With games edging closer and closer to being accepted not simply as a form of entertainment, but also as a legitimate art form, the medium’s need to grow and display some maturity in terms of its narratives has grown. Being controversial for the sake of controversy is a cheap and ineffective way to drum up business, and more often than not people can see through this thin veneer. However, sometimes when you court controversial subject matter, even with the best intentions, your efforts might immediately be shot down.
This is the case with Hotline Miami 2‘s sexual assault scene. The particular part was included in the demo version of the game, and in it one of the characters, Big Bruce — a pig butcher of course — was said to have had a woman pinned down. Then, right as he was about to drop his pants, in a fourth wall breaking move, the director yelled, “Cut!” And with that the character’s actions are ceased and the scene ends, thankfully enough.
There are plenty of ways to take this scene. First, this could be a way of characterizing and showing you just how evil and violent this particular man is, or it could be a critique on just how far things shouldn’t be taken in terms of the level of gratuitousness within video games.
Denis Wedin of Dennaton Games had this to say to Rock, Paper, Shotgun regarding this particular scenario:
“We were really sad that some people were so affected by it, because maybe they had been through something like that of their own,” Wedin says. “Maybe they had a terrible experience of their own that was triggered by the game. That was not intentional at all. We didn’t add the scene just to be controversial. There is a meaning to these two characters. There’s a lot more to them than just this scene.”
Hotline Miami 2 doesn’t look like it will be any less subtle than its predecessor, with much of the violence we have come to expect from the franchise showing up, brain bashing and all. However, it is likely that, based on recent backlash, this scene won’t be included in the final version of the game.
How far is too far for video games? And is this censorship just further proof that video games are still not seen as a mature enough medium for rape to be conveyed without complaint-based tirades? We will just have to find out when the game is released later on this year.