It appears that a Call of Duty: WWII implied sexual assault scene has been modified for Australian audiences ahead of its release later this year on November 3rd. The game had already been given an R18+ classification back in August but Activision chose to re-submit an altered version of the game for reclassification.
The altered version of the game was reclassified again at R18+ on the 17th of October but with one glaring omission, “threat of sexual violence”. This it turns out was in reference to a section in the game’s main campaign and was brought to light earlier this week by Kotaku.
I feel I should make a couple of warnings here, a SPOILERS advisement for those reading ahead as I’m about to talk about the reason for this reclassification and that means talking about the section of the game’s main campaign in question. And also a TRIGGER warning as the following could be distressing for some readers.
According to the classification board, the original version of the game contained “a reference to sexual violence that is justified by context”, but not visually displayed or incentivised.
In the original submission of the game, the player controls Rosseau, a female spy, as she infiltrates a German building. While inside she witnesses a woman dragged by a Nazi soldier into a closet while screaming “You’re all pigs!” Rosseau opens the closet door and the soldier says “Leave. This is none of your business.” The player is then given the option to kill the soldier or leave. If the player chooses to leave, the player closes the door and the soldier is heard unzipping his fly and advances towards the woman. She screams “Ah! Get away from me!” as Rosseau leaves. It is implied that the soldier is going to sexually assault the woman, but at no time is the assault visually depicted. This is the scene that originally gave the game an implied sexual assault warning.
Activision’s modified version of the game has simply altered the woman’s clothing from a shirt and skirt to a shirt and pants and has also removed the audio track of the NPC soldier unzipping his fly. These modifications have been what’s allowed Activision the removal of the “threat of sexual violence” tag in its R18+ game classification here in Australia.
The reclassification then raises the question, should the “threat of sexual violence” tag still be there? Personally I would argue yes. Violence and sexual violence against women is such a widespread and substantial issue and the removal of a zipper sound hardly seems to be enough to remove the implication. What are your thoughts?