Fans have been debating if Croteam censored the Harpy enemies’ nipples in Serious Sam 4, despite insistence from a developer that it was a design choice.
One user on Steam noticed the Scythian Witch-Harpy enemy had its design changed compared to the prior game. While the Harpy had a bare chest and exposed nipples in Serious Sam 3: BFE, early images of Serious Sam 4 (prior to the new trailer) showed its chest covered with feathers.
In the first two Serious Sam games and other spin-offs, the Harpy had a more humanoid appearance. It appeared much more human, wearing a “metal bikini”. Serious Sam 3 appears to be the only game where the Harpy appears with exposed nipples.
Despite rabid discussion in the Steam thread of the Harpies that could be seen for a few moments in the new trailer (some even unsure whether the Harpy was “exposed” or not), eventually a developer stepped forward.
Danliel Lucic (going by IIIIDANNYIIII) posted “Didn’t really go through the entire thread, sorry. But there are way better places to look at gazoongas than a video game. [smiley face] Here we just shoot stuff.” This would seemingly confirm the team were now using the “covered” design.
This only threw fuel on the fire of the debate. Later on Lucic posted that “This has got to be the craziest SS4 discussion in the world right now.” Even rejecting calls to lock the thread, Lucic finally explained why the design was changed. He stated it was simply a design choice by the team.
Despite this claim, it led to more discussion. Some doubted Lucic was telling the truth, leading to discussion in the differences between censorship (someone forcing change on another’s work under threat of reprisal), self-censorship (a person changing their work for fear of reprisal even without direct threat), and artistic choice (creating what they want in-spite of known or hypothetical consequences).
Many feared this was self-censorship, after an increasing trend in recent years of sexual content being censored in video games [1, 2, 3, 4], along with outrage and demands for censoring “offensive” content in general [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
In 2019, Sony Interactive Entertainment Japan Asia President Atsushi Morita stated the then recent spate of censorship of anime-styled sexual content on PlayStation 4 games had been “to meet global standards.”
In the Steam thread, some expressed the issue was not about wanting exposed breasts, but ensuring the developers really were making what they wanted. Others wanted the exposed design to push back against “outrage culture.” Some shot them down for being immature and wanting exposed breasts in the game for titillation.
Lucic posted again, re-iterating that it was a design choice as oppose to censorship.
“Where did I say it was censorship? :)
I said it was a design choice that had nothing to do with showing or not showing boobs. I’m guessing the character artist felt this looks better. Even the concepts for the harpy didn’t have fully exposed boobs.
I realize someone cares about stuff like this, but design changes are happening all the time. Look at the scorp, or the Khnum. It’s the way stuff works.
At the end of the day, though, I hope this thread doesn’t end up being a place of unrest and fighting. I haven’t locked it because it’s fun reading up on different opinions and passionate answers. Let’s keep it clean so it can go on.
Peace and love. Boobs or not!”
When asked if the exposed Harpy design could be added in as “different variations” or optional, Lucic replied “It would require additional work that was instead focused on a different character. At this point we only have two character artists, and they are already stretched too thin.”
Debate continued to rage, while Lucic made the odd humorous post to try and keep the peace [1, 2], and calls for civility. As of this time of posting, the thread is over 600 posts, and shows no signs of slowing down.
What do you think? Sound off in the comments below!
Serious Sam 4 launches August 2020 for Windows PC (via Steam), Google Stadia, and 2021 on PlayStation 4, and Xbox One.