Friday, April 10, 2015

Video Game Profanity Is ****ing Wrong!

I'm writing script for my game right now and I'm at that point of having to make a decision about whether and how much swearing to include...

It's one thing when Microsoft bans XBOX users for excess profanity but what about when you're making a game?

From Grand Theft Auto's gangsta pottymouths to Q-Bert's bleeped-out cussing, video games have had a History of verbal violence as well as physical. And a history of controversy and retaliation as well. The "shock" value of having f-bombs and rated-R content in games has been played up, used as marketing by these franchises, but sometimes it can backfire, if enough people throw the controllers down in disgust. To cuss or not to cuss? That is the question.

The themes and content of our game Neofeud are somewhat stark, dystopic future-noir that partly place in a Section 8 Public Housing ghetto made out of a landfill, filled with angry poor people, drug dealers, gangs, etc.. I'm worried about the game ringing hollow and unbelievable without cursing, but also don't want to "scare off" those who are offended by swearing. I know it would be unbelievable to me since I was a social worker and know the underpriveleged don't say, "Oh darn," when they get into a fight with an ex or get served an evic notice.

I'm thinking I have a few options...

1.) Just go full rated-R, keep the swearing, offend some people, but make it a bit more believable.

2.) Bleep out the swearing... that could be annoying?

3.) Work the "evolution of language" angle since it's Sci Fi, and insert "future slang" curse words. Like "Frak" in Battlestar Galactica, "Shtako" in Defiance, or Chinese profanity in Firefly.

4.) Rewrite the story to be PG-13 or PG. Might make the game fall flat pulling some of the punches.

Kind of at a mid-game crisis right now. I'm aiming for the indie, adventure-gaming crowd, and I'd like to reach a good size audience.

What do you guys think personally, and in terms of the entire gaming community?


  1. Ok, I took some time to think about this.
    I think doing a Firefly/Defiance type thing would be cool. Dialogue mostly in English but swears in another language, or languages! Japanese, "Droid-ese", Pile slang, you could REALLY have fun with it.
    Plus it will immediately immerse you in this world's culture - like in Firefly, you are reminded that the Alliance is Chinese-USA because everyone swears in Chinese. In Defiance, the fact that everyone swears in the alien languages shows how the cultures have intertwined.

  2. Of course, there are some swear words that never go out of style...

  3. I totally agree with the above. a fluid english conversation with intermittent swearing in another language is both entertaining and builds the environment. Would say either that, or steer the dialogue away from cursing altogether so that the lack of it never even enters the player's mind.

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