Ground Zeroes' Sexual Violence Earns it an M Rating

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Kojima's Metal Gear Solid 5: Ground Zeroes won't be the first Metal Gear to earn an "M" rating from the ESRB, but it will be the first to do so because of its sexual violence.

As per the ESRB's description of Ground Zeroes, "This is an action game in which players assume the role of an elite soldier through military missions in Cuba. Players infiltrate various bases and use pistols, machine guns, and rocket launchers to kill enemy soldiers." Okay. Sounds like a Metal Gear to us.

"Firefights are highlighted by realistic gunfire, slow-motion effects, and large blood-splatter effects. Players can also employ stealth attacks (e.g., choking, knife stabbing from behind) and have the ability to kill non-adversary characters/prisoners. One cutscene includes a depiction of blood and gore (e.g., a character's intestines exposed during a dramatic procedure to remove an object)." That's pretty much what we've come to expect from the series as of late.

Here though is where things take a decidedly dark turn. "The game includes an audio file in which a female character is sexually assaulted by male characters; while there is no visual depiction, sounds of ripped clothing and struggle can be heard. The words “f**k” and “sh*t” are heard in the dialogue."

Now sexual violence towards women as a narrative device isn't necessarily a cheap ploy to force characterization or entice empathy from the player. That said, it certainly wouldn't be the first time sexual assault was used in that manner in a video game. Kojima's never really ventured into this territory before, so we don't know just how he plans on using the assault, but hopefully it will be done in a way that doesn't insult the audience or cheapen the character.

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