Activists, including a member of the UK Parliment, are lobbying against the upcoming PS4 game Detroit: Become Human over its controversial portrayal of domestic violence.
The footage in question shows an abusive father acting violently towards his daughter and his android assistant. The android and the child form a bond over their shared torment. Eventually, the daughter shoots the father and escapes with help from the android.
It’s not entirely clear whether or not this scene will play out quite like this in the final game. Instead, it is meant to showcase the choices that players will be able to make and how they will impact the direction of the story. Even the shooting is not guaranteed to happen.
Still, the footage has ruffled the feathers of several activists whose displeasure was first reported in The Mail and The Sun. Peter Saunders, founder of the National Association of People Abused in Childhood had this to say regarding the regarding the potential damage this footage may cause.
“Abusers will get off on this stuff and the other thing we know beyond question is that videos [sic] games end up being played by children and, scarily, the proliferation of salacious and abusive images is actually encouraging violence and abuse…we know that abuse in all its forms is escalating on this planet so why not help to tackle it constructively rather than sensationalise and make money out if it?”
Others, such as Children’s Commissioner for England, Anne Longfield, have stated that the real problem is that “it seems to end up in a clumsy, inappropriate and graphic gameplay that is no more than an unpleasant exploitative way of making money off the back of real suffering.”
Detroit: Beyond Human director and writer David Cage has been defending the footage since it was released. In an interview with Eurogamer, he stated: “I try to tell a story that matters to me, that I find moving, interesting and exciting and my role as a creator is to maybe deliver something that people don’t expect…The rule I give myself is to never glorify violence, to never do anything gratuitous. It has to have a purpose, have a meaning, and create something that is hopefully meaningful for people.”
Despite his assurances that the game will not trivialize this issue, advocacy groups are already calling for the game to be canceled or not sold in the UK.