldwide by closing off a section of the European market. Instead of arresting or fining people for making a game with sexy girls in it, they want to starve such games financially by cordoning them off in a corner. Since large companies operate on huge budgets, they need every dollar, pound, euro, and yen they could get to make back their investment. You bet that they will tailor their games accordingly to make it sellable all around the world.

I remember a decade ago, when similar restrictions were being put forward in several US states. The major gaming press went all in against it, denouncing such tactics with great fervor and making it clear that government had no place policing what games people played. They celebrated the 2011 Brown v. EMA decision, for it had permanently ended US attempts to ban or restrict video games.

But today? Crickets. They have nothing to say about what the French government is trying to do here.

Here, a major national government is trying to censor games throughout the world, and the gaming press remains silent. Here, they tell us that “it’s only censorship when the government does it,” yet the government is doing it and they don’t care at all. It is as I suspected: the excuses that Social Justice types make about how this or that shaming campaign or localization change is not “censorship” are a smokescreen. They do favor restrictions on non-Social Justice content, no matter who does it. The gaming press has changed from the 2000s, and they want to make it clear that moral bullying is all right if it’s done in the name of “social justice.”

Screw that. Artists of all types deserve to be free. End of story.

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