Implied sexual assault scene in Call of Duty modified for Australia
The "threat of sexual violence" no longer listed as content warning, but title remains rated R18+
The franchise that rarely fails to spark controversy has done just that after a scene of implied sexual assault in Call of Duty: World War II was modified for Australia.
As reported by Kotaku AU, the change was noted when the game appeared to be rated by the Australian Classification Board in August, and again this month. The second rating had an important distinction, in that the "threat of sexual violence" had been removed as a content warning.
The board told Kotaku that the original version of the game contained "a reference to sexual violence that is justified by context."
The scene occurs while playing a female spy who happens across the scene of a Nazi solider is dragging a woman against her will into a closet. The player is given the option to kill the soldier or leave. If choosing the latter, the soldier is "heard unzipping his fly and advancing towards the woman."
In the modified version of the game, the woman's attire have been changed from a skirt to trousers, and the unzipping audio has been removed. However, according to the board, these changes "do not contain any classifiable elements that alter this classification or exceed a R18+ impact level."
Kotaku was told: "In the Board's opinion, the removal of the audio track means that consumer advice of threat of sexual violence is not required. Therefore, this modified computer game warrants an R18+ classification with consumer advice of high impact violence [and] online interactivity."
With the game's rating remaining unchanged after the modifications, it's currently unclear why Activision made the decision. GamesIndustry.biz approached the publisher for a response but a spokesperson refused to pass comment.
Censorship has proven a problematic issue in Australia for a number of years, with an R18+ rating only being introduced in 2013.
More recently David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democratic senator in New South Wales, blasted Australian censors in March following the decision to refuse rating Outlast 2.
"Every signal we send to the gaming community...is of censorship, disapproval and discouragement," he said.
"Video games do not hurt anybody, and the government Classification Board should leave gamers alone."