The brief nudity in the game Papers, Please will be included in the release of the game, via an update, says developer Lucas Pope. Fans of pixelated nudity, rejoice!
The past few days have been rather eventful in terms of news for Papers, Please. Initially, Pope had stated that there would be no nudity in the release, defended the decision on grounds of practicality, and then announced that Apple had, in fact, approved the nudity option, likely due to the amount of press the decision had gained.
For those unaware of the game, Papers, Please places the player in the shoes of an immigration officer working along the border of the fictional Eastern European country of Arstotzka. Not capturing your interest? It should; the game is actually pretty good. Anyway, it also explores the complex relationship between doing a job quickly to meet your quota, versus doing a job correctly to avoid mistakes. If you don’t meet your quota of applicants processed, you don’t make as much money, and you can’t feed your family. If you don’t properly examine the passports and personal documents of potential immigrants for inconsistencies, there’s a decent chance they might, say, be a terrorist and blow up the checkpoint you’re working at. There’s also a moral dilemma component, as you may be presented with, for instance, a woman begging you to let her in so she may be reunited with her husband. Complex is probably the word you’re looking for.
Which brings us to the topic at hand: the brief nudity. You are also required to perform invasive x-ray body scans (reminiscent of the controversial TSA scanners which made headlines some years ago, and even recently when it was revealed that the process can miss bombs and guns) on immigrants, both in an attempt to check for items they should not be smuggling into the country (such as guns), but also to check for identification discrepancies. For example, an individual fitting the stereotypical image of a woman who is also identified as a “Female,” but who also happens to possess male genitalia. This is considered an inconsistency, and the individual should not be allowed access into the country.
The original PC release of Papers, Please had the option to remove the nudity, but that was not an option in the original iOS version released this past week. There was no nudity and no way to change that. Pope stated in a tweet that “Apple rejected that build for containing ‘pornographic content.'” Apple then approved the game when the option to display nudity was removed.
It wasn’t necessarily a permanent decision, as Apple’s rulings can be appealed, but Pope stated that he didn’t want an appeal to delay the release of the game and that he “may try for later.” He also mentioned that he didn’t think censoring the nudity was a big deal, as several features he was worried would cause trouble met no opposition from the folks at Apple. Overall, it doesn’t seem as if the nudity will detract from the overall experience.
In an interview with Ars Technica, Pope stated that “The original game has a no-nudity option because I know that many people have a strong negative reaction to nudity, pixelated or not,” He also mentioned that adding underwear dampened the “intended invasiveness” of the procedure, but that it still got the point across.
It’s nice to hear that Apple reversed their decision, because it really just seemed like unnecessary censorship. Calling the game “pornographic” was a slight exaggeration at best. As Pope stated, the nudity was intended to add moral complexity to the game. It wasn’t sexualized in the slightest, and it was completely optional. There was no reason not to include it, other than the fact that it would perhaps make the player feel moderately less miserable in a game already steeped in depressing themes. Glorious, playable, award-winning depressing themes.
Regardless of your feelings on the censoring of Papers, Please, you should give it a try if you haven’t played it. It’s available for download on Steam, and will be releasing on the iPad on December 12th.