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The worst thing about censorship is ███████ - 005 - Bioshock Infinite

Salida dear readers,
my name is Jim aka "OpiumHerz" and as some of you may already guess by that nickname: I am german. With the blog series "The worst thing about censorship is ███████ " I want to simply give you a little insight in videogame censorhsip, which is still pretty much alive and kicking here in Germany (but I won't restrict myself to Germany exklusively). I'll try to post entries at least all two weeks or so. Feel free to comment for suggestions, corrections or critique. With this episode I will start in what I recently called the more routine filled part of this blog, where I will put my eye on certain games, their censorship and the hows and whys of this title. And today will be: Bioshock Infinite!

First off: "Bioshock Infinite" came to Germany completly uncensored. "Bioshock" was a bit censored (german comparison, but the pictures should be clear for everybody), but one can assume that this was done by the publisher in advance to ensure a rating. However, the violence between "Bioshock 1 + 2" and Infinite are two different stories. One can safely say that "Bioshock Infinite" is quite the violent game with all of it's slow-mo bloodiness and up-close melee finishers. It is certainly not a game for kids by any means and the USK saw that and rated it 18+. And apparently it even is REALLY uncut, because recently it became a nasty habit to simply slap a "100% uncut" sticker on the box, even when the game is censored. The publishers simply LIED.
It didn't really matter to me. I used a foreign version, US to be exact, and thus didn't mind any potential censorship, because it didn't matter in this case. After playing a bit I was surprised that this game came through without any hiccups. But there are some things that might explain this.


First off, the violence is done in a defensive way. Booker isn't the agressor, he is simply fighting for his life, as soon as the Columbians start to attack him. He doesn't initiate the violence. This was most likely an important part in the rating process, because that is something the USK simply doesn't like. Here however, the player isn't killing exessively for joy, for shits & giggles or because he wants to - he is fighting for his very life. The Columbians don't even leave him a choice of any kind, they just start to attack.
Another important point is Booker's view on himself. He is not a glorified manslaughterer, he doesn't like what he is doing and does some spicy oneliners. Over the course of the story it is very clear that Booker doesn't like the killing. He is neither happy nor proud to do it, but it's a mean to an end. This is another part that will have bode well with the USK.

Secondly, the violence is not the "main attraction". This game is about many topics, but violence is none of them. Violence IS happening prevalently, but unlike in games like "Punisher" or "Manhunt" is it not the focus of it. The kills are part of the gameplay and not presented in a stylisch, cool fashion. Othet topics simply weigh heavier on this one. Is it even right to kill? What means is one, from a standpoint of ethics, allowed to use? All these questions gloom over Booker, and thus the player, while moving through Bioshock Infinite. The story is actually an important part, just like the questions it asks, and through it the game moves away from a simple shooter. This is another thing the USK "likes" - context. That was most likely one of the reasons "Spec Ops: The Line" came through too (more on that one later).

It was definitely the right decision to rate "Bioshock Infinite" 18+. Like I said, I don't think this is a game for kids at all. Considering the violence AND the content, I'm pretty sure it's not even for every grown up. But it was also the right decision to not censor it, since the violence happening in the game is, in fact, an important part of the story. I have seen many discussions over the past few weeks if a violence-less "Bioshock Infinite" should be or should not be, and why it should or should not be. I won't give you any more of this, I'm sure if you are interested in the topic you already heard every opinion there is to this.
But I'm glad that the game came through in Germany as it was intended by it's designers. And it is reasonable, too. As I stated before there are many random factors and too less strict guidelines, so the USK is a pretty shady organisation with no clear lining on how they work and how they rate. However, there are some aspects that can be filed under "The USK likes that". And many of those factors are here in Bioshock Infinite: no glorification of the violence, not making it look cool and stylish, the heavy emphasis on story - all these are redeeming factors, when it comes to a rating in Germany.

As a little overview: the last few days were very quiet in Germany when it comes to censorship in games. Both "Call of Juarez: Gunslinger" and "Metro: Last Light" were announced to come uncensored. Time will tell if those news were true or not.

So, don't know yet what I will do next time. If you have certain wishes, write them in the comments.

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About OpiumHerzone of us since 3:54 AM on 04.10.2013

German Blogger, writing the series "The worst thing about censorship is ███████ " (go check it out!) since I like to write about that topic and am invested in it a whole lot. Also writes some other stuff sometimes. Likes to listen to very strange bands and has the ultimate goal in life to taste every soft drink there is at least once.
Pure Gonzo - and while I thank god for Jim Sterling sometimes, I thank god for Hunter S. Thompson every day.

I'm a bastard. Don't trust me. Always keep asking, don let yourself get fed bullshit - not even by me.

I like good games. Yes, that's quite general, but I don't really like confining myself to certain genres. I like interesting approaches, invention and creativity. But I can enjoy a straight-up shooter as much as a "Bastion". It just has to be done well and appeal to me on some level.

Want to know anything else? Just leave a comment under a blog or write a message. Same goes for corrections (please), as English isn't my native language and thus isn't nearly perfect.

Censorship Blogs so far:
001: The System (Part 1)
002: The System (Part 2)
003: The stupid publishers
004: How Germans get uncensored games
005: Bioshock Infinite
006: Call Of Duty
007: Grand Theft Auto
008: Dead Space
009: Manhunt
010: Sniper Elite V2 (again)
011: Fallout
012: Various Games #1
013: Nazis
014: Mortal Kombat 9 on Steam
015: Contra
016: Halo
017: Saints Row
018: All the other stuff
019: Command & Conquer
020: The Lanzarote Convention
021: Various Games #2
022: Half-Life
023: The Legend Of Zelda
024: Various Games #3
025: Various Games #4

026: What system would you prefer
027: South Park - The Stick Of Truth
028: South Park - The Stick Of Truth (Part 2)
029: Various Games #5
030: Wolfenstein
031: Resident Evil (main series)
032: Resident Evil (spin offs)
033: Various Games #6
034: Turning Point: Fall Of Liberty
035: Blacks and women
036: Pokemon
037: Left 4 Dead
038: Left 4 Dead 2

039: 2015 Predictions
040: Dying Light
041: Coca-Cola
042: Pillars of Eternity
043: The Order: 1886
044: Mortal Kombat X

Stuff I also wrote and you should read:

~ Punish the individuals - not the scene they move in
~ My consoles don't fight each other - what's your excuse?
~ But what about the men?
~ Fake gamer girls and the damage they do
~ The Raid On Castle DToid
~ My little guide to german music (NVGR)
~ You should buy Goat Simulator - no, seriously...
~ Gravelord Nito, I love you more than Vanilla Coke
~ Let's clear up the console wars, shall we?

... und Pan spielt die Fl�te.