Explicit Content for General Audiences

I recently got the album of The Lonely Island. Actually that in itself was yet another of those examples where I paid for something AFTER I was enjoying it for free on the web. I was pretty fond of some of the material of The Lonely Island on YouTube. I noticed that I visited their channel quite often that at some point I decided to just get their stuff. And of course, I got the PHYSICAL version because I already kinda had it digital.

The album is cool. A few songs are missing (“Cool Guys Don’t Look at Explosions”) but some others I haven’t heard yet. But that’s not the point of this post. Here is what I found on the cover:


Mommy, what is a “Motherfucker”?

So the album cover has a “Parental Advisory: Explicit Content” logo on the right. I guess that makes sense if you consider the excessive foul language in some of the lyrics. After all, a lot of the songs are a parody of aggressive ganger hip-hop. But what’s that sticker on the left you ask? Well, it’s from the German FSK, the German motion picture rating system organization . They gave it the equivalent for “G-General Audiences”.

There are two explanations for the extreme discrepancy. You could always say that it is a difference in cultural values. America seem to be much more restrictive to foul language and sex while in Europe, violence is considered much more offensive. The other explanation would be that the lyrics are in English and therefore not considered offensive in Germany. That would be just one of those ridiculous grey areas associated with foul language. This actually reminds me of a recent episode of the Experience Points Podcast.

No matter what the explanation is, the discrepancy is a great example of how superficial and fragile some of our ideas of morality and political currentness are. The globalisation of culture and exposes the paradoxes of those values and puts then to the test. Even if they do not break and there is a good explanation, simply the existence of alternatives undermines the validity of those values.

That’s a good thing. What I would like to see is loosening up restrictions on media so they are compatible with perspectives of multiple cultures. But we must be cautious. The same argument could be used to establish a single, globally valid rating system by overriding diversity in favor of the values of a single culture.

And that’s the weirdest thing that came out if all this: I never thought I would find myself arguing against the inclusion of Germany in PEGI.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

Comments are closed.


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


follow Krystian on Twitter
follow Yu-Chung on Twitter
follow Daniel on Twitter