It's no secret that American culture is a little touchy when it comes to nudity of the female variety. Funcom was taken aback during "Nipple Gate," and it hasn't been that long since gamers were taking Fox News to task about "Mass Effect."
Games usually avoid sex. It's largely an American taboo, however, so it doesn't necessarily follow that developers don't want to explore it. We asked Michal Kicinski, CEO of CD Projekt, the European studio behind PC's "The Witcher," to discuss his experiences designing a game with sexual elements and bringing it to the US.
"The Witcher" isn't a very sexual game -- it's about chopping up monsters -- but it does allow player to have sex far more often than the singular encounter in BioWare's tale.
"In Europe we are quite used to see many forms of sexual expression in fine art, books, films and even on television," said Kicinski in an e-mail interview with Multiplayer. "The games are not seen much differently then. In order to see sexual references or various forms of sexual acts (although softer ones) we never had to cross over into pay-per-view TV or head off to the seedy part of town."
"If we stay within the limits of good taste, without being explicit, we had always known that whatever we showed in The Witcher would be acceptable for our target, mature audience without banning us to some kind of 'porn' games ghetto."
Game developers preparing a game that includes sexual content for release in America face difficult options. On one hand, they could produce the sexually explicit content and hope it sails through the Entertainment Software Ratings Board, but that's risky and potentially expensive. On the other hand, they could practice self-censorship and accept the nature of American culture. CD Projekt tried a little of both with "The Witcher" and produced a unique version for the US that removed full-frontal nudity.
The US isn't the only place that requires censoring, however. The version of "The Witcher" released in Germany, for example, featured toned down violence. The demands in each territory are different, as well. "The European version was less censored and in Russia, for example," said Kicinski. "Journalists were demanding even more nudity!"
Gamers probably wouldn't argue with that kind of logic, but read on to find out why Kicinski believes more censorship may be in store for "The Witcher."