Bioshock Infinite blasphemous? PEGI weighs in

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Bioshock Infinite has sparked plenty of debate around its violent, racial, and religious themes. MyGaming spoke to game classification and rating agency PEGI (Pan European Game Information) 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.

PEGI explained that only games that feature content that is “likely to encourage hatred” are likely to be classified with their “discrimination” tag, which indicates that a game features racial, religious or cultural discrimination.

With regards to the specific blasphemy complaint by Breen Malmberg, PEGI also explained that the ESRB is in charge of the North American territory, from where the complaint originated. PEGI emphasises that every country has varying cultural standards, and that content offensive to some, may not be to others, and visa-versa. This is why many of the ratings differ across regions.

PEGI’s full response about Bioshock Infinite is below:

“Bioshock Infinite has received a PEGI classification based on depictions of gross violence, which includes torture, dismemberment, sadism and horrific depictions of death or injury towards human-like or animal-like characters and because it contains sexual expletives or blasphemy.

A game only gets a discrimination content descriptor if it contains the following content; depictions of ethnic, religious, nationalistic or other stereotypes likely to encourage hatred. The emphasis here is on the words ‘likely to encourage hatred’. It should be noted that any such depictions are very likely to infringe national criminal laws and cannot be included in the game in any event. It is the responsibility of each game publisher to comply with national criminal laws and use of the PEGI system does not absolve the game publisher from such responsibility or provide any legal or other defense to infringement of national criminal laws.

We can’t put a discrimination content descriptor on every game that contains content which could be offending to one person. If we would do that, all the modern shooters would receive one. If, for instance, WWII is featured, a Brit, German or Frenchman could be offended by what he is seeing. But this isn’t the typical ‘discrimination’ content we would rate.

We reviewed the scene, and there is nothing in the intro of the game that is likely to encourage hatred. Furthermore, the complaint was made from the North America. The ESRB is active in NA. Since PEGI is a Pan European system, the questionnaire, that publishers must fill out for every game, is designed to meet varying cultural standards in all the member states, but not those of, for instance, NA, since they don’t use our system. So for example, mild violence may not considered as very shocking in your country, but the swearwords in some games may be.”

For those of you who have played the sequence, what do you think? Have you ever experienced an in-game moment which went against your religious beliefs?

If you want to see the baptism sequence, check out the video below (it’s in the beginning of the game, but obviously spoilers ensue).

Despite the controversy, Bioshock Infinite has received some incredible reviews and sparked some interesting discussions. Check out MyBroadband’s Jan Vermeulen discussing his view on violence in Bioshock Infinite.

More BioShock Infinite news:

Violent video games debate rages on (and the follow-up)

Bioshock Infinite – living up to the hype?

Bioshock Infinite hands-on: revolution in the wings?

BioShock Infinite tackles religion

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Bioshock Infinite blasphemous? PEGI weighs in

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