Game On: South Park censorship is a goddamn outrage
South Park stick of truth

Following the revelation that console editions of South Park: Stick Of Truth will be censored in Europe, gaming enthusiast Mark Butler takes aim at the idiocy – and irony – of the situation.

South Park stick of truth

In the 17 years since its inception, South Park has delighted in courting controversy.

It has infuriated celebrities, outraged media commentators, and attracted ire from pretty much every quarter of the political spectrum. And yet, through all of this often mis-placed and ill-informed anger, the TV show has remained a steadfast source of hilarious comedy and biting satire – refusing to bow to external pressure and compromise on its content.

How infuriating then, that it should finally be censored in video game form.

I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t be more excited about South Park: Stick Of Truth. An open-world RPG developed by Obsidian, written and voiced by Trey Parker and Matt Stone themselves and seemingly channelling all of the wit, insanity and joyful toilet humour of the show on which is it based; it looks absolutely fantastic. At least in preview.

So it was with real concern that I read yesterday how the European console release of the title on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 will not contain all of the game’s intended material. Instead, a number of scenes have been removed altogether.

As revealed by BT.com, seven sequences have been cut entirely from European console releases of the game, which are set to land next week. This decision was made by publishers Ubisoft, presumably out of fear of pushing the envelope too far. And it potentially robs fans of some genuinely outrageous moments.

Want to see some anal probes in action? Sorry – no can do. Kind of ironic when you think that the very first episode of the entire saga revolved around that very subject.

Want to see Stan’s idiotic dad Randy getting an abortion? Bad luck. It’s outta there.

Randy’s exploits have become one of the best things about South Park in recent years, but we’ll now be seeing less of him it seems. Literally.

Are Ubisoft taking a leaf out of Cartoon War cowards and burying their heads in the sand? Or is this a sensible practical decision designed to ensure that the game is not banned altogether in certain markets?

Regardless, the situation is wholly unacceptable.

Despite being rated 18 in the UK, fully grown adults will be prevented from playing sections that have been somehow deemed inappropriate for consumption. Unless we all run out and buy PCs, that is.

The irony of course is that South Park is a show that has always revelled in controversy, edgy humour and gleeful offensiveness – with equal opportunity aplomb in that regard. It takes aim at each and any target it chooses, cutting through the bulls**t with a fearlessness that takes inflated egos down a peg or two, and also points out some genuinely powerful social wrongs.

It’s the ultimate example of how free speech can enable comedy to tackle off-limits subjects that can swept under the carpet. And yet its most exciting spin-off since the big screen movie is being cut down to size. Boo! Boo Wendy Testaburger!

Sure, the total duration of content removed may well be just a few minutes of the overall experience, but on principle alone it stinks.

Surely there will be content in Stick Of Truth that will aggravate certain mirthless souls regardless? Surely adults should be allowed to decide for themselves what is and isn’t appropriate?

As far as I’m concerned, if you’re going to do a South Park game properly – as Obsidian appear to have done – then removing certain scenes that encapsulate the show’s propensity for jaw-dropping, taboo-breaking humour is a veritable slap in the face for the people who have worked so hard to capture its essence and spirit.

I’ll be playing Stick of Truth when it lands next week, and I’m still incredibly excited for it. But it saddens me that fans will be effectively prevented from enjoying Parker and Stone’s most daring creative moments for themselves – and the whole thing flies in the face of what South Park actually stands for.

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Mark Butler

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