Privates: Not allowed on the Xbox?

Xbox spokesman David Dennis spoke to seattlepi (via VG247) about Zombie Cow’s “Privates“, he said:

This game has not been submitted to our pre-publication peer review process, and it has not been approved for distribution on Xbox Live Indie Games. We have guidelines in place that closely track requirements of content ratings boards worldwide and, among other things, prohibit the publication of strong sexual content. While we haven’t seen this game, we can confirm that if it is consistent with the description we have seen on the Internet, this game would not pass peer review and would not be permitted to be distributed on Xbox Live.

I spoke to Dan from Zombie Cow to see what he had to say for himself.

What exactly are you trying to do with privates? Are you just perverts?
Not particularly, no. Channel 4 wanted a game about sex education, so that’s what we made. It’s a little anarchic and unusual, but it’s all very abstract and cellular. The idea is to make a fun-and-funny little game that’ll drip-feed you a few things about safe sex while you’re there.

A Microsoft representative who has not seen the final game yet has speculated that privates won’t be allowed on Xbox live, does that come as a surprise?
Not massively, no. We always knew the Xbox version would be touch-and-go, you never know how people are going to react when it’s in review. Privates pokes the boundaries of the guidelines, but I’m pretty sure we fall on the right side of it – when you add in the valuable educational aspect I hope most people will err on the side of passing it.

Would you consider releasing an edited version of the game to comply with MS’s guidelines if that was the only way to get it on the Xbox?
We were discussing last night the idea of doing a badly-dubbed aeroplane movie cut, with all the risqué bits voiced over by different actors. I’d love that, it’d be brilliant. We’ll see. The core themes and messages would be the same no matter how we dressed it up, so probably not. But it’d be fun.

It seems a little strange to me that games like GTA4 and Fallout 3 are considered fine for the Xbox, but not an educational game like privates. What do you think this says about Microsoft’s outlook on sexual content?
As far as I’m concerned it’s their console, they’re completely entitled to do whatever they like with it. They’ve obviously got to be pretty careful about what goes up there, and they’re absolutely right to be cautious about Privates. It’s still very early days. I’m sure once everyone actually plays it, they’ll realise what a force for good the game is, and realise it’s in no way graphic.
The argument that sexual themes are intrinsically less harmful than fake violence feels a little flawed to me- life isn’t as black-and-white as all that.

Some idiots on the internet have already described Privates as pornography, what do you think to that?
It’s exponentially less ‘pornographic’ than the biology textbook I was given at age 11, put it that way.

Keep track of the game here, and Zombie Cow are on Twitter here. It’s still going to be coming to PC, but we’ll have to wait and see if it is made available for the Xbox.

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