Been playing StarCraft 2 beta a bit lately, with the fine folks at Final Form Games. I had originally been down on it since it didn’t sound like it was going to have a 2 player co-op single player game. (Unlike Dawn of War, Red Alert 3 etc.) Being a big fan of co-op, this made me sad. Then we discovered 2v2 multiplayer, and life became beautiful and full of flowers. And explosions. Actually, mostly explosions. Frequently in my base, but occasionally in other peoples’, which generally makes me happy.
One thing that I’ve noticed though, is that the game features an almost comical profanity filter. To, you know, keep people’s delicate sensibilities intact in the in-game chat. Happily it can be easily disabled or circumvented (standard tricks like putting spaces in the word work) but so far we’ve left it on, figuring that most people will leave it on by default, and we’d rather make sure we know when we’re being bleeped out. Because you see, it is a bit… overzealous… in what it considers inappropriate. Read on for our inappropriate findings!
It is very common to see phrases like “I @#$! as fast as I could!” You might think this meant that you had an uncouth partner, but really, it is just because blizzard/activision is of the opinion that “came” is a naughty, naughty word. And it doesn’t stop there!
For fun, Hal and I spent some time finding bad words. All the old standbys seem to be covered. (Standard grade-school swear-words like the f-word, and racial slurs such as n-bombs.) But then it starts getting downright weird. W discovered that the following words are also too delicate for users’ ears. (Gentle reader, if you are easily offended, avert your eyes now, for the list that follows will shatter your innocence like glass!)
It is surprising how often a lot of these come up in regular conversation. “Your base defense sucks”. “I came as fast as I could.” “We can just blow past their sentries on the way in”. Suddenly they all become rather comically censored. Backdoor comes up in standard gameplay. (Many maps have a back door way into bases that you can open up, if you want to attack someone from a direction that they aren’t likely to have as well guarded. Also, it censors parts of words. So if you say something like “transform the vikings!” (Vikings being jet-fighters that can transform into robots) it will come out “@#$!@# the vikings!”, which is a bit more ambiguous.
As for the rest, they’re kind of absurd. The colors black and white? Seriously? Their potential abuse now outweighs the fact that by default, they are standard adjectives taught to first graders? And names like Hitler and Stalin? Really? (Churchill and Roosevelt are curiously absent… Profanity filters are written by history’s winners, I guess?)
In a way the result is kind of comical. It’s the lesson of the Unnecessary Censorship videos. When you start bleeping things out, it doesn’t matter what the original was. We’ve been so trained to assume that whatever was bleeped must have been bad that we automatically fill in the blanks in our mind. So with Activision/Blizzard bleeping out fairly common words, that come up in fairly common conversations relating to their game, suddenly everything is naughty. And frequently hillarious.
I’d still rather have the ability to communicate unencumbered. But if the consolation prize is hilarity, I guess I won’t turn it down!