Rule of Rose Controversy

Rule of Rose is a game with some pretty disturbing scenes. Kotaku has a story about the game causing controversy in Europe. It looks like the debate stems from the game’s use of children as antagonists, as well as some misinformation about scenes depicted in the game (one news agency erroneously reported that the game rewards players for burying a girl alive).

Now, censorship in general bugs me. I can sort of understand how some information, especially information that pertains to national security, can’t be allowed to flow freely. I have a much harder time understanding censorship that is targeted at works deemed obscene or offensive, as those terms are neither objective nor universal. Censorship aimed to suppress work that a particular group finds morally offensive forces one viewpoint upon all consumers, removing choice. I think that you can take almost any work and find somebody somewhere who is offended by it, so such subjective classifications are not very useful when creating rules for an entire country.

For example, my wife and I once chanced upon an exhibit of Picasso’s sexually explicit paintings while visiting Montreal. Picasso is universally considered one of the great artists of the 20th century, yet this particular collection of his work was never shown in America because it was about sex. We thought the exhibit was wonderful, but due to objections of one group or another, Americans never even had the chance to see it in their own country. One particular group’s perspective removed the opportunity to even choose to view Picasso’s work.

But censorship regarding video games bugs me even more. What is it about games that causes them to attract the ire of would-be arbiters of morality? Films like Natural Born Killers and Saw came out in Italy (where a ban of Rule of Rose has been proposed), and are far more violent, disturbing, and mainstream than anything in this obscure Japanese horror title. What is it about video games that makes them a target for censorship when other media is not?

I think that there are several factors involved. First, many people who did not grow up playing video games often associate games with children, as children were the target market twenty years ago when the Nintendo Entertainment System was released. While this impression is understandable, it is also fallacious and easily dispensed with cursory research about the contemporary game market. The second issue that plays a role here is that the older generation did not grow up with video games in their household. As with comic books and rock and roll before it, games continue to suffer from a certain degree of foreignness to many adults over the age of 30. It seems that most detractors of games do not play games regularly themselves. That’s not to say that the opinion of non-gamers is invalid, just that such people cannot claim to have an informed opinion of the medium.

But what bothers me the most about this particular story is that those calling for a ban on Rule of Rose obviously haven’t played the game. There’s a burial scene in the first five minutes of game play, but it’s a non-interactive cutscene. The character being buried does not die, nor does the player win when this event occurs; it’s just a scene in the story. Since this event occurs early on in the game, even a few minutes of play would have dispelled any misunderstanding about how the game works. Clearly, the people arguing this particular point about Rule of Rose have not played at all.

And finally, any sort of controversy over Rule of Rose requires giving it a little more credit than it is worth. Though I haven’t finished it, I don’t think the game is all that great, and I am sure that had this particular debate not erupted, the game would have vanished quietly into obscurity.

9 thoughts on “Rule of Rose Controversy

  1. Well, I am looking forward to getting this game.

    I hate all forms of censorship, and thankfully in Sweden, we do not have that in movies or games (phew). I almost exploded reading the article you were refering to- do they actually believe this game (and similar games) are for CHILDREN? Like you wrote, they think all games are for kids (!), like Super Mario.

  2. The game was pretty terrible, actually, and was also quite far from being controversial. My play-through was extremely disappointing, both in terms of story and gameplay. Oh well.

  3. Really? Personally, I liked Rule of Rose. The gameplay wasn’t terribly hot, but I liked the story (as confusing and misleading as it was).

  4. I haven’t finished it yet, but when I do I’ll post. I’m unhappy with the controls and combat so far, but I really like the story setup. My attention has been ripped away by the far more entertaining God Hand.

  5. I liked the story behind it, but I hate the way it was told. There was so much potential with the story they had, but it was so poorly presented that the game still leaves me feeling empty.

    (By the way, the fact that my name is also “chris” makes this kind of confusing lol.)

  6. Yeah, if it wasn’t for the combat being so awful and the game forcing you into combat all the time instead of letting you run away, Rule of Rose would be a solid game.

    From what I heard, the European publisher of RoR is only going to publish it in a couple countries due to this whole controversy.

    And I agree that this whole thing is extremely stupid. It’s a Victorian horror game marketed at adults that just happens to use children to make the whole thing creepier. Not only is it not aimed at children, but I can’t imagine a child looking at the case in a store and wanting to buy it in the first place.

  7. I really liked the game. Sure the gameplay and the combat was lacking, but I think it was refreshing to have a something this original pop up in the horror survival genre. I liked the fact that it focused on the psychological aspects and the storyline was very interesting. I’ll admit that it could have had a stronger ending though.

    The entire issue of censoring video games sickens me. The people censoring these video games are the same people who don’t have enough time to pay attention to their own children. Maybe if these people could just be good parents and monitor their kids, they wouldn’t need to gripe.

  8. I recently wrote an article about this in my local magazine. I am glad to see other people defending this game, and if not the game, gaming in general.

    I pointed out a scene in Silent Hill 3 where we get to view Heather abort her “child” and then we watch as Claudia picks up the aborted foetus and eats it…And i asked why this was not banned if something as simple and undeserving as RoR can be banned.

    Either way though, it is banned over in the UK from what i have seen. Which is annoying.

    But thankyou very much for defending this, no matter whether the game is good or bad it doesnt deserve to be banned.


  9. Just through my own luck I came across an american version of rule of rose and I have loved it, only computer generated children could be so sadistic. I can see why it wasnt released as it was supposed to be a 16+ rated game. I dont think that a 16 year old could fully understand the storyli/plot. This is an excelent game ond maybe once they succumb to the fact that it should be 18+ rated it will get released in the UK.

    I started playing this game when I got hold of a Japanese version and thanks to a translated walkthough I managed to get through quite alot untill I got the American version, now I can understand it better and although its shocking its nothing we havent seen before in Silent Hill, I mean a child being sacraficed…

    Hey Thezombiemessia, I wet miself when Claudia ate the featus child but I also been waiting for her to take that pill for the whole game, thought it might be like a commie death pill in MGS.

    Rule of rose is an excelent game and it should be released, gaming is also an art and the games art themselves. I love the timing, warped scary noises when something comes close, dont deny me my survival horror!


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