Childline and NSPCC condemn 'unacceptable' Detroit: Become Human

Campaigners concerned by the depiction of violence against children

UK newspaper The Mail On Sunday is stirring up controversy around upcoming PS4 exclusive Detroit: Become Human.

The paper has obtained quotes from Childline, NSPCC and the Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, who have called for the upcoming title, developed by Quantic Dream, to be banned from the UK due to its depiction of domestic violence.

Ignoring the many films, books and even music that deal with violence against children, Dame Esther told the right wing paper: "Violence against children is not entertainment. It's not a game. It's a real nightmare for thousands of children who have to live through these kinds of scenarios. The makers of this game should be thoroughly ashamed. I think it's perverse. Who thinks beating a child is entertainment?"

Andy Burrows, who is the associate head of child safety online at the NSPCC, also said: "Any video game that trivialises or normalises child abuse, neglect or domestic violence for entertainment is unacceptable."

The statement stems from the October trailer for the game, which starred the AI Kara, a violent father and a child whose survival depends on the choices made by the player.

Conservative MP Damian Collins, who is Chairman of the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, said: "It is completely wrong for domestic violence to be part of a video game regardless of what the motivation is. Domestic violence is not a game and this simply trivialises it. I worry that people who play this who themselves have suffered abuse will use this game to shape the way in which they deal with abusers.

"It's dangerous to plant the seed in people's minds that the way to deal with abusers is to use violence against them. It's counter-productive and could put them in even more danger.

Defending the controversial trailer at the time, Quantic Dream founder David Cage told Eurogamer: "You don't choose to talk about domestic abuse. It's not like I was like 'oh, let's write a scene about domestic abuse'. It's not how it works. When you're a writer you talk about things that move you, that you feel really deep inside you that's something that moves you, and you hope it'll move people too. You know there are two ways you can do this - 'oh let's do something cool and let's have someone beaten by a man', that's one way of doing things, because people are going to write about it and it's going to sell my game. That's one way of doing it.

"The other way is to say I'm working on something important, something meaningful and something moving. There's a meaning behind it, there's a strong story I need to tell - it goes through dark moments, but I think the story I have to tell it as it's something important for me. And I think when you do this, you do your work as an author, you do your work as a writer. You go into dark places, in order to create something positive about it. It's never a conscious decision to say let's talk about something cool and violence - no, I want to talk about something moving and meaningful, that's my job as a writer. I'm the first judge, and I hope that people will feel the same."

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Latest comments (3)

Nicole Barelli Game Writer/Game Designer 4 years ago
And again some people misunderstand the concept of entertainment, still thinking games are a tool used merely for "fun". Like Robert McKee said in his book Story, "to be entertained is to be immersed in the ceremony of story to an intellectually and emotionally satisfying end" and "concentrating on a screen in order to experience the story's meaning and, with that insight, the arousal of strong, at times even painful emotions".

What some people still have to realise is that, while some games only have this intend (to be a tool for fun), this medium goes way further. "Video games" are also a medium to tell stories - and very powerful ones!
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Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany4 years ago
Both a display or misunderstanding and ignorance. Child violence (for what we can see) is depicted in the game as the horrible thing that it is, and the player is pushed to stop it by breaking it's boundaries. That is in fact the correct message to send, but here we are again; some people claiming to care about children but being unable to understand a message when said message it's on their side.
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Ian Griffiths Product Owner, Hutch4 years ago
While I think that games can tackle important topics like domestic abuse I'm not convinced that this one can. The trailer made me uneasy in how it seemed to sensationalise the topic and imply that there's somehow a way to outplay domestic violence, that's just not how it works.

Really, if there's a big impact to be made, for me, it's that the game ends and the android was never there. In most domestic violence cases, no one jumps in the way to help a vulnerable child, there's no happy ending, only broken lives. I'll reserve my judgement until it comes out but for now, I'm dubious.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Ian Griffiths on 6th December 2017 1:11am

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