Hotline Miami 2 Banned in Australia, Lead Designer Says to 'Just Pirate it'
Want to play Hotline Miami 2: Wrong Number in Australia? That's likely not going to happen after the Australian Classification Board (ACB) has banned the game by not giving it a certification. It prompted one of the creators to give the advice of pirating the game.
The scene in question
There's an opening cinematic for a movie in production called "Midnight Animal." The lead male character charges into a building and kills multiple people, and the final victim is a female in red underwear that is struck and falls to the ground. The man then goes on top of the victim, pulls down his pants, then lays on top of her.
As depicted, it looks as if the man is sexually assaulting the female, then the director of the movie shortly calls out for cut. Now, the game has included an option to censor the "scenes that allude to sexual violence." It removes the animation of the man on top of the victim after pulling down his pants.
For a full visual of the situation, here's a video that shows the unedited and edited portions. The video is obviously NSFW because of that and all of the blood and gore throughout.
This controversial scene in Hotline Miami 2 has been in the spotlight before. PC Gamer's Cara Ellison gave her displeasure upon viewing the scene during her hands-on preview back in the summer of 2013.
What the ACB said
So why did the ACB ban the game if the scene is optional? The content is still in there, and one of the rules labels a game as "Refused Classification" if it depicts offensive content that goes past moral or general standards.
Basically, it calls the alleged depcition of sexual assault going past the boundaries. Here's part of the ACB's statement obtained by Kotaku AU:
The male character is viewed with his pants halfway down, partially exposing his buttocks. He is viewed pinning the female down by the arms and lying on top of her thrusting, implicitly raping her (either rear entry or anally) while her legs are viewed kicking as she struggles beneath him. This visual depiction of implied sexual violence is emphasised by it being mid-screen, with a red backdrop pulsating and the remainder of the screen being surrounded by black.
The problem with the reasoning is that it doesn't give the situation around it. The scene is acted out on a movie set, which is a given after the title rolls through before the scene and after the questionable content when the director yells out for cut. After he's done talking, everyone on the set is seen as alive and well.
How Dennaton Games responded
After one of the creators, Jonatan Soderstrom, was queried by one of the Australian residents on how to get the game, he offered some simple advice: pirate it.
The person didn't want to illegally obtain Hotline Miami 2 and offered up a service like PayPal to give the creator money, but Soderstrom had this exact response:
If it ends up not being released in Australia, just pirate it after release.
No need to send us money, just enjoy the game!
Even though the game is banned in Australia, under the ACB, there's nothing illegal about obtaining "RC" content with the exception of actual illegal content like child pornography. The only thing that would be illegal is selling it or distributing it publicly.
Putting a ban on a game for a scene that's ultimately been taken out of context with the ACB description is too strict. There's nothing in the scene that actually shows the sexual assault -- just the assumption it's happening.
It's one conversation to have on why the content is in there, or that it makes some people uncomfortable. But in review of what we know, the extreme, grotesque, over-the-top violence in the game throughout should be as controversial, if not more than the scene that got the game banned.
What are your thoughts on the entire situation around Hotline Miami 2 and its ban in Australia?