Possibly the most vile video game ever: should we ban it?

BASICS

Available on: PC, MacOS, Linux

Engine: Unreal 2 Engine

Price: $9.99 (available on Steam)Postal_2_cover

Release date: April 2003

Developer: Running With Scissors (Arizona USA)

DETAILS

Postal 2 was Linux Game Publishing’s fastest selling title in its first month of release, despite the fact that it did not receive a high rating in reviews and caused an immense uproar concerning its gratuitous, graphic violence (Curran 2013).

Developer Running With Scissors previously had released Postal, the first instalment of the ‘series’ (which now boasts a third game), which was banned in Australia by the Australian Classification Board due to the game’s content being ‘excessively violent’ and offending community standards; the developer now gets around this distribution impediment by selling the game online, which the ACMA says they cannot stop (Bingemann 2006).

The ban was predominantly enforced in New Zealand and Brazil. In New Zealand it was banned for ‘Gross, abhorrent content (Urination, High Impact Violence, Animal Cruelty, Homophobia, Racial, and Ethnic Stereotypes,’; the severity of this ban is indicated by the fact that simply owning a copy of the game could land you in gaol or with a $250 000 fine (Curran 2013).

When examining the content of this game, the ban seems completely justified. At a base level, missions include simply going to the shops for milk, but the game pushes you towards engaging in very offensive, crass, and violent behaviour such as interacting with ‘cannibal rednecks’, battling ‘sewer-dwelling Taliban’, using ‘cats as silencers’ for your gun, and ‘pissing and pouring gasoline on anything and everyone’ (Running With Scissors 2014).

Following the ban of the game Running With Scissors did not opt to change the content of the game, but kept the content as is, in more accepting markets, and when digital distribution became possible through SoftWare, distributed it widely to potential, previously unaccessed players (Curren 2014).

Running With Scissors uses its game content to weigh into the violent video games: causation or correlation with real world violence debate by posting an hilarious disclaimer on their website:

This site contains content not approved for consumption by children, senators, religious leaders and/or other easily damaged psyches, those seeking to enhance or establish political careers and/or possessed of delusions of grandeur. If accidentally exposed, flush eyes with cold water and induce vomiting. If irritation persists, sit quietly and watch PBS. Not for internal use. This site and its related products/propaganda are GUARANTEED not to make you go blind, masturbate (and THEN go blind), become a social liability, induce you to act out atrocities that you would otherwise never indulge in, or burn eternally in hell. Running With Scissors accepts NO responsibility for any and all random acts of stupidity or violence committed by losers who may blame popular entertainment media and/or sugary snack foods for causing their inherent basic lack of control. You’re on your own. Thank you and good night’.

This argument, while being almost a parody of the debate itself, makes a really good point; why should the game be censored or banned? If we have films as violent and disturbing as Cannibal Holocaust (1980) released as a moralistic comment on colonisation and violence (Wilson, date unknown), then why should a game like Postal 2, which is highly unrealistic and almost a parody of violence, not be similar in its commentary on the grind of daily life and the proliferation of violence throughout the world?

 

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