Bioshock Infinite has sparked plenty of debate around its violent, racial, and religious themes. MyGaming spoke to game classification and rating agency ESRB (Entertainment Software Ratings Board) to get their view on the recent controversy surrounding the game – a widely published story about a BioShock Infinite player being refunded due to a religious complaint.
A blasphemy complaint by Breen Malmberg raised questions of why a notification of blasphemy or religious themes wasn’t indicated on the box. PEGI (Pan European Game Information) explained to MyGaming that it didn’t see an encouragement of hatred in the baptism scene, and therefore didn’t warrant a “discrimination” tag.
The ESRB, who handle North American territories, explained that: “there is no specific Content Descriptor that advises of religious elements, such content could impact a game’s rating information, particularly if it is considered discriminatory against a religious group”.
The ESRB added that: “It is also very likely that we would describe such content in a game’s Rating Summary.”
Regarding Bioshock Infinite’s rating summary on the ESRB database, the description doesn’t highlight any discrimination of religion, and instead focuses on the violence and racial discrimination the game features.
“The social/political backdrop of the fictional city (set in the year 1912) includes the use of derogatory ethnic/racial terms (e.g., the words ‘gook,’ ‘chink,’ ‘negroes,’ ‘injuns,’ ‘crackers’); language such as ‘sh*t’ can also be heard in dialogue,” reads the summary.
In conclusion, it appears that both PEGI and the ESRB take the same stance on the matter, saying that while there are religious themes in the game, they by no means emphasise the hatred or discrimination of religion.
Check out MyBroadband’s Jan Vermeulen discussing his view on violence in Bioshock Infinite.