Cage: “Censorship is a problem, like in ’50s cinema”
If you haven’t already, take a look atour interview (video and transcript) with David Cage. Quantic Dream‘s boss has been as interesting as always, and though there were many points discussed, one particularly stood out for me, which is why I’m highlighting it: he openly said that censorship is a severe issue, especially with certain rating boards, and that videogames now are in the same spot of cinema in the ’50s, when certain actions were deemed inconceivable.
But censorship is certainly a problem in general. It’s very difficult to talk about sensitive things, even if you want to do it in a sensitive way. If you want to say something and touch difficult topics, you’d better be a film maker than a game maker because there’s a significant resistance you have to face to touch some sensitive subjects. On Beyond there was a struggle, not with Sony, but with some rating boards in a few territories, they still think that videogames are toys for kids, even if you say “I’m not doing Mario or Sonic, I’m doing a mature game for a mature audience so let me talk about these things, I won’t do that just for the sake of shocking, I’m an author and I want to tell my story”. And actually sometimes censorship can get in the way and just prevent you to do what you want to do as a writer.
It was the same problems with movies in the ’40-50s, when it was an issue to have two characters kissing in a movie, even though it was fine to shoot and kill Indians, but two people kissing? “No, we can’t do this”. Or even having a black man kissing a white girl, it’s been an issue, so censorship happens in all media until society fully understands them. Now, movie directors can do pretty much whatever they want as long it’s consistent, reasonable, but they can talk about anything.
For games we’re simply not there yet, we’re still where movies were in the ’50s, unfortunately, but we fight to change this and Beyond is one step in this direction, you will play the game and hopefully you will see what I’m talking about, there are some very difficult moments with Jodie in this game and yeah, they were challenging to impose but we managed to do it.
Unfortunately, this is the sad truth in my experience as well. Most of the people who never played a videogame in their life tend to view them as mere toys, and get even annoyed whenever anyone tries to portray them in a different way. This is not a problem exclusive to videogames, granted: as explained by Cage, movies had it before, in their infancy. The thing is, I don’t believe we’ll be able to get rid of this issue until the digital age generation completely replaces the previous one.
Right now we have politics and people in the seats of power who have barely idea of what videogames really are, but in 20/25 years from now, there will be gamers and people who grew up with games all around them in those positions. Then, and only then, videogames will be able to ascend to their rightful place alongside cinema, tv, books etc.; in the meantime, though, we’ll keep fighting together, developers, press and users, for our beloved and unique interactive form of entertainment.
What about you? What’s your experience in your everyday life? Are we still as far as Cage says (and as I fear)?