PlayStation exclusive Detroit: Become Human under fire from UK MP, advocacy groups for scenes of child abuse

What do you think of the situation?

Sony showed off a bunch of gorgeous games during Paris Games Week in October 2017. There was a wide selection of games on display, like the upcoming Spider-Man and Concrete Genie, fan favorite franchises like God of War and Shadow of the Colossus, and games that tackle more mature themes like The Last of Us Part 2 and Detroit: Become Human (trailer above).

Despite the variety of games on display, there was one theme from Sony’s stage time that stuck with some viewers – violence. According to some, the content shown in some of the games was too mature to be shown and in the case of Detroit: Become Human, simply too much.

The trailer for Detroit: Become Human, featured domestic abuse between a father, his child, and the daughter’s robot caretaker (which had been destroyed by the father previously. People have begun speaking out against the scene in the game, saying that “violence against children is not entertainment” and that the developers should be ashamed (Journalist and Childline founder, Dame Esther Rantzen, to the Daily Mail).

The National Association for Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (NAPCAN) spoke with Australian new site Nine and claimed that the game Detroit: Become Human was “very disturbing” and requested Australian stores to not stock it.

A UK Member of Parliament, Damian Collins, 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.’

According to the writer behind the game, David Cage, the game as a whole wasn’t written to send a message of any sort, but to elicit an emotional experience. “I didn’t write this game to deliver a message,” Cage told Play UK (issue #288 via WCCF). “I wanted to create a very emotional experience, and I want the player to feel something in Detroit – that’s my goal as a creator. Different people will see different things in this game, and I’m totally happy about that. That’s the nature of the beast, and I think it’s great.”

Cage has seemingly achieved his goal without having to release the game. The interesting aspect is that child abuse in films have managed to release without much of an uproar, but in a game, they cause a bit of unrest. Perhaps it’s due to the player’s participation (in this case, you are the robot who chooses how to defend the girl from her father).